Spring Travel

Gosh, there has been a lot of time “in between” blog posts. It’s been since early May when I last posted on this blog. My blog friend Carole Carter wrote about “Quilting and Blogging” this past week and I am always amazed that she can keep up with posting 3 times a week with her busy life. She inspired me to get on with it! I’ve been writing blog posts since 2013, and have 474 wonderful people who follow my blog. Heaven knows why they stick around, especially this year, with only 10 blog posts (including this one!). In my busiest blogging year (2016) I wrote 82 posts. So, let me “get on with it” as they say~!!~

May was an interesting Month. The weekend after Mother’s day, the Hubby and I flew to Florida and went on a 7 day cruise onboard the Caribbean Princess. I booked the cruise because it went to San Juan Puerto Rico and I could get an AFT WAKE VIEW balcony cabin. This was my 22nd cruise with Princess, and my favorite cabin of all times.

Lately when I have cruised, I have starting posting “cabin tours” on You Tube, and I did that for this cabin as well. Hubby and I spent a lot of time just sitting and enjoying the views. Be sure to “like & subscribe” if you enjoyed the video and help my You Tube channel grow a bit.

We did lots of eating ……

dinner at the Crowne Grill
Steak and Lobster at the Crowne Grill the first night

and a bit of drinking

First drinks on board
Chocolate martini and rum & coke – First drinks on the cruise

and spent time on the beach

Shade at Princess Cays
Princess Cay in the Bahamas

and wandering around the ports,

San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan Puerto Rico

and of course, a little time at the pool too.

hanging at the pool

My hubby is ambivalent about cruising, but knows how much I enjoy it, so he does his best to keep up with me, and plays along, pretending to have fun. He’s not a fan of heat and humidity, so he had to do a lot of “playing along” on this trip. It was mid-May and HOT HOT HOT and humid. But that pool, and the wake view helped a lot. I was pleasantly surprised he would hang out all day, in a lounger by the pool, but then again, we were in the shade, and there was a great breeze. Besides…you could order food and drinks and they delivered right to your lounge chairs.

When you are in the cabin, you could order on the app on the television as well. There are lots of choices for included food, and no extra charge for delivery. You can see the “status’ of the order on the screen as well, while you wait on delivery. In all it is very efficient.

Ordering food in the room
Ahh…room service

With our great balcony, it was easy to avoid feeling crowded when the pool decks were busy.

Enjoying the balcony and the view
Enjoying the aft balcony C753 Caribbean Princess

Man do I love to cruise. This was the very “pretty” side of cruising.

In all fairness, I have to talk about the “not so fun” part of travel right now. We were flying out of BWI (Baltimore International) on a direct flight, non stop to Fort Lauderdale. Our 2 hour 39 minute flight was to arrive at 1105 pm. We got to our hotel about 1:30 am. Our flight was an 1 1/2 hours late leaving, and watched out the window as the sole baggage handler loaded all the bags for the flight, in the rain. Our flight was full, and I was stunned that there was just one ground handler for the baggage. As you watch the news in June, this problem became more and more evident for travelers. I felt sorry for the guy, and a bit frustrated as well.

I was ever so grateful that MOST of my packing cubes were vinyl. Those ones with the mesh bags were tucked in between others, and not a lot was damp. I did “unpack” the cubes from the suitcases at the hotel, and leave our suitcases open and standing upright in hopes of drying them out. In the morning, the cubes went back in, and when we boarded the ship, the luggage came fairly quickly. We unpacked, and again, stood our suitcases upright and unzipped to air and thoroughly dry. We were glad of our early boarding time and quick luggage handling at the cruise port.

Another side of the “not so fun” part of travel is apparent in food service facilities in the airports. We had a lot of time on our hands leaving Ft Lauderdale, and had an early dinner in a restaurant in the airport. We were eating about 4 pm, and I felt so sorry for our waitress who was clearly over stressed. When she dropped things in a big way, twice, I seriously thought she was going to just walk off the job. She hung in there, with no help with the cleanup. After our meal and departure, I went back to the restaurant to speak to the manager. I wanted the manager to know that in spite of being over worked, the waitress was amazing, and kept a smile on her face. I was distressed that the other employees didn’t help her the second time she dropped something, and the food & plates sat on the floor for about 15 minutes. (The people for the order got mad and stormed out). The waitress, expecting help for the cleanup never got any help, and she was running drinks and meals to others. When she finally got a moment she cleaned up the floor, on her hands and knees. It dismayed me to see that she had no back up or help when she was clearly over worked. Of course, the manager was thinking I wanted my meal discounted or something, and I explained, that no, I didn’t. What I wanted of the manager was to take a hard look at her crew and maybe come out of the back and be aware of what was happening. It was clear that she was totally unaware. This is just one small example of good people, working hard, yet overlooked by supervisors and managers. We never saw the manager during the hour that we were in the restaurant.

Lastly, the worst part of travel is being packed in like sardines on flights. Both of our flights were full, but I guess we are lucky to have had seats, and no cancellations. We were unlucky in that a couple of days after the flight home my hubby tested positive for C-19, and then towards the end of the week, I did too. We are fairly confident that we did not get C-19 on the ship, as we avoided the elevators, and big crowds, eating dinner as a couple, not at a large table, and not going to venues that were crowded. Thanks to our vaccinations, and our doctor being willing to prescribe PAXLOVID, neither of us were much more than annoyed with cold symptoms. Of course, being stuck at home meant the suitcases got unpacked and the laundry got done quickly following the trip, and before long we were out and about busy again.

Summer is fully on here in Delaware. Sunday’s mean the grandkids and their parents are here for swimming and dinner. This is my favorite time of year. Not a lot happening in the sewing room, but next post I will have a couple of small projects to share.

What are your summer travel plans? If you are flying, I wish you luck. Things are a real mess at the moment.

Cruise adventures

PHOTO intense blog!!!

You might remember my post a couple of months ago about cruising and the CDC. I did cruise in January of 2022 and had a fantastic time. We followed all the “CDC” protocols and felt perfectly safe the entire trip. As I said in that previous post, cruising felt safer than shopping at the big box store. Three of the ports we were going to had strict restrictions for cruise passengers, allowing us to only disembark on a ship tour, and maintain a “cruise bubble”. This was for our safety as well as the safety of the island residents. Everyone on the cruise was vaxed, tested, and some were boosted, so I doubt we were going to cause any problems on shore.

Side note – in January,2022, many cruise ships had to cancel various ports as their C-19 count on board was too high. While America was have 25-35% positivity rates, the cruise industry had less than 3%. Our ship got into EVERY port. That meant we had less that the number local governments were concerned with. As I write this, protocols are continuing to change, both in our state, and in cruising. Yes, I will cruise again, soon.

I flew to Fort Lauderdale and spent the night prior to the cruise in a hotel and shuttled over to the cruise port. Boarding the Enchanted Princess was fast & easy using the Medallion app. A quick document check and we were onboard before noon. My sister had reserved a handicap accessible cabin and I did a “video tour” if you are interested. Ours was a balcony cabin and I was surprised at how large it was, compared to a standard balcony. Plenty of storage and lots of room for a disabled person to move around in the cabin and on the balcony.

Next stop was a drink on the Lido deck!

Welcome aboard margarita!
Nothing better than an icy drink on the Lido deck of a cruise ship!

Before I sailed, I booked excursion in many of the ports. This was a 10 day cruise, and I was ready for fun, adventure, and sun! (It had been snowing at home and I was already sick to death of winter).

Cruise Excursion Jan 2022

Whenever I go to the Caribbean I make a point to “get in the water” if possible. January is best if you go to more southern ports for warmer water. With the exception of Antigua and St Lucia, I got into the water in each port. In St Lucia, I went ZIP LINING and that was the most fun I ever had….ever!

Our first stop was Princess Cays in the Bahamas and I made a beach day out of it. The water did take some getting used to, and the air temp was in the low 80’s. I played around with my little action sport camera there. It was fun to use, taking it under water while I snorkeled. There is a HUGE learning curve with these little action cameras, and between fins, masks, life jacket, goggles, snorkel AND camera, I was overwhelmed slightly trying to manage all the stuff and use the camera. I dumped my fins back in my lounge chair, adjusted the camera slightly, and kept at it. The water at Princess Cays is so darn clear. I chose to head to the quieter end of the beach where I had been in previous trips for my adventures.

AATP0199 under water
not too many fish in this area.
AATP0229  Princess Cay
Absolutely crystal clear water. I was standing waist deep in this photo.
ANMP0233  Drink Time
You could use your “drink package” on Princess Cays

I spent several hours on the beach and then had a break for an adult beverage and some people watching.

I snorkeled in St Thomas and we swam at Honeymoon beach. The current was a challenge for me at Buck Island where we snorkeled, but in the cove at Honeymoon beach it was fantastic. I have a waterproof bag for my phone and the video below is from my cell phone. We were enjoying just floating around with a plastic cup of rum punch in our hands.

In Dominica I did an excursion with a city tour, then to a waterfall and then to the beach.

Dominica city view
Such a pretty view up the hills in Domenica

The road to the waterfall is honestly the worst ride I ever took on a tour bus in my life. The ride took way more time than the time allotted at the waterfall, so I was disappointed. The hike was easy, and really, we didn’t have “enough time” to see the waterfall, or swim at the base.

waterfall in Dominica
Waterfall from a distance
lower platform for viewing waterfall

The lush vegetation made the trip up the mountain worth the trip.

IMG_20220123_130617257 Lush greenery

And knowing we had to go back down the mountain on the same road left me wondering why I ever booked this adventure. The description should tell potential customers that the roads are terrible, and it is an easy hike, instead of warning us of the “difficult hiking terrain”.

Bumpiest bus ride ever

The views were great, the time at the beach was nice, but the food opportunities were seriously lacking. The beach was black sand, and you need your beach shoes/water shoes.

IMG_20220123_144940547_HDR  Black Sand Dominica
Black sand beach in Dominica

The water of course was fantastic. It was a relaxing end to the day after that crazy long bumpy bus ride.

Barbados is my FAVORITE beach island. The sand is like fine sugar. Because it is (was) one of islands where the local government required you to stay in a “cruise ship bubble” we had to take an excursion. We went to a place called Harbor Lights. The beach was great, the service good and nice facilities. I would recommend a beach day at Carlisle Bay. My friends on board wanted to go to “The Boatyard Club”, which we passed on the way to Harbor Lights, but it wasn’t available for the “bubble”. NEXT time I will give it a try. Harbor Lights had a cute bar area, shower area and food available for purchase. We had lounge chairs and umbrellas, but were directed as a group on where to “sit”, for bubble purposes. The water was warm and relaxing. It was a great place to swim, and to chill out. Not a spot for snorkeling but great for easy entry and relaxing.

Barbados
Barbados

In St Lucia, I went ZIP LINING and that was the most fun I ever had….ever! This was a bucket list item, and my daughters reminded me, none to gently, that I wasn’t getting any younger! I’m so glad I went for it!

No, I didn’t get “in the water” but the water got in me! It absolutely poured all day long. I donned my poncho and made the best of it.

ANMP0243 Geared up and ready to go
Geared up and waiting to board the gondola

We rode a gondola up the mountain and got rained on the whole time.

IMG_20220125_134557711 On the Gondola
I had a front row seat on the Gondola, and the rain pelting in the entire 30 minute ride up the mountain.

We hiked down the mountain to the first of 10 platforms for the ziplining. In small groups, with 2 guides, we had a ton of personal attention. This was a first experience for me and it was absolutely thrilling.

I was “partnered” to a fellow from Connecticut, and you can see in the photo below that he was making the best of all the rain. Yes, we had to wear our masks, outside in the rain, the entire time. (Glad I left a dry one in my bag in the locker down below).

ANMP0257  Jim from Connecticut
Jim from CT was drenched but having fun. Hard to keep the water off the camera

The guides did all the work, hooking your harness to safety lines, and to both zip lines, and gave you a little shoulder push when you said you were ready. The guide at the other end slowed your speed down and brought you in to the next platform carefully, with no hard landings. I was a little nervous at the start but so excited and after the first run, it was obvious to me that it was extremely safe and I just smiled (behind my mask) the whole darn time.

If you can stand watching, this video is my “first line”. I had a wrist mount on my camera, and of course, was using my hands a lot, so there are lots of views that are of my shoes, and sideways etc. What you are watching is me on the first platform getting “hooked on” the line, zipping, then being stopped at the next platform. The guide on that platform sends a stop block out on the line to stop your descent and then bring you slowly into the platform. The first thing he did was hook a safety line to my harness, then disconnect me from both of the lines.

My first run on the zip lines

This next one is much easier to watch, and shorter. ūüôā

On my next run I had the camera in better position

All the platforms had a sign that gave you information, height from the base of the forest, weight restrictions and distance of the next line. I didn’t think to take pictures of all of them, but did capture a couple.

ANMP0267 Platform 7
Platform 7, 205 zip length

Soaking wet and laughing was the tone for the day! The only “not fun” part of the day was hiking back uphill in the rain and mud to the gondola platform for the ride back down to the base. That part was tough, and hard work, climbing up hill. Overall, if you ever get to St Lucia, or any other place that “Rainforest Adventures” has ziplining, go do it! The employees are awesome, and the safety measures top notch!

The only island I did not disembark and take a tour on was Antigua, and I have to say, now I wish I had.

Antigua

I’ve been there before, and because it was such a port intense cruise, I felt I needed a break. I knew I would be a little tired after all the adventures, and I spent my day in the hot tub, on the back deck of the ship! The mountain hike with my zip lining trip was a serious workout.

Now, about the cruise – we were on the Enchanted Princess, a very lovely new ship with lots of technology. The best of that being we could use our Medallion App or our TV to order food and drinks for delivery wherever we were located. I spent my time onboard the ship going to performances in the Princess Theater and the various lounges, as well as going to see some of the fun game shows they have on the nightly schedule. The food, as always, was delicious and I made an effort to eat more fish this trip. Of course, I spend a lot of time walking the deck after dinner to work off the calories. During “sea days” it was nice to find a pool lounger and soak up some sun, or retreat into the shade after an hour or two. There were plenty of pools (4) and lots of hot tubs. The ship was about 50% capacity, and NOTHING was crowded. I won’t bore you with a lot of onboard photos, but will share one or two of my favorite views.

IMG_20220125_202902379 Infinity pool on the aft
Infinity pool at the aft of the ship

IMG_20220127_171039914_HDR cheers
cheers until the next cruise

And, naturally, cruising in January means coming home to this —

Screenshot_20220128-211047.png Weather at home
Snow and cancelled flights

With the snow in the forecast I reserved a hotel in Ft Lauderdale for disembarkation day, and knew well ahead that my flights were going to be impacted. I stayed an extra day and got home with no interruptions. It was a shock to my system coming home to the cold!

My next cruise is with my husband later in the spring, back to the Caribbean. I’ve already started planning our adventures for that trip! Fingers crossed most of the craziness in travelling with C-19 will be gone by the time we go.

What kind of fun is ahead on your radar? Would you go ziplining?

Travel adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Last post I talked about the adventure in travel while flying and new requirements for cruising. This post is about the fun adventures I had in one port of call, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I sailed on the Grand Princess, beginning October 18, for a total of 18 days , 4 cruises. We went from San Pedro California to Cabo San Lucas on a 5 day cruise, round trip, then from San Pedro to San Diego California and Ensenada Mexico round trip for a 4 day cruise. We repeated each of those cruises a second time. This gave me an opportunity to try a variety of activities at each port of call.

On arrival in Cabo San Lucas Mexico for the first journey, I signed up for an excursion that was definitely a new adventure for me.

Booking through the cruise line, I boarded a bus that took me up the coast to a ranch, called Tierra Sagrada – Cabo Adventures, Todos los Santos, Playa Cerritos Sur Pecadero, Mexico. My adventure for the day was a CAMEL RIDE! Yes, a real camel!!

Camel ride Tierra Sagrado

Our camels were “tethered” together and we had someone walking along to make sure they behaved . Our ride was about 20 minutes long from start to finish, and there were lots of photo’s being taken by the resident photographer. I guess I was unprepared for purchasing the whole collection of photos, so I came away with just this one copy, but a lot of fun memories. I can officially say I was “kissed” by a camel, had an experience that I would encourage everyone to do! The excursion included a ride on the sandy beach and through the desert.

At the end, we learned a lot about the animals, and then took a nature walk thru the desert gardens to the restaurant, where we were served at a buffet some typical Mexican food. I really enjoyed everything I ate, and I also enjoyed the tequila tasting after the meal.

Meal at Tierra Sagrada Cabo adventures
Chicken Mole, pinto beans, caprese salad, green bean salad, broccoli, potatoes and a quesadilla

Chicken Mole is an interesting flavor, with a hint of chocolate. Some make mole with chocolate, and other recipes do not. This one was fairly rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy. I had not had Chicken Mole since I was in the 7th grade at a friend’s birthday party. All in all the food was delicious!

The tour company, Cabo Adventures did a great job with their facility out in the desert. Check out the offerings – https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/outback-and-camel-safari

My second visit to Cabo San Lucas was also just as much fun, but a lot more activity. The excursion was also with Cabo Adventures, and I went prepared to “buy the photo pack” ! This time I was booked on an Electric Biking Beach Tour. (https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/electric-bike-adventure)

We road out across the desert first and then back along the beach. These fat tire bikes could really get through the sand, especially with the electric motor the bike had. It was almost like riding a mini-bike. Out of our group, 2 ladies dropped out of the ride, as they didn’t feel confident or in control. I am overly cautious, and kept my speed down, so I didn’t spin out or spill. I got to see some video from one of the cruise ship employees on the ride when he spun out and crashed !. I think he was showing off for one of the dancers from the ship. I was without a doubt the only “senior citizen grandma” taking this ride, but I had a great time. This was much more “active” than the camel ride. They loaded us up with safety gear and we road for about 2 hours. It was definitely and adventure. It did take some “getting used to” riding these power assisted bikes. Other than starting off, you really didn’t have to pedal much, but as a person who rides bikes, it just came naturally for me to pedal. The bike had a throttle and a speed controller, and you could get going pretty fast. Laughing was part of the activity for sure.

This excursion included lunch and margaritas! While the meal may look the same, I made different choices, including ribs and a green salad.

Another wonderful lunch Tierra Sagrada Cabo Adventures

Our tour guide was making the margaritas, and liberally pouring them for us! It was a great way to relax after the exhilaration of the bike ride.

No visit to Cabo San Lucas can be without a view of the ARCH !!

The Arch in Cabo

Returning to the ship, I enjoyed some relaxing in the hot tub after the bike ride! Our ship stayed in Cabo overnight, and during the evening many people were out on shore, having dinner and enjoying the town. I pretty much had the pool area to myself!

relaxing on board

Early the next morning I got to see a wonderful sunrise from our balcony.

Dawn in Cabo

Little did I know there was a fishing tournament starting just past sunrise — promoted as “World‚Äôs Richest Tournament, the Bisbee‚Äôs Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament“, hundreds of boats were milling around near the cruise ship and the rocks.

boat fishing challenge

At one point, the boats all took off in various directions, as fast as they could go!

Heading out to fish

It’s a high-profile yearly event where competitors put down astronomical entry fees to lure a marlin big enough to take the jackpot.

Since our ship stayed anchored overnight, I was able to enjoy the view of the rocks, while eating my breakfast….million dollar view !

Breakfast in Cabo

My sister and I found a great spot on the back of the ship to hang out and visit for the morning and still have a view of “the rocks”.

Anne and Mary in Cabo

All said and done, our visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, both times was a resounding success.

Check back later this week for some of the action from San Diego and Ensenada.

Travel Fun (Part 2) Falmouth Jamaica and Grand Cayman

FAIR WARNING РLOTS of photos!  Travelogue of my recent cruise on the Regal Princess- Western Caribbean Jan 27-Feb 3 2019.

My recent travel adventures included a visit to Falmouth Jamaica. ¬†I’ve been to Ochos Rios a couple of times, and the ship offered many tours that took you from the port in Falmouth to the numerous tourist sites in Ochos Rios. ¬†I could not decide on what to do, as I did not want to wander about independently and I had no desire to spend an hour or more on a bus headed to Ochos Rios. ¬†So, my been there done that attitude kept me at the ship. ¬†I wandered off with another passenger and my sister and explored the huge port area, full of shops, bars, and restaurants. ¬†Rain was in the forecast, and threatening to let loose at any moment. ¬†We ventured into Margaritaville for lunch and an adult beverage.

Margaritaville Falmouth Jamaica

That is quite the set up in this port, complete with a pool and swim up bar. We opted for a table under “cover” because of the impending rain, not wanting to be caught with a table full of food when the skies opened up. I enjoyed a platter with Jerk Chicken, rice and beans and ¬†a delicious banana margarita. My lunch, with 16.5% sales tax and a 20 % tip ran $40. YIKES! ¬†The tip was good because the service was great.

Selfie with Princess the waitress

( Side note – travel brings fun experiences and great memories. ¬†When I started to work on this post, my nearly 11 year old grandson was very interested in the picture below, with the various countries currency. ¬†He immediately used the calculator to convert his US Dollars monthly allowance into Jamaican Dollars! It was great fun watching him figure out the calculation necessary. He was impressed by the result of the ¬†large number that the allowance would be in Jamaican dollars. Grandma didn’t delve into the relative “value” of the various currencies…he figured it out on his own ¬†)

The bill for lunch

Our waitress Princess was fantastic and made sure she got her photo taken with mine! #MVILLECARIBBEAN ¬†She really was attentive and earned that tip ! ¬†My sister was NOT a big fan of the LIGHT Red Stripe beer. ¬†She ordered a “regular” Red Stripe and liked it a bit better. ¬†There were all kinds of kiosks and shops with everything you could imagine buying just outside the door of Margaritaville. ¬†In fact, you had to go through the obligatory gift shop to exit to the dock area. In my typical fashion, I wandered along with my sister while she shopped here and there. ¬†I came home with memories but no stuff.

Just as we got back on the ship the weather gave us what it promised and the drizzle turned to steady rain.  The temperatures dropped and we spent the rest of the day on board the ship in the comforts it offered.

Rain over the resort in Falmouth Jamaica

I did some checking on the “next day” forecast and it looked MUCH better –

planning ahead for Grand Cayman

My excursion plans in Grand Cayman had been set for 3 or more months!  The weather forecast was perfect!!

Plan for Grand Cayman

I started my day like this –

Perfect start to the morning in Grand Cayman

From the balcony, I had a view of the dawn over George Town Grand Cayman –

Morning light in Grand Cayman

And I could watch all the lifeboat “tender activity” as well –

Regal Princess Tenders

You can see we were NOT the only ship in town. This meant busy docks, busy tours, busy shops.  My tour was fairly early, so I was off the ship right after breakfast. Once I tendered over to the dock, I could see 4 ships from that location!

4 ships in Grand Cayman

I often wonder if Grand Cayman will ever invest in docks suitable for cruise ships! ¬†The tour group quickly gathered, and in minutes we were off on a mini-bus to the West Bay. ¬†We arrived quickly and selected our bikes, and set off with our leader –

Bike tour guide

We had “single speed beach cruisers” , not mountain bikes as advertised in the tour description.

Bike ride equipment

I had to remember how to use coaster brakes.  But, all was good and we road a fair distance for the tour. About 3 miles into our ride, we made a stop at the Cayman Turtle Centre where we had an opportunity to hear about the breeding program and to see the very large turtles in the breeding pond.  It was a good stop for some water, restrooms and sightseeing.

Breeding turtles

The photo doesn’t show the size of these turtles. ¬†They were 3-4 feet across.

Cayman Turtle Farm breeding pool

As I was editing photos for this post, I “googled” the Cayman Turtle Center and came across a very disturbing story from¬†National Geographic¬†about this turtle center and the crowding. ¬†My photo below shows that crowding –

crowded in the breeding pool

While touring, I did not realise that this crowding together was problematic until later when I read that article linked above. ¬†The “handling” indicated in the article was done also. ¬†I always chose not to “touch” the animals, as I think it is stressful regardless of the environment. ¬†I remember scuba diving in Hawaii in 2008 and being told “don’t touch” the green turtle, when he swam near us. All of the visitors were offered an opportunity to “hold” a young turtle for a “selfie shot”, and I did take lots of their photos!

Holding turtles for selfie shots

Again, I don’t think those of us on the tour had any idea of the article in National Geographic and the stress these turtles were put under. ¬†It was a “fun activity” at the time, but in hindsight, it makes me a little sad that this was being promoted by cruise lines. ¬†80% of the visitors at the turtle center come from cruise ships. I selected this tour because I thought I was doing a healthy “good” activity. ¬†Well….back on the bike ride, we went straight from there to HELL ! ¬†Literally…..

Of course, the path to Hell is paved with Rum Cake and we did stop by for a sample on the way there!  The view on the way to HELL was pretty nice!

Rum cake stop

That stop took place at a “tourist shop” where you could taste the cake and buy your souvenirs too! I had my bite of rum cake but went back out to enjoy the view!

Nicky's tour stop

Like I said — next stop was

Just a stop over

looking at the dead coral in Hell

I found this sign on the viewing platform –

The story behind the name

For an easier to “read” description – check out the wikipedia version¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell,_Grand_Cayman

I did get my passport stamped in the general “store/gift shop”; spent my money on postcards and quickly wrote notes to loved ones in the event I never returned. ¬†I DID return home, but the post cards are still making their way through the international postal systems of the Cayman Islands and the US Mail. ¬†No one has received theirs yet. ¬†ūüė¶

While standing on the viewing platform, I noticed a vine flowering and I thought the contrast between limestone looking quite dead and the new life of the vine was interesting –

flowering near the dead coral in Hell, Cayman Islands

It made me think that even amidst the bleak, dead limestone God gives new life.

We were soon back on our bikes and completed our circuit of the West Bay. ¬†We rode a total of 6.83 miles on the tour with very little elevation change. It was a nice pace, of 7.6 mph according to my “STRAVA” app. ¬†

We had a few minutes to have a nice drink at the Commodore Restaurant and Bar while we looked out at the bay and cooled off from our ride. ¬†A cold beer was just the ticket after all that exercise! ¬†Our ride back to the ship was a rather hair-raising ride with a driver who was “in a hurry” to make another pick up. No tip for him! ¬†I did a few videos while I was on that wild ride in the bus and hoped they would be in my “google cloud” if I ended up dead! ¬†We arrived safely back to the docks and I tendered back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at the pool!

Pool time in Grand Cayman

It was a perfect end to the day!  This is one of my favorite parts of cruising!  Have an adventure, then come back to the ship for some relaxation!

More later……..

 

Travel stories – part 1- Cruising on the Ruby Princess

(Fair warning – photo filled post!)

In order not to bore you to death, I will break up my posts. (Besides, I have lots of photo’s still to sort through.)

I returned this past Sunday from nearly 3 weeks of travel.  I thought I would share a few of my travel memories.

I spent part of my time away cruising the Baja Peninsula of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. ¬†The Sea of Cortez is more commonly known in the US as the Gulf of California. ¬†According to Wikipedia “The Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez, Sea of Cort√©s or Vermilion Sea; locally known in the Spanish language as Mar de Cort√©s or Mar Bermejo or Golfo de California) is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland.

Our 10 day cruise began in San Pedro CA, then to San Diego CA, and on to the Mexican ports of  Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta and back to San Pedro CA.

I’m sharing a map so you can pinpoint our itinerary.

Before we sailed from San Pedro, I got to visit with my sister Cathi, who met us for breakfast and took us to the port! She lives in So. California and happened to actually be there. ¬†She is usually on the road, so it was a nice way to start the trip, and my birthday! ¬†I haven’t spent time with her in quite a while!

Approaching the port of San Pedro

That is our ship, the Ruby Princess in the background.

We were onboard the ship within 30 minutes of Cathi pulling up to the port.  This was my 4th time on the Ruby Princess, so finding our way around was pretty easy.  Anne had chosen a window cabin on deck 5, just around the corner from the International Cafe and COFFEE !!  Great location on the ship!

Anne & Mary ready to sail April 2018

It didn’t take long for us to dump our carry-on items in the cabin and find our way to our FAVORITE spot on the ship!

A favorite spot on the Ruby Princess

We like this spot on the aft end of the ship because we can watch the port happenings and the busy waterway.

Port of San Pedro California.

and of course, there is a bar close at hand.  Perfect spot for sailaway!

Anne & Little Zack

My sister, Anne, brought along a travel buddy РLittle Zack Р he wanted to stow away, but she let him out of the baggage!  Lots of folks at the bar wanted to know about Zack. He was a great conversation starter!  I think 2 of the bartenders signed the back of Zack too.

We had a meet & greet (informal) with some folks from Cruise Critics shortly after the “MUSTER Drill”. ¬†This is the first time (in more than 17 cruises) we haven’t had to drag our life jackets to the MUSTER Drill. What a relief. ¬†Our luggage arrived in our cabin within an hour of our embarkation, and we were unpacked before the MUSTER Drill. (That’s also a first). ¬†We had early dining (5:30 pm) and met our lovely table mates whom we would dine with for the duration of the cruise. A table for 8 is a nice size, easy to “move around” nightly, sitting next to different people, and getting a chance to get to know each other. I’m not a fan of the early dining, but you do finish in time to catch the sunsets! ¬†Late dining is too late. ¬†Other cruises we have done any-time dining, and you never know how long you might have to wait for a table, or whom you might share the table with on any given day.

We sailed overnight to San Diego Ca. We had no specific plans. I wanted to take the Seal Tour, and Anne want to find local microbrews.  We were able to take a free shuttle bus from the dock over to Sea Port Village.  We ventured into  The Headquarters  a 1939 Police Station and took a few photos.

Mug shots The Headquarters San Diego

We both served a little “time” in the police station lock up! ¬†Just wondering what our “mug shots” would say!!!

The Headquarters Jail

“Tourists running amok in San Diego”

At the HQ Jail in San Diego

“WILD SISTERS – wanted for having too much fun” or something on an early Sunday morning!

The LINE UP with Anne

Not sure if my sister took a photo of ME next to the lineup wall, but if she did, I would be the “TALL” one….lol…..

The San  Diego Sea Port Village is a pretty place to wander around, shop, eat and play!  Definitely designed for walking, browsing, sitting and people watching.

Seaport Village San Diego CA

Carousel at Seaport Village San Diego

I loved the old carousel!

History of the Looff Carousel

Too bad it was so early! ¬†There wasn’t time to go back later for a ride.

Sweet little bear

We eventually found our way over to the  San Diego Seal Tours kiosk, inquired about pricing and accessibility.

San Diego Seal Tours

No way my sister was climbing those steep steps with her bad knees. ¬†We didn’t book the excursion with the ship, because the steps were too steep. ¬†I checked out the website and saw you could board in the Seaport Village using a handicap lift, suitable for non stair climbers and wheelchairs. ¬†With that concern resolved, we booked ourselves on the next available SEAL. ¬†What a great time! ¬†This vehicle tours along N. Harbor Drive, and the Embarcadero, past the airport and eventually into the San Diego Bay. ¬†Along N. Harbor Drive you could see all the wonderful walking areas, as well as the military installations that San Diego is known for. ¬†The “splash” into the water was uneventful. ¬†The views from the water were terrific and the tour was well narrated. Blankets were provided in case the wind was too much. ¬†It was colder riding along on the road at 35 mph or higher than it was on our 5mph ride in the water. ¬†The “water ride” was pretty noisy as you will note in this video. I was hoping to catch the sounds of the harbor seals “barking”, but the background noise over powered the sound of the seals on the video.

Fishing bait station

These platforms had “bait fish” underneath. I think the seals liked their resting spot! ¬†Commercial & recreational fisherman stop at a booth on the platforms to purchase their bait in the bay, before leaving the harbor area to go deep sea fishing.

Of course, as our sail came to an end, all sailors get a silly hat to wear!

Silly Hats on the San Diego Seal

I was able to catch a quick photo of the launching ramp as we approached it to exit the water.

Boat ramp for the Seal Tour San Diego CA

A short drive up the ramp and we were back onto N. Harbor Drive.  I enjoyed the sunshine, the blue skies and palm trees!  (At home it was dreary, damp and cold!!)

We finished our day with a little shopping, and a nice lunch with local beer at Buster’s Beach House.

Sail away from San Diego was wonderful to watch. ¬†This really is a beautiful bay. ¬†I haven’t been to San Diego since I was a child, and I enjoyed visiting. It looks like the kind of place you could go and spend a week. ¬†Rent a bicycle or just walk along the Embarcadero. ¬†The weather was perfect.

San Diego Bay

Leaving San Diego, next stop – Cabo San Lucas Mexico.

Ruby Princess leaving San Diego Bay

More pictures and posts on another day!