Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cruise 2014

We did it. Cruise 2014 was in the book.
We started our vacation with a 22 hour drive from home to Cape Cavaneral FL. The weather was perfect and the traffic was even better for the long drive. We got as fast as Harrisburg Pennsylvania the first night. It was uneventful there as we got some sleep and looked forward to tackle another day of driving. Day 2, we left Harrisburg the next day heading south in search of the palm trees! We crossed Maryland, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and finally Florida! We decided to go as far as we could to be closer to the port so we ended up in Titusville around midnight thanks to the road construction stopage before Jacksonville. We were pretty happy and excited with our progress on the drive so far and couldn't wait to board the ship. Day 3, we knew we only had 30 minute drive to port so we took our time to enjoy the Florida climate. It was hot and muggy even in the morning. We got to the port around 11am. And there she was, the giant cruise ship Carnival Liberty was at port waiting for us to arrive. The check in was quite easy and fast. Finally we set foot on board! It was an awesome feeling knowing that we made it to our destination. We quickly left reality behind us for a week of indulgence and relaxation. Let's the fun begin.....

As cruise veterants like we are we knew what to expect once on board ..... Right to the buffet! As expected the food was abundant and yummy. We filled our stomachs with lunch before setting out to find our room and explore the ship. It turned out the Liberty appeared to be similar to the Freedom that we took last spring. That made it easy for the kids to navigate and start enjoying their time on deck. Malcolm knew exactly where the ice cream stations were and that was his meal plan for the week. We also found Guy's burger joint and the buritto bar right in the center of the pool action area. The ship was ready to entertain 3600 guests for 8 days.

This was our first time at Port Canaveral. We saw Disney's Fantasy, and Carnival Sunshine also made this port their home port. All ships were scheduled to depart at 4pm on Saturday and our ship was the
2nd to leave port right after the Sunshine. As usual the safety drill was conducted as we heading out to sea. Let's the fun begin.

We sailed for one whole day to get to the first port of call Grand Turk. We arrived in GT at 7am. It was beautiful. The first thing we noticed was how clear and blue the water was. We couldn't wait to jump in! Finally we got off the ship and started venturing off. First stop was Margaritaville right off the pier. It was surrounded by white soft sandy beaches on both sides. We were pretty with the setup there and decided to stick around this area and soak in the sun and sand. The ocean water was warm and refreshing. Malcolm and I went snorkeling and enjoying the swim. Carol and Emily went off to look/shop at the local vendors. They eventually took turn to swim as Malcolm and I went exploring the ground. It was a long beach and we walked to the end of it. It was cool! We got enough sun and sand for the first day and headed back to the ship for lunch as the ship beginning to set sail agin at
2pm. Tomorrow is San Juan Puerto Rica.

We arrived in San Juan at noon. We got in a taxi to tour the island. Elliott the driver was super friendly as he took us around San Juan and explained to us the history of the land. He stopped by a few sites and allowed us time to get off the bus to view the sites. He even showed us how to find and crack almonds. Malcolm enjoyed this discovery the most. We visited the old fort and we decided to walk back to the ship from there. We could see the ship from top of the fort. We took our time walking though the shopping area heading to the ship. We stopped by this restaurant/bar across from the port for a quick bite of the local food. We ordered chicken mofongo (traditional PR dish with mashed fried plaintain) and it was tasty and yummy. I also tried their local beers Presidente, and Medalla. They were good but lighter than Canadian beers. We headed back to the ship and ready to indulge some more of the food on board. St Thomas was our next port tomorrow.

After the first couple of days on the ship I discovered that the ship does not want the passengers to know: the time and their weight. They want the passengers to forget what time it is while on vacation. And since the food is plentiful on board they don't want people to feel guilty while they enjoying
themselves. Good philosophy!

We arrived in St Thomas at 8am. Here we decided to make it a beach day again as we didn't get enough of the beautiful clear and blue waters of the Caribbean. We took a taxi right to the Megan's Bay Beach. It was a piece of paradise. Clean white sandy beach in a cove so the water was calm and warm. There must have been a few thousand cruise passengers from 3 ships at this beach. We swam and snorkeled for a while then Mal and I decided to walk to the end of the beach and we did. It was cool to explore the land. We spent the day here before heading back to the ship. The ride to and from the ship was interesting and nerve wracking as the roads in St Thomas are small and crowded with taxis plus they drive on the left side of the road. Yikes! We got thru that no problem. We got thru that no problem and even went to a local K Mart to shop for a few personal items. It was the funniest thing to see there were more than a dozen crew staff from the different ships at the front of the store trying to use their free wi-fi connection. Apparently this is the common way for the crew members to get in touch with their families. And that was St Thomas. Tomorrow is St Maarten.

We were looking forward to see St Maarten as we had heard and seen a few things about this little island. We arrived here at 8am and it didn't take us as long to get going once we docked. We took a taxi straight to the famous Maho Beach. This is where we experienced first hand how close we can get to see the jumbo jets land and take off. It was incredible how close we were to the jets at full blast. We got to see the Air France 747 landing but we didn't get to see it take off. It might have been a good idea to miss it at this close range. I did try to hang on to the fence during the 737 jet take off. It was crazy! Literally crazy to be standing behind a jet taking off. What a blast!

As we went this far on the trip the ship will take 2 days to get back to Port Canaveral. We were happy to take a easy coming back.

That ended our 1st week of our vacation. Stay tuned for the 2nd half.


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