Thursday, July 12, 2018

Homeward Bound -- For a Week.........

We had two days at sea before we arrived at our disembarkation port of Boston.  It was nice to relax for a couple of days and reflect on where I'd been.  Four of the ports were new to me - Key West, Cuba, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.  While I was disappointed in not being able to see Cienfuegos in Cuba, it was nice to get a second day in Havana.  I got to visit a number of places around town that would not have been possible in just one day. 

I loved the beach at Grand Cayman.  It had been quite a while since I parked my body on a beach, anywhere, for more than 10 minutes, so the two hours spent there were just glorious.  Hot, but we had shade to lie in, and cool-to-tepid water in the ocean to dip into. 

For me, Jamacia was a "meh".  Nice to do the popular activities, but I'm not interested in a return visit to the island.  If I find myself on another Caribbean cruise that stops at Jamaica, I might venture off for a walkabout, but that's probably all.

I took some photos from my window seat on the airplane as we zipped across the USA from Sacramento to Boston, and then from Boston to Baltimore.  It's quite fascinating to traverse the country, look down at any given time, and not really know where the heck you are.  So much of our country is either farm land, with the neat acre squares of green or yellow, or soaring mountain ranges from the Pacific past Colorado. 

Well, another trip has come and gone.  Next up --- Alaska (again).  Two weeks on HAL's Zaandam, leaving July 16.  We visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Kodiak, Sitka, Homer, Anchorage, Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Victoria, BC, and leave/return via Seattle.  I'm traveling with my bestie Adrienne.  We're lucky we get to spend the equivalent of a month together this year.  2 weeks in Bermuda/Canada in May, and now 2 weeks in Alaska.  I'm stoked!

Not sure if I'll be posting "live" or not -- these last posts were done post trip, and it actually was nice to be able to take my time picking photos and commenting on them.  I used to do this a few years ago, as well.

Till next time - here's a cute quote I came across.  Fits me to a "t".    "I need vitamin SEA".

I love a good wake.

And a good glass of wine......

And a beautiful sunset....

I think the ship staff want me to go home....

Jacob's Ladder glass sculpture in Veendam's atrium.  Very pretty.

Oh look, another sunset.......

Somewhere over the Rockies

After the Rockies heading East

Still in Colorado?

Leaving Boston

I didn't know there were so many little islands off the coast of Boston

This is near Washington DC I think

Baltimore area!

Half Moon Cay

Our final port was HAL's own private island in the Bahamas, called Half Moon Cay.  I've been there a couple of times before, and have always enjoyed the beach there.  In addition to hanging out on the beach, there's a number of other activities you can enjoy there - horseback riding in the water, skidoos, kayaking, train ride, etc.  I chose to enjoy a few hours beachside, with a clamshell (that's a big umbrella kind of thing that sits over 2 beach chairs and keeps you out of the sun. 

Half Moon Cay is also a tender port.  It's always nice to sit on the beach and see your ship anchored out in the bay. 

Here comes the islands tender to pick us up!

Look at this water!!


Snort is diggin HMC!

The water is just amazing. 

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

While Grand Cayman was a tender port, Ocho Rios, in Jamaica, lets us sidle right on up to the dock.  There's a bit of a walk on a boardwalk to get to shore, but no big deal.

When we left Grand Cayman yesterday, they happened to have used two of the tenders right outside my cabin on the promenade deck.  It was kind of fun to watch them load them back onto the ship.

The boardwalk at Ocho Rios pier

Having never visited Jamaica before, I decided to do a couple of the most popular, or well-known activities - ride the Jamaican bobsled, and climb Dunn's River Falls.  There was a HAL tour that combined both activities, so I signed up for it.  Our little van happened to be the very first one out this morning, and the first place we went was Mystic Mountain, where the bobsled ride is located.  You have to first ride a very long sky rail gondola type thingey to get up to the top.  I was the first one on the sky rail, and the first one on the bobsled, for the day.  Whoo hoo!  No long lines in which to wait.

Snort and I had a blast on the bobsled.  You "drive" it by pushing the handles forward to make it go, and pull back on the handles to make it slow or stop.  Near the end, the "system" takes over and slows you down, but for the majority of the ride, you decide your fate.  I started off a bit slow, but gained courage quickly and soon Snort and I were zipping along and flying through the curves in the track.  What a rush!!

After finishing up at Mystic Mountain, the shuttle took us over to Dunn's River Falls.  Here, you can't really have your camera unless you've got it in a "for sure" watertight bag, else it's gonna get wet or you might drop it, etc.  In fact, one guy in our group did just that.  He dropped his iphone right into the water and then the guide a several other people were trying to find it.  They finally did, but man oh man, what a crazy dumbass thing to do.  Anyway, I left my camera/phone back in the locker and only grabbed a few photos after the fact, from the viewing platforms.  The Falls were busy and while the water was cool and refreshing, it was a little boring having to wait in lines to traverse up the Falls.  It took over an hour to climb them.  I enjoyed it, but wouldn't consider doing it again.

See how you have to wait in line? 

Back at the ship, I saw out on my lanai and got an earful of our neighbor ship in port - the MSC Seaside.  It's a new MSC ship and holds 6,200 passengers.  Whoa.  It's a gorgeous looking ship, but one huge turnoff for me was the disco-ish music blaring from it's outside decks, DJ included.  So annoying.  I can't imagine what the passengers on that ship must have felt like, it was so loud across the water from us.  I'll take my little 1,300 passenger HAL ship any day.

Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Following our two and a half days in Cuba, and a day at sea, we next visited Grand Cayman.  This is a beautiful little island!  Here, you can go to Hell and back.  Here, you can drive on the left side of the road.  Here you can find a bank on every corner, sometimes even 4.  Here, there are beautiful white powdery sand beaches and glorious aquamarine waters. 

There's lots of money here.  A veritable plethora of swanky resorts, condos and the like.  There's EVEN, wait for it, a Margaritaville.  Yup. 

 This is the old Homestead House.  AKA The Pink House.  It is the oldest house on the island and probably the most photographed one, as well.  I liked the rainwater capture system they have employed.  Water runs off the metal roof, through a gutter type duct and into a cistern at the back side of the house.  Very simple. Very cool.

Dare I say it???  GO TO HELL everyone!!!!   Bahahahahahahaha,

Snort and I loved our beach time at the Royal Palms Beach Club.  It was heaven, after being in Hell.