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Monday, February 22, 2016

Adventures on the High Seas!!!!



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 :*)
I was constantly amazed at how close to land these behemoths docked...




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.
The water here was so pure, it was still white quite a ways out .....



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.


One night they had a comedian and another a magician.  Our favorite performer was Toni Warne.  She was a finalist on The Voice UK in 2012 - and I can definitely see why.  She sang Barbara Streisand, Doris Day, Celine Dion and more - and she did it beautifully!!!  Below is a YouTube of her audition night on The Voice.  I promise you will not regret watching and listening!  She explains in the video why she is bald.  During our performances she wore hats and scarves, very successfully I might add.  She was a very dramatic and fascinating lady :*)



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.
At 8am we were called to disembark, herded through lines like cattle through customs, and then bused back to the Ft. Lauderdale airport - where we met with total, utter chaos!!!  That place had us all packed in there like sardines. We couldn't even check in until 2 hours before our flight - and some of our group had 3 o'clock flights!  Joanne and I were glad we had booked a noon flight out and didn't have too terribly long to wait before checking our baggage and heading to the gate.

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!
Teresa
=^..^=


22 comments:

  1. I do dream of going on a quilting focused cruise... I have cruised many times previous but never since I have been a quilter! lol You have a great post here ... not a yawner at all... you pics are also delightful... nice to know you and my Aunt Julie Reynolds are in the same guild too! :) Have a blessed week Teresa!!! Kathi

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  2. Loved hearing your stories and seeing your pictures. Thanks so much for sharing! Sounds like a fabulous trip and you were a real trooper to sail away on a cruise when you were so nervous about it. Good for you!

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  3. Enjoyed your recap. I agree that the shore excursions on that cruise are pretty limited. My husband has always accompanied me on quilt cruises; when I'm in class he does what he would do anyway -- read and sleep on the deck. That, to me, would be boring, so we're both happy.

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  4. How cool to see pictures and the blue is amazing. Glad you had a wonderful time.

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  5. It sounds and looks like it was an amazing time. The water colors are amazing, but that airport would have driven me crazy!!!

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  6. We flew to Jamaica, last fall. At least, when we flew back home, we didn't have to 'check in' at Ft. Lauderdale, like you did. We were already in the airport. Always easier once you are 'inside' not outside. Glad you had a fun trip. I still think Titanic when someone says cruise.

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  7. Let's recap. The ship is huge, the water is gorgeous, love the shot of you at night with the ship in the background!
    The airport looks like a madhouse! Your hubby's Valentine is clever and sweet. : )
    But that audition video really got to me. Still wiping away the tears!

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  8. Thanks for taking us along on your cruise! I wear Sea Bands, always, when riding in a car, so I really don't know how I would do on a cruise!! So glad they worked for you! Loved all the pics, especially the water! Looks like you all had a wonderful time.
    That airport was CRAZY!

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  9. Bravo!! I would never had made such a trip. Now this was a quilting cruise - hope we get to see what you worked on.

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  10. Oh what a fantastic adventure you had! And thank you so much for including the video clip of Toni - she truly is amazing.

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  11. Looks like a fabulous trip! Glad you had fun and managed to avoid the sea-sickness.

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  12. I have never been on a cruise, but want to go on a quilting cruise. My hubby would never go. When we watch Wheel of Fortune and the contestants win a Caribbean trip, he says, "But, you can't drive there." LOL. Thank you for sharing with us. So fun!!!

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  13. What fun! Like I mentioned, a quilty cruise is on my bucket list, although I have plans of taking my hubby with me. He can sit out on a deck chair and read while I sew ... and we can be together on the excursions/dinners/entertainment. The situation in the airport has given me another reason to drive rather than fly. ;-) I'm glad you were able to stave off the motion sickness. It was a concern of mine p, too, when DH and I cruised 4-5 years ago. Thanks so much for sharing your fun with us.

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  14. Oh, what wonderful adventures you had! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. I am going on a cruise next week. Can't wait. My friend Marjorie from Marjories Busy Corner is going with me. She hasn't done a cruise before so I hope she really enjoys it.

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  16. Of course I'm still reading about your cruise adventure. It took me back to my one and only cruise without my guy too. Unfortunately it was not a quilters cruise, but it was during Valentine's Day! He surprised me with a shore to ship call in the captains qtrs. You take wonderful pictures too which is another reason I was glad to be aboard your trip.

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  17. I read every word and watched the video too!
    What a great adventure!
    I don't think I could handle all that excitement... and especially the chaos at the airport.

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  18. Looks like a wonderful trip, so glad you had a great time! You so deserve it! And I LOVED the video, so inspirational, thank you for sharing!

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  19. That sounds like so much fun!! Thanks for sharing the great photos with us. Maybe next time you can meet Dennis and have a chat ;-)

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  20. I've been contemplating a cruise. This looks like it was so much fun!

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  21. Sounds like you had a great time. Did you get a lot of quilting done, too?

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