Transatlantic

While we haven’t yet finished our month at the lake testing the waters (no pun intended) for this becoming our home base, Mike got an email with too good a deal to pass up. So we are booked for a transatlantic cruise at the end of March. It is the same cruise we did last year to begin our retirement year. We will be sailing aboard Viking Sea from San Juan to Barcelona. We were on Sky last time but all of Viking’s ships are almost replicas of each other so we should know our way around.

Lois (Mike’s Mom) will be joining us for the cruise and for a few days post cruise in Europe. Our plan is to fly into San Juan the day prior to the cruise so Lois can see our 51st state. We hope to spend 4 nights post cruise in Barcelona followed by 4 nights in Rome before flying back home as she has been wanting to see the sights in both cities we have talked so much about.

We will have to buy the flights to Rome but otherwise the flights are all included in our cruise fare which with all our loyalty and referral discounts is $2,650 per person. Not bad for 14 nights, three meals a day (including beer, wine & soda). Pavlus, the travel agent we have used recently is providing each of us with $300 of onboard credit which will cover our daily service charges (tips) and the few drinks we will buy. We are currently waiting to see if Viking will allow us to fly home from Rome in their dime or if we will have to fly ourselves back to Barcelona. We are both excited about sailing on Viking again and showing Lois two of Europe’s great cities.

Upon our return, we believe we will be staying close to home and will probably do some road trips…maybe even out west as neither of us have visited the Grand Canyon.

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And so it ends.

Somewhat of a change from our March 3rd departure picture (below) and our return last night in Raleigh (above) which ended the first part of our retirement adventure.

We just got back to Danville thanks to Lois (and her boytoy Jerry) who picked us up this morning.

We will be in Danville until December 17th when we will leave on a road trip through Kentucky and Arkansas headed to New Orleans for Christmas with Mike’s brother’s family followed by going to Charleston to visit with my brother and his family. We will be back in Raleigh for New Year’s Eve.

After that we don’t know what our next adventure is going to be but hopefully we will figure out our plans for 2019 during our Christmas road trip.

I intend to post some summary thoughts about our trip as well as a comparison review of our two transatlantic cruises in the coming days.

In the meantime, best wishes for a great Holiday season!

Curaçao.

We had a great day in Curaçao on Saturday. We had never visited this island before and joined Peggy & Lowell (who had been there before) on a day tour aboard a school bus that took us to the western part of the island.

This is the more rural part of the island and is rocky and still mostly natural and undeveloped. It is quite a contrast to the area near the pier and especially to Aruba.

Our first stop was at a volcanic formation of caves. The surf was rough and while I would have loved to go in, we were warned it wasn’t safe.

We also tasted iguana soup at the snack shack here. It tasted like really good chicken stock. Eddie our guide promised it would make us look 20 years younger. He said it would take a day or two to do so…it’s now day three and no difference. Think I can get my $2 back?

Curaçao is relatively arid so the island is covered with cactus which is strange to see on a tropical island.

Our next stop was a beach beside a fisherman’s pier. The fish remnants draw sea turtles and the turtles draw tourists. It was great swimming with them. The ones we saw were all pre-adult-under 25 years or so. Apparently they become vegetarian as adults and go elsewhere to find sea grasses. They ranged in size from 18″ Long to over three feet. Sorry I don’t have an underwater camera but the picture below is of the pier taken from our next stop. You’ll have to trust me that the turtles were incredible. Mike hadn’t been excited about this mostly beach trip (he burns so easily and hated sunscreen) but after our 30 minutes with the turtles he said any sunburn (there wasn’t any thankgoodness) would be worth it.

The next stop was for folks to jump from a 40′ high cliff into the beautiful water below. Given my unfortunate cliff diving incident in Cozumel several years ago, I declined the offer! LOL. The two (out of 23 on our bus) who did it said it was great.

Our next stop was at the #8 beach in the world as ranked by someone. It was beautiful. The title picture was from there as are these:

We stopped for a late lunch at another beach. The seven of us who were on the ship really only had time for a quick dip and lunch while the other guests from hotels got an extra hour of beach time. We loaded up and headed back towards town.

On the way we made a picture stop at the salt ponds to see the flamingos. These birds fly over everyday from their nests in Venezuela (42 miles) to eat the more tasty shrimp in Curaçao. Talk about foodies!

We arrived back to town with plenty of time to spare so Mike and I walked the 5 minute into the old part of town. To get there, you go through the old fort which had now become the home of restaurants and shops. Our goal was to see the floating Queen Emma bridge. This pedestrian only bridge crosses the bay and joins the two parts of the original town. Because all the industry is upriver, it has to move. We luckily got there just as a barge was coming in so it opened up (it becomes shorter by moving the floats closer together and swings parallel to the water flow) to let it go by. It is apparently the oldest and longest floating bridge in the world. It was originally built in 1888.

We then headed back to the ship. Viking was docked in front of us today (she had been behind us yesterday). It’s always fun to see ships we’ve sailed before. This morning (after a sea day on Sunday) we awoke to have Celebrity Summit sharing our pier in St Maarten. We sailed her in 2003 for Mike’s 40th Birthday cruise to Alaska. That was the trip that made us realize how much we enjoy cruising.

We are staying aboard the ship today enjoying having it almost all go ourselves. Tonight we celebrate Peggy’s birthday in LeBistro. Tomorrow we are in St. Thomas and are likely to stay aboard there too. Then two sea days before we disembark in Miami on Friday morning and fly to Raleigh that evening. Hard to believe this first adventure of our retired life is coming to an end…really doesn’t seem like it was 10 months ago that we were packing up that U-box in Houston starting out on it!

Aruba.

Had an uneventful sail from Miami to Jamaica where we didn’t leave the ship and then after turkey for Thanksgiving yesterday arrived in Aruba this morning.

We took the public bus $5 roundtrip per person to the beach at the lighthouse. We had a couple of beers a piece and shrimp ($25) and a swim in the beautiful blue water. Lots of folks snorkeling alas we have no mask.

Now on the bus headed back to the ship. Got some leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and dressing for a lunchtime sandwich!

Tomorrow it’s Curaçao and a full tour of the islands beaches.

Miami.

After a lovely 14 days (including yesterday morning when we passed by the ship and boat above) we docked this morning around 4am in Miami.

We have to get off the ship and go through immigration at 10:30 (but the luggage doesn’t) and then will be able to reboard after the coast guard finishes some sort of Welcome to the USA ship inspection.

Hopefully it will go smoothly but the ship is setting our expectations very low. They say it will be 1 pm at the earliest.

Land Ho!

Saw the first land in eight or nine days this morning as we arrived in St Maarten. Two RCL ships docked here too- Serenity of the Seas is behind Jewel of the Seas. SOTS left Barcelona a day before us-I think they stopped in the Azores on the way here.

Crossing was uneventful and relaxing. Read all my books (as did Mike) and had to borrow one!

It’s hot and humid! Wandered onto land for a bit, but now back aboard headed to the pool. Love a day with most everyone off the ship!