Back home from a great time in the Eastern Caribbean! If you have cruised in the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands you know what this fantastic sailing was like … if not, you should know that we had crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, warm temperatures and plenty to eat! What a great time. Check out the Places page for a few more photos and soon, some of the snorkeling video.
We drove down to West Palm Beach the day before departing, and quickly located a cool brewery called Twisted Trunk. Lots of fun and some great craft brews on tap (getting to be a habit with us now, but trust me these are fun places to hang out).
Our sailing took us from Ft. Lauderdale on a dreary, drizzly day to Grand Turk for an easy day of beach time and snorkeling. Folks told us the beach was “right there” and to have a drink at Margaritaville and float in the pool “just off the pier.” Well, they were right about everything being just off the ship. I think this might have been the best time in the water, with plenty of fish around the rocky bottom and along the ledge to the deeper water. Highlight was an eel in the rocks, plus plenty of parrot fish and other colorful, yet-to-be-identified fish. Good day out, for sure.
San Juan, Puerto Rico was a grand arrival and departure around the harbor and the protection of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a World Heritage site that is so easily recognized by the cylindrical sentry boxes along the outer fortress walls. We walked the cobbled streets with overhanging balconies and lined with colorful shops, homes and churches. Christmas preparations were evident in the carved wooden figurines and larger representations of the three kings and holy family. Our microbrew “radar” seems to be working just fine, as we found a local brewery and had a flight to cool off (it was a hot one in San Juan).
Next port was St. Thomas and a boat ride over to Trunk Bay on St. John. Beautiful islands, amazing water and just gorgeous. We didn’t really get to explore St. Thomas, since our excursion to St. John took most of the day, but the homes and hotels along the coastline, plus the pirate castles, looked just perfect. The snorkeling in Trunk Bay was not enough time, but the marine life seemed to be spotty. Plenty of coral and colorful fans, but I didn’t think there were as many fish as at Grand Turk. But the beach and water were pretty terrific, if only for 90 minutes.
Half Moon Cay, the Holland America private island, was also just a perfect day, even if it was mostly cloudy. Snorkeled along a rocky shoreline and saw two very cool turtles swimming around. Water was so clear and sand so white it seemed almost unreal. Nice lunchtime barbecue on shore, since you never want to be too far from more food than you can eat! Calm departure as the day ended with a nice sunset.
The drive home was one long 11 hour stretch, but we talked over the highlights of the trip, so it didn’t seem so bad. Wonderful week (was that all?) spent cruising the Caribbean with folks like our parents and grandparents. There are stories about the “walker/scooter” brigade onboard, the “lively” nightclub, and the craps table in the casino (“What did she roll, I can’t see”, “a 12”, “What?” “12”, “Oh. What does that mean?”), but maybe I should save them for another time. I still want to be welcome aboard another Holland America cruise.