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.

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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.

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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.

 

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That’s some fancy knitting!

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

 

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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!

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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.

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Sort of wishing I had tried this coffee.
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Old San Juan

 

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Random lady covered in Parrots!

 

 

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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.

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These parrots are not real.
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St Maarten port
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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.

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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.

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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?
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Winter Fun

There have been a bunch of Birthdays Happening around here lately, mine included. Peter turned ?!?!?! and there was fire!

 

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Let’s pretend Peter is actually in this picture! Fun right?!

You guys remember Peter, he is a good friend and our Awesome Travel Agent! There was a super fun celebration at a local Hibachi Grill.  I love Hibachi!

I turned another year older, (chronologically at least) and there were bananas!

 

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They don’t call me ‘Annie Bananie’ for nothing!

A while back I mentioned to Dana that I had never been to “Stew Leonard’s” a fancy and FUN local grocery store. She made it her mission to get me there!  Dana, Peter, Chris, J-Dawg and I made the short trip on my birthday and had a blast grocery shopping! Really fun!

I helped Hannybell celebrate her day of birth with cheese and coffee.

 

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I do what I can!

DOM’s Coffee House is like our own local ‘Central Perk’.  There was also pastry involved…it happened!

I am still chasing J-Dawg down to celebrate her Birthday!

 

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She is elusive!

Derek turned the big 30!!  THAT was a celebration!

 

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How do you choose??!!!!

Derek works SO hard and we don’t get to see him often.  It was great to sit and visit with him for a while. Because our Birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart there are usually a lot of cupcakes running around this time of year!  We can handle it!

There are a few more Birthday’s in the near future, but then again, I suppose there always are!

The Fitness Front:

Honestly, I’ve got nothing new going on, or even anything old going on. I am in my usual Winter limbo.  The most I have done over the past couple of months is take a bunch of long walks.  Don’t worry…don’t worry…I plan to get back at it in March!  I may even sign up for a race or two!  I am feeling really good right now and would like to run in something official this year.  I will keep you posted!

The bunnies have been getting busy with their Easter plans.  They have spreadsheets and travel logs strewn all over the place!

 

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Always thinking, always planning.
  • How do you like to celebrate your Birthday?
  • Spring race plans?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beatrix

What do you listen to (if anything) while you work out? Like many, I prefer happy up beat music when I run down the sidewalk.  Occasionally a comedian pops in which is a nice break but I can’t take listening to comedy for my entire run.  Why are people laughing when I am working so hard?!  Lately I have been favoring podcasts while on the treadmill.  Let’s face it, treadmill’s are just boring so something a little headier than the top 40 helps to pass the time.  I became a history buff as an adult and was delighted to discover two history based podcasts.   One is called “History Goes Bump” which is fun and interesting in a slightly twisted sort of way, topics include haunted lighthouses and the like.  The only problem is “History Goes Bump” is difficult for me to hear….I need a better Bluetooth speaker.  My favorite podcast is “The History Chicks”.  I find their choice of topics a little bit off-center from the norm which is right up my alley.  For instance, they are not repeating everything that we learned and subsequently have forgotten from our High School History classes.  (A deep apology to all of my high school history profs!!)  Instead they talk about the likes of, Mary Todd Lincoln and Madame Curie.  Recently the topic was author Beatrix Potter!  Are you kidding?!!  Beatrix was my very first favorite author!  I spent hours and hours and hours  listening to my Mom read me the stories of Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten and the rest.  Ultimately I learned to read myself and spent too many nights reading the Beatrix Potter stories way past my bedtime.

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Beatrix Potter and “Kep” (Courtesy the National Trust)

I have always appreciated the ability to disappear into a story, become part of it in my own way. While tromping along on the treadmill one particularly drizzly day I realized that it was Beatrix who played a huge role in that!  She had a knack for making those furry little creatures come to life.  I learned that she studied her pets closely and learned their patterns, personalities and idiosyncrasies .  She also studied their physical make-up but I won’t go into that, it’s disturbing.  Moving on!  Thank you Beatrix (and Mom) for feeding my love of reading, learning and enjoying a world outside of my own!  Thank you for creating and allowing me to live in a world beyond my own vision and to cherish those stories.

 

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Peter Rabbit

As much as I try to avoid treadmill workouts, these new (to me) podcasts are making me almost (ALMOST) wish for the cold winter days that put me on the mill.

Randoms:

Autumn is Falling upon New England and with that, Halloween.  Halloween has never been an especially fun Holiday for me, even as a kid.  However I AM a fan of Sugar Skulls!

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Sugary Sugar Skull, Score!

After indulging in a very necessary cookie one recent afternoon I came home to find that my new running gloves had arrived!

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These will make me run very fast!

Why am I so enamored with Sugar Skulls?  The best explanation that I have is ……just because.

Speaking of indulgences, a certain local chocolate store is celebrating their 70th anniversary!

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Soooooooooo gooooood!

I spent five years behind the counter at Munson’s as a young adult.  Congratulations guys!!

A little extra exercise was necessary after all of these treats recently.  Some of my co-workers and I travelled downtown and raised some walls for Habitat for Humanity.

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“On Three…”

Six hours of pounding nails in the blazing sun equals a healthy exhaustion.  We were the first crew on the project and managed to erect two of these walls.  When all is said and done there will be six more homes which will mimic those in the background.  This organization does some really amazing work with some really amazing people.  If you have the opportunity to take part in a build, do it, you won’t regret it!  Just be prepared for HARD WORK!

  • What do you listen to, any podcast recommendations?
  • Sugar Skulls, yea or nay?
  • Have you ever been on a Habitat for Humanity project?

Thanks for visiting, enjoy your day!

 

 

What I Have Been Doing

How is your Summer so far? I have been having a ton of fun!  Between running, biking and boxing the endorphins have really been flowing!  A couple of months ago I was only beginning to get back into a workout routine.  Somehow I feel it is tougher to start over than to begin for the first time.  I suppose that is because I know what I am capable of and just want to be there already!  I am still trying to get my running game back…UGH it is soooooooo haaaard! Feeling humbled for sure.  I have decided not to take part in any organized runs this season, I am just not there yet.  That’s ok, I have plenty of other activities that will kick my butt just the same.

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Love the view!!

Last Summer J-Dawg and I had multiple conversations about going for a bike ride. We talked the talk but we never actually pushed the pedals.  This Summer we have made good on our promise to get moving!  Sadly I do not have pictures of our first outing….it was a bit of a train wreck to start, involving slipped chains and flat tires.  Phil to the rescue!!  I am telling you that guy can fix anything!  Once we got going it was a blast and we have since been hooked! Not only are we riding on the weekends but we have now incorporated after work rides into the mix.  You should join us, it’s fun!

 

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Do you like my hat? It’s new!

One day this past week I had planned to go for a run after work. J-Dawg asked me if I wanted to go for a bike ride instead.  Sounded good to me, so off we went heading East.  After I got home  Phil texted me a picture a ginormous (really spellcheck?  that’s a word? ginormous!) black bear not a quarter mile from our house!  If I had gone running instead of riding I would have headed West instead of East and run right into him!  (or her…Phil didn’t stop to check) .  I know that black bears really don’t care about humans but I would prefer to NOT run right into one, just a personal preference.

 

In addition to running and biking I have also been boxing at Sue and Lori’s gym. Sue is such an awesome instructor who manages to build a great workout while still having fun!  I will also be incorporating a few personal training sessions with Sue into my routine beginning next week.  Stay tuned…could be another train wreck!  I joke, Sue would never let that happen!

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These are serious bags!!!

Even though I am not running as much as I used to, I am still active and honestly, having a blast!

Phil’s mechanics remain in his employ.

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Chief Taskmaster!!

Have you seen these?

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NO!

I have a world class sweet tooth but these flavors on goldfish crackers are just wrong….shudder.

Otter would like to know how you are spending your Summer?

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‘Sup?

Enjoy!

Back on Track

I realized today that on this day a year ago I was running my first and only 10K road race. That race was by far one of my favorites! For a few minutes I felt a little melancholy about not having raced since then.  You all know by now that I had some set backs that sidelined me. I realized today however that I ALLOWED those set backs to sideline me and in essence I sidelined myself! I know, deep right?  Well no more! I am back on track! I am pleased to report that I have started working out again regularly and the endorphins are plentiful!

The decision to start regular workouts again was not a conscious one.  Not really.  Although, I had been feeling sort of lousy (always tired, etc. ) and knew that I needed to do something about it. I popped back into the gym a couple of times, and took myself for a few short runs.  I think the big turning point was last weekend when J-Dawg asked me to join her on a bike ride.  As you may recall the bulging disc in my neck was most painful when I was on my bike.  I was hesitant to test it again but after having ZERO pain for months I decided to suck it up and quit whining!  Off we went!

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I’ve missed you!

We had a great ride! Over hill and dale…well no dales…what is a dale anyway?

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We are fortunate to have this beautiful trail to explore!

We conquered over eight miles of the scenic Farmington Valley!  The best part….my neck is 100% A-OK!  J-Dawg, when can we ride again!?!!

Going forward I  plan to continue pushing myself.  I will be diligent about making healthier food choices.

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I spy fruit salad in my future!

I will get back to the gym more often and yes, I will continue to run!  I am registered for a 5K coming up but I have not decided yet if I will go forward with it.  Probably!

I will also continue to hop on my bike and take off now and then!  Because I can 🙂

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Care to join me?

Otter is trying to lead by example.

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“Just hold that grape, I’ll get to it”

You wouldn’t know it from this picture but Otter loves all fruit!  Felix is a bit more discriminating, and Lefty will only eat bananas….weirdo.

I hope you had a great weekend!

  • What is your favorite warm weather exercise?
  • What is your favorite warm weather food?

Re-Running

You haven’t heard from me much this past Winter because, frankly, I was taking a break from running.  It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t even enjoyed, but it was necessary.  After being diagnosed with a bulging disc in my neck last Summer I lost a lot of my running/exercise drive. I tried to keep up with my routine but sadly, it became a chore.  Just after the New Year I had a spell of vertigo.  It was short (one day) but super scary.  I had NO desire to take off on the pavement for fear of “spinning out”.  A daily dose of Claritin seems to have cleared up that little problem AND I am happy to report….NO PAIN in my neck!  I don’t know why, maybe the prolonged downtime, but I am stoked!

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When you are underwater this is how you tell your guide that you are “OK”…..seemed appropriate 😉

 

I now need to start all over, but that’s ok!  I have already logged a few run/walk’s….slow progress is still progress right?  Something that has occurred to me lately is that I am no longer as interested in the organized race scene.  I have registered for a few and I may still take part in some.  There is a good chance that I will blow off some if not all of them.

The reason I am not interested in the organized races anymore is because I don’t feel that I need them any longer.  When I started running five years ago I used those races to prove to myself (and others) that I could complete the distances (5K and 10K).  Now that I have completed a number of races, I know that I am able and no longer feel the need to prove myself.  It’s all good!

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Not all of the races that I run award medals….it’s a problem.

 

Where do I go from here?  THAT my friends is what I am trying to figure out.

Do you remember when you first started running? Or biking, dancing, mountain climbing….whatever your passion happens to be?  I do!  I was out taking a leisurely walk and for some reason decided I wanted to run…so I did!  That first step was easy because it was unanticipated.  I had no running goals, I simply enjoyed the run.

After years of organized races I started to feel burnt out, which is probably why it was so easy for me to take the long break that I did this past Winter.  I am looking forward to enjoying the run again!

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Who knows….maybe you will see more pictures like this one!

Dana sent me some fantastic pictures from our last cruise.  This one made me laugh, we were mimicking the running shoe photo that we did a couple of years ago.

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I am at six o’clock….do you like my shoes?

Now that April has arrived we are expecting snow…..welcome to New England!

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A beautiful Azalea from Phil’s Mom!
  • What have you been up to lately?

Cruising Week!

Last week my cruise peeps and I boarded Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas and sailed off into the warmth and sunshine!  “Cruise week” has always been my favorite week of the year (at least for as long as we have been cruising) and this year was no different!

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Our first day on board was a sailing day.  It is always nice to start out with a sailing day so that we can get our bearings of the ship and also relax from the travel (and luggage schlepping) of the previous days.

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Our first stop was Grand Cayman.

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My peeps all went off in different directions while I opted to stay on board.  I am not comfortable wandering in the ports alone, especially a port I have never been to before. Once a wimp always a wimp! I found it remarkable that we never dropped anchor.  There is a coral reef in Grand Cayman that could easily be damaged by an anchor.  Captain Martinsen explained that while he has dropped anchor there in the past it is such a precise and time consuming task that in the end it is easier to work the engines.  All of these ships are just “hovering” on the surface…..amazing!

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Honestly, having almost the entire pool deck and hot tub to myself for most of the morning is one of my favorite things.

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The second stop this year was Jamaica.  We have all been to Jamaica a bunch and I think we were all a bit, well, tired of it.  Been there, done that, bought the Tee shirt….literally! Even so, Jamaica was beautiful!  While the rest of the peeps travelled to “Red Stripe Beach”, Dana, Peter and I wandered through the port village and got our shopping on.  Yup…bought another Tee shirt!

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Finally we reached Haiti!  I love Haiti, it is by far one of my favorite ports!

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We were greeted by a parade of Wave Runners and recreational water craft.

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Royal Caribbean just signed a 99 year lease with the town (city?) of Labadee, Haiti.  There is so much to see and do in Labadee.  Three years ago Christine and I took a boat tour up the coast and we both enjoyed it so much we repeated it this year.  Bill, Marilyn and Al joined us this time as well.  Here is just a small glimpse of that tour.

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Captain John

Did you know that “Haiti” means ‘many mountains’?  The highest mountain in Haiti is 10,000 feet while the highest in Labadee is about 3,000 feet.

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A common sight, making charcoal to be used for cooking.

The Haitians speak both French and Creole.

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A sample fishing net…the real ones are more than ten times this size.

As we motored along we encountered a number of fishermen.  They were excited to show us what they had caught that morning, including this “white crab”.

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Because there is no refrigeration the fishermen have to hustle their catch to town to sell.  This is after spending the day in the blazing sun and catching MAYBE two or three fish.

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Fishing boats, the sails are made from bed sheets.

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Our captain was quick to point out this boat full of women.  Apparently it is rare to see ONE woman in a boat never mind ALL women!

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This Island is available for anyone to rent….you just have to get there and bring ALL of your supplies!

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Voodoo is still practiced, the last time Christine and I took this tour we learned that this is “voodoo rock” where the locals come to practice.

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Voodoo Rock, the tiny one on the left.

There are currently over 450 shipwrecks off the coast of Haiti…the coral reef and sand bars are responsible.  While pointing to a twelve year old shipwreck  Captain John told us that the wrecks don’t last long. Folks from China etc,  will pay the Haitian’s  to retrieve the metal and other sunken materials from the ships.  The sunken vessel in question was a large cargo ship that had been reduced to a skeleton.  (Too far to photograph) Captain John told us that it would probably only last a few more years before the last pieces were carted away.

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Sandbar

We then pulled into the cove which leads to Labadee Village.

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Captain John told us that you can catch a water taxi at any time.  One of our passengers asked how you got a hold of the taxi, did they carry cell phones?…..really guy?  Captain John replied, “you wave”.

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Water Taxi
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No Cell Phone Here

We then returned to our port and enjoyed a yummy bar-b-que.

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Our final day was another sailing day, which like the first is a great way to unwind.  As always the shows and the food and the overall experience were phenominal!

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Eva and Krystina, our Waiter and Assistant Waiter. The Crews aboard these ships are out of this world!!

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I cannot wait for next year!

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  • Have you ever cruised?
  • What was your favorite port?