Pampered in Paradise, Part 2

Although I was staying on for a second week, I had to get off the ship for at least an hour in Puerto Rico.  I disembarked around 10:00, after seeing my man at breakfast, and went to Plaza Las Americas. Luckily, I was able to leave my luggage on board, so I was traveling light at the mall.

Crew wasn’t granted shore leave until about noon, so I had some time to kill before my guy arrived.  I caught up on the emails I had ignored all week, and then got a manicure. My basic Spanish and the manicurist’s non-existent English made for an interesting experience. A big, burly man getting his nails done at the next table stepped in a few times to help translate.

Lunch date

Lunch date

I finished just after my boy showed up. We found a café, grabbed a nice cup of coffee, then wandered the mall for a few minutes. We saw a few friends from the ship, but enjoyed having time just the two of us. For lunch, we went to the Cheesecake Factory at his request. He had never been, but had heard a lot about it. Although we both ordered lunch portions, we were unable to finish our meals. We shared a delicious piece of caramel cheesecake, and then had to hurry back to the ship.

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas

Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas

Our next port was St. Thomas. It was pouring rain when we stepped foot on land, but we decided to stick with our original plan and go to the beach anyways. Having heard good things about Magen’s Bay, we suffered through a rollercoaster-like cab ride to get there. The rain had stopped by the time we arrived, so we were able to comfortably stroll down the beach in search of a place to sit. We set down our things and waded into the water just as the sun was breaking through the clouds. I was amused to see pelicans swimming nearby, and spent much of our time on the beach watching the birds clumsily dive into the water. Despite their awkwardness, they were very successful fishermen! I was teased for my fascination with the pelicans, but we both spent the afternoon laughing at them (and each other).

Pelican at Magen's Bay

Pelican at Magen’s Bay

The next day, we were both pretty worn out. Instead of walking to an infinity pool, we just went to a bar next to the port. We saw some friends, drank a few beers, and chatted about a variety of topics. In the two weeks I was cruising, we never ran out of things to say! Before we went back to the ship, we stopped to take pictures with some monkeys. They crawled all over us, and for every good photo, we have about 5 disheveled ones. In about 5 minutes, we got over 30 photos. It was silly and overpriced, but made us both smile.

Monkey babies

Monkey babies

The following day we went to Eagle Beach in Aruba. Although my guy is afraid of heights, I convinced him to go parasailing with me. We took a little boat over to Palm Beach, where we climbed into a different boat. 5 minutes later, we were harnessed up and floating towards the sky. We could see the entire island of Aruba, including our ship on the other side, and a wide expansive of sapphire blue sea. We were able to hold hands, and as long as he didn’t look straight down, he had a great time. As we were being pulled back in, we were dipped in the water. It was freezing, but we were both laughing as we were pulled the rest of the way in. When we returned to the beach, some of our friends from the Guest Services team joined us. We swam, sunbathed, and rode a city bus back to the ship. Despite multiple applications of sunscreen, we ended the day looking like a pair of lobsters.

Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach

Our last port was Curacao. We took a cab to Mambo Beach (also known as Seaquarium Beach) and shelled out a hefty sum for shaded lounge chairs at the quiet Lions Dive & Beach Resort. We had a beer and took a quick swim, but after excess amounts of sun the day before, we didn’t last long at the beach! We taxied back to the ship, and then walked into the town. None of the restaurants were speaking to me, so we returned to the ship. I grabbed a few sandwiches from Café Promenade while my boy got cleaned up for work, and we spent his last hour off relaxing and snacking in my cabin.

Beach in Curacao

Beach in Curacao

I had one final sea day before returning home. I grudgingly packed my suitcase, and spent the afternoon by the pool. We made the most of my last night on board. As soon as he finished work, we went to the Schooner Bar and Jesters, the nightclub, for a couple drinks. The next morning, I went to see him at work as usual, and he walked me down to my waiting point. I managed to keep it together while I was on the ship, but started crying when I reached the airport. It was a wonderful two weeks, full of sunshine and laughter, and as much as I love my family, I didn’t want to go home!

At least I had a towel monkey to help me pack!

At least I had a towel monkey to help me pack!

Relationships, I’ve decided, are the hardest part of working on ships. You make special connections with people, but maintaining those connections are difficult. Most of the friends I’ve made during my contracts, I will likely not see again in person. My beau and I are trying to beat the odds, and he’s attempting to transfer to my next ship. Cross you fingers and toes for us!

Reason to try

Reason to try

Stay tuned for details about my weekend in Portland!

Best of the Best

The Adventure in Akureyri

The Adventure in Akureyri

During this contract, I was able to do and see some truly incredible things.  Since coming home, I’ve frequently been asked about my favorite places, and I’ve had trouble answering!  There were so many wonderful places, but I liked different ports for different things.  Looking back through my photos, I tried to break down some of the highlights of the past few months.  This is what I came up with…  The Best of the Adventure.

Best Hike

Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock

Best Beaches

Paradise

Paradise

Photo doesn't do it justice!

Photo doesn’t do it justice!

Just look at that water

Just look at that water

Best tours

Tuk tuk tour

Tuk tuk tour

Camels at the base

Camels at the base

Magic at the top

Magic at the top

Best Place for Beer

  • Beer Wall in Bruges
    • I made a special category for Bruges, because I had such a great day there!  The beer is fantastic, but the whole city is worth visiting!
Beer Wall

Beer Wall

Favorite Landmarks

Amazing to see

Amazing to see

I could visit every day!

I could visit every day!

Best Museum

  • The Guggenheim Bilbao
    • The architect, Frank Gehry, also designed the Guggenheim Museum that will soon be built in Abu Dhabi.  There was an interesting article in the New York Times about the new museum.
Beautiful Gehry building

Beautiful Gehry building

Favorite City

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Favorite Country

Sunset in Reykjavik

Sunset in Reykjavik

Northern Lights.  Photo by: Daffodaleia Williams

Northern Lights. Photo by: Daffodaleia Williams

I knew the quality of the places I was visiting was pretty astounding, but I just recently added up the quantity!  I’ve now been to 39 countries.  I can’t wait to add more to the list in the New Year!

Casey’s Travel Map

Casey has been to: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, China, Curacao, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican, Vietnam.

Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

Final Adventures

Perfection in the Caribbean

Perfection in the Caribbean

The last week of my contract was busy, but fun. The whole cast worked hard and played hard. We spent more time together on the ship than we had the rest of the contract, and really gave all that we had for our final performances. To top it all off, we had some great final ports.

The last port

The last port

We docked in St. Thomas on a show day, so I kept things simple. I ran into some friends on the gangway and ended up joining them for sushi. Beni Iguana Sushi is walking distance from the cruise port, and has some truly fantastic sushi! I ordered a spicy tuna roll and a rainbow roll for myself, and was surprised by how large the rolls were. They have a special sauce used on their mussels that is also set on every table (and available for purchase). I ended up adding a bit of it to my rolls to mix things up. It all tasted so good, I cleaned my plate!

Sushi feast!

Sushi feast!

For Thanksgiving a few days later we were in Aruba. I set out once again with my dance captain and her boyfriend and took a city bus (AruBus) to Palm Beach. It was surprising how nice it felt to be on a public bus instead of a ship, shuttle, or coach. I felt so “normal”.

The beach was crowded but beautiful. There were tents where you could sign up for parasailing or rent jet skis. I opted not to participate in water activities, but did rent a mat. One of my friends described it as a floating yoga mat! It was brilliant.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach

The water was a beautiful shade of blue, and the warm yellow sand felt great beneath my feet. There was a restaurant/bar on the beach, so we were able to get food and drinks. Unfortunately, I ordered a bucket of beers for the group, not knowing the price. They charged $36 for 6 beers, plus a $10 deposit for the bucket! Compared to $12 buckets in St. Maarten, this seemed ridiculous. Since it was otherwise a pretty perfect day, I chose not to let the rip-off bar get me down!

At the bar

At the bar

While I was waiting for my food, I met two guests from the ship. They were from Colorado and Texas, but now live in San Juan. It was interesting hearing the guests’ perspective of my “home”.

I spent the rest of the day enjoying the warm water. My mat quickly drifted away from the shore, but I was so content, I didn’t worry about it. It was certainly a Thanksgiving to be thankful for!

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant

My last port was Curacao. I left the ship with a random but nice group, including my roommate and her boyfriend, a Croatian bartender, and an Albanian waiter. Since three of us were about to return to cold weather, we decided a beach was necessary. We took a cab to Mambo Beach, not knowing if it would be nice or not. It ended up being one of my favorites!

Arriving at Mambo Beach

Arriving at Mambo Beach

There was a boardwalk with shops, restaurants, and wi-fi in front of the actual beach. The beach itself had powdery white sand, crystal blue water, and lounge chairs and beds available for rent. The chairs were only $3 for the day, so we all got one! In the ocean, there was a diving platform, and farther out there was a barrier of rocks. I swam out to the rocks, but didn’t stay there as long as I intended to. I was walking along the top to see some crabs on the other side, and wiped out on some algae. I was laughing so hard when my feet flew over my head, that I was disappointed none of my friends were out there to witness my fall!

Beds on the beach

Beds on the beach

The water was chilly, but felt great after sitting in the hot sun. We spent a lot of time jumping off the diving platform, and watched a group of three pelicans swimming nearby. They would periodically take flight and clumsily dive back into the water for fish. I didn’t want to get too close, because I didn’t want to be swimming with fish! My time on the beach was full of laughter, and I was also able to get a delicious sandwich and mojito from a waitress walking through the chairs. Everything was so convenient, and everyone working around the beach was very friendly. Considering how picturesque the beach was and how many amenities it offered, I was surprised it wasn’t more crowded!

Trees, lights, chairs... Heaven

Trees, lights, chairs… Heaven

By the end of the day, I was full, happy, and sun-kissed. It was the perfect day to end my time on the Adventure of the Seas.

I made it through!

I made it through!