Heading south for the winter…


Well, at least part of the winter.  We’ll leave the snow and cold behind for three weeks and check out an area I’ve always dreamed about, the Caribbean.  This will be a combination of two cruises, both on Holland America (HAL).  The first makes a 7 day circle around the western Caribbean sea.  We leave from Tampa, Florida, and then, visit Key West, Florida; Mahogany  Bay, Honduras; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; and Costa Maya in Quintana Roo, Mexico before returning to Tampa.

The second 14 day excursion leaves again from Tampa.  Stops are Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; St. John’s Antigua; Castries and Soufriere, St. Lucia; Curacao, Antilles; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Georgetown, Cayman Islands before returning to Tampa for a flight home.  Here is the link…

http://www.hollandamerica.com/find-cruise-vacation/CruiseDetails.action?destCode=C&voyageCode=R261A

We are going to leave Spokane, WA a few days early.  Having worked over six years for an airline, I’m well aware of the havoc that bad weather can cause to a vacation.  We’ll leave on November 30th and spend an extra day in Tampa and put a “delay” day in the bank.  And there is a lot to do in Tampa and I’d like to check out Busch Gardens.  I haven’t been on a giant roller coaster for years.  I wonder if Praxy would give it a go…Hah!  Also, we could catch the Ryndam…

12/08/2008 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

…in Key West on the 3rd if the weather got really ugly up north.

I’m not worried about the return day.  If we get delayed a day or two on the way home, I can live with it.  That’s what credit cards are for.  And motels.

We have very fond memories of our honeymoon cruise through the Panama canal and that is what prompted this cruise.  Relaxation.

I used to be an adventure type vacationer, but father time is working on both my and Praxy’s energy levels.  We will still do some adventure travel in the future, and maybe an adventure type day or two on this cruise.  But I refuse to do two months of it.  If we return to the Philippines, or visit friends in Thailand or something like that…I want to stay in one place for at least a week before moving on.  The relative circle will be much smaller on the next trip to the Philippines.

I’ve booked an outside view room for this cruise.  Last time we received a very nice upgrade from HAL, might have had something to do with our honeymoon.  Our cabin (372) on the Statendam (almost identical to the Ryndam) was on the Lower Promenade deck with the walking deck outside.  We could see out, but other people couldn’t see in.  I’m hoping, but the porthole view from near the front of the ship doesn’t look bad.  We may be able to see slightly to the front.  A full window view upgrade would be great.  I wouldn’t miss the people walking by all day.  Perhaps the early purchase and return customer thing will help out.

Organizing our shore tours has been quite a challenge.  The tours offered by HAL are expensive and don’t seem to cover what I want to do, at least for the most part.  Also, I don’t like all the crowds.

Key West, for instance, looks to be very pleasant for a walking tour, as does San Jaun Puerto Rico and Curacao.  Others are going to require some sort of organized tour.  I’m really really thinking we should take a HAL tour on St. Lucia to make sure that we get back on board after crossing the island.  The ship will move late in the afternoon.   The island that Mahogany Bay, Honduras rests on is quite long, over 20 miles.  Lots to see.  Looking at a third party tour there as it seems we would get more tour for our money.  I was wondering about stopping in Honduras.  I know people that have had wild, unpleasant adventures there.  But I think the port that Carnival Corporation has developed is on a safe island to visit

I’m particularly looking forward to Guatemala as I totally enjoyed that country.  A local man has a very interesting looking tour that packs a lot of stops for the money.

Snorkeling looks good at Half Moon Cay.  There is a “stingray” tour called “Stingray City” on the Cayman Islands.  I’m pretty sure these “stingrays” don’t sting (I still miss Steve Irwin) and I want to see ’em.  Might have to break down and pay for a dolphin encounter somewhere.  Expensive, but what the heck.   Must harken back to when I watched the TV show “Flipper”.  I also want to visit a wildlife refuge and see what critters the Caribbean has to offer.

I’ll write up some of the tours I settle on when the time comes.

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
This entry was posted in 2012 Caribbean Cruise and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Heading south for the winter…

  1. mary says:

    Looks like a great vacation – I’m really looking forward to reading all about it. Are you thinking of doing one of those zipline canopy tour things? Or are those old hat to you by now? Bet there are a lot of them offered where you’re going. If you do it, let out a Tarzan yell for me (or a scream – whatever’s appropriate at the time)! And don’t forget to keep writing!

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