Caribbean Cruise (November 19 to December 2, 2014)

By Larry Rettig (LarryR) on December 7, 2014

None of the words I can think of adequately describe the fabulous time we had! We spent our first two days on Florida's Gold Coast in Ft. Lauderdale Beach. Our room was located directly on the beach, which was just a few steps from our door. Please click on photos to enlarge and to view the entire photo.



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View from our window

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View from window at the end of our hallway

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We couldn't wait to get to the beach, so we took a stroll before changing into our swim suits.

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Just before boarding our ship, Celebrity Equinox

Our first port of call: St. Thomas

We didn't go ashore but went directly to a ferry for a one-hour trip to the small island of Tortola. Our experience there proved to be one of the sweetest of our entire Caribbean adventure. We swam with dolphins! Their home was in a small lagoon. We were greeted there by Ila (EYE-lah), a 34-year-old dolphin with a sweet personality.

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Getting ready to meet Ila

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Ila says hello.

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Ila gets affectionate.

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A kiss for Ila

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Ila says thank you.

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Ila nuzzles Robin.

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Ila rolls over on her back and gives Robin a belly ride.

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Wilma obviously enjoying her belly ride!

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Me on a boogie board with my legs stretched out behind and my feet together. Ila swam around behind me and pushed me through the water with her snout on my feet.

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Ila obviously had a good time, too.

Temps were generally in the mid 80s during the day and only slightly cooler during the night. We had gorgeous weather. It only rained on us twice and then only briefly. We spent some time in several rain forests, and, as one might expect, that's where it rained.

 

Next port of call: St. Kitts

St. Kitts offered another great adventure, zip lining. What a blast! Not one, but FOUR, zip lines awaited us. We got to the first line by climbing into a 4WD vehicle and riding up to the top of a small mountain. We careened through rain forest, over canyons, and across rivers. We didn't get any pictures while on the line, as you hang on for dear life! The views were magnificent and the experience was the next best thing to flying. At the conclusion of each zip line there is a ten foot long spring coiled over the wire. You come in at high speed, hit the spring, which compresses and then throws you backward. YEEHAW!

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Base camp was an old sugar cane mill.

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Our transportation to the top

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Our guide (center) prepping us for the trip up

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Gear on and ready to go

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About to take off

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I'm launched!

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Trekking through the rain forest to the next zip line

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Wilma and Robin coming in for a landing

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The spring

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Back at base camp, Robin discovers a two-month-old green monkey.

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Some shots around the island:

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Farewell St. Kitts

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On to Barbados

I parted ways with Wilma and Robin in Barbados. They went snorkeling and I went to the rain forest to mingle with monkeys and other assorted animals.

Barbados was definitely the most well-to-do island we visited. Lots less poverty. Here is what I saw from the bus as we traveled to the jungle:

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All above:  Villas and estates of the rich and famous from across the globe

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An old neglected church

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A recently planted sugar cane field

Animals in the jungle park (Wild animals come from all reaches of the park to receive an afternoon treat.):

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The turtles take a turn.

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Everyone joins the feast.

On the way back to the ship, we took a different route:

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Uniformed school girls make their way home after classes.

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Sea grapes

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"The Sleeping Giant" has trees for eyebrows and chest hair.

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I like the soft texture that these palms add to this scene.

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An old plantation home

Meanwhile out in the water:

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Robin snorkeling (These photos were taken with an inexpensive waterproof camera and are not of the best quality.)

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An old underwater shipwreck

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Robin encounters a turtle.

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The harbor area as we bid adieu to Barbados

 

Dominica (Doe min NEE ka)

Except for the dolphin excursion to Tortola, Dominica was the smallest island on our tour. Also the poorest.

Our adventure for the day was river tubing. It was described as "strenuous." I was asked to leave my glasses behind as I might lose them in the river. Hmmm...
It was a blast! I think we laughed our way down the river from beginning to end. The river originated in the mountains and so was quite swift. There was little you could do to control your tube because of the current. All the more fun! We traversed four sets of rapids. Some people got dumped going over them, Wilma almost included. Since you had little control, you sometimes ended up going over the rapids backwards. No way to tell what awaited you. Big Grin

Lest you get the impression that this was way too dangerous, there were skilled guides in the river with us, always positioning themselves at strategic points. If you got slammed into a tree trunk, dunked in the rapids, or got stuck in the back waters, there was always someone to provide immediate assistance.

The souvenirs we brought back to the ship with us included a bruised left fanny cheek on my part (from hitting a submerged rock in the rapids) and a few abrasions on Wilma's part (from her arms rubbing against her tube). Robin emerged unscathed. Aside from that, it was a fun and invigorating experience. Wilma used the waterproof camera along the way:

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A gaggle of tubers. At the most treacherous rapids, the guides held a rope across the river to stop everyone and then let us go one by one. Sometimes someone unintentionally escaped the rope (Wilma included) but there was always a guide to assist.

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Adieu, Dominica.

 

Our last port of call: St. Martin

Also called St. Maarten, it is said by many to be the best Caribbean island for shopping. None of us are into shopping, so we decided to spend the day at the beach. Had a lovely time.

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Christmas has arrived at St. Martin. A major disconnect. Hearing "Jingle Bells" in a tropical paradise just doesn't cut it.

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I spotted this parasailor from my beach chair

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I thought parasailing was spectacular until I saw THIS!
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Those are water jets propelling this guy upward. He got even higher between the two shots I took. He could hover. He would suddenly turn the jets off and dive into the water as if from a diving board. He would emerge from the water and do short leaps into the air followed by a dive, imitating dolphins. Unbelievable!

Shots from the bus on our way back to the ship:

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A monument to Christopher Columbus positioned on the line that divides the Dutch part of the island from the French part

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A spectacular villa perched on a hilltop

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Adieu, St. Martin. It was with a bit of melancholy that we parted, spending the next two days at sea on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale. We definitely were not ready for this vacation to end!

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Back in Ft. Lauderdale at the Atlantic Resort and Spa. View from the balcony of our suite.

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Pool deck

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Back in the Atlanta airport. Sigh...



Life on the Celebrity Equinox

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Not having been at sea since age 9 months, Robin was fascinated by waves, swells, and wakes.

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We recelebrated Robin's birthday aboard ship. Our state room steward created a towel swan for the occasion.

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Marsha, our friendly and very professional server (she could easily be the maitre d' at any restaurant of her choosing) presented Robin with a birthday cake with two burning candles at dinner one evening.

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Marsha

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Our tablemates. I think we had one of the liveliest tables in the entire dining room. We told stories and laughed and laughed. By the end of the cruise we had become so close, it was difficult for us to say goodbye.

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Just outside our dining room. Guess who has the darkest tan. Big Grin

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Gorgeous center of the ceiling in our two-tiered dining room

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Over one thousand different kinds of wine are stored in this wedge-shaped, floor-to-ceiling, on-site wine "cellar."

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This adds some perspective to the size

Cruise ships are known for fantastic food and lots of it. Celebrity Equinox did not disappoint! Here is some food artistry:

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Turkey was on the menu for Thanksgiving, but we decided on nontraditional entrees.

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A couple of obligatory ice sculptures. Unfortunately, some of the finer detail had already melted when I discovered them:

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Our favorite place on board to have lunch

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Sometimes we lunched here as well.

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One of the more unusual features of this ship was that deck 12 was a real, live lawn. Loved it!
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Catching some rays:

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More ship:

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Solarium pool

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Solar panels on solarium roof

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Library (empty shelves indicate it's popularity)

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Table made from single trunk

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Theater for live performances. The talent and entertainment in these performances was amazing. Outstanding!

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Part of the grand foyer, which is open almost to the top of the ship's 14 decks. The ship was at capacity with more than 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew members.

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A real, live potted ficus suspended midway up to the top of the grand foyer

 

Back to reality.  Sigh...

 

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About Larry Rettig
"An enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and it’s still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Our garden, named Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, is private and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s by my ancestors. My latest book, Gardening the Amana Way, is available at Amazon.com.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
What a wonderful trip Zanymuse Dec 11, 2014 12:38 PM 7

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