Puerto Rico & St. Kitts

Happy Boxing Day and a belated Merry Christmas!

We sallied from San Juan yesterday afternoon and this morning arrived at Bassaterre, St. Kitts in the Caribbean.  It’s a small volcanic island… population about 15000.  There was a very raucous festival of some sort going on beginning very early this morning so when Lois and I tried to walk through the part of town near the pier we didn’t really get far as there were hundreds of people in the street and lots of crazy-loud music going on.  I’m not really sure what the significance of all that was but it was a little overwhelming and intimidating as there were lots of obviously intoxicated people roaming about.

But this afternoon we went on a little outing to see some of St. Kitts and I’ve included a few photos to show you just a little bit.  I have to admit the group excursions are not something I love but sometimes it’s a good way to see a few things easily with a guide who knows their way around!

So far we are healthy and extremely well fed.  Tonight we sail for Grenada.

I’ve discovered that the ship’s internet access restricts not only the time allotted (which is quite expensive) but also the MB of data transfer.  This makes blogging challenging.  Tonight I am at a little cafe right near where the ship is docked so that I can upload photos without using up my data limit on my ship account.  All this really means is I may not be posting as often as I would have otherwise and will be looking for internet cafes and wifi spots near the piers when I can.

I love all your comments… helps me feel a bit more connected.  I have to admit I have been struggling with some big home sickness the past few days.  I’m hoping it’ll get easier as time goes by.  Not that I’m not enjoying the experience but I am just a home body and being so far away with only limited contact is a big stretch for me.  I miss my husband and son and friends and cats!


entering the San Juan harbor

docked in San Juan

Old town San Juan

rainbow over the ocean

docked at St. Kitts

St. Kitts

Around the Ship

After our emergency procedures test yesterday that required everyone onto the deck in their life jackets on we headed out to sea leaving Nassau behind. We are supposed to arrive in Puerto Rico tomorrow around noon so I guess we’re a bit more than half way there. According to the info. around the ship we are traveling at an average of about 20 nautical miles per hour and the seas are not exactly calm. In fact everyone is kind of swaying around today, trying to get used to the roll of the ocean beneath us. Fortunately I have not gotten sea sick but I know there are a fair number of people who are not feeling too well today.

Lois at the Emergency Drill yesterday

There are an amazing number of programs available onboard… today there were three lectures; a writing class; Portuguese workshop, Scrabble Tournament, 12-Step meeting, Zumba, Bingo, a visual arts workshop… and quite a few more. But the BIG news is that there’s a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk on board (Bhante) and he is offering morning meditation instruction AND, there’s also a morning Yoga class… I didn’t get there today but I plan on being there tomorrow. I have to say that having Yoga and Meditation available brings a huge smile to my face and is helping me relax into being with so many people (most of you know that I’m not a lover of big groups) for so many days.

Ship's central area...upstairs is library & computer lab. Downstairs is Purser's desk and general info. center.

It should be interesting to be in Puerto Rico at Christmastime. Our group leader said that they’d had quite a difficult time finding an on-site person to work with because Christmas is a really important holiday there… in a religious way, not a commercial way. She’s hoping that the person she got to commit to us will come through!

Shops (on left & right) and hallway to the classrooms and one of the dining areas.

Well, we are headed down for dinner (I will have to write a whole post just on the food here… so far it’s mostly good and extremely plentiful.) More later.

Ship's borrowing library.

One of the ship's stairways.

Strong winds today...

Nassau, Bahamas

We arrived without any travel drama then found ourselves in a snail’s paced line at immigration… oh, well… time to relax and get on Island time! Our taxi drive from the airport to Prince George Wharf where our ship, the MV Explorer, was docked took about 20 minutes through lots of winding roads and round-a-abouts. I hadn’t realized that Bahamians drive on the “wrong” side of the road… so happy I wasn’t the one driving!

Our Ship: the MV Explorer in Nassau

Our ship is pretty amazing (not that I have much to compare it to) The staff is very friendly and seem to be relatively happy to be here… I think that many of them have worked on cruise lines of various types for many years. The ship, which is completely outfitted to be an educational vessel has a library, computer lab, 9 classrooms plus a formal dining room as well as an informal serve-yourself type of facility. There’s a spa which I plan on checking out tomorrow and exercise equipment outside on one of the decks… and lots more I haven’t even discovered yet.

Street scene in Nassau

As I write Lois has gone down to find out where the Health Clinic is so that we’ll know where to get the motion sickness meds if we need them… in about 30 minutes we are supposed to have a safety drill where we take our life vests and go out on deck next to the Life Boat we are assigned to so that we can learn what to do in the event of an emergency. Should be interesting.

Today Lois and I walked around Nassau on our own… the area nearest the ships is extremely commercial… kind of like the strip at Virginia Beach only with a bit of Bahama flair. Tons of diamond and other jewelry shops… lots of rum, designer shops and brand names. Bob Marley is a big deal here… we even passed a shop devoted exclusively to him. We did see a few artisans here and there but they are far outnumbered by the high-end commercial shops (well, at least that is the case near the wharf). It’s fun feeling the warm air and seeing palm trees and tropical flowers (hibiscus, bougainvillea, etc.) Most of the buildings are painted brightly… yellows, pinks and greens. Can’t say that I’m too sad that we only have 1 day here… I’m ready to head out!

My favorite sign! I love it!

We leave Nassau for San Juan at 5 PM today and will be at sea all day tomorrow. Tomorrow the lectures and classes begin, I can’t wait to see what will be offered. There are approximately 700 passengers on the trip representing maybe 10 (?)different groups… all ages from all over the country. I hope that you enjoy these few pics. Internet access and data transfer limits are super tight and expensive so I am experimenting with what I can do. I am writing my posts off line and then cutting and pasting.

many ships in the harbor at Nassau

Oh, I almost forgot… today is my birthday… a really different way to spend it! Lois gave me a cute book mark and the ship folks gave me a couple of cards… nice! Oh, and I did buy a really amazing turquoise-colored sea shell in town today… for myself 🙂 … my one and only purchase so far.

Well, wish us luck on our emergency drill which should start in about 5 minutes.
More soon!


Love the palm trees!

On My Way!

Tomorrow I leave for a 3 week adventure to the Amazon… I’ve been so busy getting ready to be away that until today I really haven’t been excited… but now it’s finally setting in… OMG!!  I’ll be traveling with my wonderful friend, Lois for whom this is the trip of a lifetime… it is certainly my honor to be accompanying her!

You can click on the map to the left to enlarge it and see the route we’ll be taking.

Our ship, the MV Explorer, is outfitted for education so our journey will include lectures and guided walks as well as lots of downtime and, hopefully blogging time so that I can keep you posted.

My wonderful friends, Anne and Bill Holland, lent me a “real” camera for my trip so, hopefully I will have lots of lovely images to share with you.  I am especially looking forward to seeing dolphins and monkeys… and lots of 4-leggeds, swimmers and creepy-crawlies (no shortage in that department, I’ve heard).

Thanks, everyone… Claire