We did have one big bummer on the cruise.  We were supposed to have a day in Grand Turk, but the weather was bad.  It was sunny and pretty, but there were severe winds.  The captain tried 3 times to bring the ship in, but he couldn’t get it in there safely.  We understood that they have to do what’s safe and apparently, Turks is the hardest port to get into, but we were SO disappointed.  That was the one we were looking forward to the most because the reefs and the snorkeling there is supposed to be so pretty.  We were going to take a champagne catamaran tour.  Oh well….


Welcome to St. Maarten


We found this beautiful little church in St, Maarten


We liked it a lot less after Tony decided to check out the balcony and took a fall down some stairs – ugh!  Oh well, one of our friends drank some water there and was horribly sick for days.  At least we didn’t do that!


Waiting for the water taxi down to the ship.  
Look at how blue that water was.  

In St. Maarten, I had my first snorkel experience.  Well, my first successful snorkeling experience.  I tried it last time but I’m scared of water, so I was pretty freaked out and just barely managed to get my head in the water before it was time to go.  This time, I had my nephew give me a private snorkel lesson before I went and it helped a lot.  I got right in the water and just did it and it was SO pretty.  The water was crystal clear and there were quite a few fish swimming around.

We also did a helmet dive after the snorkeling.  It’s great for people who wear glasses, or don’t like to get their faces wet.  They just put this helmet over your head and shoulders and pump air into it.  Then you climb down a ladder and walk along a little path about 15 feet underwater.  There are handrails and you have guides helping you the whole way.  It’s perfect for beginners like us.  We got to hold a sea anemone right in our hand and feed the fish and one of them bit me!  It was so cool, but we don’t have our underwater pictures developed yet.


This was the view from the water taxi leaving St. Maartin.  
I wish we’d had more time there, it was so pretty.  


Welcome to St. Thomas!  The forecast was for rain in some of the ports, but we lucked out and the weather was gorgeous.  Not terribly hot and it was only humid in San Juan, although I did sunburn my tushie from the snorkeling.  When you are laying flat in the water like that, it exposes areas that don’t get a lot of sun normally – oops!  Made sitting down a little uncomfortable for a day or so…


Shopping and snorkeling was pretty much our St. Thomas experience.  Got some cool shirts, some seashell necklaces, color-changing nail polish for son’s girlie, and some goodies for our friends who were keeping an eye on the kids.  Yes, they were pretty annoyed that we didn’t bring them, but we were cruising on a shoestring even with just the two of us.  

However, the snorkeling in St Thomas was even better than in St Maarten.  They took us out to a special island where there were tons of sea turtles, sting rays, and squid.  Tony had one bump into him when it surfaced and I had one a couple of feet away giving me the evil eye for a few minutes.  One of the ladies even saw a small shark.  I was glad it wasn’t me because I would have FREAKED out!  But if you’d told me a month ago, I’d be snorkeling all by myself in 25 feet of water in open ocean with nothing but my mask and swim fins to keep me afloat, I’d have said you were crazy.  And I am so proud of myself that I did it.  It’s probably the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done!


The fabulous ship on a stick.  They give out these trophies for the trivia contests.  We had won one on our last cruise, so the pressure was on.  Having a head full of useless knowledge is my one redeeming quality, so we entered every trivia contest on the ship and finally I won one for us in the advertising jingle contest – whew!  

Sadly, they make you get OFF the ship at some point, so we very reluctantly left behind all our new friends, and the Carnival staff, who were really awesome by the way, even nicer than our previous cruise with them four years ago.  However, our travel agent ran the numbers and found out it was about the same price to stay over an extra day in Miami so we could fly in an off-peak time, so she found this stunning hotel for us over on the South Beach.  Right on the beach and just about the most gorgeous setting ever.  What a treat!  


Look at these cool cabanas.  There were a bunch of different ones that you could rent.  This was the hotel next door, but ours had TV’s and little mini fridges.  Wouldn’t that be so cool to get in there with your sweetie and just hang out and enjoy the cool breezes without that boiling hot sun on you?  You don’t even have to get in the sand.  Of course, you have to mortgage one of your children, but what the heck?  


Look at this gorgeous art deco mirror at the hotel.  Some of the decor
was a little puzzling, but it was certainly high style and very unique.

I thought this was such a clever idea.  It’s like a Red Box, but for bikes.  You put in a credit card, check out a bike, and then ride it around the beach for as long as you want.  Then when you’re done, you just find another station and check it back in.  How cool is that?

Did we do it?  Heck no.  We were a couple of fat, white people stuffed with cruise ship
cuisine, and I wasn’t about to come home with a face full of sand and gravel if I biffed it on a silly bike!


Miami weather is bizarre.  We saw three different monsoon-like storms like these, but in between, the sun would come out and it would be just gorgeous and sunny!  15 minutes after this downpour, we were sitting out on this patio eating our lunch.  Go figure.


This is Big Pink.  I guess it’s a Miami icon.  All I know is that it was 
the most crowded place I’ve ever been in and had the largest 
menu I’ve ever seen.  But the food was terrific.



What a fitting end to our story.  This is the view from our balcony and I actually woke up early enough to catch this gorgeous sunrise before we had to pack up our bags and catch the plane for home.  Til next time….


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