Monday, March 19, 2012

Cruising the Caribbean

Did you know that I have the best husband in the world?  Well, I do.

He has been busy with school this year, but he just got an internship (more on that later), so we decided to celebrate, and he took me on a wonderful spring break vacation.  I've never been on a cruise before, and we found a good deal on a great cruise (thanks, Susan!)  We sailed the Celebrity Eclipse from Miami to Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and St. Kitts for 8 days and 7 nights.  We had a blast doing something different together and getting truly off the grid for 8 days.  I don't remember the last time I didn't have access to a computer or cell phone for that long.  It was glorious. 

Since it was our first cruise as adults, we had a bit of a learning curve.  By the end of the cruise, we knew where to eat the best food and where the best pool chairs were and when the sushi buffet was put out and what types of excursions are best.  We deemed some people on the ship "cruisers".  These are people who have been on approximately one thousand cruises in their lifetime, and they are NOT messing around.  (My apologies if you are a cruiser.)  These people had laminated lanyards for their "sea pass" and they were going to be first in line for food and first off the ship at the port and they were going to wear flip flops and palm tree shirts to dinner.  And don't even try to get in their way.  We had a few good laughs about the many "cruisers" on board.  And then there was our favorite:  cruisers on cruisers.  This was a "cruiser" on a rascal or some sort of motorized chair.  Now THEY were serious.

Anyway... we learned!!  If you're interested, here's the recap!  Picture overload alert!

To save money, we drove 12 hours from North Carolina to Miami instead of flying.  It wasn't a bad drive at all, and we were greeted by a beautiful Miami sunset.
We stayed the night at the home of Brent's aunt, uncle, and cousin.  His aunt & uncle were out of town, but we got to hang out with his cousin, Jorge, and his wife, Kelly.  We had a great time seeing their new house and eating Cuban food for dinner.
This is one view of their backyard which is right on the canal leading to Biscayne Bay.  Who needs a vacation when you live here?
Well, we don't live there, so on Saturday morning, we boarded our cruise!  Getting on board was seamless and smooth, and we had so much fun that first day exploring the ship.  While docked in Miami, we ate lunch outside with a beautiful view of the port and the city.

We finally got into our room, and we loved it!  Our room far exceeded my expectations for a cruise ship room.  It was spacious and nice, and the bathroom was great!  We even had a large balcony with a table and two chairs, and it was so fun to stand outside our room and watch as we sailed away from Miami.

We celebrated our first night in the martini bar. (OK, and every night after that)
I was wondering if they still made towel animals on cruise ships... they do.
On day 3, we reached our first port of call: San Juan, Puerto Rico.
We took a walking tour with a darling old man who I sincerely loved.  He took us on a tour of the historic downtown of Old San Juan and the El Morro Castle and fort.  The views and scenery were spectacular.

If you ignored the tourist section with cheap shops and jewelery stores, downtown San Juan was quite charming.  The cobblestone streets are original.  The streets were paved in cobblestones because when the explorers came there, they filled their ships with stones as "ballast" to balance their ships.  Upon reaching the new world, they found so much gold that they dumped out the stones and replaced them with gold.  As a result, San Juan had enough stones to pave the whole city.  Crazy!  We also saw the church where Juan Ponce de Leon was buried!  My teacher heart liked that.
The buildings really were this cute.

We had dinner at a sidewalk cafe in San Juan.  The drinks and the atmosphere far exceeded the food.  Oh well.
Once we got back on the ship, we headed up to the 16th deck to the "Lawn Club".  The top deck of the ship is an actual lawn with real grass!  That night, they had wine, cheese, and jazz.  They even had cozy flannel blankets to sit on.

Our next stop was St. Martin.  It was interesting to drive through both the French and Dutch sides of the island.  We went on a beach excursion on the French side, and we had a lovely day relaxing and eating lunch in a tropical cabana-style restaurant.

Back on the ship.  Did I mention there was a martini bar?
Our third stop was our favorite by far:  St. Kitts.  We woke up and saw this out our window as we approached the island.  Not bad, not bad.
This was paradise.  Turquoise waters, mountains in the distance, secluded beach, perfect weather, and clear ocean.  We had the best day here swimming, walking, and reading on our beach chairs.  I finally read Twilight!  Yes, for the first time!  I can finally get my English teacher card back.  It was a great beach read.

The picture at the top of this post is us on the beach in St. Kitts.  Love.
This is a view from a lookout in St. Kitts where you can see the Atlantic Ocean (on the left) and the Caribbean Sea (on the right) at the same time.
OK, tourist trap alert:  sorry, but I couldn't resist.  Apparently there are 25,000 monkeys roaming St. Kitts, and many of the locals have taken it upon themselves to capture, train, dress, and keep these monkeys as pets.  There are people everywhere willing to lend you their monkeys for a picture.  We offered the guy $2 for this picture, but he told us it would be $10.  Seriously?!  $10 for a picture with monkeys?  I mean, they did have nice outfits and everything but...  We had already taken the picture, so we just gave him $10 and laughed about it the rest of the day.  We decided that Brent is going to quit school and we're going to be monkey keepers in St. Kitts because at the rate of $10 every 15 seconds, that dude is pulling in $10 million a year.  Just saying.
Did I mention there was a martini bar?
The pools on board the ship had these really cool covered cocoon lounges that you could sit in all day.  And we did.
On one of the last days at sea, there was a HUGE (and I mean huge) brunch display.  It was overwhelming.  This was just one small portion of the dessert display.
Brent enjoying coffee on our balcony
The last night, we ate in this really cool restaurant on board where you ordered your food from an iPad!
That night one of our favorite dishes was lobster escargot... yum!
For dessert, they had "make your own cupcakes".  How cute is this?  They bring you cupcakes, frosting, and toppings, and you make them how you want!!
All in all, the first cruise was a success!  Beautiful, relaxing, and different.  Thanks to my sweet husband for taking me!  Now, back to work...


Laura said...

Wow, your vacation looks sooo amazing!!!

Kate Cottrell said...

Katie - SO jealous of your wardrobe! I've got a few hot weather vacations lined up and cannot find anything I like here...unless I want to spend hundreds of dollars. Why can't Target, GAP, the LOFT, and Old Navy come to Colombia?!

But the trip looks amazing - as do you! Glad you got to get away and turn that computer off!

Liz said...

1. Juan Ponce de Leon.... NERD.
2. Martini Bar = Yes.
3. SO jealous. I mean... wow.

Dana said...

Glad you were able to get away and relax for a bit! Looks like an amazing trip! :)

Jorge & Kelly said...

That cruise looks like to was amazing. Glad you both had fun and it was so great to hang with you both in Miami for a night! Till next time, much love! Hopefully sooner than later

Serge said...
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