Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cruise to Bahamas - Half Moon Cay

While St. Johns was Dan's favorite place (and it was wonderful), Half Moon Cay (pronounced "key") was mine.  This privately owned island in the Bahamas was paradise.
The water was a bright, clear turquoise and the sand white.  There was a great band (they even played Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke for me) and a barbeque.  The weather was perfect although Dan thought the water was a bit too cool (low 70's).
Parasailing, swimming, sand castles, snorkeling, feeding sting rays, bicycling, kayaking, bus ride, hiking...almost anything your heart desires.
Only about 35 people live on this small island.  Most of the staff commute from a larger island (Eleutheria), an hour and a half commute each way.  What a commute though!
It really felt like a holiday.  Only one shop and about a half dozen booths so it was more laid back than the cities we have been to. 
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St John

Arriving at St John we meet outside the National Park building. I am a little worried that the hike will be too strenuous for me. The guide reassures me that there is only a slightly steep section at the beginning of the trail. Total walk is less than a mile and a half. I think I can do that. There are some little kids, so that will keep things moving slowly.

What a lovely walk it turns out to be. Along the way we stop a number of times to look at the plants and trees. A beautiful frangipani caterpillar takes our attention for awhile as everyone trades out to get a good look. Through the trees the beautiful Caribbean is visible with islands in the distance. Our guide does a nice job pointing things out to us and answering our questions.

At Honeymoon Cove another group is arriving on sailboats to go snorkeling. We just strip down to bathing suits and get wet. Very refreshing and relaxing. Before long it is time to walk the short distance to where our ride takes us back to the ferry.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St Thomas

The guide on the ferry recommends eating at a seafood restaurant in Frenchtown. It turns out his directions and where we end up may not have matched. Anyway we have a delicious seafood lunch at Hook, Line & Sinker – and it is in Frenchtown. We’re away from the tourists, so it’s a quiet area. Outside is a small marina, two iguanas are sunning themselves, and a seaplane takes off.

The waitress gives us directions to the shopping district. It looks further than I want to walk, but I make it with the help of an ice cream cone.

Only a couple of stores are of interest to us. One makes jewelry from a black coral. Fortunately they need permits to collect it and can only get pieces that are broken off and dead. The designs are intricate, mainly because they have to glue pieces together to make them large enough to work with. Some of them are very simple designs and a few of them are stunning.

At the other store we buy three bottles of rum for $22.50. Turns out it is the same brand and cost as the ship, just different flavors. Oh well. At least we take a taxi back to the ship.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

US Virgin Islands

The lights of San Juan fade behind us as we sail into the night, headed for St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Waking in the morning we’re there, heading into West Gregerie Channel and Crown Bay to the dock. Surprisingly I find out that it’s only about 75 miles from San Juan. We must have stopped or circled slowly all night. I find sleeping on a boat with gentle waves to be so relaxing. Too much and seasick symptoms start showing up, but last night, oh wow – I slept great.

The plan today is to go on an eco hike and a swim on St. John Island. After breakfast we head out, go out on the dock and find the ferry. The weather is quite pleasant with a light breeze and it’s mostly sunny, probably around 80. The waves are low so it doesn’t bother me.

Islands pass on either side of us. They are heavily treed, or at least quite green, and dotted with a lot of houses. The guide points out the homes of Michael Jordan, Madonna, Alan Alda, Michael Jackson, and Tim Duncan.

Two of the islands are for sale. It’s a package deal – only $12 million – and it includes a resort where people spend $12,000 per night to stay there!

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St Thomas 2

Tonight we ran into Dick and Marion Stevens for dinner. Marion is Dan’s second cousin who we met in Tampa a few weeks ago. We had run into them a few times but never could figure out when to meet for a meal. Turned out we were all going to dinner at the same place so it worked out great. Food was very good tonight. Stuffed.

Now the interesting thing is you can get pretty much the same food in Lido which is a buffet as the Rembrandt but I like the Rembrandt more. There is no cost for the meal at either but you get served at the Rembrandt instead of going through the line and the food seems slightly fresher, made to order instead of being made up a few minutes in advance.

Afterwards, we went to listen to comedian Jim Labriola. Very funny guy. Laughed a lot.

Been a long day. Tomorrow I have another acupuncture session and also a session with a personal coach who is going to go over Pilates with me for strength and posture. Since I live in an RV, I need a program that doesn’t require a lot of equipment or a membership in a gym. We choose places to live which don’t have gyms when we can and there certainly isn’t room for a lot of equipment. Pilates sounds like a good option. Keep you posted.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Puerto Rico-Land at last!

I woke up in the middle of the night and could tell that we had docked at Puerto Rico. The ship was still. Yesterday was a little rocky.
This morning we went on a 5 hour tour of the rain forest. I don’t know how the driver can drive so well and talk on a hand held microphone at the same time. Turns out he had practice as a New York City cabbie. The rain forest was interesting and I’m glad we did the tour, but I did feel a little rushed. This was especially so at the first stop where we didn’t have time to see the 12 minute movie in English because the Spanish version was running. Tough to do both in a 20 minute stop.
Took a fairly easy hike in the rain forest. No rain today although they have about 240 inches a year. Rain lasts an average of 22 minutes so it comes down heavy. The guide kept naming trees that weren’t indigenous but then he later said something like 200+ plants/trees are indigenous.
On the way back to the ship I saw an iguana on a wire (telephone or power?) just like you would see a bird sitting. We were on a fast road so we were gone in a flash and I don’t think anyone else saw it. It was incredible to see.
We had angels watching over us 3 times. The first, was when we went on the hike in the rain forest, our guide didn’t go, but there was another guide who went with his group. We tend to tag along with others, so we llisten and he pointed out the nests for the endangered native parrot.
Then later, we were looking for somewhere to eat and a man with his wife/child said the non-tourist place was a few streets away. He grew up in Puerto Rico and lives in Napa, Florida now. He didn’t have any accent and was with the family so it felt safe although I have to say he wore us out walking up a steep hill. Food was good. I had a Puerto Rico tamale which is a little softer than the ones I am used to and Dan had a chicken creole. Finished it up with fried sweet plantains and coconut flan. Very yummy.
The last angel was when we were walking around and started down a road. Just before we went under a bridge, a man on the far side of the bridge said not to come there, that it was a “hood”. Another man a few minutes later said it was an area
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our first cruise is underway!

We are underway! I had a few minutes of anxiety, not so much motion sickness as claustrophobia. But I put on my sea sickness wristbands and breathed deep and I am doing better. Still a little anxious.
Actually, the life boat drill was a challenge too. I was behind a tall lady (I'm less than 5 feet tall), and with the vest so close around my short neck, it was not only uncomfortable but I felt closed in again. I asked the tall lady if she would change places and it didn’t matter to her. I kept my vest loose and when it was over, we let everyone else go back to their rooms before we went.
OK, so much for anxiety. Now for the excitement and enjoyment!
The ship is much bigger than I had imagined. Almost 1000 feet long. They upgraded us to a stateroom with a veranda, which is nice. It might have happened because this is our first cruise with HAL. The ship is brand new and everything is in terrific shape. I am surprised that maintenance, especially painting, is already being done.
I’m impressed with the staff. They seem genuinely interested and friendly. On this line, most everyone is Indonesian or Phillipino, although it seems that crewmembers are from all over the world. 
We ate lunch with Herta. I hope I spelled her name correctly. She is a retired cruise ship RN and has sailed almost 100 days on Holland America alone. She does about 2 cruises a year. Her experience is that HAL staff is sincerely interested in making the cruise a pleasure, much more so than other lines. Being our first cruise, I don’t know, but I do know that they seem that way.
Sitting in a public area after lunch, the ship chaplain, a priest, stopped and chatted. He normally works in Ft. Lauderdale with sailors from around the world, but is cruising “on duty” for 2 weeks. His perspectives are very interesting. 
Most of his time is spent with the crew. They are usually away from home and family for 8-10 months at a time. Many are very poor and HAL just had a fundraiser a few days ago to raise money to help with illness or family emergencies.
I’ve frankly been leery of cruises before because of the excess I&rsq
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, July 28, 2008

Holland America Cruise to Panama Canal

Imagine your cruise thru the Panama Canal – traveling from the Pacific to the Caribbean in about 9 hours. Surprisingly, there are only three sets of locks along the way. The rest of the journey is traveling along rivers, across lakes and through rainforest.
The locks are fascinating. There is a mule, an electric locomotive, on either side of the lock. With tow cables attached to the ship, the mules pull the ship forward into position in the lock. For the biggest ships passing through, the clearance on each side can be less than two feet!
Holland America Cruise Lines has many options for sailing through the Panama Canal. Take a short trip of 14 days, as long as 36 or somewhere in between. West coast departure ports include Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego. East coast departures are through Fort Lauderdale
Along the way spend time at Mexican and Caribbean beaches, explore the old walled city of Cartagena, discover the natural diversity of Costa Rica, visit Mayan ruins in Guatemala and meet present day Mayans. Interested in how coffee is grown? Take a tour to a plantation. Whichever tours you choose, the shore excursions open up another world of cultures.
POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Road Town - Port in Tortola

The British Virgin Islands! Here we are at Road Town, the capital, on the island of Tortola. Instead of going on any tours, we grab a taxi and head for the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Park. It’s time for an afternoon stroll to see the native plants of Tortola.
What would a tropical isle be without hibiscus, bougainvillea and palms. I’m surprised to see cactus as well…organ pipe…Turk’s Cap…prickly pear. My favorite flowers today are the Bird of Paradise. As I look off to my left, I hear a noise behind me and turn quickly. The movement of the birds and the shape of the flowers momentarily blend in my mind as the flowers become living birds. Such beauty!
After strolling through the gardens, our hunger catches up to us. Off we go for a delightful evening of food and music at The Dove Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s in a lovely 1912 Gingerbread house with lots of antiques and a jazz bar, just down the street from the ferry dock. I order the prawns seasoned with vanilla. Out of this world! I thought nothing could top that when the chocolate soufflé comes out, and all this with lovely jazz music. A delightful day in paradise.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Parasailing - The Ultimate Ocean View

Last port – Nassau, Bahamas. This time we choose to explore on our own and decide to go parasailing. 
It’s off the beaten path of the cruise-set-up adventures and we grab a taxi to a local beach.
Boarding a speedboat with another group from New Jersey, I’m struck by their sense of calm. The parasailing guys pick up on it too and are enjoying amplifying their fears. Then with their gear on, off they went.  It was only a few moments up in the air, but the disposition change it caused them was remarkable. They came down, goofily grinning ear to ear, unable to really speak.
Now my sister and I are strapped in with the giant sail inflated behind us. The rope is let out and we start going up. Such a steady, smooth ascent. Reaching maximum altitude, there’s a different perspective of the ocean below. The blue is so vibrant and varied that it is overwhelming. The boat loops to take us to the other end of the beach. We wobble slightly in the turn and then I look up from the sea below and out to the horizon. The curvature of the earth is evident against a beautiful azure sky. It’s a humbling and empowering experience, and by far the most beautiful panorama to behold.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Thursday, July 03, 2008

Snorkeling with Stingrays without getting Stung

Snorkeling in the Caribbean with stingrays is comfortable and safe as well as rewarding. On the boat ride to Gibbs Cay, the crew gives me my gear and gives me instruction. It sounds easy. Once there and donning my gear, I’m quickly in the water, floating, my face looking down on what looks like an extraterrestrial world.
The tropical fish are so colorful and foreign that they don’t look real, that is until they flee my splashing hands. The coral is a beautiful maze upon which my shadow is cast, intriguing curious marine life swim out of their cavities.
I see stingrays. They merely glide past me, their slithery bodies’ edge tickling my legs and searching for food. The guide has some fish to feed them and is showing me how. I place a piece of fish in my palm with my fingers and thumb curled over it. Only a bit of fish pokes out of my hand. The guide holds a stingray in place and it sucks at my hand with such intensity, it comes as a shock. Weird but not discouraging. Doing it again, the stingray eats the fish like he was a puppy getting a treat.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, June 28, 2008

Water Horses

My horse’s name is Samson – he’s a tall, dark handsome type, gentle and easily maneuvered. Our guide leads us up a rocky hill and around some sand dunes. The beach is below us. It’s been so long since I rode a horse - a living, opinionated animal. This horse certainly knows what it’s doing. I can daydream and look around, while both of us share control. It’s a very liberating experience.
This is just the first part of our riding experience. Part two is changing into water saddles. This is a glorified, slightly padded way of riding bareback. What a new experience! Making our way back to beach, I feel every one of Samson’s steps. It is definitely less comfortable, but not painful. Racing into the water, the horses get to about as deep as their backs. My legs are almost completely submerged, I feel lighter on the horse’s back, and the fact that they are running at full speed becomes a desirable situation. We’re sweeping through the water, and the only thing I could do besides hang on for dear life is to smile. It’s like a roller coaster, except there are no obnoxious colors and cartoons to distract. An all natural thrill ride. I won’t forget this easily.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, May 19, 2008

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

I like to travel. Never been on a cruise before – this is my first. Work was nuts yesterday. Getting off late, arriving late and fortunately the ship leaves at 5PM, so I was able to sleep in this morning. My sister is with me on this trip. It’s been a long time since we’ve spent this much time together. I’m looking forward to that too.
It’s a seven day eastern Caribbean cruise. Should be a nice cruise port schedule. We left the Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port earlier this evening. Now we cruise to Grand Turk Island in the Turks & Caicos. Then on to Road Town, Tortola British Virgin Islands, further south to St Thomas Virgin Islands, swinging back up to Half Moon Cay Bahamas and back to home port. We have two days at sea. There’ll be plenty of time to sightsee with time to rest, relax and enjoy the ship and new friends.
Cruising is certainly a different way to travel. Someone else is driving. I can go for a swim, nap or find a cooking class, all while we’re moving somewhere else. A surprise for me is that I’ve let go of all the rush of everyday life. No cell phone, no computer for the next seven days – I’ve unhooked from those tethers. What bliss!
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Edingburgh, Scotland
Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland
Lerwich, Shetland Islands by Cruise Ship
Akureyri, Iceland by Cruise Ship
Reykjavik, Iceland by Cruise Ship
Alaska Cruises
Cruise Tours
Caribbean & Bahamas Cruises
Mexico Cruises
Hawaii Cruises
Panama Canal Cruises
Onboard Activities & Info
Shore Excursions
Eastern Mediterranean Cruises
Northern Europe Cruise
April 2012
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April 2010
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
February 2008
It’s not a dream; it is a Holland America Alaska Cruise!

No one knows Alaska like Holland America Line. Premium service and comfort has been perfected. Tradition is evident everywhere, from classic teak deck chairs to friendly stewards offering hot chocolate - complimentary, of course. Every stateroom is larger than most other cruise lines and offers stylish appointments such as the custom-designed Mariner's Dream bed.    Get the most from Alaska by enjoying a verandah stateroom or suite, which are more spacious than any other ships in our class. Dining on a Holland America ship is a delight to experience with detail to quality and service that is top notch. Enjoy the elegance of the main dining room, the Pinnacle Grill or a quick bite by the pool or room service.


Every day on board brings a wealth of activities and enrichment programs to showcase Alaska at its best. Learn new ways to prepare seafood in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine. Keep in touch with your work or loved ones in the Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times. Relax in the Crow's Nest and enjoy panoramic views. 

What makes Holland America Line a step above?
  • Every cruise in Glacier Bay National Park will feature ranger commentary from the bridge and an informative presentation. A Hunan Totem speaker will talk about their ancestral ties to the land.
  • A ranger from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park will provide bridge commentary for every visit to the mammoth Hubbard Glacier. Tinged natives will showcase their culture during visits to Yakutat Bay.
  • Seattle departures will host a pre-cruise presentation by a ranger about thonal parks of the Inside Passage.
  • Land tours offering several choices to fit your time and to see the most of Alaska.
  • Comfortable domed rail cars and coaches making travel enjoyable to some of most desirable destinations in Alaska.

Be sure to bring your binoculars along to view the many different wildlife experiences up close.




Denise Belisle Stone
Denise Belisle Stone
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