Frederiksted, St. Croix

In St. Croix our ship docked in Frederiksted, a small town about a 30 minute drive from the capital. We had heard the capital area can be a bit sketchy, so we weren’t sure what to expect and it turned out this side of the island was breathtaking!

We actually were able to walk about a mile (mostly on the shore) to a beach known as Duesche beach. We had originally planned to go to Sandy Point but the facilities there were closed for renovations. At this beach we got great pictures of our boat docked and the water here was crystal clear!

We camped in front of a small hotel called “Cottages by the Sea.” There was a large black dog (black lab?) hanging out and a friendly lady at the hotel was trying to find it’s owner. She gave it water and so then it hung around, but nobody knew whose it was. The dog didn’t bother us much until Melissa & Matt were swimming in the ocean, I heard Melissa scream OH NO…we look up to find the dog peeing on Melissa’s beach bag! So gross! The lady at the hotel felt so bad, and showed Melissa a sink she could wash it off. At least now we can laugh about it.

We swam & hung out on the beach for about 3 hours.

Here is a picture of me floating in the beautiful greenish blue water.

And Matt was our expert snorkeler, here is one of the pictures he took with our camera which is water proof!

Matt and Dustin snuck in another opportunity to practice their juggling with the oranges that were smuggled out of the cafe. Here they are on the beach “passing” between each other. Take note that every other orange that hits their right hand gets passed to the other juggler.

We headed back to the ship around 1 pm to catch a late lunch. It was a hot walk back so we actually were hungry for the first time in days, ha! We had to take a break from the sun after lunch, this is probably the first beach vacation ever Dustin & I successfully made it home without sunburn! Matt however was not so lucky. 😦

On a cruise you have to set your bags out the night before so we headed back to pack up and figure out what we needed to keep with us for the morning. Then I hit the gym and Dustin hit the basketball court before dinner. He and Matt won another gold medal, but since we already had won a medal in basketball, they got luggage tags instead.

We had debated on this cruise trying one of the speciality restaurants because the reviews were so great, but our servers in the main dining room were so much fun, we decided to save our money and stick with them! Tonight Dustin had a lamb shank and I had roasted turkey with a side of cauliflower mash! (my new fav!) It was all wonderful as always, here is our picture with our waiters Sergio & Standley.

After dinner we played a trivia game to guess song titles of singles that hit 1 million. We lost this time, I was no help to this effort, Dustin did contribute the song title “Baker Street.” The only reason he knows it is because it’s Dave Ramsey’s podcast intro music, ha! It got us a point!

After losing at trivia we headed back to our rooms to set out our bags & then played a round of Wizard before Karaoke night. My mom would be proud I sang “Wrong Side of Memphis” by Trisha Yearwood, the crowd wasn’t much into country though. Melissa and I did “Ain’t No Mountain High” together which was fun, we sounded pretty good on the chorus in harmony! Melissa rocked out “You drive me Crazy” by Brittany Spears and Matt also was a hit, he did about 3 songs all of which were great. My take away from this is I need to learn some pop culture songs, I listen to way too much K-love!

Karaoke night finished off the cruise…next stop San Juan..then Philly…then Ohio! Saturday we’ll drive home, then Sunday I hit the road again, this time for work. I’m headed to Vegas for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Meeting. It will be a quick turn around, but it’s a great meeting for networking & I’m speaking this year too.

Thanks for joining us on our travels…Can’t believe it’s December (mainly because it’s been 80 degrees for us this week!) but time flies so fast!

We don’t have another personal trip planned yet…not sure if we’ll take a trip next summer or not, Dustin wants to put a deck on our house, so we’ll see if we can maybe do a small trip! If you have suggestions, feel free to let us know! We might consider a Northern CA/Oregon hiking trip! I have been to 48 states, only missing Oregon & Alaska!

We are headed to Jamaica again with Medical Ministry International in March. Stay turned for a few posts on Jamaica in a few months! We are excited because Sarah is coming with us again as well as Ashley Hartzler and a crew of Cedarville students & physicians from my clinic. It will be a great time of serving.

Merry Christmas, may Christ be at the center of your holiday celebrations!

St. Johns, Antigua

Today’s adventure started in St. Johns Antigua. We departed the boat at 8:45 for a 9am tour of the “Best of Antigua.”

The tour began with a drive through the capital city of St. John’s. A short drive through the countryside, brought us to the Blockhouse Ruins, which is an old fort / look out point.

Next was Shirley Heights another fort that looked over the English Harbour. The view was incredible from here.

Our final stop was Nelson’s Dockyard which was located in the English Harbour. Ships of the Royal Navy came here for refitting and repair as they battled with the French and Spanish for dominance in the Caribbean. All of the buildings in the area were built from bricks that were counter weights in the ships coming from England. It was incredible to see how well the buildings held up since they were built in the late 1700s.

After the three hour excursion, we got back on the ship and headed to the Windjammer cafe for lunch.

Once we were full (again!) we grabbed our beach gear and headed out to find a beach. We were able to find a taxi at a more affordable rate, only $3 per person, each way. We took a short cab ride with Derrick to Dickenson Bay. While we were driving, we mentioned how weird it was to listen to Christmas music while at the beach and Derrick popped in an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas CD! Awesome!

Dickenson Bay was one of the more crowded beaches we were on, as it was near several hotels (including a Sandals resort), but the views were of course amazing. We found a spot in the shade and set up camp for a few hours.

While we were there, we had people asking if we wanted to rent jet skis, catermarans or kayaks, plus the newest attraction, the rocket man. This was a pack that riders would wear on their back and was powered by water, that could shoot the rider up to 35 feet in the air. The power comes from a jet ski like device that is attached to a hose and all of the water is pushed in a downward motion allowing the rider to “fly.” Here is a picture of someone flying.

Matt and Dustin talked to the owners and found out that the device costs $100,000 to purchase and it rents for $100 for 15 minutes or $150 for 25 minutes. Needless to say we did not participate but enjoyed watching from shore.

Derrick (our cab driver) came back a couple of hours later and took us back to the dock.

Next stop: wifi cafe.

We had been disconnected from the internet since Saturday when we left Puerto Rico and we were anxious to see what was going on in the world. It was good for us both to catch up on a few emails. We found a small little place where we purchased some drinks to pay for our “free” wifi. I got a Mango smoothie and Dustin got his favorite tropical drink, Ting. It’s a grapefruit soda that’s loaded with sugar, but it’s super tasty. His fav in Jamaica! I spend lots of time in Jamaica telling the patients not to drink it. 🙂

Matt and Melissa video Skyped home with his parents and their daughter Elliana while there. Technology is so amazing.

After getting back on the ship, we split up again with the boys heading to the volleyball / basketball court and we headed to the gym to burn a few calories. The boys played volleyball, seeking to bring home another gold medal. They ended up playing on different teams and Matt’s team won gold and Dustin’s team came in second. Medal count: Matt – 4 gold, Dustin – 2 gold, 1 silver.

Today’s dinner was formal, so we got dressed up and headed to dinner.

The theme of tonight was lobster / seafood. Matt and Dustin were super excited as they had been waiting all week for lobster night. They of course ordered the lobster / shrimp, as did Melissa and I had the beef short ribs.

Sergio (our waiter) brought Matt and Dustin another two servings each of lobster tails and shrimp without even them asking, talk about amazing service!

After dinner, Melissa and I headed to the theatre production and the boys played billiards. Melissa and I were definitely impressed with the talented singers and dancers. This show featured their orchestra too, which was awesome! When we met them later in the Muir’s room, they were juggling oranges. Ever since they went to the juggling session, they took every free opportunity to get some practice in.

Off to St. Croix tomorrow!

Point de Points, Guadeloupe

After staying out way too late last night, we decided we would meet at 9:30am to adventure out and see the sites in Guadeloupe.

Our game plan was to get off and find the most cost efficient transportation to a nearby beach. Matt and Dustin met a guy that we played volleyball with that is a local to Guadeloupe. He suggested that we check out Saint Anne beach. It was about a 30 minute ride to get there or there was another beach that was only 10 minutes.

We got off the ship and headed into the chaos of the locals. Side note, Guadeloupe uses the Euro and not American Dollars, this will come into play shortly in the story.

We tried talking with someone from the tourist information booth and while she was helpful in telling us where the beaches were, she couldn’t give us a price on how much they would cost to get to.

We began bargaining, and quickly realized that it could get pricey really quickly to take a cab. So our next thought was to take the bus, but for that, we would need Euros and our debit card that can do international withdrawals was in the room.

Dustin went back through security to get back on the boat to get the debit card and got rid of some US dollars, since they wouldn’t be needed.

Despite the emphasis on Euros, the cab drives gave us prices in USD. They originally wanted 15 USD per person to get to the beach. We got one person down to 10 USD per person to get to the beach but then he walked us over to another guy who said no that wasn’t enough, then we think the guy that took us over told the cab driver said in french take them for 10 USD and charge them 100 USD on the way back.

Then a friend from the boat told us about a time in Mexico where a cab driver charged him $4,000 USD to get back from the beach and pulled out a crow bar. He was able to contest it since he paid with a credit card and didn’t have to pay but still crazy! After hearing and still standing in the chaos of cab drivers we decided to just save our money and just enjoy the sunshine from the boat and headed poolside. Later Melissa & Matt’s stateroom attendant saw them and said don’t go out into this city either. Apparently there have been similar situations in the past.

My advice for anyone wanting to explore this island in the future would be to check out one of the excursions available through the cruise ship.

Before lunch, Matt played in the ping pong tournament (medal count Matt: 3 Gold).

Matt and Dustin smuggled oranges out of the cafe to practice juggling on their balcony. They spent an hour or so juggling and tried to teach me, I decided I needed to learn with something a bit lighter than oranges.

We swam for awhile and came back to catch up on our journal.

Melody then hit the gym and Dustin played volleyball. Matt and Dustin split up and his team ended up winning the gold (medal count: Matt 4 gold, Dustin 2 gold, 1 silver).

Then we got ready for dinner, it was surf and turf night! For starters the boys had crab cakes which were like crab meatballs. They had 2 rounds of these.

We all had the filet & shrimp. It was amazing! The boys opted for round 2 of the filet and shrimp as well and enjoyed the 2nd plate as much as the first!

After dinner we saw a comedian…wasn’t the funniest guy ever, but it was fun. Off to Antigua tomorrow ready to get off the boat!

 

Castries, St. Lucia

We were up early for a busy day in St. Lucia! We were were docked at in the town of Castries which is the capital and the primary port on the northwest coast. It was founded by the French in the mid 1600s, but has been destroyed by numerous hurricanes and fires, mostly recently a huge fire in 1948 that started in a tailor’s shop and burned most of the city to the ground. They also had a lot of damage from a hurricane a few years back.

We booked a land and sea tour with Spencer Ambrose Tours prior to coming on the trip. They had much better prices than the ship excursions & great reviews.

The reviews were right on target, for the land portion we had a private tour for the 4 of us, mainly due to us being the only people that booked both land and sea today, but the van could have held a few more people.

Our first stop was the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in downtown, which was built in the late 1800’s.  We then saw Fort Charlotte, now the governor’s house from the road, and we drove through an old barrack which now houses their college, St. Mary’s College.

After that we drove through two fishing towns, the first Anse La Raye is known for their Friday night fish festivals. And the second town Canaries is known for their bread. Our tour guide “Small” who was Spencer’s brother, stopped and purchased us some of this bread that is made in a clay pot oven. Yum Yum! (ok to cheat on bread when its a supposed to be the best on the island!)

Here is our picture with one of the fishing villages in the background.

Also on the drive we stopped alongside the road where a farmer was harvesting bananas at the Roseau Banana Plantation, we had no idea that bananas looked like flowers as they grew. We got to try fresh St. Lucian bananas. Super yum! Bananas used to be St. Lucia’s biggest money maker, but now it is tourism. They still have a large amount of banana plantations.

To finish up our land tour, we saw Toraille waterfall & springs and the Sulphur Springs volcano which were were able to drive into the crater. It was cool to see the sulphur rising out of the rock, but definitely smelly.

We parted ways with Small at a dock where our other tour guide Leandra showed us to the boat. We had private boat ride to the Twin Pitons which are the most widely recognized landmarks on the island. They are twin volcanic lava domes that rise over 2,500 feet out of the sea.

There is a beach between the Petit and Gros Pitons called Jalousie where we shortly arrived.

The scenery was breathtaking. The Bachlor TV show had filmed some scenes in this area a few years back. We had a local cuisine lunch prepared for us including yams, green banana salad, and chicken.

Then we were off to swim in the crystal clear water. The boys grabbed snorkel masks and headed to the snorkel area. They joined us swimming and convinced me to check out the fish in the snorkel area as well. It was awesome, so many different types of fish. Here are a few pictures!


We were able to stay on the beach for a few hours and then boarded the boat back to Castries. This time there were a few others (about 10 people total on the boat).

Here’s a good shot of the Pitons as we were heading out:

This time we got a tour by sea, we saw the fishing villages from the boat as well as saw a bat cave, a rock formation with a key hole shape, & an area where the “Pirates of the Caribbean” filmed a few scenes.

After about a 45 minute boat ride we were back to the main port in Castries.

We had a great time and many good things to say about this tour company. We highly recommend them. They were always asking us if we needed water, if we were doing ok and had a cooler of pop/water with us the whole time. Definitely great service.
After we got back the boys went straight to volleyball & I headed to the workout room then met up with Melissa for a salsa dance class.

Dinner tonight was shrimp for Dustin & an amazing eggplant parmesan for me! It tasted very much like eggplant pizzas Dustin & had I made from scratch in the summer. Delicious!

After dinner we headed to the “Guess this Country Song Trivia.”  We had to guess the artist & song title for maximum points. It was super hard we had only about 5 sec of each song to go off of, then had to guess artist & song name..we still somehow tied for 3rd place! Probably because the people that really knew country music well couldn’t get the songs from the super short clip either. Dustin really surprised me with his knowledge of country music, he says you just know some things like that when you grow up in a farming community!

After that we headed to the Love & Marriage Game Show, they picked three couples from the audience to participate. The longest married couple, newlyweds, and one couple in between. We tried to get on the show, Matt & Melissa almost got on, but in hindsight I think we were both glad we didn’t because some of the questions were a little too personal. 🙂 It was fun to watch though.

After the game show they had a party with dancing and a midnight buffet up on the pool deck. We danced a few line dances & of course checked out a few treats from the buffet that we certainly didn’t need, but ate anyways. 🙂

Then it was time for bed…off to Guadelope tomorrow!

Day At Sea

Today was a super lazy day but much needed! We woke up without alarms & enjoyed a later breakfast.

Melissa and I did a Latin dance session similar to Zumba. Then I worked out some more in the fitness center. I have to work out every day on this trip to catch up on my Fit Challenge for Cedarville so I can average 4 days per week. The last few weeks had been crazy and I was way behind! This was perfect week to catch up. I can’t miss out on my $25 gift card to the CU bookstore!

Matt played in the ping pong tournament, unfortunately he didn’t win! 😦

Dustin and I climbed the rock wall. It was fun, it brought back memories of Girl Scout camp and Rock Quest in Cincinnati.

Somehow between rock climbing and lunch I lost them all and walked around for what seemed like forever and finally found Melissa who told me the area to look for the boys.

We enjoyed lunch and then Melissa & I fell asleep on their balcony while the boys went to learn how to juggle.

Later in the afternoon, the boys also played in a volleyball tournament…and won again! medal count: 2 golds!

For dinner I had Barramundi (white fish from Australia) and Dustin had crab ravioli. He splurged on the pasta and wasn’t impressed…the fish was tasty though!

It was anniversary night at dinner tonight and since we mentioned when we booked that we were celebrating our 5 year anniversary (even though it was a few months late) they came and sang to us and tied our hands together with our napkins.

They brought us another dessert (as if we needed it, count how many dessert plates are on the table). It was not our favorite and we didn’t eat much of it.

The evening events were sort of boring so we taught the Muirs how to play Wizard…thanks to Ashley Hartzler for buying it for us!

Here’s one last picture of us after dinner.

Our relaxing day at sea was a success…St. Lucia tomorrow, so excited!

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

When we woke up, we headed to the Wind Jammer Cafe for a buffet style breakfast. We both had yummy omelets filled with tomatoes, peppers and onions along with some fresh fruit and yogurt.

Matt and Melissa met us at our room at 9am to begin exploring the island. We decided to get an early start to beat the crowds and the heat.

Once we got off the ship, we spent some time looking through some of the shops before getting in a taxi to Magen’s Bay.

Magen’s Bay is consistently rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world. It was a short ride (15 min) with breathtaking views as we drove over the mountains from Charlotte Amalie. We wanted to take pictures of the trip, but we seemed to capture mostly trees in our pictures from the road.

The beach had a small entrance fee, but it was worth it. The water was very calm and a perfect temperature.

The boys played with a frisbee for awhile until they lost it in the bottom of the sea. Next time, they’ll have to bring toys that float!

We spent three hours there and our taxi driver, nicknamed WoodPecker, came back to pick us up. We thought about stopping in downtown, but he said that most things would be closed because it is Sunday. We came back to the ship to eat lunch and stay out of the sun for awhile.

The boys entered a 3 vs 3 basketball tournament and won! We are pretty much a minority on this cruise and the boys played with another guy who only spoke Spanish and of course they only speak English. So it’s amazing how a sport can work with limited communication! Here is a picture of them with their medals! Medal Count: 1 gold. Here they are showing them off before dinner:

Tonight was the first of the formal nights.

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We had another fabulous dinner. Dustin had lamb and I had the strip steak.

We came back to the room & changed clothes then we played a few rounds of Euchre then Melissa and I went to a show featuring singing and dancing from broadway musicals. The boys played billiards instead.

Afterwards we met up & headed to the finish that lyric gameshow. Matt got to play! He made it to the finals…only because everyone else was just as bad as him, ha! The music was mostly before our time. We needed some 90’s music like backstreet boys! It was fun to watch & there was a small crowd.

Here’s a picture of Matt in action.

We headed back to our room and found our first towel creature! Here he is…

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That was the end of our day, tomorrow is a relaxing day at sea!

San Juan Day 3

The forecast for today was 75% chance of rain, but when we got up around 8 am, it was beautiful!
Exercising today was a 30 minute walk on the beach, and about 15 minutes of swimming “laps” in the pool. It was absolutely gorgeous outside and I could have stayed there all day!

We headed back upstairs and shared half of Dustin’s omelette from the night before. Dustin successfully heated it up with a hairdryer, ha! I know it sounds like we are super cheap, but when you take 2 vacations in 1 year we have to be!

We met Matt & Melissa in the lobby of our hotel and headed off to the cruise port! We dropped our bags and waited in line for about 45 minutes to get our room keys/sign & sail passes. Then we were aboard the ship for lunch! Lunch was super tasty, with a great salad bar! Then we dropped a few items in our room & headed back out to see Old San Juan.

Old San Juan has a lot of european artitecture influence and it almost felt like we were back on the Mediterranean! We visited both forts in Old San Juan (Castillo de San Cristóbal & Castillo San Felipe del Morro). Castillo de San Cristóbal was built by Spain to protect against land based attacks of San Juan and Castillo San Felipe del Morro was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay and defend the city of Old San Juan from seaborne enemies. See images below of each fort respectfully.


I don’t know how many steps we climbed but it was a lot! Our buns were burning! It’s a good thing though with all the food on the ship that is available.

We went back to the ship to get ready for dinner. We had to take quick showers and be at our dinner reservation at 6:15. Dinner was great & we finished up just before the mandatory muster station drill, which is where are are to go in the event of an emergency.

After dinner we explored the ship with Matt & Melissa. Dustin and Matt found the pool table. It was interesting because it self-levels automatically to account for the boat’s shifting. We also went to the variety show/welcome aboard show. It wasn’t the best entertainment, but the boys enjoyed the juggling act and the man shot ping pong balls out of his mouth.
We were exhausted from all the climbing in the forts & fell asleep very quickly after the show!

Tomorrow we will dock in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas for most of the day.