My latest adventure was while escorting a quilting group cruise, with my side company, Quilt Retreat at Sea. What a great time we had exploring the Eastern Caribbean. I began my journey departing from Las Vegas airport to Ft. Lauderdale, landing in pouring rain and lightning, which resulted in the baggage handlers not being allowed to unload luggage from the plane. We waited at least 20 minutes before luggage ever got started, and then of course, it was wet when it arrived. Thank goodness for those hard cover suitcases I now have.
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. The airport shuttle was quick and despite the crazy crowds of people waiting for rides, our driver was friendly and took good care of us. Upon arrival at the hotel, the front office agent was welcoming and kind. He checked us in immediately and we were in our room in less than 10 minutes. Our big day of travel ended with a visit to Burger King for dinner - yes, I am just a regular girl.
After a great nights sleep and a quick run to the grocery store nearby for some of my traditional cruise treats (licorice, skittles, Pringles), we headed to Port Everglades. After making sure all of my boxes and luggage were headed to the ship, I was ready to get to my home away from home for the next week.
The Ship: I enjoyed 8 nights on the beautiful Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas. I just love this class of ship. She has so many fun things to see and do. I enjoyed the Royal Promenade, with all the shops and restaurants there, not to mention the fun Circus Parade they treated us to, and the nightly musical performances. This ship also has the Ice Rink with amazing Ice Skating shows, with daring jumps, throws and flips. The Quest, as usual, did not disappoint, as it is amazing what people will do when dared by the Cruise Director - all for a plastic gold medal, but I for one appreciate that those people are out there for my entertainment. The food was great, the service was top notch, and the casino and I had a nightly date - hopefully I came away fairly even by the end of the week.
The Itinerary: Our first stop was Labadee, Haiti. This privately leased Royal Caribbean property is fun, no matter the weather. I've been there 3 times - 2 of which were rainy days. But, that didn't stop anyone from enjoying the day ashore. The Artisan's Village is interesting as you can appreciate the talents of the local Haitians and by purchasing their handicrafts, you are supporting their economy. The beaches are clean and the beach chairs are free for everyone to use as they wish. The water was warm and the waves were not too big to drown you. Although it ended up being a shortened day due to the rain, it's always a good day to be on the beach.
San Juan, Puerto Rico was the next port of call. Seeing the forts as you enter the harbor is really cool to me, just imagining the days when pirates ruled the seas. Since I have been here many times, and have visited many of the coolest places on this island, I chose to go off the beaten path this time. I searched for a restaurant someone had recommended me to - a little hole in the wall called Fatty's - and enjoyed a great lunch of Jerk Chicken, beans and plantains. I then wandered around town for a bit, visiting a couple of my regular shops just to look, and finally stopping at the CVS for some supplies. I know - exciting right? But, when you travel as much as I do, sometimes it's just nice to make a quick visit and head back to the ship.
Next up we hit St. Kitts. I've been to St. Kitts probably 5 times in the past 8 years. My sister got me started there when she lived there while her husband attended Ross University Vet program. I took my quilting group out to Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik, where they enjoyed a private behind the scenes tour of the factory, and tried their hand at stamping the fabrics with wax. To say that this place is not OSHA approved would be a huge understatement, but we always somehow manage to make it through and come home with fun goodies, like my new Swim Cover made by locals. Before boarding the ship, my honey and I enjoyed a great lunch in the port and I found some cute shirts for my kids.
Our final stop was at St. Maarten. This was my beach day, especially since rain hampered that in Labadee. So, my first stop was at Pandora for my traditional charm (I get one every trip), and then on to the water taxi. I found my usual guy in St. Maarten, Miguel (he always wears an orange shirt and has the orange beach umbrellas), who quickly set us up with beach chairs, umbrella and a bucket of drinks for a great price. I dipped in the ocean a few times, sunbathed, people watched, and of course took a little snooze, before heading to lunch at The Blue Bitch Bar - try their Pulled Pork Sandwich - yummy!
After 2 days at sea, we were back in Ft. Lauderdale. I then had the long day of traveling to look forward to - flight back to Las Vegas, 2 hour drive home, and then sleep. But, as always, my adventures take me to places I only imagined as a kid I would ever see, so I am already looking forward to the next one.