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Caribbean Cruise 2014
Cruise Ship Heading North from San Juan
Departure September 2014
We left Houston with quite a downpour of rain which delayed our flight by 30 minutes. After an uneventful plane ride to San Juan, Puerto Rico, we approached the island and snapped a few pictures from the plane.
It is important to arrive a day or two before your cruise so a flight delay will not make you miss the boat!
Café Puerto Rico, Plaza Colon, 208 O'Donnell, San Juan Puerto Rico. (713) 724-2281 and Du Coin Des Ame in French St. Maarten.
San Juan Harbor is big and beautiful.
Cruise Ship in the Harbor
We stayed at the Sheraton at the harbor. It is a grand old hotel.
Street Entrance to Sheraton looking North to the harbor.
The Grand Staircase shows off the colonial style.
We had a three room suite: living, bedroom and bath. The rooms were large and the furniture comfortable, but a little worn. It was a great deal.
We went on a walking tour. This is looking north at the hotel casino toward the harbor.
We are heading south, away from the harbor on our walking tour. Here, more colonial architecture.
A short walk going south we came upon a plaza of Cristobal Colon (Columbus).
Here is the monument to Columbus.
Entryway to a building showing details and ceiling painting.
More detail of the ceiling
Just west of the Colon Plaza is the fortress of San Cristobal. This plaque should be updated to renounce warfare as of today.
Entrance to the museum fort. Since we only had a few minutes until closing, we decided to climb upon the ramparts.
By showing this fort I am in no way condoning warfare. War should be condemned by all monuments and displays.
Here are the walls of Fort San Cristobal. It is better not to fight at all.
View from ramparts looking north to government district.
There are several levels of ramparts. This is an interior shot of storage rooms. Think of all the time and money spent on war.
Looking west the ramparts keep going with a government building in the distance. If we would spend the money of war on social programs, we would be much better
Same shot as above but standing on the parapet.
More interior view. This is a huge and expensive complex.
Massive buildings take massive money.
We left the fort and strolled through the government sector.
Antigua Casino (Below) is a grand marble government building.
Antigua Casino opened originally in 1917 as a social club for Puerto Rico’s upper crust. It later was used by the USO and then became the home of a music school. Our tour guide the next day told us that the interior is made entirely of marble! it is now used for government receptions.
We returned to plaza Colon and found this restaurant one the east side.
This is the bar area.
Our meal was excellent.
We had: Roma-style calamari shrimp cocktail rum punch sausage in Spanish wine
The calamari was light and the sauce was white and slightly spicy. It was not the usual red sauce we find in Houston. The shrimp were poached and lightly dusted with a paprika blend. The sausage was a chorizo and simmered in wine!
For dessert, we thought of ordering flan. When offered the choice between coconut, cheese or mocha flan, we were indecisive. The waiter mentioned that coconut pudding is the national dessert of Puerto Rico and eaten at holiday meals. So he suggested we try that and it was excellent!
We are pleased to recommend this restaurant.
The coconut pudding was light and delicious.
We returned to the hotel and swam in the roof top pool.
View from the roof top
The road into El Yunque had been damaged due to a mudslide.
El Yunque National Park
At about 6:30 a.m. we picked up a total of 12 people and headed south to El Yunque. Tony Caliz was our tour guide and took us to the park in his Ford E250. Here we are approaching the park. There had been some recent mudslides and in many places areas were roped off and crews are working on clean-up.
The first area we arrived at was La Coca Falls.
View downstream of the falls
Yokahu Tower is an open air brick tower with a spiral staircase. The top provides panoramic views of El Yunque.
A view from the top
This is an example of adaptation. The original snail was white, but turned green in the environment.
Map of the park
The Tourist Information area had maps, books, bathrooms and rangers (see caption).
Path to El Banjo (The Bathtub). This used to be a spa 50 years ago.
This is the swimming pool known as, "El Banjo."
View of the outflow of the pool at El Banjo
The following are some of the flora in the forest.
The rainforest looking north to the sea
Back to San Juan
Back to the van, very hot and tired but feeling like we had a great day, we headed back to San Juan. Tony dropped us off last at a restaurant, Raices. We’d asked to be dropped at El Jarito but oh well. We’ll try that tomorrow.
All waitresses wear this costume.
The interior was themed like a country village.
The rum punch was good.
White fish grilled in olive oil and garlic, mashed root veggies
We showered and rested then headed downstairs to Chicago Burger Co. for burgers for dinner after which we strolled the Calle in front of the hotel along the har
Coast Guard Building
Saturday morning, our tour van arrived; Orlando was our guide. Off we went to the Bacardi Rum Distillery!
The bat is their emblem because the first building they bought had fruit bats in the corners and they took that as a sign of good luck.
Here is the bar outside; we each got 2 free shots
Back to the hotel.
It rained again while we were at Bacardi but stopped as we were leaving. Then it became extremely hot and muggy; just like Houston! The tour was supposed to head to San Cristobal but due to traffic, we were not going to have time there. Orlando was going to lead the group on a walking tour of Old San Juan. Cheryl wasn’t feeling well so we peeled off and headed back to our hotel which was only a short walk away. After sandwiches for dinner, we watched some football and hit the sack early.
Looking left from the exit of the hotel coffee bar
Our ship, The Valor
Well, Cheryl woke up with quite a head cold and the arthritis in her foot was hurting a lot. We hung around the hotel until we could board at 1. Luckily the cruise ship terminal was across the street from our hotel so it took less than 5 minutes to walk to there!
Map of the trip
San Juan harbor as we sail away.
View of the Valor from the prow
The grand entry was impressive. Note the bank of glass elevators.
This is the fountain on the Lido deck near the pool.
Our cabin. Bath had a shower.
View of port in Virgin Islands. Unfortunately Cheryl was sick and stayed in bed. Jay took a walking tour and found many jewelry stores.
At dinner in the Lincoln dining room our servers got on tables and danced.
The theatre had a medieval theme. The stage was contained within a castle and knights were lined up along the walls.
Cheryl found a screen displaying our progress.
This is the Washington dining room where we had lunches and tea. The food was delicious and plentiful.
Tuesday dinner was Lobster Night! Jay had lobster w/ drawn butter, potatoes and broccoli.
First view of Bridgetown, Barbados, which is mostly flat. It has great beaches and snorkeling.
In the port we bought cloths made of bamboo fibers. It is hypo-allergenic and wicks away moisture.
This is one of many sandy beaches. We went snorkeling for sea turtles and on a WWI ship wreck.
Walking along a beach
Scene of the Hilton Resort and beach.
St. Lucia has many steep hills and many jewelry stores.
Entering the harbor of St. Lucia.
St. Lucia is more rocky than Barbados.
On our way to snorkel we saw this village at the foot of a hill.
We snorkeled in the shadow of the Pinions (dual peaks).
We snorkeled in a Marine Reserve, without an underwater camera. Our boat dropped us off and picked us up, but could not anchor.
This is the edge of our little snorkeling beach.
St. Kitts has one large mountain in the center.
We went on a land tour of St. Kitts.
National Museum and more jewelry stores.
St. Kitts Government Building
This is an Anglican Church (Church of England).
Bloody River is where the French and English, who were fighting for the island, agreed to kill the natives.
Romney Manor, home of Sam Jefferson, grandfather (times three) to Thomas Jefferson.
The Kittians say the oldest sugar mill in the Caribbean is on St. Kitts and not on Barbados.
Here is a tree on the grounds of the Batik shop. The tree is several hundred years old. Weddings are held under it.
There was a Batik making demonstration.
This is part of Fort Brimstone. It was built by the British with slave labor over 100 years (about 1780-1880).
Here is one of the parapets. It is a huge fort. It is a world heritage site as the finest example of British fort building.
One of several cannons guarding the port. This fort is why the British won over the French.
A harbor view from the fort. Isn't it time for us to renounce fighting?
Upon our return to the "Valor", we discovered the "Disney Magic" had pulled in beside us.
View of the harbor leaving St. Kitts.
Goodbye, St. Kitts.
Here is a "frog" made out of towels by the maid service. We got a new animal each night. This was Cheryl's favorite.
View of St. Maarten harbor. It is surrounded by seven hills.
St. Maarten has hills and good beaches.
We met friends who moved to St. Maarten at the Greenhouse restaurant.
St. Maarten is shared by the Dutch and the French. The cruise ships enter by the Dutch side.
We stopped at Oyster Bay and had drinks. Jay decided to take a swim. Jay lives in his board shorts.
Jay swam out to this platform. Later, a tour excursion from the Valor rode jet skis to that platform.
A look at Oyster Bay.
"Iggy," the iguana scampered along the road. Iguanas live in trees.
View of the road and hills.
We had great barbeque (Bar-B-Q, Barbecue) at this French eatery. We recommend it. Ask a local how to get there.
This is a little beach next to the airport. People hang out there and watch the airplanes take off and land.
Bar displays the daily flight schedule so you can see the planes zoom in.
People ignore the Danger sign and hang on the fence.
View of aircraft landing.
Friends' house that is under construction and some of their views
We stopped at this upscale gelato parlor in Phillipsburg, Dutch side.
There was a carousel behind the gelato parlor.
Scenes of flora and the city of Phillipsburg, Dutch St. Maarten
Goodbye, St. Maarten! Back to the Valor to pack. We head home tomorrow morning.
We had a great time on this cruise and we recommend:
Café Puerto Rico, Plaza Colon, 208 O'Donnell, San Juan Puerto Rico. (713) 724-2281
and Du Coin Des Ame in French St. Maarten.
Of course most of our meals were taken on board ship since they were included. We recommend the cooking on the ship. It was great.
We would not move to the islands because the price of electricity and gas are twice the continental amount. We are also used to getting in a car and driving long distances. Island life is restrictive. The only way off is by boat or aircraft and both of these are expensive.
Lastly, does anyone really need so much jewelry? Do not get caught up in it.