CARIBBEAN CRUISE PART 1
Well, it all started about a year ago when we were invited to join some of our Eastern relatives on a Caribbean Cruise on the 'Radiance of the Seas' scheduled for January 6, 2007 . We made our reservations, bought trip insurance, reserved hotel rooms, etc, and settled down for the long wait till the embarkation day. Unfortunately, as time wore on, problems arose, and gradually, all the other members of the group had to drop out. In October, after some contemplation, we decided to go ahead on our own. On January 5 we flew Southwest Airlines to Fort Lauderdale, and checked into a Holiday Inn Express. The next morning we joined an excited crowd waiting for the shuttle to the Seaport, and finally arrived there. We checked two large bags and carried the rest.
There was a large group waiting to board the Radiance of the Seas, and by dumb luck we ended up in row one! After about an hour, we were processed, and boarded the ship about 1:30. We were told that there was an unusual problem delaying the people trying to leave the ship - there were only two customs agents sent to process the whole ship!
We now had about 3 hours until sailing at 5pm, so we moved into our stateroom, and then went to the buffet on deck 11 and had a nice relaxing lunch. We started exploring, and here Marie has her photo taken with the Queen Mary 2. She was very happy to see it since we were not able to see it when it visited San Pedro.
There were about 5 other cruise ships in the harbor preparing to depart. As you can see the weather was wonderful.
We went to the stern of the ship in deck 11 and had some refreshment. This is one of our favorite places to relax and enjoy coffee, tea, etc. I took advantage of this time to make some calls on my cell phone, since I expected that we would be out of communication for some time. Marie took a photo of me, and I was wearing my favorite bright yellow cap.
It was getting to be the time for the mandatory lifeboat drill, and we started back to our stateroom. There was a large crowd bustling around, and, when we got to the elevators, we had a surprise when a young man came up and asked me if I was missing anything. I didn't know I was missing anything, and then he showed me my camera and asked if it was mine! I checked it,and, sure enough it was. I apparently had left it here on this table! He spotted it and started checking the pictures, and saw me with the bright yellow cap, and then he spotted me waiting for the elevator. We thanked them profusely, and thought how it would have really been a bummer to loose the camera.
The city looked very nice, with many large condos.
Everyone had to participate in a mandatory lifeboat drill on deck 5 where all the lifeboats are located.
This was about 45 minutes before departure.
I think that there were about 2100 passengers.
We are starting to back out from the dock we had another good view of the Queen Mary 2 from its backside. Our own ship is equipped with very effective maneuvering engines, which enables the captain to move in any direction. We never used a tugboat.
Looking back at Fort Lauderdale.
We spotted Erick and Geneive, the wonderful couple from Montreal, who had found and returned my camera. We provided drinks, and we chatted as we watched the departure. Great people.
The sun is setting over Florida and we move out to sea headed for Puerto Rico
We went to the main dining room and found our table, which was for 4 people, right by a nice window. Our table mates arrived about 15 minutes late, but all went well. He owns a large Mercedes Dealership in Dallas, and we were regaled with tales of their thrilling lifestyle. He gave her a new $90,000 Mercedes with a big red ribbon around it as a surprise for her birthday.
The next day, Sunday, was an "at sea" day. and a good time to relax. The skies were clear, but the wind was pretty high, with lots of white caps. The special event was the Captain's reception at 5. We thought it was casual, since the daily news letter did not say anything about being formal. So I dressed moderately, and we started to the reception. When I got there I soon discovered that everyone was dressed formally. So we dashed back to the stateroom and I did a fast change to my "formal" outfit. After getting back to the reception and drinking some champaign and watching people dance, we went to dinner. To our surprise, there were 2 different people at our table. Tony and Ellen had been assigned to replace our Dallas friends. They were from Maryland.We had a a fine meal and pleasant conversation.
This is a copy of the photo that the ship photographer took of us at the dinner.
After the dinner we explored more of the ship and headed back to our stateroom. We had someone take this photo near the elevators.
We arrived in San Juan,Puerto Rico about 2 PM on Monday afternoon - again a beautiful day. As you can see the city looked very nice and prosperous. We decide to explore the nearby town
This is a copy of the picture that the ships photographer took as Marie wen out on the dock to start our walk.
Beautiful fountain honoring Christopher Columbus.
Walking along a beautiful path along the waterfront. Amazing Trees.
Walking through this nice part of the old town.
I couldn't resist these colorful doors.
Inside of the very old church of San Jose.
We are heading for the famous old fort called El Morro. It guards the entrance to the harbor, and it was originally built to protect against the pirates and the English raiders.
Another cruise ship enters the harbor past El Morro.
It is operated by the US Park service and we were able to use our Golden Eagle pass for free admission. I was astounded to hear that some American battleships started to come into the harbor during the Spanish American war, and some of the Spanish gunners attempted to fire on the battleships with the antiquated guns here inn the fort. They did not deter the battleships.
Part of the inner courtyard. It is a very large building with many rooms and passages.
Looking back toward the city and the main harbor.
Heading back to the ship using a different route through the old town.
There it is. Our home away from home: Royal Caribbean's "Radiance of the Sea". It was built in Germany, and has 3 other sister ships. It entered service in 2001, and spends the winter cruising the Caribbean; and the summer cruising the Alaska routes.
I am constantly amazed by the size of the ship. It is unbelievable that this huge thing dashes around in all kinds of weather. You can get some idea of scale by looking at the people on the dock near the ship. Our stateroom is on deck 3 and the top deck is 13.
We departed about 8 PM that night for St John's, on the Island of Antigua.
We arrived at St John's about 10 AM and found a sister ship tied to the same dock. Again the size of these ships is awesome!
Here are some of the specs:
Owner: Royal Carribean Cruise Lines
Name: Radiance of the Seas
Maiden Voyage: March 10, 2001
Passenger Capacity: 2,501
Godmother: Margot Pritzker
Gross Tonnage: 90,090
Cruising Speed: 25 knots
We started walking into the town, and the first couple of blocks were pretty nice. Lots of shops selling diamonds and jewelery.
Then it started looking pretty seedy.
This place is pretty poor compared to Puerto Rico, but then it is not part of the US.
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping! but we didn't buy anything, though I almost bought a straw hat from from a man with a small display along the edge of the sidewalk. The hats just did not fit well.
Here is my yellow cap, with me under it, and my ship behind.
It is just like walking down a street between two huge 10 story buildings that are about one block long!
Relaxing on the stern
overview of St John's.
More of St John's.
Departing St John's about 6 PM.