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Old 05-06-2012   #1 (permalink)
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Bruce & Pam cruise the Southern Caribbean-Mostly photos

For the first time in 20 years we did not schedule at least one winter vacation because Pam had some surgery late in the year and we knew the complete recovery time could be a few months. In early March she was feeling better and found another cruise she was interested in. While I thought we were done cruising for a while, Pam had been through a painful winter so it was an easy decision to go along with.

We booked a cruise out of Puerto Rico for the 3rd time because leaving from there lets you get to the islands further down the Caribbean without using full sea days to get to them. The Princess ship we booked, the Caribbean Princess, was the same one we had been on twice in the last two years.

While I usually do quite a bit of pre trip research and have some rental cars on hold for us this time I just had a car on hold in Aruba and a guide hired for the day in Grenada, otherwise I was just going to let Pam rest and take each day as it came.

The ship was scheduled to depart San Juan at 11 pm on a Sunday night with an arrival scheduled in St. Maarten for mid-morning Monday. We got to the ship mid afternoon Sunday and just took it easy and ate and drank a bit, which will be a recuring theme for the week. Since the staff usually is on board for an average of 8 month contracts I knew the odds of seeing any of our favorite staff from last time were slim so we were hoping to find some new favorites this time. Our first few trips to the bar found pleasant and efficient staff but nobody that seemed easy to warm up to.

One of the concerns I had preceding the trip was our evening dining arrangement. We always do what is called Traditional Dining, which simply means you have the same time, same table and same waiters every night.
This time however, because we booked so late we were on the waiting list for that type of dining and placed on what is called Anytime Dining, which is exactly what it sounds like. You go when you want and sit where room is available, and it appears the majority like this type of dining. We never got off the waiting list and were stuck with Anytime Dining. We also always request a table for two, which is somewhat of a rarity on cruise ships. I love meeting and chatting with new people, but when we are at dinner I like it to just be the two of us. The majority of the tables are set for 4,6 and 8, so most people are eating with people they are meeting for the first time.

We went down for dinner the first night at about 8:30 and requested a table for two. The head waiter found us a table set for 4 but said we would be dining alone. That was perfect and the dinner was very good and our waiter was this fabulous young girl, Janelle, from the Philippines that was so delightful and freindly that we would have loved to dine with her every evening but we knew that would not happen under our dining arrangement. As we were sitting at dinner I hear an "excuse me sir" from behind me, as I turn around it is one of favorite staff members,Peter from India, from our cruise last fall. He says to me, where's your camera? He had just got back on the ship to start a new contract after having 4 months off and was just married three weeks prior. It was nice to see him and a nice end to the evening.

I promise to do less talking for the rest of this report.
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Old 05-06-2012   #2 (permalink)
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Monday morning came and we just layed in bed until our scheduled room service arrived about 9:00. I got ready while Pam relaxed on the balcony, and as Pam was getting ready I got off the ship to check out the dock area. We had been to St. Maarten before and did nothing that time and we were going to do the same this time. I went back to the room and we both just relaxed on the balcony for a bit. Later we went for lunch then got off the ship and jumped on a water taxi to head to the shopping area of town. We did some shopping for the both of us and then hit the Rolex store. Thirty minutes later Pam had her first Rolex, but it was the $50 one from the shop down the street. We hung around town for just a bit and headed back to the ship. We did nothing that day and that was just fine. There were three ships in port which is good for the local economy but can make places a little crowded. Next stop, St. Lucia.












As we were leaving port, the reason why cruising is a bit frustrating for me came apparent. We are rarely on the islands during the best morning or evening light for photography purposes. As we are leaving I was wishing I was still on the island for an hour during this light.


Last edited by Mnbruce; 05-06-2012 at 02:06 PM..
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Old 05-06-2012   #3 (permalink)
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While waiting to leave St. Maartin I stopped in the buffet to get some fruit to snack on and I was walking out I hear that "excuse me sir" again. I turn around and it was Jackson, aslo from India and also a favorite from the last cruise. He said he had been watching for me because Peter had contacted him to tell him I was on the ship. We chatted a bit and I told him I would watch for him when eating in the buffet so we could chat some more. Both Peter and Jackson work the dining room at night,but also work the buffet during the day. All they do is work.

I went back to the room to get Pam and told her I saw Jackson and how nice it was that these staff memers remembered me, especially since they deal with 3,000 new passengers every week. It also make you feel a little a home. I mentioned to Pam that the only thing missing was Mario, our favorite bartender from the last cruise and my favorite staff members from all my cruises,which is now stands at seven.

As we were having a drink at one of the pool bars while departing St. Maarten the door behind the bar swings open and to my surprise and out pops Mario and he says "Hi Bruce". He had been in the back talking to his supervisor and saw us through the window. He pulled out his phone to show me the photos I had sent him of himself to send home to his family. Luckily he had been down there at that moment or we would have never known he was on the ship. He was now working a different area for a few hours of the day and then the disco until the wee hours of the morning. We now knew where we would be spending most of our late night hours.

The next morning we arrived in St. Lucia. We had been there two years ago and rented a car to go see the Pitons, which is the well known landmark on the island. No need to do that again but I thought I'd take the water taxi to the rental car place and just head out to see where we end up. As you leave the ship you go through a shopping terminal which also has people trying to hook you up with a tour for the day. It is very similar to the gaunlet you run through after getting your baggage at the Cancun airport and trying to get to your transportation. I got over to where the car rental places were and two of the three were no longer there and the third was out of cars. The girl at Natonal rental told me she had a good freind back at the cruise terminal trying to get someone to take a tour and wondered if she could call him. I told her she could have him drive over to talk to me but I would not commit until talking to him. He seemed to be a nice guy and we worked out a price for about 1/2 day. He drove me back to the ship and waited for us to eat an early lunch and then we just drove around the other side of the island and made some stops for some shopping to help the locals, have some beers at some local places, and had some real nice conversation. Fresh Prince was a great guy. I only took a few photos this day, and the first one is from the last trip just to show the Pitons.











Again, as we are preparing for the ship to leave port I am wishing I was on land for one more hour. Next stop, Grenada.



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Old 05-06-2012   #4 (permalink)
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We haven't taken a cruise on 10 years, our last was Southern Caribbean. This is making me want to cruise again! Thanks!

Last edited by SharonD; 05-06-2012 at 08:01 PM.. Reason: Dang spell check, that should be " cruise in over"....love/hate my iPad!
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Old 05-06-2012   #5 (permalink)
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On most seven night cruises they have two formal nights, meaning you are expected to dress for dinner in the dining rooms. They do however have options for you if you don't want to go formal. Those are the buffets and the two specialty restaurants,The Crown Grill and Sabatinin's. For the first time on our cruises we decided to skip bringing formal wear and do the specialty places on those nights. The second night of the cruise was a formal night so we had made reservations at the Crown Grill, which is a steakhouse. You pay an extra $25 per person to eat here, which gives you a step up in the quality of food, which is too bad but that's the way it is now. We both had a NY Strip and Maine lobster tail. Very good meal all around.

On the third night we headed back to the Anytime dining room and there was a line so we went for a drink and came back 30 minutes later. We asked the head waiter for a table for two with our original waiter, Janelle, or Peter, our waiter from last fall. He looked and said it would be 40 minutes, but i did not want to wait so he found us a spot for two somewhere else and apologized for not being able to get us where we wanted, but I knew it was not his fault, just the way that system works. The waiter was fine, just did not provide the same experience as Janelle from the first night.

The next morning we arrived in Grenada. I had done research on this island and found a guide named Stan who was born in Grenada but spent some of his school years here and was in the U.S. military before moving back Grenada. I wanted to experience some of this island. Stan picked us up and off we went.

We went for a nice drive then stopped at Annandale Falls, which had many tourists there also. They had some men there trying to earn some money by jumping the falls. I was talking to one who figured I was looking for a good shot. He asked my name then headed the falls.



When he got to the top he yells BRUCE!, then jumps looking and pointing at me on the way down. Of course he got a nice tip. He was hoping for a twenty but was happy with what he got.







I screwed up the last shot.

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Old 05-06-2012   #6 (permalink)
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oops, double post
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Old 05-06-2012   #7 (permalink)
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After the falls Stan took us into the rain forest to a spot with a few monkeys that were comfortable with people. This was a blast!







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Old 05-06-2012   #8 (permalink)
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After the rain forest we made a few more stops. It was avery nice day and I think I would like to return sometime to Grenada. We also picked up some Dominoes to play with on the ship. The 138 proof rum Stan gave us had quite a kick also.








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Old 05-06-2012   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharonD View Post
We haven't taken a cruise on 10 years, our last was Southern Caribbean. This is making me want to cruise again! Thanks!

Thank you Sharon! It was a very nice vacation. Maybe you should give it another try.
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Old 05-06-2012   #10 (permalink)
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When it was time to go to dinner this night we were wondering what was ahead, but as we walked into the dining room the head waiter says "good evening, your table is waiting. He had held a table in Janelle's area for us. She said she had been hoping to see us again, so this staff knows how to say the right thing. It was another very nice dinner experience. The other remaing nights that we did that dining room the head waiter did the same for us and he got a big thank you and a little more. Cruise food can be bland and hit and miss sometimes, but overall the food was satisfactory for us.

Janelle wanted us to taste almost everything on the menu, so besides what we oredered each night she would bring a couple of other appetizers and entree's to the table also. Other people probably thought we were freaking pigs. One night I told her not to bring all the extra food and she gave me a little smirk. I said "Janelle, you know you are not supposed to argue with the passenger". Of course she ignored me.

After dinner we went up to the disco again after it opened up at 10:00. This night there was a male passenger who hit the floor dancing by himself and remained in the same spot, doing the same move for the whole two hours we were up there. It appeared he did not even notice when a large group of women started doing a line dance around him , as he just kept on dancing.

Last edited by Mnbruce; 05-06-2012 at 10:43 PM..
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Old 05-06-2012   #11 (permalink)
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Beautiful pictures! Looking forward to more! We haven't been on a cruise since our honeymoon in 1993. I think we're due
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Old 05-06-2012   #12 (permalink)
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The next morning we arrived in Bonaire, which is considered one the top places to dive and snorkle but we did not make water plans because Pam was not ready for the physical activity. It was a shorter port day so we just thought we'd hang around town but after stopping at a couple of places for refreshments I salled a car rental company at the airport and they came and got us. I thought we'd just check the island out for a few hours.

Bonaire is a large exporter of salt. The company that owns the largest operation is Minneapolis based Cargill.



These are what used to be the huts that the slaves lived in during the early day of the salt production.











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Old 05-06-2012   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Beautiful pictures! Looking forward to more! We haven't been on a cruise since our honeymoon in 1993. I think we're due
Thank you! Maybe you are due, and cruising has changed since your last one. Cruising may not be for everyone, but I think many who won't try it would probably actually enjoy it.
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Old 05-06-2012   #14 (permalink)
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We arrived in Aruba on Friday for our last port day. I had a car rented for this day because I wanted to check out the island to see if it interested us for a land vacation. We arrived in port around 7:00 am and I was the first one off the ship because I wanted to go get the car, but as it turned out Hertz did not open until 8:00. I walked down towards the water and was delighted to see some creatures crawling around the waters edge.







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Old 05-06-2012   #15 (permalink)
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After getting the car I headed back to the ship to get Pam and to have some breakfast. We then took off to check out Aruba. We just winged it, stopping along the way to check out some of the beaches and to have some more refreshments, food and conversation. We did not do anything really special other than enjoy a very nice day. I'm pretty sure we will be returning for a land vacation.

















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