Miami, Florida

January 18th, 2020

January 18, 2020

The Crown Princess returned to Florida and arrived at the cruise port in Fort Lauderdale. We had planned to stay another week in Florida to enjoy some warmer weather before returning home to New York.

One Sunday afternoon, we drove to Miami Beach to see South Beach architecture.  Ocean Drive was closed to traffic for a huge street fair. Pedestrians, antique cars, food stands, and vendors filled the beach-side street. There was a real party atmosphere!

Another day we visited Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on Biscayne Bay in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami:

Vizcaya was the former estate of James Deering, one of the heirs of the Chicago farm-equipment manufacturing company, International Harvester. The villa was used as Deering’s winter residence from 1916 to 1925.

In the afternoon, we explored the Jorge M. Perez Art Museum which was a very interesting contemporary art museum. It owns a wide range of American and international 20th century and contemporary artworks.

 

Beautiful St. Lucia, West Indies

January 12th, 2020

Sunday January 12, 2020

The Crown Princess arrived early to the island of St. Lucia in the eastern Caribbean Sea and docked at the capital city of Castries. It was a brilliant sunny day with rolling high clouds. We found a water taxi to take us across the bay.

The markets and shops were closed because it was Sunday, so we returned to the cruise terminal and signed on with a guide to drive us around the island. We were joined by five other passengers. The van immediately climbed up a steep road with wonderful views of Castries’ harbor.

Our first stop was Morne Fortune which had been a French military fort built in 1784. The French and British armies captured and recaptured the fort multiple times over several decades.

Original fortifications still stand on the summit and some of the buildings are currently being used by two colleges: the University of the West Indies and Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. The college was named after the St. Lucian economist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979.

We continued to Vincent Joseph Eudovic’s studio to see St. Lucia’s leading wood carver at work. His abstract carvings made from local trees were beautiful. Photos of his work are on his website: eudovicart.com

We also visited a banana farm and roadside market selling local crafts.

Rain clouds drifted overhead as the van drove up and down the steep mountainsides of the beautiful volcanic island.

After our tour, we returned to the ship with good memories of St. Lucia. The Crown Princess left the dock in the early evening and pointed north back toward Florida. I went out on deck to watch the proceedings and took a few pictures:

 

Back inside the ship, the party continued…..  We had three “Sea Days” back to Fort Lauderdale because the ship couldn’t get into St. Kitts due to gale-force winds. This cruise was a bit disappointing because in 10 days we had six sea days and stopped at only three ports. We were originally scheduled to visit six ports.

Nonetheless, we had fun onboard! We joined a Trivia Team and did quite well and even won once! Our prizes were rubber Princess coasters. Our teammates were British and Australian so we had all the local questions covered. We lounged in the hot tubs, were entertained, relaxed on deck, I finished a good book, and learned to play Caribbean “steel pans” (sorta!! – it’s a lot harder than it looks!)

The Crown Princess arrived back in Fort Lauderdale early before dawn on January 16th and prepared for the next group of passengers…..

 

Bridgetown, Barbados

January 11th, 2020

Friday January 10, 2020

We were awakened by the captain’s loud and clear voice in our cabin at 7am! He announced that because of gale force winds, we would not be docking at Antigua, our next scheduled port-of-call. “To insure the safety of the ship and passengers, we are cruising on to Barbados.” So, we had another relaxing “Sea Day.”

Saturday January 11, 2020

The ship arrived in Bridgetown early in the morning after traveling hundreds of miles in very rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean. Somehow my body knew we had entered calm waters and I slept soundly until eight.

I stepped out onto our balcony to see the placid harbor and watched other ships come in. A beautiful rainbow formed over the ocean!

Later, we took a shuttle bus to the commercial center of Bridgetown and walked around. It was Saturday ‘market day’ and Barbadians were out shopping at outdoor farmer’s markets and indoor supermarkets.

We got a little lost on our way back to the shuttle so we ended up walking back to the ship – a distance of about two miles. It was fun to see more of the island.

We had an excellent dinner of ceviche and trout and later, enjoyed the humorous act of a comedian in the theater.

 

Beginning of a Caribbean Cruise

January 9th, 2020

Monday January 6, 2020

I awoke early and looked out to a brilliant cloudless sunny morning – 56 degrees. Palm fronds danced wildly in the wind outside our hotel window in Ft. Lauderdale. Today was our day to board the Crown Princess and begin a cruise to the southern Caribbean Islands.

Filled with excitement and the thrill of adventure we joined thousands of other expectant cruisers. Eight huge ships were in port today. They were busy disembarking old passengers and welcoming new passengers as well as restocking their ships in order to leave by early evening.

We were looking forward to a relaxing 10-day cruise with visits to several islands of the southern Caribbean Windward Islands. Princess Cruise Lines hasn’t quite perfected their embarkation process despite the hype about their new Medallion Class system. Anyway, we boarded, found our cabin, and settled in. The Crown Princess quietly pulled away from the dock about five o’clock.

Tuesday  January 7, 2020

Our first day was a “Sea Day” to relax by the pool and enjoy shipboard entertainment. There are four outdoor pools, movies “under the stars” on an outdoor screen, an indoor theater, and many places to eat. It’s a huge floating resort hotel.

The Atlantic Ocean was a bit rough with strong winds and rolling seas.  In the evening, we were informed that the ship had to bypass our first stop Princess Cays on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas because it was too windy.

Wednesday January 8, 2020:    So we had another sea day……   walking around the Promenade Deck, soaking in the hot tub, lounging by the pool, reading, watching movies, enjoying good conversations around the dinner table.  I took lessons to learn how to play a Caribbean “pan” – steel drum! Lots of fun!!

Thursday January 9, 2020   During the early morning hours, the Crown Princess slipped quietly into the beautiful harbor of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas USVI.

After being aboard ship for three days, we were eager to step on terra firma and explore the town. The cruise ship terminal was a mini-village of several long covered buildings filled with shops selling every kind of souvenirs and jewelry.

We walked through the commercial area to the main road and found a jitney bus to drive us to the center of Charlotte Amalie.

The U. S. Virgin Islands have been hosting cruise ships for many decades and the majority of the shops cater to tourists and shopping! Even the buildings in the “Historic District” have been converted to shops. We’re NOT shoppers, so there wasn’t anything of interest to us.

 

We strolled the cobblestone streets for a while and tried to ignore the hawkers attempting to entice us into their stores. We walked along the corniche by the water and eventually returned to the ship. At dinner, we shared a table and good conversation with three couples from Germany, Canada, and England. The ship sailed away from Charlotte Amalie under the light of a full moon:

 

 

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

January 5th, 2020

Sunday January 5, 2020

It was 86 degrees and sunny when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day before our Eastern Caribbean cruise. It had been dark and cold in New York when we left home this morning and the warm Florida sunshine was glorious!

We checked into a large hotel near the port which was filled with eager cruise ship passengers bearing too much luggage. Six ships were leaving Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow and the hotel was completely booked. The atmosphere in the lobby was akin to Christmas morning with a huge group of kindergartners. We checked in as quickly as possible and went out to explore the city.

There was a Water Taxi stop down the street from the hotel so we purchased a day-pass and boarded. Fort Lauderdale was built on the Inland Waterway and is laced with countless navigable canals. It takes almost four hours for the “taxi” to complete the entire circuit without getting off.  We enjoyed the scenery for a while and got off at Flip Flop’s Dockside Eatery for lunch. Later we stopped again to browse at the Las Olas Street Art Fair.

By nightfall, a fierce wind blew and the temperature dropped to the 50s. By the time we returned to the hotel, torrential rain fell so hard it stopped traffic. Within a couple of hours the cold front passed and we went out for dinner wearing our heavy New York fleece jackets. We crossed the avenue to Kelly’s Landing – New England Seafood Restaurant for hot “Fish Chowdah.”

It was a perfect supper on a chilly night in Florida!