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#usnavyblueangels over #magickingdom. Thanks for the photo #enchantingerin Wine on a sunny Newport Beach afternoon Zest4travel.wordpress.com. Barbados flowers New blog post on Barbados and new YouTube video also. Link is below in the comments New post on www.zest4travel.wordpress.com about the habits of seasoned travelers St Thomas US Virgin Islands

Bridgetown, Barbados

Link to YouTube video on the port is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG8iBVuK0eQ

Barbados was first visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown.  The island first appeared on a Spanish map in 1511.  When an English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1625, the men took possession of it in the name of King James 1. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England.  Barbados became an English, and later, a British colony.  On November 30, 1966, Barbados gained its independence from England.  The island has retained many of the English customs, such as driving on the left, afternoon tea and cricket.

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Bajan cuisine is a mixture of African, Indian, Irish, Creole and British influences. The national dish of Barbados is Cou-Cou  & fried Flying Fish with a spicy gravy.  Flying Fish sandwiches are also served at many of the beach bars and are a popular snack.  We visited a local grocery store and bought several packets of Bajan seasoning.  Can’t wait to try it!

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We walked into town from the cruise port and found a fish market.  Oh how I wished I had a way to cook some of it!

In the center of downtown lies Broad Street.  It runs directly through the center of the city and passes the Parliament Buildings.  Here you will find the center of city’s shopping area.  Just across from the Parliament buildings is a statue of Lord Nelson, which is actually older than the one in London.  On the other side of the street, there is a canal which leads directly to the ocean and a small draw bridge for larger, private vessels.

The Mount Gay Rum visitors center in Barbados claims to be the world’s oldest remaining rum company, with an confirmed deed from 1703.  It was originally called “Kill-Devil” by the Barbadians who first distilled it.   Cockspur Rum, which began in 1884 when Valdemar Hanschell created the rum and Malibu, which began in 1893 and is now owned by Pernod Ricard, are also from the island.

After exploring the town, we walked back to the ship to grab our swimming and snorkel gear.  Barbados has some of the cleanest water in the Caribbean and is known for its expansive beaches.  After a short taxi ride, we found a spot on the white sand beach near Shipwreck Beach.  We didn’t see any turtles, but did see some fish.  The water was a little cooler than St. Thomas, most likely due to the fact that is situated with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles.   Even though it was a little cooler,  we were able to stay in the water for a long time and really enjoyed ourselves.  I highly recommend visiting the beaches of Barbados.

At sail away, we spotted a turtle swimming alongside the ship.

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This is one island I would consider returning to for a land stay.  It is a popular destination for the English and other European countries.  One thing to remember when packing though….camouflage wear by the non-military is illegal in Barbados….even by children.  It is actually a good idea to NOT wear this type of clothing in ANY Caribbean country.

Habits of Seasoned Travelers

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Seasoned travelers have developed strategies and adopted habits after years of travel to make their journeys easier .

Planning & Packing

  1. Make a calendar of your travel days.  I find this very useful when planning any trip.  Make sure to note the dates and times of each reservation.  I also include prices and locations of hotels, ports, car rentals and/or train schedules.  After the trip is over, I keep this calendar in a file with receipts and tourist information I gathered during our vacation.  I can’t tell you how many times I have referred back to my files when planning future trips….or just to remember what we did!
  2.  Make a checklist.  This will make packing soooo much easier.  Don’t forget items like sunglasses, passports, sunscreen, any medications you may need, or special items you want to take.  Start brain storming as early as possible prior to departing…think about the activities you are planning, possible weather and what types of clothing you will need.  Check off the items as you pack them.  Nothing is more frustrating then arriving at your destination and realizing you have forgotten something!
  3. Take a photo of your passport and email it to yourself.  Even if something happens to your phone, you will be able to access your email on a public computer.
  4. Purchase a travel wallet.  I have found this to be one of the most useful items in my carryon.  I keep boarding passes, passports, money, pen and my credit cards here.
  5. Contact your financial institutions and inform them you are traveling.  If you are planning to use your ATM and/or credit cards, your bank needs to know you will be making purchases outside your home area.  If you don’t, they may put a “hold” on your account and you will not be able to access your funds until you contact them.  If you are traveling out of the country, this can be difficult and expensive….not to mention frustrating.

Flying

  1. Mark you bags.  There are many fun, easily recognizable luggage tags available.  When it’s time to purchase new luggage, find suitcases that are not just black or blue….find some that are a little different….maybe a bright color or a fun pattern.  Even then….attach something to your luggage that helps you locate them easily.  We use luggage tags that are specific to our college football team….I guarantee not many people have those and they really stand out!
  2. Bring ear plugs or invest in noise-cancelling headphones.  Air travel is noisy.  If you are trying to watch a movie, read or sleep, these are invaluable.  It will also help to discourage a talkative neighbor!
  3. Get access to an airport lounge.  You can purchase a day-pass to most airline lounges.  Consult the website of the airline you are flying for information.  If you have a long layover, this is a quiet place to wait and they offer complimentary food, beverages, magazines, newspapers and Wi-Fi.  Some even have showers or rooms where you can catch a few ZZZs.  Check out https://thepointsguy.com for excellent information on credit cards that offer lounge access.  And remember, if you are flying first or business class overseas, you automatically get free access!

Cruising

  1. Don’t overpack.  Make your packing checklist….and then cut it in half!  Well….maybe not in half, but don’t take ALL of it. 🙂  I have found that I NEVER wear all the clothes I take.  One or two nice dresses, skirts or slacks are fine for evenings.  Dress up your outfits with jewelry, shoes or sweaters/wraps for more formal evenings.  Same with shoes….a good pair for walking, poolside shoes and a dressier pair are fine.  And for the gentlemen….a pair of nice slacks and few collared shirts are all that are needed for evenings.  Check with your cruise line to see what the attire rules are or read cruise forums such as http://www.cruisecritic.com to see what fellow cruisers are doing.  Many cruise lines are getting away from the full formal evenings.
  2. Use over-the-door hangers for the bathroom to organize your toiletries.  We use a bag from LL Bean, but there are other options available at your local store.  Some people use the clear, plastic ones made for shoes.
  3. Bring magnetic hooks for the walls.  Ship cabins have metal walls, so this is an easy way to provide more storage.

Exploring

  1. Traveling to a foreign country?  Try to learn a few words in the local language.  Picking up a few words or phrases goes a long way…..as does a smile!
  2. Talk to the locals.  Ask them where they like to go to dinner or what they like to do for fun.  You may find yourself doing something you never expected to do….like we did in Scotland.  We were invited to the local ceili that evening!  We danced the night away with a whole roomful of new friends!
  3. Don’t over-plan.  It’s good to know where you are going to stay each night and have an outline of things you want to do.  But give yourself some leeway.  You never know what might present itself.  Spontaneity and adventure are part of the fun of travel!

Basseterre, St. Kitts

Next stop….St. Kitts and Nevis.

View the YouTube video at \https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK30220Ythw

In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailed by the island of St. Kitts. Although he named it Sant Jago (St. James), later Spanish explorers confused this island with another that Columbus named St. Christopher. As a result, the island became known as St. Christopher. The name St. Kitts was adapted from St. Christopher.

Basseterre is the capital of the Confederation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It is the gateway to popular Saint Kitts beaches like South Friars Bay and Cockleshell Beach. In the heart of the city, Independence Square has an Italian-inspired fountain. Just off the Circus traffic circle, with its Victorian Berkeley Memorial Clock Tower, is the National Museum. In the stately Old Treasury Building, it explores the islands’ colonial past.  And calling it Circus traffic circle is appropriate….it is a pretty crazy place!  Actually, the name comes from England and is a reference to Piccadilly Circus in London. The clock tower was built in Glasgow and dedicated to the former President of the Legislative Council of St. Kitts, Thomas B. H. Berkeley, in 1883.

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Basseterre is one of the oldest cities in the eastern Caribbean.  It was founded in 1627 by the French and served as capital of the French colony of Saint-Christophe.  After a turbulent history involving both the British and the French, St. Kitts gained its independence from Britain in 1983.  The city has one of the most tragic histories of any Caribbean capital, destroyed many times by colonial wars, fire, earthquakes, floods, riots, and hurricanes. Despite all of this, a considerable number of well-restored buildings still exist in downtown Basseterre.

Port Zante is only used by cruise ships.  There is a marina close by for other boats.  The Port can accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world.  It is built on a reclaimed 15 acre site and contains many shopping opportunities, including jewelry stores, clothing, rum and the St. Kitts Chocolate Factory.  St. Kitts Chocolate Factory was started in 2007 and uses carefully selected superior organic ingredients to create handcrafted chocolates using the world’s finest Belgium chocolate, butter, purées, spices, and nuts.  To say they are delicious is an understatement!

http://www.stkittschocolatefactory.com

We had a great time exploring St. Kitts.  The city is easy to walk around.  We got a great view of our ship from the top of the bell tower of St. George’s Anglican Parish Church, which was begun in 1856.  The current building is the 3rd church built on this site, with the first being built in 1672 by Jesuit Fathers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._George%27s_Anglican_Church_(Basseterre)

Surprises awaited around every corner…even a colorful donut shop!

Right by the port, there was a cute red shack, selling wonderful smelling foods and local beers.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to explore the town and get to a beach, so I guess that will have to wait till next time!

Celebrity Equinox Review

 

Equinox

On March 24, 2017, we boarded the Celebrity Equinox for the first time.  We have sailed previously on three M class Celebrity ships….Summit, Millennium, and Infinity, and two S class Celebrity ships….Solstice and Eclipse.

We sailed the Eastern Caribbean for 10 nights on the Ultimate Caribbean cruise, visiting St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados and a wonderful overnight in St. Maarten.  We were granted permission to film onboard.  The following link will take you to our YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVI1hX3uLG4

The Equinox was launched on August 8, 2009 and is the second Solstice class ship.  She has a capacity of 2850 passengers and is 1041 feet long.  Currently, she is sailing the Caribbean year round.  Below is a link to the current sailings:

http://www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-search/search-results?ship=EQ#&dest=ANY&isWidget=false&sortBy=7&selectedInput=&cruiseType=CO&cruisesOnly=Y&accessCabin=&includeAdjascentPorts=Y&state=&captain_id=&couponCodes=&isSenior=&isMilitary=&isFireandPolice=&sailStartDate=ANY&sailEndDate=ANY&port=ANY&duration=ANY&port=ANY&ship=EQ&startRow=0

BARS

“Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them and Champagne makes you do them” – Brilliant Savarin

There are many bars located throughout the ship.  I am going to highlight a few of them. Other bars available onboard are Slush, the Ensemble Lounge, the Passport Bar, the Sunset Bar, Quasar and the Pool and Mast Bar.  The Oceanview Cafe also offers two full service bars, one inside and one on the aft deck….but warning….during dining hours, it is very busy.  Bar service waiters are happy to take your order table side and deliver it to you, but it may take some time.

Sky Lounge is a quiet refuge by day for gazing over the sea.  At night, the space comes to life with music and dancing. The live band performs a wide variety of popular songs and current hits.  This is also a popular location for daily trivia and other activities.

Gastrobar is the newest, replacing Cellar Masters.  Comfort food and craft beer enthusiasts can try over 40 handcrafted boutique beer selections.  There are creative cocktails and a wide selection of a la carte, gourmet comfort food and bar bites.  If you prefer wine, there is an impressive selection by the glass or bottle. Gastrobar offers an atmosphere of casual sophistication.

Martini Bar and Crush features an ice-topped bar where talented bartenders put on a high-energy show preparing a mix of classic and contemporary martinis.  You can enjoy a collection of classic and rare vodkas and a portfolio of fine caviars.

martini bar

Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

World Class Bar, my personal favorite,  brings the high standards of “fine dining” to the spirited world of cocktails in an upscale location .  The expert mixologists use the freshest ingredients and the finest spirits.  The cocktails served at here are unique to this location.

world class bar

DINING VENUES

“Without butter, without eggs, there is no reason to come to France.” Paul Bocuse

On Celebrity ships, there are restaurants that are included in your cruise fare, plus specialty restaurants which have an additional charge.  There are also two private dining venues for Aqua and Suite class guests.

The venues that are included in the cruise fare are Silhouette (the main dining restaurant), Oceanview Cafe (the buffet), Mast grill and Aqua Spa Cafe.

Silhouette is Equinox’s main dining room and is located aft on decks 3 & 4 with room for 1420 guests and features a dramatic two story high glass wine tower and dazzling chandeliers.  Breakfast and dinner are served here daily, with lunch available on sea days.  Traditional fixed dining times for dinner are 6:00pm and 8:30pm.  Also offered is select dining with seating available between 6pm to 9.30pm. The dinner menu, with up to 29 selections, comprises of appetizers, soups and salads, entrées and desserts with the left hand side of the menu remaining the same while the right hand side changes nightly.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

Oceanview Cafe and Bar is the ship’s international buffet style marketplace, with a  menu that is inspired by multiple cultures.  Options will vary depending on the location of the cruise.  The chef likes to highlight the cultures of the ports of call.  Don’t worry though….traditional food is always available.  There is also a grill with fresh chicken, steak and seafood ready to be cooked to order.  Seating 758 diners and located aft of deck 14, it features floor to ceiling glass walls looking out over the sea and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and there are stations that include made-to-order omelets for breakfast.  For lunch and dinner, there are many choices including made-to-order pasta, stir-fry, pizza, a full salad bar, carvery and desserts. Breakfast is offered from 6:30am to 11:30.  Lunch is served from 12 noon to 2:30pm.  Snacks and late night selections will be available until 1:00am nightly.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

The Mast Grill is a casual poolside venue.  It is located midship on deck 14 with steps leading down to the outdoor pool on deck 12 and is ideally situated to grab a quick bite to eat such as burgers, hotdogs, fries and other specialities grilled to order while relaxing poolside.  Opening times are from 11am to 6pm.

The AquaSpa Cafe is open to all passengers from 7.30am to 10.00am for breakfast and 12 to 2.30pm for lunch.  It is a complimentary (except for breakfast and lunch parfaits which have an additional charge) 28 seat cafe located forward on deck 12 portside in the airy tranquillity of the Solarium.  They serve quick, light and healthy food  including parfaits, cereal, beverages, organic breads and omelettes for breakfast.  For lunch, soup, salad, antipasto, organic bread, salmon, tuna, pork loin and chicken breast served with grilled or steamed vegetables and blueberry tartlet or cinnamon and couscous tulipan for dessert are on offer. A range of smoothies are also offered.

Specialty restaurants onboard are Sushi on Five, Murano’s, Tuscan Grille and Silk Harvest.

Cafe al Bacio is the specialty coffee and tea venue, serving your favorite Lavazza espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha or macchiato. If you favor tea, you can choose from over a dozen premium hot teas from the innovative Tea Forté.  Be sure to check out the case where you will find morning specialties including almond croissants, pain au chocolate, brioche and boule de Berlin. Desserts are offered in the afternoon and evening. Café al Bacio is a great place to relax any time of day. Many guests like to stop by in the evening for one of the specialty dessert cocktails and discuss the wonderful day they have just enjoyed or make plans for the next.

Sushi on Five is the place to go to satisfy your craving for fresh, locally sourced, authentically prepared fish and veggies. The menu has been crafted by expert sushi chef Yoshikazu “Yoshi” Okada, originally from Japan, who is now a restaurateur in Hollywood.  They are open daily for lunch and dinner.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

Murano, on deck 5, is one of the ship’s four speciality reservation only restaurants with seating for 78 guests and serving classic French dishes with a contemporary twist.

Open from 6pm to 10pm, guests can either opt for the à la carte menu or the five senses tastings menu with wine pairing.

The restaurant features tableside cooking and flambé dishes, an à la carte menu consisting of four courses (appetisers, soups and salads, entrées and desserts) or the Five Senses tasting menu comprising of six courses paired with wine.

Champagne High Tea is also served in the Murano restaurant between 3pm and 4pm with white glove service and a range of savouries, pastries, scones, truffles and teas.   Dates and times will be noted in your daily newsletter.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

Tuscan Grille is located aft on deck 5 with scenic views over the ship’s wake and tableside service and combines traditional Italian cuisine with American steakhouse dishes.

The four course meal of appetisers, soups and salad, mains and desserts includes plates of antipasto with freshly sliced prosciutto, steaks, bone-in veal chops, grilled salmon and sea bass, creamy parmesan polenta, pasta dishes and desserts such as chocolate fondue along with an expansive collection of Italian wines.

The Tuscan Grille can seat 128 diners and is open from 6pm to 10pm.

Additionally, once per cruise it is open for a three course lunch option.

tuscan grille

Photo courtesy of CruiseLine.com

Silk Harvest is a reservation only Pan Asian-fusion restaurant located on deck 5 and seats 88 guests.

Open from 6pm to 10pm, the restaurant offers authentic Asian hospitality with a menu blending Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.

The menu comprises of small plate selections, large plate selections, sushi freshly prepared to order and desserts.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

Aqua class guests will enjoy Blu, an exclusive restaurant for breakfast and dinner. They have recently revamped the menu, keeping the most popular appetizers and entrees from the original menu, and adding an array of clean, crisp flavors and inventive cuisine along with an extensive list of sustainable and biodynamic wines. Personalized service, inviting surroundings, and natural light are all part of the fresh and bold aesthetic of Blu.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

Suite Class guests are treated to a private dining experience in Luminae.  This restaurant offers complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Luminae is a culinary experience of modern, eclectic cuisine and extraordinary service that will remind you that there’s no better way to vacation than as a Celebrity Cruises Suite Class guest.  Luminae offers a deliciously exclusive dining experience like no other.

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Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

 

ENTERTAINMENT

Each evening you will receive a newsletter in your stateroom outlining the activities offered around the ship, plus information about port arrivals (if a port is scheduled for the following day).   Pay close attention to the port arrival times and the time you need to be back onboard….you don’t want to be left behind!  If you would like your stateroom attendant to deliver two newsletters, just ask.  They are happy to accommodate.

Activities onboard will range from active, such as basketball and golf tournaments, dance classes and fitness classes to trivia, scrapbooking, adult coloring and educational speakers.  I recommend bringing a highlighter along so that you can highlight the activities that interest you.

Every evening there are programs offered in the main theater.  You will see everything from Broadway style shows performed by the Celebrity singers and dancers, to guest entertainers featuring magicians, comedians and headliner artists.  Celebrity provides two shows each evening, so don’t worry about missing one.  Shows are scheduled to accommodate both early and late diners.

The Lawn Club, on deck 14, is a freshly manicured lawn on the highest deck of Celebrity Equinox. Here you can enjoy casual outdoor activities in a Country Club atmosphere.

lawn club

Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line

STATEROOMS

All staterooms receive:

  • Our signature friendly, personalized service with a guest to staff ratio of nearly 2:1
  • Twice daily service (makeup and turndown)
  • Ice service on request
  • 24 hour room service
  • Robe
  • Custom blended bath products (shampoo, conditioner and lotion), shower cap, cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Water/wine glasses
  • Celebrity eXhale™ bedding featuring custom premium mattresses, plush duvets and pillows, and 100% cotton linens
  • Hair dryer
  • Private mini-bar  (Additional charges apply.)
  • Dual voltage 110/220AC outlets
  • Private safe
  • Interactive Samsung flat-screen television system to view and select shore excursions, order room service, and watch movies*

*All cabin photos are courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Line.

Inside cabins range in size from 183-200 sq ft.  and have ample living space, including a sitting area and a flat screen TV.

 

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Ocean view  cabins have windows  with a sitting area where you can kick back and relax after a day that has been as busy or easy as you want.  They are 177 sq. ft.

 

oceanview

 

Family veranda cabins are 575 sq. ft. with a veranda ranging in size from 53 – 105 sq. ft.  They are by far the largest veranda class staterooms with plenty of room for you and the family.

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Sunset veranda cabins are 194 sq. ft. with a balcony of 54 sq. ft.  These cabins are in some of the most desirable locations and are found at the aft of the ship.

Verandah cabins are also 194 sq. ft with a balcony of 54 sq. ft.  Spacious staterooms are located throughout the ship, each with its own private veranda.

Concierge cabins are the same size as verandahs but have special amenities such as a complimentary tote bag,  dedicated Onboard Concierge desk, priority check-in, concierge availability during pier check-in, exclusive pre-departure lounge, exclusive Welcome Aboard Concierge Class Lunch in the Main Restaurant,  main and specialty restaurant seating time preferences, welcome Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine and other benefits which you can find on the Celebrity website.  Below is a photo of bottle we received and decided to bring home with us.  Your cabin steward will ask you when you would like to have it delivered to your cabin…this way they can guarantee it will be cold!

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Aqua cabins have the same layout and size as concierge and verandah, but will only accommodate two passengers.  These cabin offer a tranquil retreat and provide unlimited access to Persian Gardens and dine in Blu, a private dining room.

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There are four types of suites onboard the Equinox….Sky Suite, Celebrity Suite, Royal Suite and Penthouse Suite.  All of the suites have exclusive access to Michael’s Club and Luminae, the private dining room for suite guests, and also receive reserved theater seating on formal nights.

When you stay in a Sky Suite, you’ll enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing, in-suite lunch and dinner service, afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio.  These cabins are 300 sq. ft with a verandah of 79 sq. ft.

sky suite

In the Celebrity Suite, you will enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing, in-suite lunch and dinner service, afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio.  The suite is 395 sq. ft with a verandah of 104 sq. ft.

Celebrity Suite

The Royal Suite guests enjoy all the benefits of the Celebrity Suite, but also receive the premium beverage package, complimentary, unlimited specialty dining, complimentary unlimited internet, and a complimentary mini-bar stocked daily with water, sodas and beer.  There is also a one time setup of one bottle of vodka and one bottle of scotch or gin with accompanying mixers.  If wine is your drink of preference, you can choose this instead of the spirits. The suite is 590 sq. ft. with a verandah of 158 sq. ft.

Royal suite

The largest suite onboard is the Penthouse Suite.  Here you will enjoy all the benefits of the Royal Suite plus a private dining room in your suite, a baby grand piano, a king sized bed, a welcome bottle of Perrier-Jouet and complimentary laundry service twice per cruise.  This suite is 1,291 sq. ft. with a verandah of 389 sq. ft.

penthouse suite

I highly recommend sailing on the Equinox….or ANY Celebrity ship for that matter! 🙂  The crew will do everything in their power to make and keep you happy!

Happy sailing….and may you have fair winds and following seas.

St. Thomas, American Virgin Islands

I finally got the chance to visit St. Thomas…this has been on my bucket list for some time.

Be sure to watch our video at the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL_h2burcSo

St. Thomas is the gateway isle of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and is known for beautiful beaches and snorkeling spots. Founded by the Danish in the 1600s, it is a busy cruise ship port. The British occupied the islands without a shot being fired. The British occupation lasted until April 1802 when the British returned the islands to Denmark-Norway.  In December 1807, a British fleet again captured St Thomas and held onto it until November 1815, when Britain returned the islands to Denmark. In 1916, Denmark sold St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John to the United States and the island’s inhabitants were granted United States citizenship in 1927.

We arrived on the Celebrity Equinox on March 27th in Charlotte Amalie.  There are two docks for cruise ships at this port….Little Krum Bay and West Indian Company dock.  We were at the one farthest from town…Little Krum Bay.  It was a warm, humid day, which is to be expected….it is the Caribbean after all!

Just beyond security, there were shops setting up for the day….one was a popcorn stand.  These iguanas were making a beeline for them….guess they love popcorn too!  They also love the rocks near the water….be careful while walking though….they can really run!

 

Since we had not been to this island before, we took the shuttle into town.  I think it was $3/person and they made us a deal, since we were a party of three.

After climbing the 99 steps and visiting Blackbeard”s Castle, we happened upon Government House, a neoclassical, gracious three story white building with beautifully intricate ironwork along the balconies. Built between 1865 and 1867, it is a perfect example of the grandeur of official buildings during Danish colonial time. The guards allowed us access to the main lobby, which has display boards of the islands’ governors including Danish, Naval and Civilian; two small paintings by renowned Impressionist artist, Camille Pissarro; and three murals by Italian-American artist Peppino Margravite.

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My husband was very excited to learn that Camille Pissarro was born in Charolette Amalie, so off we set to find his home.  It is now an art gallery, but worth a short visit.  This is the hallway leading to the stairs.

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After our explorations, we were hot and tired, so headed back to the ship for a quick lunch, then off to the beach for some snorkeling.  We decided to stay close to the ship.  We grabbed a taxi for the short trip to Emerald Beach.  This beach is right by the airport and we were treated to lots of planes taking off.  The water was warm and wonderful.  Near the rocks, we found lots of fish.  We swam for about an hour or so, then went back to the ship to get ready for sail away.

 

 

We had a wonderful visit to St. Thomas!

Grand Floridian, Walt Disney World

We spent four nights at the Grand Floridian in March.  I have always wanted to stay in this wonderful hotel, and thanks to my cast member daughter, we finally had the opportunity!

Our first video has been posted too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T82WnE9sQKk

Be sure to watch!

 

We stayed in Sugar Loaf, which is the concierge building.  The rooms were very nice.  I was not able to get pictures of our room.  😦  The concierge room was actually an area in the main lobby….they had food offerings available throughout the day.  Alcoholic beverages were also available….all we had to do to was ask!

The interior of the main building is beautiful.  In the evenings, there is live jazz music on the balcony overlooking the first floor and during the day, there is live piano music.

And if you look closely, you will find several wonderful mosaics on the floor….next time you go, see if you can find them!

This hotel has two pools.  The larger of the two has a hot tub, but does not have a life guard.  The other pool has a fun kids water area with a large hat that dumps water.  And a VERY fun slide!

We really enjoyed our stay in this beautiful Disney property and hope to return someday.

Pros and Cons of Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm Fjord

Previously, I wrote a rather biased view of Hubbard.  Many people have questions about the differences between the three options available, so thought I would give a quick list of the pros and cons of each

Hubbard Glacier Pro:

Hubbard, as noted in my prior post, is a large, advancing glacier.  The trip to the glacier is through Disenchantment Bay.  Hubbard is the largest tidewater glacier in North America at a whopping 76 miles long and 1,200 feet deep.  The quickly moving advancement of this glacier results in major calving….the dramatic breaking off of chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier.  There is also an abundance of wildlife in the area, both on land and in the sea.  It is very common to see seals lounging on the ice floes. A naturalist will be onboard to provide information on the area.

Hubbard Glacier Con:

There is only one active glacier in this location.  There is another glacier off to the side, but it is not advancing and does not calve.  Hubbard can be difficult to sail to at certain times of the cruise season.  At the beginning or end of the season, ice can block ships from passing too near.  Sailings may have a hard time either entering or cruising close to the face of the glacier.

Hubbard_landsat-tn

Glacier Bay Pro:

Glacier Bay National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several glaciers to see.  You will stop at three of them, Margerie Glacier, Grand Pacific Glacier and Lamplugh Glacier…with the majority of your time spent at Margerie and Grand Pacific, which are next to each other.  Margerie is larger and more active than the other two. Grand Pacific is covered by  rock debris from landslides and medial moraines cover much of this side of the glacier and extends across almost two-thirds of the ice face. If you are lucky and the ice is open, the captain may venture into John Hopkins Inlet, where you will get a view of John Hopkins Glacier.  I have only been able to experience this one time, and the glacier was quite a distance away.  Since Glacier Bay in a national park, cruise lines are required to have a park ranger onboard while in the confines of the park. The local park rangers narrate the sights and ecology of Glacier Bay over the loudspeaker as you sail.

We have watched bears as they walk along the beach and even a moose swimming across the bay while at Margerie Glacier.  The park ranger onboard told us that this bear is a coastal brown bear when on the coastline and a grizzly bear when in the mountains….same bear, different name depending on the location.

Glacier Bay Con:

Many of the glaciers in this location are retreating, but not all of them.  Two examples are Johns Hopkins Glacier which has been advancing at the rate of 10 to 15 ft  per day.  Since it is difficult to sail to the face of this glacier, you will not witness calving.  Margerie Glacier is stable, neither advancing nor retreating.  Since Margerie is stable, it is not very active and the calving is not very dramatic….more like ice “waterfalls”.   Glacier Bay can be very cold and wet during the cruise season.  The bay has a cool wet, coastal temperate rainforest climate, with summer temperatures varying  between 50 °F and 60 °F.

glacier bay map w text

Tracy Arm Pro:

The most common access to Tracy Arm is by boat using Stephens Passage and entering Holkham Bay and Tracy and Endicott Arms. The fjord walls are narrow and craggy, with steep rock faces that contain multiple waterfalls. The closer you get to the end of Tracy Arm, the more you will see more icebergs in shades of blue so deep they look like glass.

Tracy Arm Con:

The twin Sawyer Glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer, are located at the end of Tracy Arm, which large cruise ships can not access due to ice floes.  In order to view these up close, you must take an excursion, either from the ship or from Juneau.

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The first pictures show the cliffs of the fjord.

Below are photos of glacial ice floating in the water.  You will notice the water is a grayish-green….that is glacial silt.  You can tell when you are getting close to an active glacier by the change of the water color.

 

These photos were taken with a telephoto lens of Sawyer Glacier.

The following photos show you how far we actually were from the glacier.

tracy-amr.jpg

No matter which itinerary you choose, Alaska is amazing.  Enjoy your time there!

 

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