Archive for April, 2018

The Fabulous Four Cruise the Caribbean

April 12, 2018

Fab four on cruise

Elissa and I flew to Miami and met Tammy and Kevin at the airport. We checked into the J.W. Marriot and celebrated my birthday at the restaurant there. Elissa ordered a Rueben sandwich which had smoked salmon instead of pastrami. Totally yummy. 

After an after-dinner drink in the bar, we returned to our rooms. Neither Elissa nor I could get the key card to unlock our door.  We went to the front desk and they called someone to meet us at our room. We tried to take the elevator up to our room, but we needed to use the key card to do it. Another person in the elevator showed us how to use the card. The big arrow did not indicate the end which should be inserted. It was the tiny arrow on the other side of the card. After these instructions, we had no problem unlocking the door to our room.

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We boarded our ship, The Celebrity Eclipse, on Sunday in fine spirits. It was quite luxurious. We are booked into suites on the “Aqua” level, which gives us perks, such as dining in Blu, a much smaller dining room.

We all slept well. The next two days are “at sea.” Elissa and I attended seminars on excursions and shopping in our first port, St. Maarten. Daniele, the shopping coordinator, gave us coupons for freebies at jewelry shops.

Tammy and Kevin went to the Trivia contests.

I tried out the heated tile beds in The Persian Gardens. Very relaxing and conducive to meditation.

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I worked on my book about Cuba. Tammy had a manicure, pedicure and massage. We took relaxing seriously.

I went to the Motown show. Great music and everyone danced.

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When the ship docked in St. Maarten, we took the morning to shop. I bought some tanzanite jewelry and Elissa bought a diamond ring.

Our tour that day was “Flavors of St. Maarten.” The tour was small, only a small bus was needed. Our tour guide Randy and our driver Romeo were entertaining and informative. The island was hit by the fall hurricanes. The Dutch part is eighty percent repaired, but the French side is progressing much more slowly.

Our first shop was the Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor store, on the Dutch side of the island. We tasted four cheeses, paired with wines. I realized that aging Gouda cheese changes and improves the flavor.

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Next, we went to the French side to The Sky’s the Limit, a lo-lo which is an outdoor restaurant with tables. We had barbeque ribs and chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and a johnny cakes. Delicious.

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Randy told us about “jollification.” That is when all your friends come over to paint your house. You serve them food and beer after the job is done.

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We went on to Little Mobay, a Jamaican restaurant situated near Airplane Beach. It was fun to watch the planes come so close to the beach and street. We ate ackee vegetables with slat fish, plantains, pasta salad and rice.

Our last stop was La Sucriere, a French pastry shop. We were seated on the back porch which was also inhabited by iguanas which had been named by the patrons of the bakery. The croissant was fabulous and put the ones on the ship to shame. We all fell in love with the brown butter muffin. I liked the coconut and chocolate tarts.

On Antigua, we all went to swim with the stingrays. Our guide on the bus, Dari, was enthusiastic and sang songs. When we arrived at the site to get the boats, our guide Dijon demonstrated with a stuffed stingray how to hold, feed and pet the sea creatures.

We boarded the boat and headed out to Stingray City. All passengers had to put on life vests but inflating them was not mandatory. When we reached Stingray City, we got off the boat and into the water. The guides corralled some stingrays, so we could hold them as our picture was taken.  We went further in to the aquamarine water and encountered many stingrays to pet.

Fab four stingray

The next day we docked at St. Lucia. Kevin took a sightseeing tour. First think in the morning Elissa and I had a massage that was heavenly.

Elissa and I went through a few shops at the pier. It was very hot and humid. We sat down at The Pink Papaya restaurant. I ordered a rum drink that tasted like a slushee. It went down smoothly. We listened to a man singing and playing the steel drum. We were captured by his voice and songs.

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Elissa ordered a different rum drink which tasted like pure alcohol. She took a few sips and drank no more. She went back to the ship while I used the free wi-fi to post some photos on Facebook. The rum hit me suddenly. I made it back to our cabin and fell asleep immediately. I’m not much of a drinker. I go from sober to asleep, missing the high.

In Barbados the next day Tammy, Kevin and Elissa took a catamaran snorkeling tour. I thought I wouldn’t want to be on a catamaran, but I had the wrong vision of the boat. I also went snorkeling. We all snorkeled and saw the turtles as well as many other fish. We saw a shipwreck from fifteen years ago that the fish took as their own habitat. We had time to swim in the sea.

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After Barbados, we had a day at sea and time to rest up from our adventures.

The next port was on Bonaire. Tammy had treated Elissa and I to a tour for our birthdays. We were met on the pier by a man in shorts, jacket and tie with a flamingo motif. We went on a very uncomfortable old school bus. The guide started out by making a sexist comment. We saw some flamingos. The guide said there were 7,500 flamingos on Bonaire and over 200 wild donkeys. We passed pink ocean water where the salt was taken out, and the mountains of salt. We stopped to get photos of the slave huts, but our guide gave us no information about them. Instead, he made a racist remark about the Chinese.

We were dropped off in the parking lot of a resort called Delfins. No one met us there, so we sauntered to the beach and took up residence in comfy chairs, trying to stay out of the sun. I rented snorkeling equipment and joined Kevin in the water. The beach was rocky, and the dried-up coral made it doubly hard to get into the water. I saw a few fish, but not many. We were given one drink ticket and we got soft drinks with it.

We went to lunch at the resort. There were three courses, but we were only allowed to choose two. A waitress brought a bottle of water that barely dilled our glasses. We all had the cod. It was tasty, but the portions were miniscule. The desert we chose was “deconstructed apple pie.” It was weird. We didn’t like it. When we got back to the ship, we complained about the tour guide and the destination. The Shore Excursion desk refunded our money. 

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Tammy and Kevin sent beautiful flowers for Elissa’s birthday

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Most of the shows in the evenings were disappointing. The comedian on the unicycle was so bad no one laughed.

 

We did love Jane Curry, a singer, and Amy Lee, a violinist. December 1963 did a super job of singing the tunes of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons. And the cruise director Eddy and the Captain Leo were hysterical in the Liar’s Club game.

I took a snorkeling excursion on the first day we spent at Curacao. The captain told us about the mansions on the shore and we saw a 1.25-million-dollar yacht with a helicopter. It was in a small boat and when we went out into the sea I felt sick. We went to the Spanish Bay and to Curacao Bay. I snorkeled and saw the most amazing fish. By this time, I was feeling quite sick, so I didn’t go around to another cove. All the excursions offer unlimited sum drinks after we snorkel, but I didn’t want to imbibe and immediately fall asleep on the boat. I had forgotten to change the patch behind my ear.

I went shopping after walking over the “floating bridge.” Since Curacoa is a Dutch island, much of the architecture in Dutch but painted in Caribbean colors. I also saw a heart with locks on it. People are encouraged to put a lock on the sculpture “to lock your love.”

That evening Elissa and I explored the top deck of the ship and watched the sun set. Most evenings the clouds impeded our sunset view. That night I thought the clouds made a face with the sun.

For our second day at Curaçao, Elissa and I took a tour to the Hilton where there was a boat that was half submarine. We went below to sit and see the fish up close. A diver went down to feed the fish and it was a frenzy. Elissa got sea sick. After the tour she went back to our suite while I went over the floating bridge and shopped for souvenirs. It was so hot I thought I was going to pass out. When I got back to the suite my face was beet red.

Elissa and were waiting in the Blu dining room for dinner when Tammy called with horrible news. Kevin’s father had just died unexpectedly. We were all shocked and saddened by the news, Tammy asked to speak to the rabbi on board. They cancelled their excursion for Aruba.

In Aruba, I went on another snorkeling tour on a catamaran. It was a large sailing ship. First, we went to a wreck of Atilla that had a great story behind it. In 1940, a German battleship sailed into Aruba. The Dutch official on the island spoke to the captain and he agreed to surrender the ship and the crew the next day. But the captain of the ship got orders from his superior that said under no circumstances should the ship be allowed to be captured because Germany did not want their advanced technology falling into the hands of the Allies. The captain exploded the ship and he and the crew swam to the island and became prisoners of war. After the war, the captain stayed in Aruba and opened the first hotel on the island. The hotel is still in business, being run by the captain’s descendants.

We docked at Pelican Bay where we had a huge BBQ lunch and then time on the beach. I sat in the shade and watched a sand volleyball game. We went back to our ship by bus, not by boat. The bus driver pointed out all the resorts and time-shares.

Elissa did some shopping in Aruba but found it too hot to continue even if there were bargains to be had.

Since I hadn’t participated in many of the onboard activities, I decided to be a part of the flash mob dance. We had three rehearsals before our performance on the last night of the cruise.

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Most nights we ate in the Blu restaurant, reserved for Aqua level people. Dinners on the ship are good and luckily for us, the portions small so we didn’t feel stuffed when they were over.

One of the  most amazing features of the boat was a full-sized tree drowing in the middle.

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A great time was had by all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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