Home Photo Album Recipes Reviews Date Book Links E-mail Us

Cruisin' the Caribbean

The first thing that strikes you is the color of the water. An unbelieveable, clear turquoise that tempts you to strip off your clothes and jump in.

The Caribbean is gorgeous...from its white sandy beaches to its volcanic islands, from the way the air envelops you in warmth on shore and blows refreshingly on your skin at sea, from its pastel colored buildings to its rainforests to its verdent green landscape and it's aquamarine waters...the area is a perfect get-away for the world-weary.

We went on our first cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary, and it was a dream vacation. The ship sailed from Puerto Rico, to St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, and Aruba, off the coast of Venezuela.

Making it all the more special, we went with the couple who introduced us in November of 1976, Mark and Cyndi.

Come aboard and share the sights as we sail from Puerto Rico through the Caribbean and celebrate 25 wonderful years together.

Photo was taken while sailing on a catamaran off the coast of Aruba

Puerto Rico

We flew into San Juan the night before sailing, stayed at a hotel across the street from the Pier, and set out to find dinner at the Parrot Club. Walking the streets of the old section of San Juan reminded us of New Orleans—narrow cobblestone streets, pastel colored buildings with iron railed balconies, shops and restaurants glowing in the dark. The Parrot Club was the livliest of the bunch, requiring us to elbow our way to the bar while waiting for a table in the courtyard. The 3-piece jazz band blared over the cacophony of conversation and the barkeep served us incredible martinis to kill the waiting time and power down from the long flight. It was a marvelous start to the vacation.
The next day we walked the same streets to find the fort protecting the harbor's entrance from the ocean.
El Morro protected Old San Juan from the maurading pirates and later the British and other navies intent on capturing this port.

The fort has six level, turrets, tunnels, spiral staircases, a moat, and gun embankments to fend off the enemies and captivate the tourists.
The Wyndemere Old Town, where we stayed the first night, is right on the harbor, and just a short walk to the ship's pier. Here's the Carnival Destiny, our home for the trip through Paradise, as seen from our hotel.

Our cabin was on the back of the ship.
Cherie, Cyndi and Mark relax on our balcony

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

The ship offers several excursions at all the ports of call. Unfortunately, in St. Thomas we chose the "Paradise Tour," a drive around the scenic island on a rickety bus with Mike, our barely understandable driver. Actually not a bad tour, just a bad tour guide. (He took us to a tavern for free rum drinks, pulling into the empty parking lot past the sign that clearly reads "Closed Mondays." No one, of course, answered our knocks.) But ya gotta give it to him, he gunned that dilapidated coughing, bucking bus up narrow, twisting mountain roads so we could get glimses of spectacular bays and scenery, and he miraculously pointed out an iguana in a tree off the side of the road we were barreling down (making me wonder if Disney does St. Thomas).
From the highest peak in St. Thomas, you can grab a drink, buy a souvenier, or just gaze at Magen's Bay and the islands cascading off into the distance.

An island paradise attracts mermaids, as the bar rail indicates at left, and pirates, as evidenced by Blackbeard's Castle at right, a tower dating back to the 1600's which looks out over the harbor above the capital city of Charlotte Amalie

Mark visited Fort Christian, the oldest building on the island and used over time as a fort, the Governor's mansion, and a jail. Today it's a museum.
Photo courtesy of Mark

Bisbee has nothing on the "99 Steps" in Charlotte Amelie, a picturesque sidewalk stairway that leads to Blackbeard's Tower and beautiful views of the harbor.
Mark was so exhausted from watching Cyndi shop and touring the fort museum, he drifted off to sleep on a park bench near the marketplace. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't holding his hat the right way (that would be by the bill with his arm outstretched) and recouping some of the money Cyndi was spending in the jewelry stores. Meanwhile, I was dreaming of buying the house above as a retirement home, and whiling away hours on the porch soaking in the breezes and sights of the harbor town of this Caribbean island.

But then it was time to ride back to the ship and prepare for the formal evening festivities of the Captain's dinner and reception -- a chance to dine exquisitely, drink extensively, shake hands with the captain, and take in a show.

The ladies look elegant on their balconies before dinner in the dining room, below.
Photo of Cyndi courtesy of Mark

The Vegas-style shows were incredible, and by the looks on the faces in the audience, very enjoyable.

Continue on to Dominica and Barbados

Or Return to the Family Photo Album