Jump to content

donalk

Members
  • Content Count

    85
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    10

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    donalk got a reaction from ChessE4 in Italy - Venice or Florence   
    Venice is almost four hours from Rome by train, I would say that rules it out. It's a city that (as you can see above, evokes different reactions). My wife had been in Venice before and hated it. It was smelly, overbearing, crowded, and dirty in her view.
    I'd not been there until we spent three days in Venice before a Rhapsody cruise last year, and she loved it!
    I think the big difference is we were there together in late October, she was previously there in mid July!
    I think Venice needs two days minimum, as do Florence and Rome.
    Obviously, living in Ireland, Italy is more accessible to us, and we've been there a few times. My personal view is stay in Rome.
     
     
  2. Like
    donalk got a reaction from PlitkaHoaxy in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    This is perhaps a timely review following Matt's Brilliance cruise at the weekend. He has posted great pics of a post refurb Radiance class ship, here's a look at one that remains "as is". This is also a mirror of the itinerary Matt did in 2013, but in reverse order, so from the outset, I must acknowledge that his observations were important in how we approached our cruise. Cruise Critic members may recognise this, I posted much of this over there under my CC user name 'madra2112;.
     
    The background. My wife celebrated a significant birthday in October. Obviously a gentleman doesn't reveal a lady's age, suffice it to say I'm 51 and she's a bit younger!
     
    Our roles when it comes to cruising are reasonably well laid out. I plan, book, research, listen to the podcast, read and post here and on Cruise Critic, prepare folders and action plans, fill in ESTA forms, renew the travel insurance and draw up a timetable of excursions.
     
    She lives in the real world, and enjoys the cruise when the time comes.
     
    This time, I was adamant that she should be centrally involved in the planning, as this was her birthday cruise, and in late 2014, started asking her what she wanted to do. Her response was very succinct. "I want to go to Barbados, and you work away after that".
     
    Fair enough, and with that in mind, the research started.
     
    When Jewel came up as an option, I was drawn to it immediately. The Radiance class seems to have a particular place in the hearts of the Royal community, and Matt had written and podcasted very positively on his experience on that route. I was also intrigued by San Juan, and the more I had heard of it, the more it struck me as a place I wanted to visit.
     
    And so, the planning began. Surf the net, listen to back episodes of the podcast, confirm the decision, book the cruise. I also looked very carefully at Celebrity Summit, which had an almost identical itinerary. However, Matt's Jewel review swayed it, and by the end of last year, Jewel was booked for the first week in November, visiting Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and St Croix.
     
    Months turned into weeks, weeks into days, and suddenly, it was the last day of work before the break. I work as a journalist, and was scanning the Irish Daily Mail, when my eye was drawn to an article about the traits and characteristics that define a gentleman. The last column is........interesting!
     

     
    However, the next day, after an overnight stay in the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport, we flew via JFK to.........San Juan, Puerto Rico!
     
    One very handy aspect of flying from Dublin is there is a US Customs centre in Dublin airport, the idea being that you clear immigration and security before travelling.
     

     
    The formidable gentleman processing us questioned us about our plans, as soon as we mentioned cruising, it emerged he has 20+ RCI cruises under his belt, and was heading for Venice to catch Splendour the following week. 
     
    In the unlikely event that he's reading this, I hope you had a wonderful cruise my friend!
     
    We flew Aer Lingus into JFK, landing just ahead of schedule. Aer Lingus has a special partnership deal with Jet Blue, which meant we had one ticket, we were issued Jet Blue boarding passes in Dublin, and our luggage was checked straight through from Dublin to San Juan.
     
    We had been offered two options when booking. One was a Jet Blue flight to SJ an hour after we landed in JFK, the other was a 4.5 hour layover. o be safe and sure, we chose the longer stop. When we landed, we were off the plane at 1.30pm we checked the boards, walked to the gate where the 2.20pm San Juan was showing, to find they hadn't started boarding yet. 
     
    However, we waited, read books, explored Terminal 5 and spend some time 'Up on the Roof'.
     

     
    And so, after a relatively relaxing day in the air, we landed in San Juan and were whisked to the Hotel Miramar. 
     
    The next morning, I got up and walked around the Condada Lagoon and the South Eastern tip of Old San Juan. Beautiful. Already, I was convinced we'd done the right thing.
     

     

     
  3. Like
    donalk got a reaction from BigBonusgring in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    This is perhaps a timely review following Matt's Brilliance cruise at the weekend. He has posted great pics of a post refurb Radiance class ship, here's a look at one that remains "as is". This is also a mirror of the itinerary Matt did in 2013, but in reverse order, so from the outset, I must acknowledge that his observations were important in how we approached our cruise. Cruise Critic members may recognise this, I posted much of this over there under my CC user name 'madra2112;.
     
    The background. My wife celebrated a significant birthday in October. Obviously a gentleman doesn't reveal a lady's age, suffice it to say I'm 51 and she's a bit younger!
     
    Our roles when it comes to cruising are reasonably well laid out. I plan, book, research, listen to the podcast, read and post here and on Cruise Critic, prepare folders and action plans, fill in ESTA forms, renew the travel insurance and draw up a timetable of excursions.
     
    She lives in the real world, and enjoys the cruise when the time comes.
     
    This time, I was adamant that she should be centrally involved in the planning, as this was her birthday cruise, and in late 2014, started asking her what she wanted to do. Her response was very succinct. "I want to go to Barbados, and you work away after that".
     
    Fair enough, and with that in mind, the research started.
     
    When Jewel came up as an option, I was drawn to it immediately. The Radiance class seems to have a particular place in the hearts of the Royal community, and Matt had written and podcasted very positively on his experience on that route. I was also intrigued by San Juan, and the more I had heard of it, the more it struck me as a place I wanted to visit.
     
    And so, the planning began. Surf the net, listen to back episodes of the podcast, confirm the decision, book the cruise. I also looked very carefully at Celebrity Summit, which had an almost identical itinerary. However, Matt's Jewel review swayed it, and by the end of last year, Jewel was booked for the first week in November, visiting Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and St Croix.
     
    Months turned into weeks, weeks into days, and suddenly, it was the last day of work before the break. I work as a journalist, and was scanning the Irish Daily Mail, when my eye was drawn to an article about the traits and characteristics that define a gentleman. The last column is........interesting!
     

     
    However, the next day, after an overnight stay in the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport, we flew via JFK to.........San Juan, Puerto Rico!
     
    One very handy aspect of flying from Dublin is there is a US Customs centre in Dublin airport, the idea being that you clear immigration and security before travelling.
     

     
    The formidable gentleman processing us questioned us about our plans, as soon as we mentioned cruising, it emerged he has 20+ RCI cruises under his belt, and was heading for Venice to catch Splendour the following week. 
     
    In the unlikely event that he's reading this, I hope you had a wonderful cruise my friend!
     
    We flew Aer Lingus into JFK, landing just ahead of schedule. Aer Lingus has a special partnership deal with Jet Blue, which meant we had one ticket, we were issued Jet Blue boarding passes in Dublin, and our luggage was checked straight through from Dublin to San Juan.
     
    We had been offered two options when booking. One was a Jet Blue flight to SJ an hour after we landed in JFK, the other was a 4.5 hour layover. o be safe and sure, we chose the longer stop. When we landed, we were off the plane at 1.30pm we checked the boards, walked to the gate where the 2.20pm San Juan was showing, to find they hadn't started boarding yet. 
     
    However, we waited, read books, explored Terminal 5 and spend some time 'Up on the Roof'.
     

     
    And so, after a relatively relaxing day in the air, we landed in San Juan and were whisked to the Hotel Miramar. 
     
    The next morning, I got up and walked around the Condada Lagoon and the South Eastern tip of Old San Juan. Beautiful. Already, I was convinced we'd done the right thing.
     

     

     
  4. Like
    donalk got a reaction from DocLC in Greetings from Anthem   
    Just docked in St John New Brunswick this morning, and as I walked the deck at stupid o'clock, I was listening to the Anthem Royal Suites podcast. I then hit the gym, clicked on Abe's morning show, and as I watched, he did the phone call to the captain routine, no more than 10 minutes after I heard it discussed on the podcast!
     
    Review to follow next week, but right now, we're off for a stroll to Fort Howe.
  5. Like
    donalk reacted to DAVE(Darkcabbie) in All access tour and dining package is it worth the money   
    Thanks for the advice.
     
    I think we are going to put the idea on hold for now and see if it gets discounted towards the end of the cruise. Your right about I-95 we saw it on a documentary about the Oasis and to be able to check that out would be cool.
  6. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Greetings from Anthem   
    Just docked in St John New Brunswick this morning, and as I walked the deck at stupid o'clock, I was listening to the Anthem Royal Suites podcast. I then hit the gym, clicked on Abe's morning show, and as I watched, he did the phone call to the captain routine, no more than 10 minutes after I heard it discussed on the podcast!
     
    Review to follow next week, but right now, we're off for a stroll to Fort Howe.
  7. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Day Excursions - Southern Caribbean   
    I concur with the comments on Orient Beach, we did a similar itinerary on Jewel late last year, here's a link to my review http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php/topic/1262-jewel-of-the-seas-review/?hl=jewel
     
  8. Like
    donalk reacted to Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    Looks like you had a fabulous time in St Maarten.  It's one of my favorite ports and I think you can see why.
  9. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Familyof4 in Day Excursions - Southern Caribbean   
    I concur with the comments on Orient Beach, we did a similar itinerary on Jewel late last year, here's a link to my review http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php/topic/1262-jewel-of-the-seas-review/?hl=jewel
     
  10. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    We boarded our plane without incident, and were soon taxiing to the runway, crossing over what appeared to be a main road in the process.
     

     
    The flight was uneventful - I was happy to see Fantastic 4 was one of the free movie options, but it turned out to be the dubbed Spanish version!
     
    Either way we were soon flying over Long Island and into JFK.
     

     

     
    We landed at JFK at 1.20pm, with three hours to make our Aer Lingus connection to Dublin. We came in to Gate 9 in Terminal 5. Aer Lingus uses Gate 11. Judging by what I saw from my window as we taxied to a stop, I reckoned we'd probably make it!
     

     
    And we did.
     
    We even had time for lunch.
     
    As we sat in the concourse eating our Cheeburger Cheeburger (never heard of it before, good burger and excellent onion rings), a lady passed. "She's the spitting image of Liz", observed Pauline.
     
    We had sent a lot of time with Liz and her husband and two adult children on Liberty a year earlier, they hail from Limerick.
     
    I looked closely, and realised there was a  very good reason she looked like Liz. She was Liz! It transpired she, her sister and daughter and other assorted female clan members were returning to Shannon after a few days shopping in the Big Apple. We chatted for a while, and then went on our way, reflecting that if you stand still in JFK for long enough, you're bound to see someone you know!
     
    Before too long, we boarded on time and were soon in the air, landing at Dublin Airport at 4.10am our time. We picked up the car, drove 150 miles home, and arrived at our front door just before 8am.
     
    As we were falling into bed, Jewel of the Seas was heading towards St Thomas. Hard to believe had been on board less than 24 hours earlier!
     
    After a few hours it was get up, do some shopping, check e-mails, and real life slowly consumed us again. Ever since though, there's been an extra little pep in our step.
     
    I admitted at the start that I would have been happy with Europe. Now, I'd happily go back to San Juan and do the other islands in the region. And then go back to the ones we've been to already...........maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.........
  11. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    One observation from the point of a newbie to San Juan. As  I indicated, I had registered for the 7.30 departure off the ship, and we were at the theatre as instructed 10 minutes before.
     
    It went like clockwork, and as I expected, we were approached by a porter when we got into the baggage hall.
     
    I nodded, he helped with the bags, guided us through customs, and had our cases in the back of a taxi before you could say "that was quick!" We were at the airport within 40 minutes of leaving our cabin, enough time for a stroll around the airport while beloved read a book!
     
     
     

     

     
    We went in, checked in, in plenty of time for our flight to JFK.
     
    On our first day in San Juan, we'd looked across the bay from Raices and looked at the area's most iconic factory.
     
    Now, in the Duty Free Shop, its produce was on prominent display!
     
    [url=http://smg.photobucket.com/user/madra/media/8sc24_zpsgsjeqgy5.jpg.html]
  12. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    I know that St Croix has had issues, and the cruise ships are only now beginning to return. I hope it succeeds, and this town can thrive again. Sadly, the weather was severely impacting on this cruise's interaction with local people and more importantly for them, the amount of money being injected into the local economy.
     
    We had intended renting beach chairs, maybe eating lunch on the beach, but it was clear that the pattern for the day was going to be intermittent heavy showers and very little sun.
     
    We just plonked our bags and towels onto the sand, took the obligatory "ship in the background" selfie, and got into the water. Tomorrow, we would be heading back to the Irish winter, this was our last chance to swim in the Caribbean for some time, and by God we were taking it!
     

     

     

     
    That beach should have been packed, the water should have been jammed with people. The beach bar, which should have been doing a roaring trade was deserted, there were no more than 10 people dotted around the beach.
     
    The colour of the sky in the last picture is an indication why.
     
    I'd like to go back to St Croix, to see it on a sunny day when it will look its best. I'd like to relax on the beach, visit the museum in Fort Frederik , we intended to, but after three very heavy showers over the course of the time we were ashore, we were wet and just wanted to get back onto the ship.
     
    We went to eat lunch in Windjammer, sat in the outdoor seating at the back, but had to move very quickly when a huge shower was accompanied by some very strong wind made us feel right at home!
     
    The cruise director cancelled most outdoor activity on the pool deck, and instead, Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation was shown in the theatre.
     
    As we left, perhaps more so than any other port, I said goodbye with a sense of unfinished business. We had hoped for a little more from St Croix, and it had certainly hoped for a little more from us!
     

  13. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    We considered going into Philipsburg itself, but after a packed day, we left the town centre for another time and  stayed around the port for a while, taking a Caribe beer and buying a few souvenirs before reboarding. A little later, we got to watch Liberty sail away.
     

     
    The rest of the night was predictable. We ate in the MDR, watched a bit of The Edge Effect, a vocal harmony group in the theatre, and went to see Ant Man in the cinema. Some people had popcorn, I never saw where it came from. Then, I heard a few people muttering about the price, so it obviously wasn't free. 
     
    Later on, our heads hit the pillow, and it was Goodnight Irene!
  14. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    We saw three more jets and a few smaller planes land while we were there, after the Delta I decided to leave the camera down and just savour the moment
     
    Maho is, I suspect, one of those places where there is a risk of it being underwhelming. Not in my case.
     
    Of course that's partly due to the fact that shortly after the Delta landed, a very loud whine came from the airport. That could only mean one thing - KLM was on the move.
     

     

     

     

     
    I don't have great balance so I stayed well to the side, those who stood directly behind were blown and buffeted by the savage power of the Jumbo's four engines.
     
    Then, it was time to return to Philipsburg, where we'd been joined in port
    by MSC Divina.
     

     

  15. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    I must be honest, at this stage I'm getting a bit excited. In fact, it's a feeling not unlike the one I had before we drove the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco last year.
     
    Having watched videos of planes coming over Maho Beach for so long online, we were finally on our way there!
     
    We left the French side, and soon crossed the border into Dutch territory again.
     

     

     
    Then, we crossed the bridge leading to the airport, turned the corner, and the airport came into view.
     
    Suddenly, my excitement level rose even more, and I mouthed an expletive under my breath. "What's wrong?", asked Pauline. I pointed to a blue shape in the airport grounds and gasped "It's the KLM".
     

     
    Yep - The KLM 747 was on the apron, and provided it was a reasonably quick turnaround, we were in time for the ultimate take off.
     
    The area has obviously developed a lot in recent years, videos I've seen show the Sunset Bar as a small bar on the corner of the beach. Now, it's a lot bigger than that!
     

     
    Soon, we were treated to the first approaching jet, and a Delta flew over before landing. I took two shots of it, and to be honest, didn't bother for the rest of the time. I just put the camera down, got into the water, watched and listened.
     

     

  16. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    Marigot is where Speed 2 - Cruise Control was filmed, culminating with Seaborn Legend crashing into the seafront. Needless to say, the actual seafront in Marigot looks nothing like the scene in the film. All of the buildings featured in that scene were models, except this one, the public toilets.
     

     
    It was now lunchtime, so the question was if we were in France, could we find a shop selling fresh ham and cheese baguettes?
     
    Oh yes!
     

     
    Le Divin, and it lived up to its name!  We spent a little more time around Marigot, not enough time to visit Fort Louis, unfortunately, but as is so often the case, we vowed to come back.
     

     

     

     

  17. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    This was our first cruise as Platinum C&A members, and we had been invited to the Top Tier event on the helipad for sailaway that evening.
     
    While there, we et up once again with Blanche and Michael.
     
    It was an enjoyable sailaway, as we waved goodbye to Antigua with glass in hand.
     

     

     

     

     

     
    That evening was a busy one in the theatre. The singers and dancers did their second production show "West End to Broadway", which once again underwhelmed  me. 
     
    Then, the Love and Marriage Game Show was followed by late night comedy from Jeff Jenna. Very enjoyable.
     
    However, that was more than enough monkeying around for us for one night, and back we headed to our cabin to say hello to our latest new friend.
     

  18. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    Inside the Dockyard Museum there were some very nice exhibits, including to our UK friends' delight, a painting of a very young Prince Charles.
     
    A quick visit to the museum shop to buy some souvenirs was followed by a dash to the bakery behind it for a pineapple based pastry which was absolutely delicious.
     
    Then we drove past the rainforest back to St John's, where I noticed a number of adverts for funeral insurance policies, and more uniquely, obituary notices on billboards. That was certainly a  new one on me!
     

     

     
    As we got out of the taxi, Gregory pointed out that there was a very nice Belgian Ice Cream bar nearby. Well, when you get advice like that, it's only good manners to follow it!
     

     
    Then we headed back to the pier, but not before stopping off at the Cheers bar for some Wadadli beer for me and a Diet Coke for Pauline . It was expensive ($9 for the two) but tasty, and after slaking our thirst, we got back on board to prepare for a special event.
     

  19. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    This being the Caribbean, cricket is the major sport on the island, and so after a  brief tour of the town, we arrived at the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground. I got the feeling Gregory was delighted that his clients were anxious to stop off for a look.
     

     
    Then, after a stop off at a viewing point over Falmouth and Emnglish Harbour, we arrived at Nelson's Dockyard. Thankfully, the sun made a brief appearance at this point. Not for the day, unfortunately, but long enough to give us some nice photos.
     

     

     
    We arrived at the dockyard, and all elected to buy tickets to go in. We were given half an hour, just enough to do the brief tour and get a flavour of the place, while also sheltering from the huge shower that came down half way through.
     

     

     

  20. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    Next morning, we docked in St John's, Antigua, and it was clear this was not going to be a very sunny day. The sky was overcast and threatening rain, so we dismissed the idea of going to the beach for the day.
     
    We had already decided that Thursday would be a lazy day, so we had ordered room service breakfast which we ate on the balcony before reading and relaxing for a bit.
     
    We eventually decided to get off the ship, stroll into St John's and maybe get a taxi to Nelson's Dockyard which I had read about in my pre-cruise research.
     

     

     
    As we got off, we heard the strains of a steel band, welcoming us to Antigua. It certainly added a nice touch, and I must say of the three steel bands we saw over the course of the cruise, this one was the most 'authentic', with no guitar or keyboard to beef up the sound. As you'll see from the ground, there had been a hell of a shower just a while before we got off.
     

     

     

     
    This was by far my favourite restaurant name of the week. I was very tempted to stop off there for lunch.
     
    Needless to say, there were taxi drivers galore touring for business, one of whom, Gregory, offered us a tour of the island going to Nelson's Dockyard and returning via the rainforest for $20 each, provided he could get another couple to share the van.
     
    We agreed, and gave him 10 minutes. Just as we were losing hope, he arrived back with Richard and Sharon from the UK, and another couple from the US, whose names I have totally forgotten I'm sorry to say. Then, intoductions made, off we headed.
  21. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    I like this angle, taken from Deck 12 forward as we reversed past Adventure. It was nice seeing her again, Pauline and I had spent a few days on her in 2011.
     
    We were lucky with the weather, it rained as we left Castries that morning, but it had stopped before we got to the banana plantation.
     
    That afternoon, it poured again just after sailaway. A short time later, I was up by the mini golf area, just in time to get this shot,
     

     

     
    That evening, we went to the Longfellow Serende, the Neil Diamond tribute show presented by John Blair. I would recommend it, by and large a well thought out piece that goes beyond the obvious hits. My own feeling is if John took off the Cruise Director hat for a while, it would be much improved.
     
    But maybe that's just me.
     
    That evening was the Dancing Under The Stars pool party. We made it up for about 15 minutes, but left long before the buffet came out.
     
    We'd eaten our fill that day, and were ready for bed. Tomorrow we would be in Antigua, and the plan was to head for a beach (probably Valley Church), and just relax for a few hours.
     
    That was the plan................
  22. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    One or two people elected to stay on the boat while we enjoyed the white sands and blue waters of Jalousie, but soon it was time to wash the sand from our feet , wave a final goodbye to the pitons, and set a course for Castries.
     

     

     
    We made one more brief stop in Marigot Bay to see how the other half live. This is the site of a number of resorts and high class hotels, and also the area in which Rex Harrison's Doctor Dolittle was filmed. I don't know about talking to The Animals, but if you wanted to talk to a Rolling Stone, you could try your luck.
     
    Mick Jaggers's house is on a hilltop overlooking the bay!
     

     
    Then after a last exhilarating ride over the waves, we were back in Castries, and after dropping off our friends from Adventure, we headed back to Jewel, beaming after a wonderful tour.
     

     
    Standing on deck waiting for sailaway, I looked down over the terminal building, to see a claim with which I will not quibble.
     

     
    As we backed out of the port, I noticed Adventure's outside screen was showing the image on its bow camera, on which Jewel could be seen! I surprised myself by managing to get this pic!
     

  23. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    We headed off at a gentle pace with the pitons at our backs to visit the "batcave", home of thousands of fruit bats.
     

     
    Then, we turned around, and Mario hit the turbo boost. It was full steam ahead towards Sugar Beach.
     

     
    We arrived at the beach, and soon, Clyde had found a few unoccupied 'free' chairs, which we gladly accepted.
     
    Some of the more adventurous members of our party went snorkelling, while others (ie. us) lay back and took it all in, before going for a gentle swim.
     

     

     

     

     
    Matt I know you pointed out on your podcast review that tours aren't your thing, and I well know how hard it is planning things with kids. I will say thought, for hitting all the spots, getting a mixture of culture, activity and beach, and most importantly, getting a sense of having visited the island, a tour like Herod's is hard to beat! 
  24. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    This is one of the newer formations.
     
    At one point, with the guide's permission, I leaned in towards one of the streams and scooped up a palm full of water to drink. That's what you call fresh!
     
    As a slight moan, the blurb for the tour (which cost $79 each) indicated that "complimentary beverages would be offered at the cave", They weren't, and we ended up buying water in the gift shop. Given that it was a hot day, water was necessary, and to be promised it and then not get it was a little annoying. 
     
    That said, nothing could take from the majesty and sense of history of the cave. I should also say that before going into the cave there was a little interpretative centre and display, including a video on how Barbados and other islands were formed, which provided a very nice context for the rest of the islands. It was a very well planned and thought out presentation, full marks to the tourist board and backers of that particular project.
     

     
    Then we travelled back via a different route, passing some of the plantations that provided the backbone of the economy when sugar cane was the main Bajan export.
     

     
    I was particularly taken by this educational establishment. If I ever go back to college, this is where I want to go.
     

     
    Then, we were back at the port, where we strolled around the shops, and walked towards Bridgetown along Princess Alice Highway.
     
    All too soon, we had to retrace our steps.
     

     

     
    One final stop, for what was going to become a habit of mine for the cruise. I'm not a big alcohol drinker, and Pauline doesn't drink at all. I have the occasional beer, and really mean that. However, out of interest, I had one bottle of Banks beer in the bar at the cruise terminal before we got back on board, and sampling the local beer before getting back on board became a feature of every port. We have the Royal Replenish pakages, so I drank no alcohol on the ship (apart from the champagne at the C&A events!).
     
    That night, Rick Novell did a very enjoyable physical comedy show in the theatre, while there was late night adult comedy from Mike Marino. He had also done a set on the first night, and as an amateur actor who also does a bit of stand up in local clubs as a hobby, I enjoyed them both immensely. 
     
    Because most of our cruises are in Europe where ships are more multilingual, the emphasis is more on magic, juggling and acrobatics rather than spoken word. Having comedy up front and centre was a whole new experience for us.
     
    We left the theatre and headed straight for bed. We had a busy day ahead in St Lucia.
  25. Like
    donalk got a reaction from Matt in Jewel of the Seas Review   
    Soon though, it was time for the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle, with Katrina doing the honours. Among the titbits of knowledge she imparted was that there would be bingo and shopping talks that day..........oh, and she also mentioned something slightly more important. There would be a paella station on deck for lunch!
     
    Our plan had been to go to the Seaview Cafe, after listening to Matt sing the praises of the Reuben Sandwiches on the podcast. that was quickly revised, and we ended up having paella to start, followed by the Reuben and onion rings, and then a pink lemonade tart and latte from Cafe Lattetudes. Just as well we did I think that was the only time the Seaview Cafe was open at lunchtime all week.
     
    The rest of the time, it was open from early evening until late night, offering "burgers and booze" for $10 (booze not included!!)
     

     

     
    The weather was hit and miss at times, some showers, but a lot of sunshine as well. 
     
    The truth is, the day was still much better than anything we'd seen in Ireland over the summer, so we were taking advantage while we had it!

     

     
    A little later I headed to the cinema to watch Terminator : Genisys, before heading to the Solarium for a swim and soak in the hot tub, followed by a quick scoot into the Shipshape Centre dressing room for a sauna and steam.
     
    Two observations - A really cold shower would be a nice addition to the dressing room area, it seemed to me that even on full cold settings, the showers there were at best room temperature to lukewarm.
     
    The other thing (and the same held true on Vision), I find it awkward to have to walk through the spa reception area to get to the dressing rooms. On some ships there's a direct path ; I'm sure the spa staff and customers don't want to see me in a pair of shorts and flip-flops walking through their space. How to lower the tone in one easy lesson!
     
    Then, it being formal night, we headed to the Tides Dining Room, and I took the only two dinner pictures of the week! Duck for me, sliders for Pauline.
     

     

     
    We then went to the theatre for City of Dreams, the first of two production shows that week. Not one of the better shows we've seen, after Up in the Air and Saturday Night Fever on Liberty last year, the stakes have been raised!
     
    Then up to the Safari Club to watch The Quest, which John Blair handled very well, before falling into bed for a much needed sleep.
     
    Tomorrow, we would be in the place whose name, perhaps more than any other, is synonymous with paradise where we come from - Barbados.
×
×
  • Create New...