New Years Eve in Miami and a 10-day Caribbean Cruise

Reply Thu 21 Dec, 2006 12:38 am
Another trip coming up at the end of this month that'll include a New Year's Eve celebration in Miami, then a cruise from Miami to Virgin Gorda to Gustavia to St John's to Tortola to Samana to Grand Turk, then back to Miami. Will post a travelogue with some pictures for those interested when I return.
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Reply Thu 21 Dec, 2006 11:02 am
Have a good time, C.I.
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Reply Thu 21 Dec, 2006 11:30 am
Sounds mah-va-lous, dahling! Have a great time, CI. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Mrs CI.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 12:05 pm
I finally found a internet cafe in St Barts with some time on my hands. This is second port of call, and our first was Virgin Gorda. This place is for the "rich and famous," where lunch with wine can cost $50. Have met some interesting people on this cruise thus far, and with five more days, I'm sure we'll be meeting more. I just hope my pictures come out, because this part of the world is just beautiful. Talk to you later when I get home.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 13 Jan, 2007 08:15 pm
3-Days in Coral Gables and a 10-Day Caribbean Cruise
December 30, 2006 to January 12, 2007

CORAL GABLES is a wonderful, small, elegant community south of Miami. We stayed at the Hyatt close to the main shopping and restaurant district for three nights. It's considered one of the "high rent" districts of Miami, and the per capita income is one of the highest in the county.

Traveling from the west coast to Miami takes up most of one day, and our arrival in Miami after 4PM didn't leave much time except to look for a restaurant for dinner after checking into our hotel. We ate at Houston's, a rather large establishment where one can watch the chefs cook or create your meal. The cook working the grill had everything from steaks, bbq ribs to chicken cooking at the same time. They even have sushi at this restaurant which seems a favorite for many. My roommate, Bill, and I both had the prime rib (1st time) French dip sandwich with fries and a plate of sushi with beer.

Houston's Restaurant, Coral Gables.

Metrorail station:

The following morning, Bill learned he didn't pack enough heart medication, so he had to call his son in California to have his doctor send the prescription to the local Walgreens to have it filled. Since he was busy with that for the rest of the morning, I walked from our hotel to downtown Miami, about a ten mile walk. I had lunch at a Sub restaurant, then took the Metrorail train back to Coral Gables with a transfer to the #42 bus back to the hotel area. By the time I walked back to the hotel, I had blisters on my feet. OUCH~! That evening, Bill and I had dinner at a all-you-can eat sushi restaurant for $17 pp. It was not only good food, but a bargain in Coral Gables.

The following day, Bill and I took the public transportation to downtown Miami, then transferred to the Metromover, an automated, free car on elevated roads that has two different routes around downtown Miami. We then took "S" bus from the main terminal to South Beach to stroll around the beach and Art Deco district where one feels we have traveled to the 1930's era. They had blocked off the street from 14th Street to 5th Street to make it a pedestrian mall. The place was crowded with people from all over the world. Bill and I stopped at a new (just opened the week before) frozen fresh fruit concession, and I ordered the banana-flavored one. It was refreshing on this hot day.

South Beach.

At 3:30PM, we met others in our wine group at the daiquiri bar in Bayside to go on a sail boat for a 2-hour cruise in the bay. I met George and Sylvia from New York at the daiquiri bar, the couple I met on a Bali trip two years ago. They were on standby for the cruise, but heard about this bay cruise from the travel company owner, and they also have family in Miami where they have been visiting for about one week. The Caribbean cruise was fully booked, but they showed up at the dock before sailing time, and to their good luck, somebody canceled, and they were able to cruise with us to the Caribbean. It was a fun bay cruise to be able to see the Miami skyline from the water. They're building so many condos in Miami, it's a wonder for me, at least, why people would even consider living in hurricane country. (This from somebody that lives in earthquake country.)

Sherri at the helm.

Miami skyline.

We transferred to our ship, the Regatta (of Oceania Cruises), the following day by bus at 12:15PM. It's a smaller ship with 640 passengers and about 400 staff from 47 countries.

The Regatta @ Virgin Gorda.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 12:18 pm
THE CRUISE ship left the Miami port three hours late at 9PM, because there was a flight delay with about 60 passengers from San Francisco. At 7PM, the winery and travel company had a reception for the wine group (about 135) where we were treated to some snacks and drinks, and to collect our 8 bottles of free wines from several different countries that included two bottles of Cava from Spain. We sailed for two days before visiting our first port at Virgin Gorda.

Some information on Oceania Cruises. Oceania is a relative newcomer to the cruising industry. It was started several years ago by one of the honchos that left Crystal Cruises (rated number 1). Oceania bought their first two ships from Radisson, and refurbished both of them as twins with dark oak. The main attraction apart from its small size is the quality of the food crafted under Master Chef Jacques Pepin. Not only is the food first rate, but generous to a fault; even when asking for smaller portions. Their serving of caviar is generous, and the Angus steaks and lobster tender and tasty. Their service first class, with most smiling and available for small talk even when they seem relatively busy. The grand dining room with its dramatic, domed, frescoed ceiling, and plush seating with tux clad wait staff adds class to the whole affair, even though most dine in resort-style casual clothes. Bill and I usually brought a bottle of wine to share it with four or six others at a table that added to the enjoyment of the meals. I appreciate the open seating policy of Oceania, because it provides the opportunity to meet others. This cruise had many from the US and Canada.

Osso, I had the osso bucco in the Toscana restaurant one evening for dinner. It was just delicious!

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is composed of 36 islands located about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico.

VIRGIN GORDA BVI was our first port of call on January 5th. The main attraction at Virgin Gorda is the monumental rock formations in the Baths area where we visited for just enough time to walk down to the beach, and literally crawl between the rocks deeper into even smaller spaces between the rocks and some caves. When it came to the area where I had to crawl on my hands and knees, I stopped going any further. One interesting sighting here was a topless, middle-aged woman on the beach, showing off her rather large breasts by putting her arms above her head frequently. He he he… After returning to Spanish Town, we walked the small shopping area to look at their jewelry, t-shirts, and local crafts.

The Baths.

Beach at the Baths.

Some beautiful water.

On the following day, our next port of call was ST BARTS, French West Indies, and is where the filthy rich displays their out-of-this-world-priced yachts. We saw one with a smaller yacht on a very large yacht with a helicopter on it. It struck me as "obscene" to be so rich. Somebody mentioned it might belong to Bill Gates. Roland, our driver-guide, gave us a Cook's tour of St Barts in his van for $15 pp, while the ship charged about six times more for a similar optional tour. Bill and I walked most of Gustavia where all the high fashion, high-priced stores can be found like Gucci, Rolex, and Georgio Armani, then headed back towards the dock where our tender provided service back to the ship. Bill returned to the ship for lunch, but I wanted to walk some more, so I walked on different streets until I spotted a young couple from our ship who also lives in California. I said "hello" to them, and they invited me to sit with them for lunch, so I ordered a shrimp salad, and they shared their white wine.

Restaurant where I had lunch at St Barts.

Harbor at St Barts.

A Regatta tender.

St Bart's airport.

ST JOHNS, ANTIGUA, (pronounced an-tee-ga) is the eastern-most island we visited, and is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide (about 108 square miles), with its highest point at 1319' at Boggy Peak. St John's is home to 30,000 people - over 1/3 of the country's population. St John's is dominated by the towers of St John's Anglican Cathedral, and can be seen from any part of town. My wife and I visited here on our very first cruise to the Caribbean in 1988.

Ship at Antigua.

The Anglican Cathedral.

The band playing music on the deck.

NOTE: I need to edit the second group of pictures, and will post them by tomorrow. Sorry.
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 12:41 pm
Great photos, beautiful places..
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 04:14 pm
Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!

We have several inches of ice here and can barely get out of the driveway. Your photos really made my day! I've been close to those destinations, but haven't made them...YET.

One question. I am prone to seasickness, but I haven't had any trouble on the two large ships we've taken. I've always been a little afraid to book a cruise on a smaller ship. Was this a problem for you or anyone else on Oceania?
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 04:32 pm
Beautiful pictures, c.i. Always interesting to see your travelogues.


Eva: I haven't been following regional weather reports. We've had a lot of sleet here with snow, but no icy rain. Have you had a lot of damage down there?
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 05:04 pm
They're saying we got 1" of sleet, but don't believe it. There's 4" on my deck and front lawn...packed solid. Hubby and son got the car out of the driveway about an hour ago...said nobody's driving more than 25-30 mph even on the highways.

We missed most of the icy rain...it went just south of us. Our trees were spared, but there's lots of damage south and east of Tulsa.

I hate this damn stuff. I'm gonna go back and look at c.i.'s pictures again. (grumble, grumble)
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 07:36 pm
Las Galeras, Dominican Republic.

Same beach.

Mahogany sculptures.

Enjoying the sun.

Dock at Grand Turk.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 08:29 pm
Lounge chairs at the Grand Turk dock. This part of the island is landfill, but the beach and water is just as inviting here.

John Glenn's capsule.

Building at Cockburn Town.

One of the restaurant-bar where we sat outside to look at the water.

The prison.

The lighthouse.
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 08:41 pm
c.i. : great pix !
i particularly liked your car that you parked in front of the casablanca bar . if it's o.k. with you , i wouldn't mind taken a spin around the block in it - i'll try not to dent it !
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 08:44 pm
hbg, You're welcome to 'borrow' anything I own - except my wife. LOL
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 09:38 pm
Yikes, Eva!

C.I., Jacques Pepin, wow! THE Jacques Pepin? He had a cooking show on PBS, with his daughter, that I used to watch now and then. Enough for him to make an impression on me. Pretty cool.

(Does your wife know she's your property? ;-))
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 09:45 pm
Ooooh, I enjoyed that yellow building... so, soooo, very yellow!

I've been watching the architecture. Liked the roofs in St. John...
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 09:48 pm
I'm with osso, that yellow building is just gorgeous.
All your pictures are so nice, cicerone. I always enjoy seeing them.
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 10:00 pm

Eva wrote:
One question. I am prone to seasickness, but I haven't had any trouble on the two large ships we've taken. I've always been a little afraid to book a cruise on a smaller ship. Was this a problem for you or anyone else on Oceania?
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 10:00 pm
Sozobe, I don't "own" anything, but gentlemen usually leave their friend's spouse "off limits." Wink
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Reply Sun 14 Jan, 2007 10:01 pm
This is all reminding me of Julia Alvarez, an author I like who was raised in the Dominican Republic. Thinking... I'd like to read some more of her books.
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