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San Juan

We landed in Puerto Rico Saturday morning and headed to our hotel - Ciqala Luxury Suites. Alpha had managed to find this place which was pretty cool. It reminded me of the boutique hotels we stayed at in Barcelona and Rome. Very classy. But the best thing was it had three bedrooms. Plus at the top of the building was a terrace you could go and hang out on and they'd serve you breakfast in the morning.

Once we settled in we headed to Old San Juan to wander around. This was our 2nd time here and both times it was at night. Which sucked as the fort which while pretty lit up was always closed. After walking around for awhile we ended up at Senior Frogs for dinner. It was a fun place. Things were just starting to get rowdy when we left. We were all pretty bagged so decided to call it a night.

The next morning we headed to the ship. It was the usual shit show but because we had a suite got to go to the front of the line. We were literally the first people to get on.

St. Maarten

Our first stop didn't start well. The night before I woke up in the early morning with my guts in knots. It felt like someone had stuck a knife in there and was turning it. So I spent the next several hours in the bathroom.

We met everyone for coffee after we docked to discuss our plans for what to do on shore, but at that point I didn't want to be far from a bathroom. So Chris and I stayed on the ship. Alpha had given me some Immodium and that seemed to work well enough that a few hours later I felt good enough to go ashore.

Chris and I took a sea taxi across the bay to the shopping area and met up with everyone. We decided to go check out ? Beach. The cool thing about this place is that the airport runway is next to the beach and planes landing end up flying only a few feet above everyone's heads. And when planes depart everyone will line up to get blasted by the jet wake. There was a bar there and e spent the afternoon hanging out.

On the way there the main road was blocked by an accident and it was total gridlock. For that reason we had our Taxi guys bring us back well before the ship left. It was a good thing we did as it took forever to get back as the main road was still closed. So that sucked. We probably spent around 90 mins total  stuck in traffic. Our drivers - Sonny and Buddy - made it entertaining though swearing up a storm and cursing the stupid Dutch drivers (the island is split roughly in half with one side French and the other being Dutch). Not to mention getting to experience the white knuckle thrill of Carribean driving as our lives flashed in front of us several times.

It ended up being an ok day, but I was in a pretty crappy mood by the time we got back.

St. Lucia

This is the one stop Chris and I were most looking forward to. We were supposed to have gone there for vacation a couple years ago, but Chris' accident forced us to cancel. This was also the only excursion we had booked - an all day Catamaran tour. Unfortunately the ship was late arriving and when we got off were informed that our tour had left without us (we get our money back).

So at this point I'm fuming and we decided to go to Pigeon Island instead. Pigeon island is a national park full of ruins and beaches and even an English pub that has been there for xxx years. After paying to get in I ask the ticket lady where the pub was, only to be told it was closed. Are you frickin kidding me??? So we grab a beach and some loungers and I stayed behind with all our stuff while everyone else went to get something to eat. While they were gone I did some swimming and relaxing. After awhile though I was wondering if they were coming back and was getting pissed off that I was stuck behind while they were living it up. Finally I said screw it and left to explore the island. But Chris had the camera. So I went and found them, grabbed the camera, expressed my displeasure, and left.

It's funny how the worst days can end up becoming the best...

The island was beautiful and I was in my glory hiking up the peaks and taking pictures of the scenery and the various ruins. After exploring the entire island I returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day swimming (drinking) in the ocean with the gang. At one point we flagged down a boat selling fruit and while standing in the ocean feasted on mangos, bananas, and sugarcane. It was a pretty surreal experience. Sadly it couldn't last forever and we had to head back. We had fun joking with our cab driver and we got him to teach us how to swear in Creole.

St. Lucia is beautiful and we'll definitely be back.


We hadn't really planned anything for Grenada. Which was good as I was hurting a bit from the previous night. Damn you Rum punch! It was also a short day as the ship was only there until 2pm. So we wandered ashore at our leisure. Chris and Kim did some shopping, Alpha went off on his own, and the girls and I hiked up to the fort overlooking the harbor and took a bunch of pictures. It was stinking hot and a river of sweat was pouring off me so we came back and hit the pool and lounged in the shade watching the island shrink into the distance as we pulled away. All in all a nice relaxing day.


This was the only stop of the trip Alpha hadn't visited before so it was new for everyone. Bonaire is famous for its snorkeling and a number of people had suggested doing drift snorkeling. For this, you take a water taxi to a nearby island called Klein Bonaire, get off and dump your stuff in the beach, walk for 30 mins or so, get in the water and then drift back with the current to where you started. Alpha hadn't wanted to do this so he stayed behind on the ship.

It was pretty cool. On one side towards the beach is a massive wall of coral and on the other side is a huge drop off (past what you can see). I've seen coral before, but never so much at once. It was also interesting when you'd swim out over the drop off how much the temperature would drop. My only issue was that I had no escape route if I ran into trouble. I couldn't get to the beach because it was blocked by coral (until I got to the end where there was a gap in the wall) and unlike our Sting Ray snorkel in Grand Cayman there was no boat to swim to. So I had a couple panic moments. Still, I'm amazed that I spent about 45 mins snorkeling in the ocean proper (not just in waist deep water along some beach).


We had a lot of fun here. Alpha had been here many years ago and had come across a secluded beach called Baby Beach. So we rented som jeeps and headed out. Aruba is pretty neat. It's basically a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. But unlike the other places we visited it was more desert than tropical. There were cacti everywhere and little lizards running across the road. The beach was beautiful and the snorkeling was the best I've seen. There were fish everywhere! At one point I had dozens brushing past my arms and legs.

The other cool thing was except for a few spots the water was shallow enough that you could stand up. We spent most of the day here and then went exploring in the jeeps for a bit before heading back to the ship. All of us, despite slathering sunscreen on several times got burnt a little bit. Next to St. Lucia, Aruba was my favourite stop. When we were done we took the taxi back and hung out at a bar on the water's edge until just before we had to board.

San Juan

We were originally supposed to fly back the day we docked, but it got cancelled so we had to spend an extra day in San Juan. After getting off the ship, which was relatively painless, we went to the airport to get our hotel vouchers from Westjet. Except they didn't open for a couple hours....so we waited. No one ever did show up so Chris called them and we got the hotel arrangements made.  The hotel much like the other one we stayed at was pretty nice. Again, it had that boutique hotel feel. It was also located right on the (very busy) beach. After getting settled we went to get something to eat at a restaurant that served local dishes. Most of us tried the island favourite - Mofongo - which was mashed plantains. It was pretty good.

We then headed to Old San Juan and set up base at Senior Frogs. Chris and Kim hung out there while the girls went shopping. I headed up to the Fort. When I reached the plateau it was stunning. That area is essentially their version of Stanley Park. It was full of locals enjoying themselves and flying kites. There were literally hundreds of kites in the sky. I made my way to the fort and was in my glory exploring it and taking pictures. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at the hotel and had to use Chris' crappy camera instead. The views from up there were amazing. Easily the most beautiful scenery of the entire trip. Yet another place I want to visit again. We finished the night drinking yard tall drinks and having a ball.

Caribbean Princess

This was my second Princess cruise and it only reaffirmed my view that of the three cruise lines we've been on - Princess, Carnival, and NCL - that they have the best ship design. My favourite  place to hang out was the back of the ship which was terraced with two pools, a hot tub, and bar. All shaded from the scorching sun by the Skywalker nightclub above. I had no issues with the food, service, our Stateroom, or the entertainment. They also seem to have the most unique itineraries and this was no exception. We've now done the Western, Eastern, and Southern Caribbean. We bought some art (again) and I won around $500 at the Casino - although I'm sure Chris lost an equal amount :)

On our last night, Chris was already asleep and I looked out the balcony as the moon was shining and the ocean looked beautiful in the light. The back of the ship was also lit up and I saw this fluttering in the light. At first I thought it was a bat, but then I heard a 'thump' on the window right in front of me and looked down and saw that it was a pigeon. There was no land in sight, so who knows how far this thing flew obviously following the ship. I was worried he might have been injured so I kept getting up every few hours to check - but he just stayed perched on the balcony railing. Finally at about 4am I looked and he was gone. It was an odd experience.

And so ended our trip. It was easily the most beautiful of all our trips to that part of the world. Despite some issues and annoyances it was a great vacation, but I'm looking forward to being back home.


Pictures can be found here.