Back in November, I joined a group of 8 other guild friends who signed up to go on a quilter's cruise to the eastern Caribbean in February. It seemed like such a long time to wait, but then suddenly I was packed and it was time to go!
As I shared here, I was plenty nervous about it too! This was my first ever cruise, and I have a history of motion sickness along with a healthy respect (bordering on sheer terror!) of great bodies of water. Yes - I found myself wondering why I agreed to go too! Never let it be said that quilters cannot talk other quilters into just about anything LOL!!!
Happily, I was never seasick even though the waters were pretty choppy most of the time. I am thankful to those of you who recommended the acupressure Sea-Bands - they worked beautifully!
And although I suffered a little claustrophobia after we had been at sea for 40 hours nonstop on our way back from St. Thomas, for the most part I was so busy I didn't even think about it. When I did happen to think about it, I quickly turned my mind away from thoughts about the amount of water churning beneath our ship and what could happen in said waters if we encountered problems that would force me to abandon ship ... like perhaps an iceberg! Yes, I know, we were in the Caribbean, but stranger things have been known to happen my friends! Like most of you, I grew up listening to stories about the Titanic you know!
Anywho.... fortunately for all concerned, the voyage proceeded entirely without mishap - no icebergs lurked, no lifeboats were deployed, and a great time was had by all =^..^=
Our ship was the Holland America Line's Westerdam - this was our first sighting of the ship outside the window of the building where we were waiting to board...
The cabin I shared with my friend Joanne was nicely laid out with a balcony view. I have to admit, I'm glad we didn't just have a little circle hole in the wall to look out of!
Most nights we returned to our cabin to find that our cabin steward had folded cute little "towel animals" on the bed for our amusement ...
While we waited to depart, we noticed quite a few other cruise ships in the harbor as well, lined up and ready to go!
Several times throughout the cruise, we saw other ships out on the horizon, they were especially easy to see at night with all the lights.
|Last night of the cruise, and I'm looking rough!!!|
The other ship looks so close in this picture, but it really wasn't at all.
Notice the Sea-Band on my wrist :*)
At one stop, this HUGE yacht was in the harbor. I wondered if Tiger Woods was in town....
But no.... The Attessa IV is owned by a billionaire by the name of Dennis Washington and it is valued at $250 million!!! I had hoped to meet him in port, you know, maybe run into him at one of the many diamond outlets on the islands? Have a glass of wine together, invite him to stop in for dinner in Nashville with me and My Guy sometime? But, alas, it was not to be.
Before we docked at our first stop in Grand Turk, I attended a little seminar led by our "shopping guide" Jake from the ship, expecting to be told what parts of the island to avoid, where to find what, etc.
|Tableau in the wall just before reaching the jewelry shops on the ship...|
I thought this one was pretty funny! The "Bait" of course is a diamond :*)
Turns out his job was to represent all the diamond companies who had shops on the ship and the islands, because all he told us about was the places we could go to get diamonds and other expensive stones, and how much less expensive they would be if we bought them there. Geesh!!! I do have to admit though, several of my friends bought some really beautiful pieces of jewelry at great prices while on the trip.
Visiting the islands themselves was different for each one. In Puerto Rico, several of us visited the rainforest. I admit, I was not really very impressed, but there were some nice sights.
And may I say, I now understand why my favorite color is AQUA!!!
The famed Caribbean island beaches are indeed surrounded by the most beautiful water I've ever seen! Half Moon Cay was my favorite of all the islands for its beautiful beaches..... that's our ship anchored out there in the distance, and to its left is the small tender ship that carried us back and forth to the island. We were told it could hold up to 300 people at a time.
Notice the water colors range from white nearest the beach, to every intensity of aqua, all the way to deep marine blue at the horizon where it is deepest. Wow!!! I'm telling you, it was the most beautiful beach I've ever seen!
|We had to be taken to the island by tender because there was no harbor for big ships.|
Evening meals on the ship were quite an affair, and menus were well beyond my normal fare....
I sometimes had trouble finding something I recognized! Two nights we had "Fancy Shmancy" night and everyone dressed up. Some ladies were in very formal evening attire! Of course, this was an opportunity for the cruise line to take pictures and sell them to us at exorbitant prices LOL! Mine were always horrible, so I was never tempted to buy. We did get our waiter to take a picture of all of us our last night aboard though....
One of my favorite experiences on the cruise was the nightly entertainment. The Vista Lounge was the ship's theater and main show lounge. It has a full-size stage and auditorium seating capacity of 850+ seats on the main level, plus two balcony levels.
The ship had its own troupe of Westerdam Players who put on several live show productions for us - and they were amazingly good! Definitely as good as anything I've seen on stage in Nashville's TPAC.
Then early last Saturday morning, we awoke to the lights of Ft. Lauderdale and were docked by daylight.
|That's the RC Oasis of the Seas docked beside us.|
Once at the gates, many people couldn't find a place to sit, even on the floor.
I believe most of the cruise ships had come in during the night and departing flights were crammed full. Maybe they deal with this every Saturday morning? All I know is that I would hate to work there if that's the case. I may have been more claustrophobic here than I was on the ship!
At the gate, we were about 1/2 an hour away from boarding when they started calling a flight for Atlanta to come to our gate for departure 10 minutes after us! Even the gate assistants didn't know if we had been moved to another terminal. Finally they told us we were still at B6, and so was the Atlanta flight but it would be delayed an hour or so. I didn't envy those Atlanta travelers having to stay in that airport for another hour or more!
A few hours later, we touched down in Nashville and were quickly scooped up by My Guy who drove us home. I have to admit - I missed him SO MUCH!!!! I don't think I'll be taking any more cruises without him. I kept thinking how much he would have enjoyed so many of the activities, and how much fun it would have been to experience them together. This was a quilter's cruise so he really had no interest in coming along, but next time it will be me and him for sure!
I'm pretty sure he missed me too! He made this cute sign to welcome me home, and had it sitting next to my beautiful Valentine's Day roses....
So there you have it. My first cruise... done and in the books! Thanks for reading along and sharing the adventure with me. If you got this far, I can only conclude that you are really bored and should immediately go sign up for your own cruise adventure - very soon!!!!
Hugs & Blessings!