After a very exciting four-week trip across the USA, we set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a seven-night Caribbean cruise.
We left sunny Fort Lauderdale standing on the top deck of the cruiseliner, sipping a cocktail, watching the coastline disappear from view … life doesn’t get much better than this.
An amazing seven days on board this magnificent ship felt like we were on a floating fairyland. The entertainment and shows were first class. We were treated like royalty in the dining rooms – it was always a difficult decision to select a meal as everything was so delicious.
There were so many wonderful things to see and do. The boardwalk had a carousel, an ice-cream parlour and hot dog stand. It felt like being in a scene from Happy Days.
There was also a mouth-watering variety of restaurants and cafés, from casual to formal – excellent food in all.
For the sporty people there’s rock climbing, golf and shuffle board. The flow rider offers boogie boarding and stand-up surfing. But, if you’re not sporty (like me) you can lounge around the pool enjoying the magnificent weather sipping on a cocktail … you don’t even need a credit card, just swipe your sea pass card and worry about the bill later! Central Park, located on deck 8, was a favourite of mine; an outdoor area with live trees, flowers and plants. It really felt like a walk in the park, where you could sit and relax on the park benches, yes, sipping on a cocktail. At night you could see the stars in all their glory.
Labadee, Haiti on the northern coast was our first port of call. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, it was originally named La Isle Espanole. It was later renamed after Marquis de La Badie, a Frenchman who settled here in the 17th century. The spelling was changed to Labadee to make it easier for the English speakers to pronounce.
It is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean International until 2050. Royal Caribbean International has contributed the largest portion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986, employing 300 locals, and allowing another 200 to sell their wares on the premises for a fee, paying the Haitian government US$6 per tourist. The resort is completely tourist-oriented.
Beautiful white sandy beaches surround the island. With a water playground, ideal for water sports, a roller coaster ride, zip-line and flea markets, Labadee really is a slice of paradise.
Michael was brave enough to go on the zip-line … I was happy just to watch.
Our next stop was Falmouth, Jamaica, the Caribbean’s Georgian-style gem. Many of the great houses that line the streets are still perfectly intact today, in their original condition.
In 1494 Christopher Columbus first landed in Discovery Bay, a town in Saint Ann Parish on the Northern coast of Jamaica. One of the historic sites we visited was Columbus Park, which still has relics and farming equipment.
Fun fact: a lot of James Bond movie scenes were filmed in Jamaica!
The north coast highway takes you up to Montego Bay, a high resort area. Hotel Casa Blanca was the first hotel built here.
The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica. Today the Blue Mountains coffee commands premium prices on world markets.
Leaving the port we noticed the poor condition of housing – many housed looked unfit to live in … there is certainly a large gap between the rich and the poor here.
Next we moved onto Cozumel. The Mayans are believed to have first settled in Cozumel by the early part of the first millennium AD. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the post classic period. As many as 10,000 Mayans lived on the island, then in 1520 crew members brought smallpox to the island infecting so many people that by 1570 only 186 men and 172 women were left alive. Cozumel was often attacked by pirates.
Scuba diving was one of Cozumel’s primary attractions due to the healthy coral reef and abundance of marine life. Unfortunately due to demand for cruise ships a dock was built in 1990, causing damage to the reefs.
The visit to the tequila factory was interesting, we especially enjoyed the tequila tasting. The only working factory is in Guadalajara. There are 162 types of tequila, which fall under five main categories:
Pineapple, which takes 7-10 years to grow.
Mescal, which is the crudest form.
Blanco, the first stage.
Reposado, which is aged for 6 months.
Anejo, which is the best, and is aged for 13 months.
Mescal has a worm in the bottle and is actually made from a tequila plant that has worms in it (I wasn’t game to try this one).
The east coastline is amazing; the water is a beautiful emerald green-blue colour, which absolutely looked magical.
What a great way to finish our Caribbean cruise!
Nada & Michael
Wyndham Timeshare Owners since 2003
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