Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas is on the left,
Princess is on the right.
Adventure of the Seas is a pretty amazing ship. There was an ice rink, a rock climbing wall, several nice theaters and lounges, three huge dining rooms, a shopping plaza within the ship, etc., etc., etc. One can tell that their ship designers and engineers have some fun building their vessels.
Getting into Puerto Rico relatively early gave us plenty of time to get to the ship and check stuff out before it got too crowded. Our room was really nice, and we were very pleased with our choice. This time we decided to get a balcony room, and ours was located on the back corner of the ship, on the ninth floor. Jenn chose this so we wouldn't have a dining hall or disco club above, beside or below us. Just having the sun come in our window was very pleasant and we enjoyed getting a first look at the islands before we left for our excursions or days at the beach.
Top Left: View from the door to the balcony.
Top Right: View from the corner looking toward the center of the ship.
Bottom: View looking up toward the Windjammer Cafe two floors above on Deck 11.
Jenn and I enjoyed a very good dinner on Sunday evening and it was quite late, because after our Muster Station Drill, everyone made a mad dash for the dining rooms. As we were finishing up our desserts around 9:30pm-ish, I overheard the man sitting at the table next to me mention something about a Firestone High School. I said, "Excuse me. I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I heard you mention Firestone High School, are you from northeast Ohio?"
As it turns out, Pete is a graduate of Walsh High School but has lived in Chicago for the last number of years, most recently selling real estate. He and his wife, Maureen, a pharmacist, have three kids a few years younger than Jenn and me, and we got to talking about this and that and we ended up closing the dining room with the wait staff. On our way out, we set up reservations for the same time for the rest of the week.
St. Croix was our first stop. As one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it's friendly, and not too much of a culture change from the states, aside from it beeing a really cool island with consistent weather and a laid-back perosnality. After doing some reading and research, Jenn decided upon an excursion off of the Royal Caribbean list. We stopped at the Cane Bay Dive Shop in Frederiksted and arranged for a ride to Cane Bay.
So we arrived at Cane Bay, and while it was windy and the water was cooler than we anticipated, the snorkeling was pretty good, and the sun was beating down on us. That we got sunburned a bit was a bummer, but we didn't find out about that until later on in the evening and the next day. Between sunning and snorkeling, we forgot that we didn't have any lunch, so we got some food back at the ship around 4:30pm, but that was okay because we weren't going to have dinner until 8:15pm.
We walked through this dense garden beside the host's house to get to the boats in his "back yard."
On Great Bird Island, it was a short hike up to the top to look out over bays and small islands... just beautiful. There were all sorts of birds, but I could only hear them. They seemed to be good at hiding out of camera shot. I did see a decent sized lizard and the longest snake I've personally seen in the wild. We were assured that nothing on the island was poisonous. And then on the way back, we passed a cliff that had become a pelican nesting ground.
Thursday landed us on St. Lucia. I can understand why people spend days in St. Lucia. The beaches aren't fantastic as there's not a lot of sand on the island (they actually have to import sand), but there is a good variety of things to do, see and eat on the island. The Pitons were majestic to see rising out of the water, and the bays were pretty to see from high up on the smaller mountains. What did not go unnoticed was the pride that the natives have in their island. The cabbies even kept their rims shiny during the day!
St. Lucia was the stop were we had the excursion that gave us the best value for our dollar.
- We stopped here
- we stopped there
- we visited a banana plantation
- we at a huge variety of island cuisine at the home of a local (it may have been his house), which was tasty and impressive
- we went snorkeling under one of the Pitons
- we stopped at a number of small road-side markets
- we took a quick gander through a botanical garden
- we visited an active volcano
- we received a good commentary of the island from our guide, Ben, who had grown up and lived on the island his entire life
- and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things.
Friday was our last stop, and just like our last cruise that got better each day, we finished with a bang this past week with Barbados.
One of the fun events of the day at sea was the belly flop competition. Jenn got a great seat for the display, and I had a great vantage point for seeing the final splash. When it came down to the final two, one was a 270-pounder from Boston while the other was a 160-pounder from Utah. The big guy made bigger splashes in the pool, but the smaller guy made bigger splashes with the crowd, as he really knew how to put on a show. The first photo shows Jenn on the right hand side (sitting next to Monica & V). The guy in the purple shirt was Richard Spacey, the hilarious cruise director. The second photo was the contest-winning jump.
Jenn and Christopher Columbus
And while it wouldn't be an inexpensive way to vacation, spending a number of days in Old San Juan simply eating at all of the different restaurants sounds appealing.
On the way back from the airport, while listening to the Super Bowl in the radio, we heard an add for Puerto Rico and how we should plan a trip there. Jenn and I looked at each other and said, "Okay!" While it's not as far south in the Caribbean as Barbados, we could certainly spend a good, fun-filled week in Puerto Rico and probably find some entertaining things for the kids.
And speaking of the kids, it was great to see Lincoln and Lydia when we got home. Grandma Laura gave good reports for both Lincoln and Lydia of them and apparently Lydia talks a lot more around Grandma than she does around Mommy & Daddy. We'll have to work on that. I also had forgotten how funny Lincoln is with his ever-expanding vocabulary.
On the way home, it dawned on Jenn and I that the only big thing remaining between now and when we go to China for Henry is... wait! There isn't anything big and out of the ordinary before we go to China! It'll be here before we know it. Yikes!