Today, Patty and I returned from our latest Caribbean Cruise. As you can see from the itinerary (click link above) this was a ten-night cruise to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean aboard the Royal Princess, out of Port Everglades. Due to our Elite status, boarding was quick and easy, and we were on our way with a minimum of hassle. I took over three hours of video, so that will take some time to process (you really don't want to watch that much video). Other details follow.
The first day included a visit to the private Princess "Island" on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Our status meant that we did not have to get a "tender ticket" and wait our turn - we went to the head of the line and got on the next tender to shore. Once there, we found the hut, got our swin noodles, key to the locker and our clamshell assignment. The clamshell was good because it meant that we were out of the sun and we had a place to stash our stuff. Unfortunately the strap on my snorkle mask broke and it was not fixable on the trip, so I did not snorkle this day. I did wander out into the water and took some video underwater. Most of it was not good. Later, after a big lunch, we walked over to the "other side" of the island to see what was there, and then walked back. I got the opportunity to try my new camera stabilizer while capturing the return walk. It was a pretty boring walk and in the official cruise movie I sped it up so it shows in half the time. Finally, back to the ship and a good dinner.
After a sea day, we visited St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Patty and I picked two different excursions this day. Patty went to the Coral Park and the Nautilus Semi-Submersible boat. I have included a bunch of her video in the official cruise movie. While watching the movie, look for one of the ugliest fish ever, the Lionfish, and a guy feeding cat food to a remora fish. I went out on the Castaway Girl to two snorkel spots - one a shipwreck and the other Turtle Bay. I did see a turtle while in the bay.
Next up was a visit to Dominica, where we took a boat excursion to see humpback whales, a bunch of dolphin, some of which played in our bow wake, and then a school of short fin pilot whales. Patty found the best spot on the boat for taking video of the water mammals. We were back on the ship by the afternoon.
Then we were on to Granada, and another snorkel trip. The trip was to an underwater sculpture park, as explained on the official Grenada web site - "One of our most popular snorkeling sites is an underwater gallery of sculptures in our Molinere Beauséjour Marine Protected Area, that very much reflect Grenada’s culture. Fashioned from a variety of media but predominantly from simple substrates including concrete and rebar, they create an ideal substrate, relatively fixed and permanent, on which marine life may develop. They are sympathetically located to enhance the reef, making natural use of its varied topography of craggy gullies and sun-dappled sandy patches. As artificial reefs, these sculptures are proving highly successful so far in attracting a stunning array of varied marine life. In doing so and attracting visitors, they have indeed fulfilled a role in easing the environmental pressure on other reefs in the locality. A key aspect to the sculptures’ appeal has been the dynamic changes brought about by being exposed to the power of the ocean. Unique natural forces including sea surge, wave action and currents have imposed their own influence and changes on the sculptures." You'll have to watch the movie to see what they are talking about. After getting out of the water, we sailed to a nice beach for some relaxing. You can see more about the sculpture park here.
We continued on to Bonaire, where another snorkel adventure was waiting. We went out on the 40 foot sailboat "Mushi Mushi" to a spot in the island marine park. The water was very clear and there was a variety of marine life to see. We've been on a number of sailing catamarans, but while they mostly raised their sails, they would keep the motor running, so we would not be actually sailing. However, on this trip, Captian Bob raised the sails and shut down the motor, so we had a nice sail back to the dock. And the dock was a short distance from the ship terminal, so we got a water taxi ride for about 10 minutes each way. This was an afternoon trip so we had to rush a little to make dinner on time.
Our final port was Curacao, where we had booked a snorkel trip on the Miss Ann. After about a 30 minute bus ride through the town and the countryside, we arrived at the boat dock, and a short while later I was in the water. The snorkel spot was near a sunken tug boat, with lots of fish nearby. There was also a ledge where the bottom dropped away to about 150 feet. Even though I wore a snorkel vest and stayed right at the surface, it was an interesting feeling to swim out past the cliff to where I couldn't see the bottom. There was lots of interesting, to me, coral and fish in the area, and I stayed in the water for most of the two hours at the site. The bus had us back at the ship in time for lunch.
Bonaire and Curacao along with Aruba are part of the so-called ABC islands, which lie between 40 and 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The distance from Curacao, our last port, and Fort Lauderdale is about 1225 miles, and we had 2 days to make it. We tried to convince the captain to head through the Panama Canal and on to Austrailia, but he thought he'd lose his job if we did that. So we had two wonderful, relaxing days cruising through the Caribbean Sea for reading and other stuff. I think I set a new personal best time for packing on the last day - about 50 minutes. Now on to planning the next cruise.
Thanks for staying all the way to the end. Give yourself a reward.