The last day of the cruise, we were back in Miami. My sister and I had several hours before our plan was to leave so we took advantage of the excursion choices that were offered.
1. Miami Highlights Tour
2. Everglades Safari Tour
3. South Beach & Island Queen Cruise
We had already seen the Everglades, and the South Beach & Island Queen Cruise was four hours long, and we did not have that much time. So, we took the Miami Highlights Tour.
This bus tour was through portions of downtown Miami, mainly South Beach and the Art Deco District
After a colorful tour of this trendy (and historic) area, we returned to Miami along Brickell Avenue, the financial heart of the city. We then went to the lush bohemian village of Coconut Grove.
Next, we took a drive through Coral Gables past the Biltmore Hotel, the Venetian Pool, and the Miracle Mile.
A short visit to Little Havana, and then our tour concluded at Miami International Airport. This was quite convenient for us.
Duration: 2 Hours
Fondest memory: I love architecture, so I found this tour "my cup of tea." I especially loved the Art Deco Section of South Beach, the Biltmore Hotel, and the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables.
The narration that accompanied the tour was interesting, informative, and enlightening.
What a great ending to a wonderful cruise adventure.
Carefree cruising with lots of choices is what makes Celebrity a Class Act.
The cruise staff speaks of "relaxed elegance" as their bywords for dress on board the ship. Your own taste, interests, destinations will determine what you pack, but keep in mind you will need three types of clothing:
a. Casual shipboard attire of "day wear"
b. Conservative apparel for sightseeing
c. Evening Wear
For day wear, stylish resort wear is fine for both men and women. Examples would be swimsuit and cover-up, walking shorts and polo shirt, lightweight slacks or skirts, a light sweater for cooler days.
When you go ashore, remember to observe local customs. In some ports, short-shorts, halter tops, and provocative clothing are unacceptable.
You'll need evening wear for the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party and Dinner, the Captain's Farewell Dinner, and a third formal night. You receive a daily paper that lets you know what is happening each day.
Casual nights: pants-suit or sporty outfit for women.
Sport shirt and slacks for men.
On Informal nights: dress or pants outfit for women; jacket, shirt and tie for men.
On formal night you need:
Cocktail dresses or long gown for women.
Dinner jackets and dark suits or if you want a tuxedo for men.
Fondest memory: One of my favorite memories is the night that was "formal" and included a dance.
We had pictures taken with a choice background, and I chose the "Titanic" That is the picture I had taken in a black cocktail dress..
Even though we did not swim or sunbath, we did walk the beach as well as sit on our towels to "people watch". The beach is a fascinating place to soak up the ambience.
There is every kind of activity available on the beach. Small sailboats and para-sailing are two of the most popular activities.
The sand is brilliant white and goes on forever.
Fondest memory: Many of the people on the cruise chose the Seven Mile Beach as their activity, and it included a boxed lunch, beach towel, sun-screen, and a ticket for a drink.
Some people overdid it (3-5 hours ) in the sun, and, of course, ended up sunburned and miserable.
My sister and I were there for only about half an hour, and we got plenty of sun.
But, for beach lovers, Seven Mile Beach is quite spectacular.
Favorite thing: The caribbean has some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. This flower is called Lobster Claw do to it's shape I quess. There are several different type like this. I just loved taking photos of the foliage, water and the palm trees. We just love the tropics.
Favorite thing: This little beauty is a Alpinia Purporata, virbant color and a beautiful flower at that. Make sure you have plenty of film or batteries and memory on hand when you go to the caribbean because you won't be able to stop taking pictures, I know I couldn't!
This is the port of Montego Bay. On the morning we arrived, the Liberty of the Seas drifted gently to the dock, thereby saving us a ride to its shoreline via tender.
Cruise ships arrive at either Ocho Rios, on the northern part of the island, or to Montego Bay. We were told that these two ports contain almost identical shops and attractions, so it's best to visit one or the other. However, it seems that Montego Bay has more of both.
The plantation economy dictated Jamaica's growth and now it's the most populous of the Caribbean countries. We were warned about 'hawkers' and did experience some of this, but for the most part our visit was a pleasant one.
Grand Cayman and Cozumel had friendly people, fantastic shopping and exquisite sights. They also had many lizards!
Most people traveling to the Caribbean have heard of the Blue Iguana which inhabits the island of Grand Cayman. It's thought that only 10-25 individuals still exist. These iguanas live inland in natural shrubland and along margins of canopy dry forests.
The adults are primarily terrestrial, occupying rock holes and low tree cavities, while younger species tend to be more arboreal. They can survive for decades, the last one captive in the U.S. died at 67 years of age*.
Sad to say, we didn't see the Blue Iguana. We DID see plenty of other reptiles, especially at Tulum...I've included some of those pictures here. Please see the additional photos....
*info. on the blue iguana came from www.caymanbiodiversity.com
Everywhere we traveled the Caribbean's vivid colors caught our eye. This was especially so with the beautiful flowers growing everywhere!
Sometimes when we'd climb off the vans that carried us hither and yon, a sweet floral scent could be detected in the air.
Other times, a heady aroma would drift about us...was it hibiscus, bouganvillea or oleander--I didn't know, but the floral display was something to be appreciated.
Fondest memory: The small village of Tortuguero lies on the northeastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, approximately 50 miles north of the principal Port of Limon. The village is comprised of a variety of cultures: Hispanic, Miskito Indian (Nicaragua), and Afro-Caribbean. Both Spanish and Creole English are spoken. The region surrounding Tortuguero is called the Tortuguero Plain, which is a vast low lying area of little topographic relief still covered by a large expanse of tropical rainforest. Tortuguero beach is the most important nesting site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemishpere. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest here. The green turtle population is believed to have come perilously close to extinction in the 1960s when nearly every female turtle arriving to nest in Tortuguero was taken for the export market for turtle soup. The park now includes over 19,000 hectares and protects 22 miles of nesting beach from the mouth of the Tortuguero River south to Parisimina. The park, and the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge to the north, comprise the largest remaining adjoining tract of lowland wet tropical forest on Costa Rica's Atlantic Coast.
Fondest memory: María la gorda, located at the western end of the island 170 miles west Havana in an area rarely visited by tourists, this is the place to come if you really want to get away from it all. Situated on the edge of the warm, sheltered, Bahia de Corrientes, the surrounding waters are littered with shipwrecked galleons laden with treasures. The area was a popular sheltering point for pirates and corsairs. The water here is an intense indigo, as beautiful as any in the Caribbean. The coral formations, sponges and gorgonians are quite spectacular and the fish are plentiful, including barracuda, moray eels, lobster, grunts, groupers, and even whale sharks at certain times of the year.
Fondest memory: Guatemala City, home to one-fourth of the country's entire population and the capital of Guatemala, features a huge range of restaurants, hotels, and shopping facilities that can fit any budget. Guatemala City is the country's commercial, financial, and cultural center. It is also the hub of the nation's transportation. Coffee, the chief export, is grown on the surrounding hillsides. The city is clean and modern, with wide paved streets radiating from Central Park. On the plaza are the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. In La Aurora Park is the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, famous for its collection of Mayan Indian objects. The National Archives and the National Library are other noteworthy buildings in the city.
Fondest memory: Pristine beaches and amazing jungle-covered hills, heartwarming people and unique cultures, world renowned diving and endless activities, authentic Caribbean charm and inexpensive accommodations. This Eden is the island of Roatan, the most developed of the Bay Islands chain located just 40 miles northeast of mainland.
I was walking across the pool are of the Carnival Valor cruise ship when I started to hear a really strange announcement by the crew that they had sighted a boat that may be in distress. The kept announcing that they were ‘investigating’ the matter. Everyone around me started talking about ‘Pirates’.
The story which unfolded was a truly amazing and humble tale. We were in waters to the east of Dominica and headed for Barbados to the south. The bridge had noticed a small open fishing boat with 4 men on it trying to get their attention. They were form the island of Dominica and had set out in an old and leaky boat to do some fishing for the day. Their boat had 2 engines and a small water tank in the middle to throw their live catch into. Their boat, engines and safety equipment were either in a poor state or non-existent. They had lost power to both engines and been without food, water or shade for 4 days.
As the Valor came alongside the security people wanted to make sure that they were not in fact pirates. They were issues with water and a new life vest for one of the crew. As the crew began to try and explain the situation on the boat, it started talking on a lot of water as the massive cruise ship was creating large waves. The security people on-board the Valor were finally convinced as their boat actually sank. All that was left (last photo) were their empty water and fuel containers bobbing up and down in the sea.
The journey didn’t end for these poor guys yet. They were given food, drink and medical attention. Unfortunately for them they were held in a security area. The next day they were handed over to the authorities in Barbados, now double the distance from home than when they were rescued.
The great thing is that their worried families would see their loved ones again.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) guiding International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea states: "A master of a ship at sea, which is in a position to be able to provide assistance on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance."
Essentially it is both ancient customer and Maritime/Admiralty Law that you must give assistance if you can to stricken ships and their crews. Sadly Princess Cruises (Star Princess) seems to have ignored this just the year before. 2 sailors died and the 3rd was not rescued for 28 days.
Fondest memory: Panamá canal. The three sets of locks of the two-lane Canal work as water elevators that lift the ships to the level of Gatun Lake, 26 meters over sea level, and later lower them again to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus of Panama.
The Summit has an impressive art collection. The first thing we spotted were the beaded ladies. A series of female busts made entirely of beads can be found along one of the staircases. All of the staircases had art but these ladies are the ones you most noticed. General concensus was that you either loved or hated them. I loved them. There is also an ode to Velazquez, some other fun sculptures, a photography gallery and an actual Botero in the spa pool section.
I was impressed.
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