Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 2007 Cruise

Mike and I boarded Celebrity's Millennium on December 16th for a one-week cruise. The afternoon we boarded was unusual in two ways: there had been a Coast Guard inspection, which delayed our embarkation process, then there was some bad weather in the northeast and midwest which delayed air travel for some folks, so The Millennium shoved off later than usual. In fact, we were the last ship docked in Fort Lauderdale to leave, so we got to watch all the other ships pass by. It was actually very interesting.

We smiled and waved at several boatloads of people, and then we left, as the sun was setting.

After a cloudy Sunday, the rest of the week was remarkably beautiful, the best weather we've ever had on a cruise. I got my dose of sunshine.

The first day of the cruise was a sea day, so we mostly sat on the deck and gazed at the beautiful sky and ocean, and read our books. We also participated in a Chardonnay blending class, which was sort of a demonstration about how wine is made. We wound up drinking a copious amount of Chardonnay, and that made my afternoon seem even more carefree and happy.

The second day, Tuesday, was San Juan day.

Such a handsome ship! We walked a lot, and I tried to take a few photos, but the streets are very narrow, and San Juan is actually very hilly, and it's hard to capture what it's like, but I'll try, anyway:

That's me in front of El Paseo de la Princesa, and there's a much more artistic picture of it here, no offense, Mike:)

The old city wall juts out, here and there...

Horse and buggy rides...

...and my new paradise alley. After all that walking, we went to the Harbor Brewery and had a couple beers at the bar and watched very strange Madonna videos on some music channel.

Now it's Wednesday, and that means we're now on the island of Tortula. Actually, the ship is not docked but anchored, so we have to take a tender to the island. In this case, it's a ride in a lifeboat. So, what do you do in Tortula? Go to the beach, of course. We took a small bus/taxi to the beach, and it was a very scary ride. It wasn't quite as scary as the ride to the beach on St. Thomas, but it was very close. Actually, the islands look a lot alike. Kidnap me, blindfold me, wake me up, and I wouldn't know the difference, except for the roosters. I've never seen more roosters per square foot, ever.

So, we're riding this open-sided scary taxi to the beach, up and down very very steep, windy, narrow roads. Oh! And they're driving on the left-hand side. This is the British Virgin Islands. I'm hoping all the tourists got the memo about that. And these narrow roads are two-way. I'm having nightmares of failed brakes and head-on collisions, and now there's a teenaged girl two seats in front of me who thinks it's fun to reach out and touch buildings, branches, and such as we go whizzing by. Where is her mother? Obviously, she needs to be hit upside the head because if she loses her arm, I will faint and fall out, and then I will definitely be kilt.
This is a blurry picture, but what do you expect from a tourist who is holding on for dear life with one hand and not focusing with the other? Beautiful views! We still had a lot of zigzagging to go before we got down to that beach, though.

And then the taxi driver stops, two miles before we get to the beach, to make sure everyone pays him now. Then, when we get to the beach, we discover why they told us to bring cash: it's three bucks for each chair, and seven bucks for that umbrella. The beer is surprisingly cheap, though! And we are helping the local economy. It was another beautiful day, and the way back was just as scary, but I survived. This time, we sat up front with three darling little boys who rode with their hands in the air, as if this were a roller coaster. At least their arms were inside the bus. I appreciated that.

Thursday is Caso de Campo day. This is in the Dominican Republic. We once heard a comedian say that Caso de Campo was Spanish for "stay on the ship," but I'm glad we headed for the beach again. We bought a partial day pass to an all-inclusive resort, and it was a very nice day, and our only complaint was that we didn't get to stay long enough. And it was another scary bus ride, this time for a different reason: our driver kept hogging the narrow road, and oncoming vehicles were being forced onto the shoulder. What is it with these bus and taxi drivers, anyway? And we must've forgotten to take pictures.

It's off to Labadee, Haiti, on Friday. This is a beach area that's owned by the cruise line, and it's really a fantastic beach. It's a very short tender ride, and we were once again blessed with fantastic weather.

It wasn't crowded at all, there's more than one beach, and there are play areas for children, too. This stop is really popular, and once again, I wanted the day to last longer...

But now it's Saturday, which is a bittersweet day. It's another sea day, but it is also the last day.

One more day of sea and sunshine...the food was wonderful, and I finished three really good books, and I got beat at Scrabble every night. It was a great time.