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Caribbean Cruise

A few months ago Alan was perusing the internet, and happened upon a cruise deal, departing from Miami, traveling to Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island, Cozumel and the Bahamas.  The deal, including travel, meals, entertainment and accommodations for the week, was so cheap, the decision to make the trip was a no brainer.  Securing a parking place a few miles from the port of Miami, we arrived by bus, and after checking in, headed to the top deck to enjoy the view, and our first cocktail.

Cramming four countries into a seven day cruise is obviously not a good way to experience all an area has to offer, but it gave us the opportunity to check places out for possible future trips, like taking a snapshot for an overview.  Our first day was spent at sea, exploring the 3500 passenger cruise ship.  With 18 decks, it took us most of the week to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

Stopping first at Georgetown, Grand Cayman, we boarded the tender to head into shore.  Having checked out our options before arriving, we took a short walk from the dock to the nearby Eden Rock Dive Center.  Staff at the facility gave us a rundown of the snorkeling options, available immediately offshore.  The center provided lockers for our valuables, and had rental equipment for snorkelers and divers.  Within a short swim from the Center, Eden Rock and the Devil's Grotto supply some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caymans.  Unfortunately, the weather turned cloudy and windy soon after our entry to the water, but we were able to stay in the water for about an hour before the chop in the water became too great a challenge.  My snorkel kept getting swamped by the waves, and it seemed as though I drank a quart or so of salt water on my departure from the water.  Tarpon, parrotfish and a variety of small tropicals swam along the maze of rocks and coral.  Caribbean Kitchen, just off Church Street, near the dock, provided a first-rate Cayman's lunch, including coconut shrimp, lobster with sweet peppers, and a side of steamed breadfruit.

Arriving next in Falmouth, Jamaica, we opted for a bamboo rafting trip down the Martha Brae River.  With "Captain" John at the helm, we took a leisurely ride as the raft was poled down the waterway.  Roughly 180 degrees from the river rafting experiences of our past, we took in the plant and bird life of Jamaica at a very slow pace, as we were serenaded with Jamaican tunes by our captain.  Roughly constructed shops along the waterfront gives rafters an opportunity to buy a souvenir or a beverage.  We opted for a coconut, which provided a beverage and then, when split by our captain, a coconut gel for a snack.  Returning early to the dock allowed us to leave the port area to explore the town of Falmouth, and venture to Pepper's Jerk Center (recommended by John, as the best) to try a sample of their world renowned Jamaican jerk chicken.

Heading next into Cozumel, we had arranged a meet up with a new friend from California.  As a
certified scuba instructor, with numerous trips to Cozumel under her belt, Jeani promised to take us to one of the last remaining great snorkel spots still left in Cozumel.  Having traveled there a few times over the past 40 years, we had been disheartened by the destruction of the the reefs and loss of sea life due to hurricanes over the decades.  Our morning was free to meander along the waterfront and check out the numerous shops.  After meeting up with Jeani and her friend Rene, we taxied to our snorkel destination.  Turns out that the last great snorkel spot has disappeared as well, and after exploring the water for a bit, we traveled back into town.  Having been in Cozumel numerous times, our guides were able to recommend a top-notch Mexican restaurant, and we ended our day in Cozumel at La Choza, for outstanding margaritas, nachos, guacamole and conversation.

After another day at sea, our ship pulled along side Great Stirup Cay, Bahama.  The island is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line and a tender operated by that company provides transportation from the cruise ships to the island.  The small island provides low key relaxing in the hundreds of beach chairs around the island, along with opportunities to snorkel.  A barbecue lunch, at a couple of locations on the island, kept the cruisers fed.  Alan was feeling a bit under the weather, so we hung out along the shore and had a peaceful day.

We've been back home now for a couple of weeks and are not planning to take off again for a month or so.  Next trip is to South America, combining cruise travel with some exploring on our own, but for now we can get caught up with projects around the house.
Along the Martha Brae River

Tropicals at Eden Rock

Sunset in Cozumel

From cruise ship at Falmouth, Jamaica



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