2018 "Jewels of the Caribbean" Cruise Log

November 18
, 2016

Regent has decided to dry dock the Mariner in May of 2018 and have cancelled the Rio de Janeiro to Miami portion of our Lima to Miami cruise. They are going from Rio to Barcelona for the dry dock instead. We did not want to cross the Atlantic Ocean, so we cancelled that part of the cruise and will fly from Rio De Janeiro to Miami for a few days, then join the Regent Explorer for a 20 day Miami to Miami Caribbean cruise.
We called Brenda at Travel Leaders to ask for Cabin 948 (with a large balcony) and she was able to get it for us. We feel much better than yesterday when we learned about the cancelled portion of the South America Cruise.

October 1, 2017

Because of the hurricanes, two of our ports have been changed. Instead of Philipsburg, St Maarten, we will be going to Basseterre, St. Kitts....and we will not be going to San Juan. That will become an extra sea day.

February 26 - 28, 2018

Our stay at the Fountainbleau preceded our Cruise. Although this is a nice hotel with beautiful pools and beach, the internet was an issue for us and the prices of food is just a little high (ie: $8 for a glass of orange juice and $18 for a small plastic bowl of salad). The nice part of this stay is that we are on the Penthouse floor with no neighbors beside us, so it is quiet. We overlook the pools and the beach.
Our first day, we ventured out from the hotel and found a nice restaurant (The Tavern) that had great prices for breakfast. As we ate around 10:30, we skipped lunch. We also went to the Walgreens and stocked up on things needed for the cruise and some sodas for the room.
We did have dinner at Hakkasan's at the hotel. As this is a "chain", the prices were reasonable and the food was fantastic.
On day two, I went out to the pool for some tanning and Matt took the "Big Red Bus" (hop-on, hop-off) to do some shopping for clothes that we needed.
We had a late lunch together at Subways, just 3 blocks from the hotel. We watched some TV, decided that we did not want dinner, walked around the hotel a bit and called it a day.
Day 3 started with breakfast at The Tavern again, back to Walgreens for an item or two,  then Matt did some repacking while I took in some sun on our balcony. We then went over all of the excursions for our November cruise as we have to make our selections online on the 6th.
We decided to go back to The Tavern for dinner as they had a better selection of burgers at a lower price.
Back to the hotel for the rest of the evening.

March 1, 2018- Embarkation - Miami

We awoke at 7:30 and finished our packing and watched TV until 10:30 when we checked out of the hotel and caught a taxi to the cruise terminal. We arrived at 11:00 and waited for boarding time. While we were waiting, we met up with Neil and Massi from Australia who we have been on several cruises with. We chatted until 11:45 when we were allowed to board.
We ate at the pool grill, took a quick tour of the ship and then at 1:00, went to our cabin (a perk being Titanium...while others wait until 2:30).
Our bags showed up at 2:30. We put all of our clothes in the laundry bags and got them sent out, then put everything else away in our cabin.
We met our steward, Victor (our stewardess will be Nemia). Our butler, Christopher, also came by and got our preferences. We are having one chair in the cabin removed.
One of our excursions has been cancelled, so we had to go down to Destinations and find a substitute. Luckily, there were openings in the one we wanted.
5:15 brought the safety drill. It was short and we did not have to go outside.
We got ready for dinner, which we had in Compass Rose. We visited the casino, then went to the "Broadway In Concert" performance.
That was enough for one day.

March 2, 2018 - Sea Day

I got up at 6:45 and got Matt up at 7:15 and we had breakfast in La Veranda. Their venue is much more open than on the other ships and very nice.
After breakfast, Matt went out to take pictures of the ship, and I went down to the spa for a 9:00 haircut. Florin did a great job!
Should mention here that the sea is a smooth as glass. Hard to tell we are even on a ship. The weather is also very nice. The high today was 83.
11:00 brought Bingo!...and we did not win.
We tried lunch in Prime 7 (not the Prime 7 dinner menu, but a lunch menu) and it was quite good, although service in the restaurants at lunch seem to be slow. We will probably stick to La Veranda and the buffet.
After lunch, I went up to the top deck to lay out in the sun for an hour while Matt did more studying on our November excursions.
We hung out in the room until 6:00 when we attended the Captain's Reception in the theater.
That was followed by dinner in Pacific Rim, the Asian Fusion Restaurant, exclusive to the Explorer. Quite a nice venue and good food.
We then visited the casino, where Matt did quite well, and then off to the theater to watch the production company's "World Beat"...music and dance from around the world. They did a nice job, but the production music seemed a bit over enhanced.
It was then time for bed, as we start our week of excursions tomorrow.

March 3, 2018 - Cozumel, Mexico

I awoke at 6:45 and got Matt up at 7:15. We had breakfast in our room before our 8:45 excursion, DOLPHIN SWIM & RIDE:

Swim with the world’s most fascinating creatures in a tropical atmosphere for a 40minute dolphin swim, complete with an exciting belly ride, enjoy unlimited food and drinks, snorkel with tropical fish in the natural aquarium and venture out to the ocean for kayaking and paddle boarding.
You’ll meet your guide on the pier for an approximate 5minute taxi ride along the coast to the facility where upon arrival, you’ll attend a 10minute interactive orientation session so you can learn more about the dolphins’ history, physiology and anatomy. Afterwards, you’ll make your way to a waist deep platform in the waters of the lagoon to immerse yourself in the magical underwater world of the bottlenose dolphins. As you head into deeper water, you’ll be given a snorkel mask to see how the dolphins turn, glide and hurl themselves high into the air. Hold on tight during the famous belly ride where you can grab onto a dolphin’s fins while racing across the water at top speeds for a thrilling experience!
Relax after your dolphin swim and take full advantage of everything the facility has to offer. Stop by the Palapa restaurant for lunch and cool off with alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Kids and adults alike will love Serenity Cove, a safe inlet with snorkel equipment where you can swim through an underwater aquarium filled with tropical fish, rays and starfish. Or if you prefer, head out to the ocean for fun filled activities like kayaking and paddle boarding.
Your tour includes all food, beverages, snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding. Photos, videos, souvenirs and lockers are at an additional charge.
At the completion of your tour, you can walk into downtown Cozumel for some shopping before heading back to the dolphin entrance where your transportation will take you back to the ship.

This was a fun excursion! Upon arriving at the Dolphinaris, we were put into small groups of 12. Each group went into an area of the large "tank" where there were 2 dolphins per group. They told us about our dolphins, then we lined up in the deep water and each dolphin passed by us several times so that we could pet their sides. We then went out into the tank one-by-on and the dolphin was sent out, circled behind us, then flipped on its back and we grabbed the fins and went for a short...but fast...ride. Next came the 'kissing and dancing" with us (also on a one-on-one basis). We were in the water for about 40 minutes.
Afterwards, we were led to an area where we could get photos of our experience with the dolphins on a DVD. We can't put them online, as there is no DVD readers onboard the ship. We will post them after we get home.
Instead of staying for lunch and free time (they gave us about an hour of time after), we caught one of the taxis back to the ship.
We stopped into a few shops, then boarded the ship just in time for lunch.
Afterwards, Matt worked on the photos and watched a movie while I went up to the top deck for tanning. We are docked right next to a Caribbean Cruise ship, so we look right into their balconies, so I did not go out on ours. Actually, there are 5 cruise ships in port today...the 2 at our dock and the others some distance away.
Before dinner, the traditional "Block Party" was held. Our area neighbors met right in front of our door, as we are just to the side of the elevator corridor. Everyone was asking about the photos of Lucy and Mama that are on our door.
We looked at the menus on TV and decided to go with the Stir Fry in Compass Rose.
Casino time followed.
Tonight, we turn back our clocks one hour, so we are just 2 hours ahead of California time.

March 4, 2018 - Roatan, Honduras

I forgot to mention earlier that we were in this area in 2012 and today's excursion is special as we go back to see if my favorite spider monkey (Pancha) is still in the park we are visiting. When we were last there, she sat on my shoulder and did not want to get down.
We got up at 7:45 and had breakfast in La Veranda. As our excursion was not until noon. We hung out in the room and I went out to sit on our lounge to watch us come into port.


Nature lovers will enjoy this delightful half-day tour that has you witnessing the raw beauty of the Caribbean at Roatan's finest preservation park - Gumbalimba Park.
Boarding your transportation at the pier, it's a 45-minute picturesque drive to the park where you will have the opportunity to explore unspoiled trails where flowers and butterflies give way to the shade of the tropical forest canopy. Arriving at the park, you will have a comfort break before joining your guide for a 90-minute guided tour. Enjoy the marvelous environment all around you as you make the crossing over Gumbalimba Pond via a scenic rope bridge. Delight to the tranquil sounds of the garden waterfall and befriend the brilliant winged citizens of the Bird Sanctuary, where friendly parrots and macaws bring the colors of the Caribbean alive. One of the other outstanding exhibitions at the Park is the Monkey Refugio, where spider, white face, and howler monkeys are eager and willing for you to hold and play with them.
During your tour, trace the steps of the real Pirates of the Caribbean inside Coxen's Cave, where you'll encounter the infamous Captain John Coxen, his stolen treasure and colorful sculpted murals depicting Honduran history. Following your guided tour, you will have an opportunity to roam through the Botanical Garden at your leisure and learn more about the exotic plants that are indigenous to the region. Others may wish to simply bask in the sun, take a dip in the pool or wade in the turquoise waters. A poolside café is available for those who would like to enjoy a snack or some refreshment.
Following your visit at this incredible park that allows you to discover the true beauty of Roatan while surrounded by nature, history and a bit of adventure, you will be transferred back to the pier.

As we lined up for our excursion at the port, I showed the guide the photo from 2012 and she said, "That's Pancha. She's still at the park and just had a baby about 4 months ago."
When we got to the park, the tour had not changed. When we got to the parrot area, I got to hold 3 at one time. I used to only be able to hold one at a very long arms length without freaking out. I did much better this time, although the claws of one of the parrots ripped the skin on my arm a bit, so I was bleeding for awhile. They were trying...and succeeding in picking off buttons on shirts and spitting them out. Several people on the tour lost a button.
Then came the monkey area. Once there, I showed the trainer the photo and he said "That's Pancha and she's over there" (pointing to an area behind a rail fence). He called her name and she came running over and went up on my shoulder. Doubt she remembered me...it was probably more about the nuts she was given and that were put into my shirt pocket. She sat there on my shoulder and just ate away and every now and then, reached into my pocket to get more food. It was great to see her again.
We got back to the port at 3:30 and Matt did a bit of store browsing before we re-boarded the ship and started editing all the photos.
As it is Oscar night, we decided to order food from Compass Rose and watch the Oscars in our room. Matt filled out a ballot form and turned it in earlier in the day. He got 20 of 24 right.

March 5, 2018 - Santo Tomas, Guatemala

I awoke at 6:00 and got Matt up at 6:30. Breakfast in the room before our 9 hour...yes, 9 hour...tour: ROUTE OF THE MAYAS: TIKAL BY AIR IN DEPTH

Explore the history of the ancient Mayan civilization during this scenic and informative journey to Northern Guatemala's renowned Mayan ruins of Tikal.
Depart the pier for the brief transfer to the airport, and a chartered 1-hour flight to the vast northern region of El Peten. Upon arrival, you will board a coach for the scenic 1-hour drive along rainforest-lined roadways. Along the way, your guide will inform you about the region in preparation for your visit to Tikal, the greatest Mayan city known and studied to date, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Upon reaching the entrance of the 231-square-mile Tikal National Park, you will leave your coach and begin your guided hike along dirt roads and pathways.
As you enter the forest surrounding the ruins, your guide will explain the cosmic vision of life at the apex of Mayan rule. After walking approximately 1 mile, you will discover and climb to the top of Temple IV, where expansive views of the park will come into view. You will then continue on to past Temple V before reaching the Great Plaza, which is comprised of Temples I and II, the North Acropolis, Central Acropolis and the Maya royal residential complex, known as the Mahler Palace. Their magnificent architecture is still intact after hundreds of years, and some time will be made available for you to explore the ruins.
Next, you will re-board your coach for the return drive to Santa Elena, and proceed directly to the Casona del Lago Hotel for lunch accompanied by scenic views of Lake Peten Itza and the Island of Flores.
After lunch, you will be transferred to the Mundo Maya airport for your return flight.

To add a bit of history, Tikal was established around 200 BC. By 500 AD it covered more than 18 square miles and it's population had grown to over 100,000, which ultimately led to its downfall. It was engulfed by the jungle for almost 1,000 years. Excavation started in the mid-1800's. Today, researchers say that Tikal includes some 3,000 buildings, with countless others still covered by the forest.
Although this was a long (and expensive) excursion, it was well worth it. There were only 18 of us on the tour.
Having a chartered flight was great. As soon as we got to the airport, we boarded the 31 seat plane and took off.
Instead of having to walk from the entrance to the first set of ruins, our guide had arranged for our van to drive directly through the park to the site. This saved us a half hour of walking at the beginning and end of the tour.
Our guide, Nixon, was very knowledgeable about the site and the Mayan life.
After our tour, we had a quick lunch and then it was back to the airport and directly onto the plane, the bus and back to the ship at 4:45.
We went to the  Pool Deck BBQ at 6:30, then came right back to our cabin. We were quite worn out from the long day.
At 11:00, we had to log onto the Regent website and book our excursions for the Hawaii to Sydney cruise in November.

Regarding last nights Academy Awards, MATT WON THE SHIP CONTEST! Andy, the cruise director called our cabin to let us know that most people got 5-8 right and that Matt's 20 right was the outright winner. He was very impressed that Matt did so well.
Matt will receive a gift package from the ship and a mention on Andy's Morning Show on the ships TV.

March 6, 2018 - Harvest Caye, Belize

Harvest Caye is the new stop off port for Belize. The Caye is a 75 acre that was created by Norwegian Cruise Lines (which owns Regent) and opened in 2016. The facilities include a pool area, shops, restaurants, beach and water sports.
We got up at 6:30 and had breakfast in our room before going ashore and a short 1 1/2 hour excursion: LAGOON WILDLIFE & MANGROVE ESTUARIES

This is your opportunity to explore amazing saltwater mangrove estuaries, encounter wildlife and learn about the flora and fauna from a local nature guide.
Board your sightseeing motor launch directly from the Harvest Caye Marina and set off to explore Mother Nature's amazing saltwater mangrove estuaries and encounter some of its inhabitants. Your experienced Captain will take you through the protected waters of a lagoon and chart a course towards one of the shallow areas favored by manatees. This is a great opportunity for a close-up encounter with these large yet docile marine creatures. More often than not, manatees may be viewed grazing and relaxing. Your knowledgeable nature guide will provide you with a detailed narrative about the manatees and their life cycle in the tropical waters of Belize.
As your tranquil sightseeing tour continues traveling along the shore of the picturesque lagoon, your Captain will enter one of the many mangrove estuaries.
As the passage narrows, your guide will point-out numerous species of flora and fauna, ranging from marine life, to aquatic plants and trees. The estuary is home to many species of birds and at times, wildlife that that live on the tropical savannahs might be spotted - you never know what you might encounter.
All too soon, you’ll find yourself back at the Harvest Cay Marina where your enjoyable nature tour draws to a close. Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of memories and beautiful photos to share with your family and friends.

The excursion was a nice relaxing one. Not a lot to see, but something to do. The stores on the island are not that great, and food and drinks are not included, so we came back to the ship at 11:00.
As I could not book all of our November excursions last night (the site won't let me), I had a nice discussion with Bea, the Cruise Consultant about our dilemma and she is looking into on our behalf.
We had lunch in La Veranda at noon and then I went up to the pool deck for some sun while Matt stayed in the cabin.
6:00 brought the Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party. There are 708 passengers on the ship, 461 of those are return passengers. There are 24 nationalities including: 51 Canadians, 64 from the UK and 521 from the US.
There are 32 Platinum members (Matt's level) and 15 Titanium (my level)
We then went to dinner with Bea, the Cruise Consultant and the Broadcast Manager followed by the Production Show "Paradis" and casino time.
Speaking of time, we move our clocks forward tonight, putting us back on East Coast time.

March 7, 2018 - Costa Maya, Mexico

We originally had a snorkel tour scheduled here, but last night, we decided to cancel. We have a lot of other snorkeling excursions coming up.
There are 2 other ships at port here. A Celebrity ship and the Queen Victoria.
We had breakfast in La Veranda, then went out to the port, which has been built to cater to tourists. Lots of "authentic" Mexican items, the usual Diamond stores, a pool, dolphin area and restaurants. They also have performers either dressed as warriors or pirates putting on shows. Just a bit to theatrical of a place for us, so we came right back aboard the ship.
Lunch was out on the back deck of La Veranda, followed by my tanning time on the top deck while Matt watched a movie and relaxed in the cabin.
The ship left at 4:00 and at 5:30, we went to Neil and Massi's cabin (aft corner) for cocktails before dinner in Compass Rose.
We followed dinner with a visit to the casino.
A nice quiet day.

March 8, 2018 - George Town, Cayman Islands

It was a day that went to Hell. More on that later.
The morning was at a relaxed pace with Breakfast in La Veranda at 9:00, Bingo at 11:00 and Lunch at 12:15.
The ship anchored at 12:45 and we were tendered over to the island.
Then came our what should have been a 4 hour excursion:

Board your air-conditioned coach at the pier and start off on a fun combination Island Sightseeing Tour and Stingray City Snorkel Experience! A drive along Seven Mile Beach and the Hotel Zone gets things started with a stop outside the Governor's Residence for photos.
From here, it's on to Cayman Island's Turtle Farm for a guided tour. Also included in this portion of your excursion is a visit to the rum cake outlet store and a visit to the rock formation and Post Office of 'Hell', where you may send a post card stamped 'from Hell'.
Arriving at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, you will board a specially outfitted snorkel boat and cruise across the waters to famous Stingray City. Enjoy the chance to interact, play with and feed one of the Caribbean's most graceful creatures, the southern stingray. These amazing creatures will have you mesmerized as you wait for one to come feed from your hand or gently brush past you in the water. Allow yourself to be introduced to members of the Southern Stingray Family as you meet "Ray Charles", "Sugar Ray", "Martha Ray" and many of the other characters that have become as playful as puppies over the years.
After this unforgettable experience, sit back and relax as you make your way back to the dock to rejoin your coach for the transfer back to Georgetown.

Yep...we went to Hell.
The excursion was as described except it lasted 5 1/2 hours instead of 4. We did not get back to the ship until close to 7:00.
The turtle farm was fun to visit, but the boat ride out to and back from the stingrays was long.
By the time we got ready for dinner (in Sette Mari), it was 8:00 and the service there (waiting for the food to come from the kitchen) was extremely slow. We were about ready to skip the main course as we got tired of waiting, but it arrived just in time.
We followed dinner with a visit to the casino before going to the room and working on photos.

March 9, 2018 - Sea Day

We started off with a late wake up and breakfast in La Veranda. I met up with a passenger that we have been on another cruise with, and got caught up with him.
We played Bingo and got close to winning a few times...but no luck.
By then, it was time for lunch, after which, Matt watched movies in the cabin and I went to the top deck for sun followed by some time in the casino.
Our dinner was in Prime 7...the steakhouse, then it was off to the casino and then to the Production Show "My Revolution" about the British Rock Invasion. I'll never get that hour back.
It was nice to have a quiet day again.

March 10, 2018 - Key West, Florida

I got up at 6:30, Matt at 7:00 with breakfast in the room, then the Customs and Immigration Inspection, which only took a few minutes. We had to go up to the Observation Lounge, show the officers our Passport and have a sticker put onto our room keys.
9:00 brought our 3 1/2 hour excursion:

Explore the pristine waters off of Key West during this sail and snorkel excursion via catamaran to North America's only living coral reef.
Depart the pier on-foot for the brief stroll to the catamaran dock. Weather permitting, you will embark your comfortable, specially-built catamaran and sail to a part of the coral reef not typically explored by most Key West visitors. Guests of all ages will be amazed by this incredible, vibrantly-colored display of fish and coral. The staff will be on hand to provide snorkeling instruction on the way out to the reef, and provide extra assistance to all guests as needed during your 1-hour snorkeling excursion.
You can swim in the sub-tropical waters, and view the diverse and incredible collection of undersea life before settling back on board for complimentary beer, wine or soft drinks on the return trip.
Upon your return to the catamaran dock, you will disembark the catamaran for the brief walk back to the pier and ship.

The "Disney Magic" ship was also in port, so they got the good dock right in town, We got the leftover at the Naval Yard. Because of this, we had to take a small bus into town, then walk to the catamaran.
Once we got to the dock, the captain of the catamaran came over to us and, because of the winds, gave us a choice: 1) Go out to the Barrier Reef, but the trip there would be rough...or 2) go to a reef area  off of Cottrell Island and have a smooth ride. We left it up to him and he went with option #2.
We had the one our ride out and when the guides got in the water, they were surprised by how cold it was. As soon as a few experienced divers went in the water and came back out (because the water was murky), we decided to stay aboard the catamaran. We have more snorkel opportunities coming up, so no loss.
We were back ashore at 12:30 and I went back to the ship while Matt did a bit of shopping in town.
I had a hot dog at the pool deck, then went up to tan.
Matt, meanwhile, watched movies in the cabin.
The Destinations Department gave us our tickets for the next seg
ment and we made one change of excursions.
Dinner was in the Compass Rose and then the casino before going back to the room and working on photos.
Tonight, like the rest of the U.S., we turn our clocks ahead one hour.

March 11, 2018 - Miami, Florida

The end of one leg, the start of another.
I was up at 7:00, Matt at 8:00. We had breakfast in La Veranda, then at 9:15, met in the Meridian Lounge to be escorted off the ship and back on.
Customs required that everyone on the ship disembark to get it down to a zero count...so we thought. Those who were disembarking and those who are on this next cruise from the past one that took tours all left the ship and the rest of us (some 30 or so) met in the lounge. We gave our room numbers and were told to wait. A bit later, they came back and said that customs sees that we went through customs yesterday and that we bring the count to zero, so we are free to go about our business.
I went up to the top deck to get some sun before anyone arrived. That was from 10:00 to 11:30.
We had lunch in La Veranda as people started to arrive. We then went to the room for the afternoon. Matt watched a movie and I went out on our balcony and laid down in the shade on our lounge.
It was a very quiet day aboard with no activities as everyone was unpacking.
We had dinner in Compass Rose and skipped the production show "Broadway In Concert", as we saw it last time.
We visited the casino and then called it a night.

March 12, 2018 - Sea Day

We got up and had breakfast in La Veranda and were joined by John Barron, our Cruise Director. I had sailed with him back in 2007 or 2008. He left the company and recently came back, mostly working on the Explorer. As it stands now, we will have him as Cruise Director for our November Cruise of the South Pacific.
We went back to the cabin to get caught up on the computers and then at 11:00, went to play Bingo.
Lunch was in La Veranda and then Matt went back to the room while I went up to the pool deck to get some sun.
I then went to the casino and came out ahead (something we are not doing a lot on this cruise).
We skipped the Captain's Reception and went directly to dinner in Compass Rose.
We then went to the casino, skipping the Production Show "My Revolution" which we just saw last week.

March 13, 2018 - Sea Day #2

It was the normal start to the day with breakfast in La Veranda.
We did get a questionnaire asking about our flight plans on departure day. Regent provides us a private car from the ship to the airport. Turned that in at Destinations.
We hung out in the room until Bingo time. No win for us.
Lunch was in La Veranda and then my tan time and afternoon casino time (where I did nicely) while Matt took a nap.
Tonight was the "Block Party", so I went out into the hallway, but there was nobody near us out, so the 2 entertainers and I went across the way to meet up with others.
Dinner was in Pacific Rim, our favorite restaurant on the ship. It is reservation only and we can't get another during this segment, so we made sure to really order up while there.
We then went to the casino where Matt did fine.
We watched TV in the room to finish off the night.

March 14, 2018 - Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis

as the ship ported in Basseterre. We had a nice view of the ocean until a Holland America ship pulled in and blocked our view.
We had breakfast in La Veranda and a quick snack at the pool deck before our 12:15, 3 hour excursion:

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. This one-of-a-kind narrow gauge railroad was built almost a century ago to deliver sugar cane from the fields to the mill in the capital city of Basseterre. The railway now provides a fascinating way to see the island from the comfort of double-deck railcars built specifically for the touring the island of St. Kitts.
You will drive to the Railway Station and board the train for a ride around the island and through the sugar cane fields.

This was a fun tour. We did have to stop at one point as there was a burning of a sugar cane field and those of us on the upper deck had to go inside the train car while the train went through the smoke. We then went back upstairs.
Before and after the train ride, we were in small 18 person busses and given a tour of the island.
We were back on the ship at 3:45 and we worked on the photos until dinner time. The ship left the port at 7:00.
After dinner was the casino and then off to the room where Matt finished a movie from this afternoon.


As a side note: There is a man onboard who bragged on Facebook (before the cruise) that he was given the $10,000 a night mega-suite for free. We found out that a land based casino gave it to him as a gift as he is a high-roller. He was playing the slot machine on the first night of this segment and he hit a jackpot and the casino management was all around him filling out forms. We walked over to the machine the next day and saw that the top payoff was $2,000. We thought "no big deal". Last night, he posted on Facebook that he was playing $50 per spin and hit the jackpot for $41,000.

March 15, 2018 - Castries, St. Lucia

As it was yesterday, I was up at 7:30, Matt at 8:00. We had breakfast in La Veranda and then went back to the cabin and packed our small bags for today's snorkel.
We docked at Castries at 10:30. There are 2 other ships in port...a Carnival ship with a lot of kids, and a Royal Caribbean that is at the shipping port on the other side of the bay.
Lunch was at 11:30 in La Veranda before our 12:45, 3 hour excursion: SNORKEL DELIGHT

This wonderful exploration of St. Lucia's beautiful underwater world begins with a cruise along the lush and impressive north-western coastline to Marine Park, where your trained snorkeling guide will introduce you to the island's diverse marine life. Cruise along the Island's West Coast to one of the Marine Park sites, this popular snorkeling area boasts a labyrinth of shallow reefs and coral heads that act as the habitat for schools of French Grunts, Goat Fish, Jacks and Snappers. Other species of fish that can be viewed here include Parrot, Trumpet, Peacock Flounders and Rock Fish.
In addition to an abundance of colorful tropical fish, you may encounter a variety of eels, such as black, moray, golden spotted and sharp nose. Tucked away in the rocks and crevices, sea urchins, star fish, sand divers, flying gurnard and an occasional octopus and lobster can be found as well. Some lucky snorkelers have even been fortunate enough to find turtles and Southern Sting Rays in the sandy bottom. If you should tire, there is always easy access to either your boat or the beach area for those wishing to take a rest.
After what is sure to be an enjoyable and exciting time spent discovering all these spectacular waters have to offer, you'll re-board your boat for the return to the port. As you make your way back, refreshments will be served on board.

We have been to this port before and out to the snorkeling area before. There seemed to be a lot less fish this year then in the past. The excursion, although, is a nice one. I love just laying out on the front of the catamaran getting sun.
We were back aboard the ship just after 4:00 and I put everything out on our deck to dry out. I forgot I had my keycard folder in my back pocket during the snorkel, so the folder, money and cards were all wet.

March 16, 2018 - St. John's, Antigua

Hard to complain about waking up to a beautiful light blue/aqua ocean rolling by your balcony. Yesterday was the furthest south that this cruise takes us, we are now heading back north towards Miami.
I was up at 7:30, Matt at 8:15.
We had the usual breakfast in La Veranda and since it is again a late excursion, just hung out until lunchtime and then Matt went on the 12:45 4 1/2 hour excursion, while I made the decision to stay on the ship.
His excursion:

Learn about the history and culture of Antigua, capped off with a visit to one of the island's beautiful beaches.
Setting off from the pier, you'll first head southwest through the center of the island en route to Dow's Hill Fort. Along the way, you will pass quaint villages where old churches, rum shops and small chattel houses showcase Antigua's West Indian style and culture.
Next, it's on to the Shirley Heights Lookout, the southernmost point in Antigua. This vantage point offers up sweeping views of the harbor area and on a clear day, you may even be able to see the volcanic island of Montserrat, located just twenty-eight miles away. Continuing on, you will make a stop at Nelson's Dockyard Village, one of the most popular attractions in the eastern Caribbean. This naval base was built in 1725 to provide a base for a squadron of troops that patrolled the West Indies in order to maintain England's sea power. The Georgian naval dockyards here are still in use today and a plethora of sleek yachts can usually be found tied up at the old stone quay. Before leaving, enjoy a complimentary beverage at the Dockyard's 18th century inn and then perhaps explore the museum, mystery pillars and bakery.
Your final stop will be at Pigeon Point beach, which is part of the National Park and where you will have approximately one-hour to relax on the beach or take a swim in the ocean. Following your time at Pigeon Point, you will transfer back to the cruise ship pier via a scenic drive along Antigua's southwest coast.

While Matt was out, I went out by the pool to tan, then went out on our balcony (in the shade) and did puzzles in the newspaper.
Matt got back at 5:30 and we had dinner in the Compass Rose before going to the casino and the production show "I Love Being Here With You...The Songs of Peggy Lee".

March 17, 2018 - Gustavia, St. Barts

As we got up this morning, the ship was anchoring off Gustavia. We have been here twice before and the last 2 times we did the excursion "Sailing the Leeward Coast", which is a catamaran ride and snorkeling. We had the same excursion booked this time (and we got cut up last time due to the currents pulling us into the coral/rocks), so we decided to stay aboard the ship.
We had breakfast on the back deck of La Veranda, looking out into the ocean. Afterwards, Matt went back to the room to watch a movie while I went to the top deck to lay out in the sun and listen to podcasts.
We had lunch in La Veranda, which featured a few St. Patrick's Day selections, including a "sort of" corned beef and cabbage made with stew meat.
I spent most of the afternoon looking out at Gustavia, working on Sudoku puzzles and napping in the shade of our balcony. Matt, meanwhile, continued his movie marathons in the cabin.
We skipped the Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party which was held at 6:00 and went directly to Chartreuse at 6:30 for dinner. The venue is described as "French Fare with a Modern Twist."
After dinner, we did our normal visit to the casino.

March 18, 2018 - Sea Day

The first of 2 sea days.
We were up at 8:00 with breakfast in La Veranda. They were having a brunch served in the galley today, but we decided to forgo that.
We waited around until Bingo time at 11:00 where, once again, we did not win.
Lunch was on the back deck of La Veranda. They did not have much exciting at the buffet, so I just had a hamburger.
Afterwards, I went up to the top pool deck to tan while Matt watched move movies.
At 2:00, it started to sprinkle, so I had to come back inside and went down to the casino, where I finally did quite well.
I went out on the balcony for awhile to play Sudoku again.
The ship rocked just a bit this afternoon (it has been quite calm most of the cruise) and the drain in the sink in our cabin gurgles every time the ship takes a dip. It gets to be annoying after awhile. We were told it may happen and to put the stopper down in the sink and fill the sink with water. Well that does not work great. It just sounds like muffled gurgling instead. Just as annoying. At least things calmed down quickly and all was quiet again.
We hung out in the room until dinner in Compass Rose and casino time.

March 19, 2018 - Sea Day #2

Today marks 2 months since we left for vacation. This is the last sea day (tomorrow Stirrup Cay, then Miami on Wednesday).
I was up at 7:30 and let Matt sleep in. I had a haircut appointment at 9:00. Needed to get a trim before visiting Disney World. Alex, the stylist did one of the best haircuts that I have ever had. I even had Matt take photos after so I can use it to show anyone else who may cut my hair in the future.
It was our usual sea day with Bingo at 11:00 (where we lost again), followed by lunch in La Veranda.
Afterwards, I went up for my usual tanning time on the top deck while Matt went back to the cabin to watch more movies.
I then went to the casino, where I once again, did quite well.
It was back to the cabin for me until dinner, which we had in Prime 7.
We followed that with casino time before calling it a night.

March 20, 2018 - Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

This is the last full day of the cruise.
Great Stirrup Cay (an island) was thought to first be settled by the Lucayan Indians in 600 AD. In the early 1700's, British Naval Officer Captain Bertram makes his home on the island. A lighthouse was built on the island in 1863. In the 1940's, American troops set up a Naval Base of Operations. Belcher Oil Company of Miami staked claim to the north section of the island for many years. Their interests there included real estate speculation, oil exploration, and a possible site for a corporate retreat. In 1977, Norwegian Caribbean Lines (later Norwegian Cruise Line) acquired this section from Belcher Oil and did a multi-million dollar renovation of the island which was completed in 2017.
We got up at 8:00 and had breakfast in La Veranda.
We decided not to go ashore, as it is a tender ride over and everything has been explained as man-made (sort of like Harvest Cay).
After breakfast, I did my packing while Matt watched a movie.
We had lunch in La Veranda and then I went up to the top deck to tan while Matt did his packing. Later in the afternoon, I did puzzles out on our balcony while Matt continued to pack.
We were able to get a last minute reservation in Pacific Rim at 6:30 (our favorite restaurant). From there, I went to the casino and Matt went to the boutiques to spend our left over non-refundable shipboard credit.
We then finished last minute packing as bags had to be outside the door at 11:00.

March 20, 2018 - Departure

We got up at 6:45 and had breakfast in the room. We had to be out of the room at 8:00.
Once out, we went down to the main deck to wait for the "all clear". We ran into Massi who was also waiting do disembark. It was great to see Neil and Massi on this cruise and to get caught up with them.
We were cleared to leave at 8:30 and as we had private transportation waiting, we were the first group to be able to leave.
Our bags were waiting and a port representative walked us out through customs and out to the waiting SUV.
It was a quick ride to the Miami Airport and we breezed through check-in and TSA by 9:00.
The American Express lounge in the concourse we were in is fair to poor. Quite crowded and loud.
Our flight was at 1:35 headed to Orlando and a waiting vehicle to take us to Disney World.
I won't be posting on this site from there. Check out Matt's Facebook page as I am sure he will be posting photos. I may post a few from there too.

So....until our South Pacific cruise in November.....