St. Kitts

Every now and then someone will ask me “What is your favorite port?” Until this year I have always answered, “Haiti, St. Croix and St. Lucia”. I guess I have a top three….except, now I have a top FOUR! I have added St. Kitts to the list of favorites.

DSC06456 - Copy
Dinner bell?  Nope

We parked the ship in port and wove through the maze of Tour guides looking for their charges for the day.  Our guide was a tall Island Native wearing rainbow sunglasses named “Zulu”.  Our destination was twofold. The Caribelle Batik house and also the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.

DSC06501
Caribelle Batik

 

DSC06454 - Copy
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, view from the top.

We began our journey driving through St. Kitts while Zulu told us about his homeland.  I have decided that in the future I really need to bring a notebook for these adventures!  I apologize that I cannot remember what all of these buildings are, shame on me.

DSC06379
Those are called “Travelers’ Palms” because they grow east to west.

 

DSC06382
Coca Cola anyone?

 

DSC06383 - Copy
“Her Majesty’s Prison”

 

DSC06407
This tree is over 200 years old!

 

DSC06413
Goats are let out in the morning to roam the island and they come home at night.

 

DSC06415
Monkey’s by the side of the road.

I felt bad for those Monkeys, it doesn’t seem like a happy existence.

After about 45 minutes we started heading UP UP UP to the fortress.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

The Fortress was designed by British Army Engineers and constructed by African Slave workers.  In 1690 in an effort to recapture Fort Charles from the French Occupation on the coast the first Canons were mounted by the British.

 

DSC06465
YIKES!

Although the clouds were threatening the desire to climb to the top was strong. We made our way up the long ramp/steps to the gun deck.

 

DSC06459 - Copy

DSC06451 - Copy

The view from the top was worth the climb!

DSC06437

 

DSC06460 - Copy
I couldn’t help thinking “Game of Thrones?”

Some more from the top.

DSC06463 - Copy

 

 

DSC06455 - Copy
That’s our bus!

DSC06458 - Copy

 

There was another even higher level about six or eight steps up. I made it to the top step when a big gust of wind blew and I chickened out and went back down.

 

DSC06471
How’s my hair?

That Wind!  All week!!  In addition, it started to rain while we were at the top so I headed back toward the bus. Once we were all back onboard we took off down the hill toward the Caribelle Batik House. Christine climbed into the co-pilot’s seat and quickly discovered that the narrow mountain roads made for a nail biter of a ride.

 

DSC06477
Hang on Chris! Zulu is in control!

 

DSC06483
Going down!

The ride to and from the fortress took us past a HUGE lime kiln.

DSC06431 - Copy

 

 

 

DSC06432 - Copy

We also drove past the limestone outcropping.

 

DSC06428
Limestone

Then we were off to the Batik House.

Caribelle Batik

On our way we passed a beautiful tree FILLED with Egrets but sadly I was not in a good position to take a decent picture.

Caribelle Batik is a short ride from the Fortess in the forested hills.  We saw remnants of sugarcane crops and many beautiful trees and plants.

 

DSC06488
Chicken!

 

DSC06489 - Copy
Forest

When we arrived we wandered the grounds a little before heading inside for a short demonstration on how Batik is made.

DSC06511

DSC06498

 

DSC06499
Making Batik

In a nutshell, Batik is all about waxing the material. First, wax the parts that will be left white and then dye the entire fabric the lightest color of the design.  The next day after the fabric has dried wax the part that is to remain the lightest color and dye the entire fabric the next shade darker and so on.  If your design has five colors it will take five days to dye. Once the dying is complete scrape off most of the wax for reuse and boil off the rest.

 

DSC06500
This piece took five days.

 

DSC06502
Drying in the wind.

We popped out on the other side of the building and enjoyed some more of the landscape.

DSC06513

Then it was back to port. There was so much to see on the Island of St. Kitts, if you haven’t been you should go, take notes!

  • Have you been to St. Kitts?
  • Favorite port(s)?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cruise 2017

Wheels down, let the vacation begin! We landed in Ft. Lauderdale on a breezy Friday morning where we would meet the rest of our “Cruise Peeps” to embark on our latest adventure. Who knew ‘breezy’ would turn into ‘WINDY’ and plague us for the better part of our trip?

Saturday morning was the traditional breakfast at the hotel followed by the bustle of dragging luggage on and off transports until handing it over to the porter at the Cruise port.

DSC06219
View at Breakfast

After checking in and a SHORT wait we were able to board the “Freedom of the Seas” . This is the ship that we would call home for the next week.

DSC06366
One of the largest ships in the fleet.

As we pulled out of port the captain made his embarkation announcement and advised that we were going to have ‘moderate to heavy seas’ that evening (3-8 foot swells) and ‘heavy seas’ (8-12 feet) overnight and the next day.  I didn’t think much of it because as large as these ships are you really don’t feel the rocking of the ocean.

Later that evening Christine and I were walking down the hallway on deck ten and couldn’t stop laughing because we kept crashing into the walls on either side.  Okay, so you can feel the rocking a little bit.

The following day was a Sea day which we typically spend on deck by the pool.  Unfortunately it was very windy out with some light rain.  We were also still in heavy seas which had the water slopping out of the pools. Instead we found our entertainment indoors. We took in a movie in the theater and Dana, Bill and I worked on getting Christine’s necklaces untangled.

 

DSC06285 - Copy
That’s some fancy knitting!

Bill finally managed to free those little buggers! Then it was time for lunch so off to JOHNNY ROCKETS!

 

DSC06256 - Copy
Singin ‘Johnny B Good’

Have you been to Johnny Rockets? It is fun, the wait staff lines up and sings and dances.

The next day we were due in Labadee, Haiti and had some big plans. Sadly we had to bypass the port. The captain announced that due to the now ‘rough seas’ (12 – 18 foot swells) the pier was mostly under water and the waves would make for an unsafe docking. So we had another sea day that we spent mostly indoors.  We were starting to feel a little down. We are troopers though so we made the best of it. The evening shows alone are worth the trip! Imagine ice skating on a moving ship in rough seas! Now put yourself in a hamster wheel on that ice and roll all over the rink!

Or maybe you could perform a cirque de soleil style act instead, really, these guys were phenomenal!

DSC06619
Just getting warmed up!

On our third day we were finally able to dock. We were in Old San Juan for the day.  We had a tour of the forte planned for later in the afternoon but we all decided to wander around a little bit before lunch as well.

DSC06310 - Copy
Sort of wishing I had tried this coffee.
DSC06309
Old San Juan

 

DSC06319 - Copy
Random lady covered in Parrots!

 

 

DSC06307 - Copy
As seen from the ship.

As we were heading back to the ship for lunch it started to rain a little.  I had not packed any rain gear and even forgot my hat! What the heck kind of sailor am I to not pack any rain gear?!?! (Hangs head in shame)

We left to meet our tour group and immediately encountered a steady rain. I decided that I was not going to enjoy a hike up the hill in this weather and bailed. I have already added rain gear to my packing list for next year!

The following day was St Maarten where I had already planned to stay onboard.  I always take one of our port days to myself and stay onboard. It is very relaxing to have the pool and hot tub to myself for a few hours.

DSC06337 - Copy
These parrots are not real.
DSC06332
St Maarten port
DSC06340 - Copy
Not a pirate ship

This was the turning point in the weather. We finally started to see some sun and the winds lessened a bit. Looking forward to St. Kitts tomorrow!!  I will write more about St. Kitts in another post, it was such fun and deserves it own post.

DSC06390
St. Kitts!

Yes, we did get caught in that raincloud but honestly didn’t care!

We finished off our trip with two more sea days where we were finally able to relax by the pool together. Dana and I went to the Mexican restaurant onboard called Sabor where we watched a demonstration of how to make guacamole and also margaritas.

DSC06252
Two please!

They served all of the above (including three different margaritas) with our lunch.

Later that day was the DreamWorks parade in the Royal Promenade.  I love this parade! It starts out with just one stilt walker and ends up with EVERYONE on their feet moving to the music!

I high fived the Lion, I’m cool like that, no big deal.

Our seventh cruise together was not one of our best but at the end of the day we simply enjoy being together. The weather made it a little bit difficult and like all close families there was some bickering. That said, we are a tight unit who truly enjoy these annual trips. We have already booked next year and cannot wait to spend another week exploring the Caribbean together!

  • Any raingear recommendations?
  • Do you cruise? What is your favorite port?

Meet the Peeps!

I realized earlier this week that we are more than half way through the year between cruises!  I cannot express how much I enjoy cruising with my friends aka; “cruise peeps”!  Would you like to meet them?

Peter is our travel agent.

Call me.
Call me.

The planner

There are a lot of in’s and out’s to planning a cruise and Peter navigates them all.  He does such a great job of putting together an awesome trip for us every year.

Dana is Peter’s wife who we jokingly (sort of) refer to as his unpaid intern.

Dana, why don't I have a picture of just you?
Dana is on your right, she doesn’t stand still long enough for many pictures.

The Organizer

Keeping seven or more people all moving in the same direction is a task unto itself and Dana is AMAZING at keeping us going, doing, being where we want to go, do and be! We know it’s like hearding cat’s Dana, and we appreciate everything you do!

The whole cruising thing started years ago when Dana and I were out taking a walk one Saturday morning.  I was lamenting that I really wanted to take a vacation but because Phil’s job prevents him from doing so I was going to have to find a friend to accompany me let me tag along with.  I told her that I was open to almost anything but was sort of thinking about a cruise.  Without hesitation Dana replied “I would like to go on a cruise” and history was made!

That first year the Cruise Peeps consisted of myself Dana and Peter.  To our great delight we were seated with some soon to be awesome friends at dinner.

Christine

True Happiness!
True Happiness!

The Explorer

Ironically Chris lives just a couple of towns over! It’s not everyday you meet a new buddy while floating around the Caribbean!  Chris was travelling solo when we met her.  She gave herself the trip as a special treat.  It doesn’t matter how many times we have been to any particular port of call, Chris will find a new adventure every time.  She loves to explore and learn about the native cultures.

Marilyn

We don't have
They don’t have “Fluff” in the mid-west.

The Daredevil

Marilyn is amazing!  She has no qualms about trying new things.  On our third or fourth trip we were aboard the “Allure of the Seas” which is currently the largest cruise ship in the world.  There is A LOT to do on this ship.  We were all out exploring the decks one morning when I turned around to find Marilyn getting harnessed and helmeted (helmeted? is that a verb, to helmet?) so that she could fly on the zip line.  There was no preamble, no planning, no hemming and hawing…just doing!  You may think that a zip line on a cruise ship isn’t very scary, but it is a full SIX STORIES up!!  This woman has GUTS while at the same time there is a quiet elegance about her.

Bill is Marilyn’s Husband.

Giddyup!
Going UP!

The Friend

I almost tagged Bill as the “Class Clown” because he is so good at keeping everyone laughing. In reality Bill is much more than that.  Yes, he can make anyone laugh but that is because he wants everyone to have fun.  Bill keeps an eye on everyone in our group, whether they are one of the regulars or someone joining us for the first time.  He is not afraid to laugh at himself and can take a jibe as well as give one.  Like his wife, Bill is willing to take a risk now and then.  He is up for any (almost) adventure but I never see him quite as happy as when he and Peter are taking off on jet skiis!

Outta here!
Outta here!

Al is Christine’s Brother.

Do you see what I see?
Do you see what I see?

The Observer

Al joined us the third year we all traveled together and has been hooked ever since!  He has the ability to watch, process, and then proceed with determination.  Al lives for adventure and frequently leads groups of people on Kayak trips in and around Connecticut.  As a group we have all enjoyed watching those brave enough to attempt the “Flow Rider” onboard the ships.

ummmmmmmmm..
ummmmmmmmm..

Al doesn’t just watch…he does!  There are times when Al is content to sit on the sidelines and observe, but when he wants to take part, he doesn’t hesitate!

Steve and Christine have been buddies forever.

Here I am!
Here I am!

The Wind

Steve has only had the opportunity to join us on one trip but we are ALL hoping that he will be able to come back SOON!  Steve is an explorer.  As much as he enjoys relaxing by the pool chatting about the topic du jour, he is equally entertained by exploring the ship.  I get this…the ships are AMAZING!  We nicknamed Steve “The Wind” because, like the wind, he will disappear without notice only to suddenly be right there again.  Steve is a great fit in this group of happy travelers, we hope to see him again soon.

Then there’s ME!

Smile
Smile

I guess I would designate myself as;

The Photographer

Like Steve, I love exploring the ships. One of my favorite times is the first full day on board.  My internal clock still has me rising early so I grab my camera and go exploring.  This is the best time for Ship pics before the risk of unwanted photo bombs.  Once I fill up on the ship stills I am free to snap pics of my peeps and their antics.

A whole lotta awesomness...Chris was off exploring.
A whole lotta awesomness…(Chris was off exploring). Claudette in the light blue joined us once.

I am always so blown away by the sheer beauty of the Islands that we visit, I have a hard time capturing it all.  Truly, my photos do not do justice to these places, you are just going to have to come see for yourselves!  Peter can hook you up!

Antigua
Antigua

Once at home I put together a calendar for my peeps to both remind us of the fun that we had as well as tease us about what we have to look forward to!  There is a LOT to look forward to!!  I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those are my peeps and they are awesome!

  • Ever Cruise?  Want to?
  • Who want’s Peter’s number?