We did have one big bummer on the cruise. We were supposed to have a day in Grand Turk, but the weather was bad. It was sunny and pretty, but there were severe winds. The captain tried 3 times to bring the ship in, but he couldn't get it in there safely. We understood that they have to do what's safe and apparently, Turks is the hardest port to get into, but we were SO disappointed. That was the one we were looking forward to the most because the reefs and the snorkeling there is supposed to be so pretty. We were going to take a champagne catamaran tour. Oh well....
|Welcome to St. Maarten|
|We found this beautiful little church in St, Maarten|
|We liked it a lot less after Tony decided to check out the balcony and took a fall down some stairs - ugh! Oh well, one of our friends drank some water there and was horribly sick for days. At least we didn't do that!|
|Waiting for the water taxi down to the ship. Look at how blue that water was.|
In St. Maarten, I had my first snorkel experience. Well, my first successful snorkeling experience. I tried it last time but I'm scared of water, so I was pretty freaked out and just barely managed to get my head in the water before it was time to go. This time, I had my nephew give me a private snorkel lesson before I went and it helped a lot. I got right in the water and just did it and it was SO pretty. The water was crystal clear and there were quite a few fish swimming around.
We also did a helmet dive after the snorkeling. It's great for people who wear glasses, or don't like to get their faces wet. They just put this helmet over your head and shoulders and pump air into it. Then you climb down a ladder and walk along a little path about 15 feet underwater. There are handrails and you have guides helping you the whole way. It's perfect for beginners like us. We got to hold a sea anemone right in our hand and feed the fish and one of them bit me! It was so cool, but we don't have our underwater pictures developed yet.
|This was the view from the water taxi. I wish we'd had more time there, it was so pretty.|
However, the snorkeling in St Thomas was even better than in St Maarten. They took us out to a special island where there were tons of sea turtles, sting rays, and squid. Tony had one bump into him when it surfaced and I had one a couple of feet away giving me the evil eye for a few minutes. One of the ladies even saw a small shark. I was glad it wasn't me because I would have FREAKED out! But if you'd told me a month ago, I'd be snorkeling all by myself in 25 feet of water in open ocean with nothing but my mask and swim fins to keep me afloat, I'd have said you were crazy. And I am so proud of myself that I did it. It's probably the most adventurous thing I've ever done!
Sadly, they make you get OFF the ship at some point, so we very reluctantly left behind all our new friends, and the Carnival staff, who were really awesome by the way, even nicer than our previous cruise with them four years ago. However, our travel agent ran the numbers and found out it was about the same price to stay over an extra day in Miami so we could fly in an off-peak time, so she found this stunning hotel for us over on the South Beach. Right on the beach and just about the most gorgeous setting ever. What a treat!
|Look at this gorgeous art deco mirror at the hotel. Some of the decor |
was a little puzzling, but it was certainly high style and very unique.
|This is Big Pink. I guess it's a Miami icon. All I know is that it was the most crowded place I've ever been in and had the largest menu I've ever seen. But the food was terrific.|
|What a fitting end to our story. This is the view from our balcony and I actually woke up early enough to catch this gorgeous sunrise before we had to pack up our bags and catch the plane for home. Til next time....|