We are just back from a cruise to the southern Caribbean. It was refreshing to be in the sun and wind. We nearly touched South America and traveled the farthest south ever: 10 degrees from the equator. Our trip went from Port Canaveral in Florida to the Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire. We made our last stop on the British Territory of Grand Turk. This was an eight day itinerary of wind swept desert islands and very different from the humid, tropical islands of western Caribbean we sailed last year.
This was by far the most relaxing of our cruise vacations for me. By now, we have cruising figured out. There are a lot of aspects to cruising that we don’t enjoy or participate in (the onboard activities and shows, for example.) We have learned to tune our experience to match our interests. We spend a lot of time in our cabin so we got a balcony in the spa area of the ship. It’s much more quiet than other parts of the ship and had direct access to the serenity deck, the adults only area of the ship. We also had access to the scaled down spa. Though, it’s just a series of sauna’s of varying temperatures and experiences. We really missed the thelasso pool from the Dream. We only used the spa once on this trip.
We had basic WiFi during the cruise this time. I was able to communicate with our oldest son at home, our youngest son who was on the trip with us, and check Instagram and Pinterest in our down time. If you are interested, we used #3andthedeepbluesea to document our adventure on Instagram.
Before the trip I prepped some pages in a travel journal to document the journey. Every night I would sit and write out that we did and note highlights from the day. It was relaxing to sit and reflect on our experiences. I will print and add a few photos. I will print photos for a scaled back version of pocket scrapbooking later. That’s a different post though.
We took far less photos than any other trip to date. Many of the photos we did take we’re with our phones. This approach allowed us to just go with the flow more than in the past. Now that Husband is taking more photos, I leave my camera behind. I also end up in more photos now. I’m exceedingly happy with this process.
The sea is rough in this part of the Caribbean. The water is different in the Atlantic vs the Caribbean Sea. The movement of the water is different in the ocean. The water is much deeper and this causes undulating waves on the surface. You can tell where you are just by looking out at the water.
We didn’t care for Aruba. It’s heavily populated and has a worn hard feel to it. No thank you.
Bonaire feels like a small town and we loved it. The people were friendly, we felt safe, and the island has a vibe that’s very inviting. I would love to come back and stay awhile.
Our snorkel guide in Bonaire was a retied biologist: http://reneesnorkeltrips.infobonaire.com/ There were five of us in our group and we were able to see more fish because we weren’t scaring them off.
Grand Turk was devastated by a hurricane a few years back and it hasn’t been rebuilt. Our snorkel trip was cancelled due to high winds and large waves. Evidently, this is common. There really isn’t much to do on the island so we walked around and took pictures.
There were lots of monarch butterflies on all three islands we visited. Many of these are different than the species we see in the US. They looked different to me with a lighter orange color. Their flight behavior was different in that they weren’t as spastic as many North American monarchs. (I call it the Kermit the Frog flight behavior. Watch a monarch and you will see what I mean.) http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/monarch.htm
We were taking photos of birds feeding on flying fish from deck 3 when a pod of whales appeared. They are different than the northern hemisphere humpbacks: http://turksandcaicoswhalewatching.com/
The ship we sailed on was the Carnival Sunshine and we liked it very much. The decor felt more like a contemporary hotel and not the garish Vegas-style most ships have. Public spaces were divided up giving it a more intimate feel. This also reduces noise. The ship is the perfect size. We didn’t have to wait in lines or get tired walking from one end to the other. It’s a comfortable size for us.
We spent a lot of time on the underused deck 3, which is more of a traditional promenade deck. There were a few loungers and benches but it was never full or crowded. It’s also at a level that allows you to see more sea life. We spent a lot of time there.
When it comes to cruising, you have to take what you like and leave the rest. We had fun, but on our own terms. We watched part of a show. I’m karaoke intolerant, so we didn’t last long. We played bingo and it was a blast. We used the hot tub on the serenity deck. We swam in the serenity pool just to say we did it. We snuggled in a cabana and watch a movie on the big screen. We took night shots of Aruba and the sky. We drank wine on our balcony. We drank coffee on our balcony. We ate in the dining room about half of the time based on what was being served. We didn’t dress up. We didn’t buy stuff. We didn’t eat or drink too much. We relaxed and watched the water and the birds and the whales and the fish. It was delightful.