Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 4 Monday 1/31/11: Tortola

Again the day was warm, even warmer than yesterday and a bit more humid.  We had no excursion planned, so we just walked around Road Town, the capital of Tortola.  We shopped a little, Joe bought a new hat, I bought a piratey-looking bag that says ‘Time flies when you’re having rum’…. All very cutesy but I wanted a momento of our stop in Tortola.  

We also visited their Folk Museum, which is was a very small museum of the history of the island and it’s peoples.  Basically it was an anthropology museum and had a lot of interesting information about the indigenous peoples of the area and the African and English influences as well.  There were a few artifacts on display, both pre- and post-historical.  

One of the things I noticed about everything in Road Town – it was NOT for the mobility-hampered!  Every little shop had 2 or 3 steps up to get inside.  The Folk Museum had two sets of VERY steep steps leading up it… I let Joe help me get up them, they were that steep.  Still, it was worth the effort.  

It was nice that there were lovely little tree-shaded plazas with benches scattered here and there about the town so we could stop and rest from time to time.  

The people were warm and friendly.  When we asked directions of a lovely young woman with her son tagging along behind, she directed us straight to our destination.  It was a good thing we asked too, because Joe thought it was in the other direction.  Men!

We returned to the ship just in time for a nice lunch, then a swim in the ship’s pool.  Finally, we returned to the room for showers, relaxation and naps.  Joe then took a long walk around the ship while I read on the balcony, enjoying the warm afternoon sun and warmth.  Maybe a little too much sun today – I’m pretty pink all over… me who usually tans instead of burns.  Anyway, I didn’t want to change out of my pj’s, which I put on after my shower, so we went to the buffet (that IS what NCL’s freestyle cruising is supposed to be all about – you don’t have to dress for dinner if you don’t want to).  

Now, I’m off to the internet cafĂ© to check email and post this summation of our day in Tortola, to let Benito and Everton make up our room for the night.  Oh, I could definitely live the rest of my life with this kind of service…

Day3, Sunday 1/30/11: Samana

Warm and balmy weather prevailed in the Dominican Republic today, though the morning looked cloudy and even a bit rainy in the distance.  It soon cleared leaving beautiful blue skies.  We took the tender boat to Cayo Lavantado beach, where we swam, snorkeled, and relaxed in the sun for a couple of hours.   I got to see a puffer fish and a needle fish, lots of starfish, sea urchins, and a few jellyfish too. 

The beach sands were gleaming white and the water around the beach was a brilliant pale turquoise and so very very clear.  It’s no wonder the Caribbean is such a draw for people – the colors alone are awe-inspiring.  Everything from the waters to the greens of the vegetation – all of it was brilliant and just seemed jewel-like in the sun.  The next time someone calls something 'Caribbean Blue' I won't scoff and say 'the ocean isn't that color'.   I could live in a place like this!

I bought a few trinkets on the way back to the ship.  Joe took a nap while I read and relaxed.  We enjoyed a nice lobster dinner with a couple from Minnesota and another from Alaska.  After dinner there was comedy from what I have to guess is second-stringers from Second City Comedy.  Some of it was funny, some of it just missed the mark, if you know what I mean.  Still, it was an enjoyable hour.  

Dark Knight is on the NCL tv tonight… I’ll let Joe sleep while I watch and read… then time for bed for me too – tomorrow we’ll be in Tortola… nothing special planned, just gonna go into town and walk around for a while, take it easy and slow.  Posted Monday morning, when internet rates are halved for the morning.

Oh… I forgot to mention – I went to play Bingo today.  I didn’t win at Bingo, but they did have a drawing for a diamond and sapphire necklace… I WON the raffle!  The diamond you practically need a magnifying glass to see but the sapphire is quite a bit larger.  It’s a very dark blue and I’m sure it’s all just shy of costume jewelry (or they wouldn’t be giving it away).  Still, it was very cool to win and I can’t wait to have a chance to wear it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day2, Saturday 1/29: at sea.

We both felt 100% more human on Saturday morning.  We got up, had a nice breakfast in the restaurant and ran off to our respective classes.   I learned a lot about EQ7 today, and Joe said he learned at least 4 things he didn’t even know his camera could do, so we both learned a lot.  The first class was about using photographs in EQ7… very interesting and there’s SO much to do with photos… 

One thing I noticed is how very very blue the Caribbean is.  It is a beautiful clear blue without that greenish cast I’m used to seeing in the Pacific.  Amazingly blue and the bits of sky we can see between clouds is a pale echo of the sea.

After lunch, I had another class and Joe went off to walk around the deck, get some eye candy with all the pretty ladies around the pool, and take a nap.  My second class was a more basic EQ7 class, and though I’ve played with the program a bit, I still learned several things that I didn’t know before.  

It’s Saturday night and we’ve decided to skip the shows, casino, shops and other entertainments.  We’re sitting in our stateroom listening to the ocean.  Our balcony door is open – it’s actually warmer outside than inside at 9pm… We’re watching a little tv, but we’ll settle in for some personal time to ourselves…

Day 1, Friday 1/28: Miami.

The flight was relatively uneventful – we arrived about 5am in Miami – right on time.  However, we had a really long wait to get to the ship.  They weren’t supposed to let people on til about noon, so we decided to wait in the airport, have a leisurely breakfast and settle in and relax, read, nap.  Unfortunately, once we picked up our luggage, we were outside the area where the coffee shop was at the airport and we couldn’t get through clearance again…. Nothing in the outside area except a Starbucks.  So that’s where we had breakfast – muffins and coffee.  By 8:30ish we were DONE with waiting around the airport.  We trekked our way to the taxi stand and found a cab to take us to the port.  We got a very limited view of Miami on the way to our ship, which turned out to be a very short drive – only about 15 or 20 minutes. 
Needless to say, it we were early… the previous cruise’s passengers were still disembarking.   Now this is Miami, even though it IS winter, and we were expecting warm weather like what we left behind in California.  It was cold, cloudy and windy down at the port and we were very uncomfortable with a 2 hour wait in store.  I asked if we could just come inside and wait inside the terminal and a very nice security lady checked our passports and e-docs and let us wait inside.  Shortly thereafter, others started filtering in, so we weren’t the only ones who were hours early.  

After about an hour wait indoors out of the cold and wind, the slow process of being moved from one room to another began and we were seated in a large room where we waited for the last few passengers to disembark and the last of the crew to join the ship.  It looked like they had a whole new cadre of employees joining the cruise, too. 

Finally they let us start to board… hooray!  It was still cold and windy, and Joe and I were already beat… It was noonish on Friday and both of us had been mostly awake since Thursday morning.  We were in need of food, sleep and showers, and not necessarily in that order.  Even though they let us on board, the staterooms weren’t ready yet and our luggage was still in being loaded.  We wandered a bit, found something to eat.  It’s a cruise – there’s ALWAYS food, everywhere.  Finally we curled up in the library… I found a sofa to doze on, Joe found a comfy chair.  We waited.  And waited. And waited some more.  Finally the announcement came – the staterooms were ready for us.

We went to our room and relaxed for a bit.  Our quilt & photography group had a get-together at 5pm, so we were afraid to actually go to sleep for fear of sleeping right through it, so we unpacked our bags.  We made a brief appearance at the get-together, had a little liquor (bad idea on such little sleep), and made our excuses and slipped off to have dinner and get some sleep.  We saw the line at the restaurant and had dinner at the buffet.   After a quick dinner we crawled back to our room and fell asleep, too pooped to even shower and change…