Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Caribbean Christmas - Dec 12 - 20, 2015

Our Caribbean Christmas

Instead of giving each other presents we decided to take a cruise to celebrate.  We took an 8 night cruise of the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Sea, that visited the ports of:  Labadee, Haiti, San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and St. Martins.

Such little time available to see much, but we did our best.  Each place was so different and interesting.  We only took a land tour on St. Martins since there are two sections of the island, a Dutch and French side.

We ship was fun, great crew, ate too much, met some really nice folks and in general had a very good time.  We're glad we celebrated our Christmas this way.

Navigator of the Sea
A beautiful ship

 Fabulous gingerbread house display

John's Christmas shirt

Ho, ho, ho
We had fun being corny

5th Floor, the Promenade deck.  Shoppers
paradise, and of course, in duty free ports.

11th Floor, pools, hot tubs, music

The Christmas tree was so beautiful and you
can see how huge it was, 6 decks high.
That was our Christmas tree this year.

Our progressive trivia team, a bunch of great folks.

On the last day they had a display of all towel critters
and a towel folding class.  So clever.

Schooner Bar - trivia central.

We spent lots of time in this bar playing trivia

Pretty big ship, takes a few days to get acclimated.

Bunny was on our bed one night

Guy from Michigan, he was quite a character

Blown glass flower arrangements

More blown glass flower arrangements.
The decor of this ship was very different.

This cool light column goes up about 8 floors.

Sunset leaving Ft. Lauderdale
Busiest passenger port in the world

One of the lobby areas looking down

Labadee, Haiti.  This is a leased peninsula used by Royal Caribbean - and not to be confused with "Haiti" per se.  Sadly, Haiti isn't ready for company, but I hope one day she will be flourishing.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Interesting historical area to walk around

The streets in old town are grayish and in places shine.
Different and very pretty.  No high heels here.

Narrow streets

San Juan Cathedral.  Original built in 1521, destroyed by a hurricane.  
Rebuilt as it stands today in 1540.
Ponce de Leon is interned here.

Lucky to happen upon a wedding.  These newly weds just left the
church and I was able to catch this sweet picture of them.

La Fortaleza (The Fortress) is the current official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. 
It was built between 1533 and 1540 to defend the harbor.

Fun to travel at Christmas and see various decorations.  We've
been to Mexico and the Bahamas during the holidays and it is always so fun.

There are many interesting balconies.  Fun to
see some of the holiday decorations too.

This was a huge nativity inside this church - very detailed.

Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud

Walking break

Thank goodness it is one way.

Rest stop here for a margarita or two.

The pigeons would land on people.

Christmas lights, you can see how narrow the streets are.

 Part of the Old San Juan city wall

Nice Puerto Rican dinner.  This was excellent, called Kan Kan Pork Chop
with mofongo.  An unbelievable meal - cholesterol city, but so delicious.

Christmas chips and tasty drinks.

Pretty lights in the square.
Feliz Navidad

Next stop was the island of St. Kitts, capitol city is Basseterre. A very small island. Founded 1627 by the French. Population around 13,000.  Basseterre is the capital of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are two of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, which is an archipelago of the West Indies in the Caribbean

Downtown tourist shopping area

After walking we did stop for a rum punch, quite potent I will say.

Dancing troupe working for tourist tips.  Interesting 
costumes with peacock feathers on their hats.

The tropics require hydration, 3 beers (small) for $5.00

Little monkey at the bar.

Town center Victorial clock.

A little off the beaten path we found two churches.  This was a Methodist
Church, established 1825.  Painters were working inside and gave us permission to come 
inside.  They were refreshing the bright pink walls.

The pictures does not show how bright pink the walls are. 
Very cheerful.

Vibrant stained glass

Ships docked at end of street.

This was plain scary, electrical wires in a mish mash.  There
must not be any type of fire code.

More crazy electric wires.  Not sure
if I'd stay in a hotel here.

Built in 1710, this church was so grand

Parish Church of St. George with St. Barnabas.
It is hard to tell how huge it is from the picture.

Front door to church

Ceiling was magnificent

Walking back to port observations.

Man on stilts.

Stopped for a refreshment - Rum Punch
and it packed a wallop (we only had one).

Good bye St. Kitts.

St. Maarten

One island, two countries.  Dutch and French living a peace.

We did not even walk over to the nude section.

The water was several beautiful colors, crystal clear.

Visited with ship mates for quite awhile in the water.

Decent water temp, refreshing.

Tour brought us here for beach time.  It was fun.  We got 2 chairs
an umbrella and two drinks for $10 - not bad.

There are a whole bunch of huge yachts here.  We saw the largest
yacht in the world here that has a crew of 125.  Owned by some Russian
who has 40 body guards - I don't think we have to ask where his money
came from - it screams "Russian mafia."

Selling arts and crafts.

Of course, the French section.

My lunch here was Quiche Lorraine and the zebra stripped Napoleon for
dessert.  I only had one pastry - what a shame.

This is where we ate.  Our tour director said it was his favorite.


The four flags of the island:  Netherlands, Sint Maarten, France and EU.
The Treaty of Concordia was first signed in 1648.

The airport is best known for very low-altitude flyover landing approaches due to one 
end of its runway being extremely close to the shore and Maho Beach.

There must have been 1,000 people here to
watch the planes land.  I was very surprised.

People did hang on the fence in back of the plane taking off.
I have to wonder about the mentality of some tourists.

Also a very steep ascent.  Landing is dramatic, but take off must be too.

Right hand side is where people would hang on the
fence to feel that jet thrust.  Nuts!!!!!

 Little plane coming in to land.  We just missed the
huge Air France that we all wanted to see.

St. Maarten had some beautiful clouds.  We had such 
perfect weather on our entire trip with no rain to speak of.

New terminal which is quite nice.

Narrow roads, here we are driving over a bridge.
This is the only port where we took a tour.  With Dutch and French
sides we felt there was a lot to see and I am glad we did it.

Nice place to visit, but I don't think we will be\
back.  These small islands are like, "been there, done that."

Interesting created cruise port.  Instead of big rocks they have these huge
poured concrete forms that create a breakwater.

Docked in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  The port was expecting 72,000 
people on this day.  We waited for our shuttle to get our car and 
off for a new adventure.

Overall, a good cruise.  We met some nice people and saw some brand new things.  I think the small islands were interesting, but nothing we're drawn back to.  Puerto Rico, being much larger, we would like to visit there again and explore the entire island.  I especially want to take the Lechon Trail (the pork roast highway).  A lovely Christmas gift to each other that we enjoyed and will never forget.