Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cruise photos available

Finally the photos have been geocoded, cut, cropped, altered, edited and, most importantly, published. All the photos are available at the photo pages of my website. I've also gone back and added photos in the previous postings on this blog where they should be... so please go back through the April archive and take a look.

I'm still planning to link the photos via Google Earth and whatnow, so you can view the locations, and click to see where the photos were taken... but that's a little further off. For now, I hope you'll enjoy the track we produced from our GPS during the trip.

I've been asked if we'll do another cruise. Well, I'm certainly not opposed. We visited lots and lots of places, and had many new experiences. However, we think that for the next trip (if and when that should happen) we'd try something different. Personally, I'm thinking backpacking through Abu Dhabi, whilst I think Tammy has resort/beach in mind. We're both kind of keen to visit parts of the UK also. Time will tell.

Note that while many of the photos are showing cloudy days, that's not the way I remember it... it was hot, it was sunny. We did have one day of rain in Princess Cays, Bahamas... but it passed quickly.

Enjoy the photos! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cruise Tracks - Google Earth

I've created a track of our cruise that I collected during using my GPS unit. If you have Google Earth, click on the link to see our path of travel. You can download Google Earth for free.

Antigua and Isla de Margarita especially show some detail of where we walked about... for the other ports, we just took readings at port or at sea, and connected the tracks between ports.

Using the same data I've geocoded our photos (provided latitude and longitude locations) so that they can be referenced on a map if need be. I'm still working on the photos (cropping, fixing, providing captions and whatnot) but I expect to make them available soon.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Home again

We're home. A short post tonight, because we're exhausted. Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta were crazy. 3 1/2 hours of traveling in a 17 hour bag. Crazy. Anyways, we're home safe and sound. I'm downloading 3 Gig's of photos for processing... coming soon! It looks like we've got some great pics, especially some of the underwater ones.

Friday, April 21, 2006

On the way home

We're packed. We've rounded the western end of Cuba early this morning, and are now going full steam to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We disembark (what an odd term... shouldn't it be debark? I guess that one was already taken) early in the morning, and wait an ungodly amount of time until our flight leaves in the late afternoon. Then we fly to Georgia for some reason, and finally, on to Ottawa. It's going to be a long day.

I wish we could've spent another day in Grand Caymen, and flown from there.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Grand Cayman and Northward

Passed Jamaica late last evening, we could see the lights. No matter that we're not visiting, I've already had the beer.

We arrived at the Caymans early this morning, specifically in Georgetown, on the island of Grand Cayman. We set out early to tender ashore, and to join our tour group. We proceeded around the island to see the sights, including the most expensive beachfront property, expensive hotels, many banks (lots of RBC's), and then Hell. Yes, it's Hell... that's the name. Postcards are coming from, if we managed to get the right postage... it's uncertain at this point.

Then, we moved on to visit a rum cake shop (we've already bought ours), and then to the turtle farm.

More turtles than you can imagine, layers deep in many many pools. The same kind we swam with in Barbados, but these are farmed, and most are destined for soup and burgers. Yes, you read right, burgers. Despite my failure to acquire iguana stew, we were successful today in obtaining some turtle burgers, conch salad, and conch fritters. Yum. Quite good. Conch is, according to the salad I had, a white meat, not unlike squid. It was kind of tough, and had a subtle taste. They spiced it up alot in the salad and fritters... so who knows, it might really taste like sweaty socks.

The turtle burger was excellent, tender and tasty... but in some ways I wish I'd sampled the more traditional turtle soup, because I'm still not quite sure what turtle meat tastes like. Anyways, it was really good, and all washed down with the very good local Stingray beer.

But, I'm ahead of myself. Between the turtle farm and the turtle burgers, the main event... Stingray sandbar. We were shuttled via boat out to a sandbar teaming with stingrays of all sizes. I'm telling you, the only way you're going to get stung by these gentle creatures is if you beat them with a stick... and then I'm not sure. They were exceptionally docile, soft, velvetly (particularly on the front and undersides). They swam gracefully, and were kind of curious... and I'm sure very used to being handled as there were about 500 people out there.

What an experience to hold one... but Tam and I were amazed at how gentle and graceful they were. When one tried to suction a non-existant fish off my arm, I admit I was a little startled... but he was just looking for lunch. Fortunately, they don't have teeth.. so it could only gum me to death. Kindof an odd sensation to have one of them trying to vaccum your arm... but hey... we're out there for new experiences.

On the way home now. We should round the west of Cuba later tonight, and will be spending tomorrow at sea bound for Fort Lauderdale.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Aruba and Onward

Aruba is great. They keep getting better and hotter. Aruba is very afluent. Very very afluent as compared with the other islands visited thus far. Obviously dutch in origin, but, like holland, everyone it seems speaks english (among 3-5 other languages).

We had a great day. We hadn't booked a tour on this one, but as we were leaving the ship to visit the city a cheap tour was nearby, and as they were ending at the beach later, we decided to join the tour for the morning, spend an hour or so at the beach (all our still pasty Canadian bodies can take), and then visit a few shops before going back to the ship.

Aruba is a classic desert island. They have cactus forests like we have pine and birch. It was amazing. We visited a rock formation in the interior of the island which, despite being only about 10 meters high, affored a great view of the cruise ships, and the surrounding city. We went to visit the Atlantic (north east) coast and the mixture of volcanic rock, pounding ocean, and desert was amazing. The ocean pounds away natural bridges and interesting inlets in the hard and rugged rock. There were small salt flats formed on the rock where sea spray evaporates in the desert sun. It was amazingly rugged, and wonderful. We stopped for the required beer (Balishi), which, like all Carribean beers (except Barbados) is quite light and refreshing...

Then we visited the 'California' lighthouse, named for a shipwreck in the area, and followed on to Palm Beach. The water wasn't as clear as we've seen elsewhere (Virgin Gorda for example), due to all the people, boats and activity... but it was warm and refreshing. The sand white. The sun hot. I think I finally got a bit of sun that might show.

Then, we took a local bus into town, and did a bit of shopping. Then, just before departing, we stopped at a small seaside restraunt. I had grouper prepared Italian style. I wanted to try Iguana... but they didn't serve it. Apparently it's used in stews and soups... and is particularly good for men, if you know what I mean.

We're 120 nautical miles off Jamacia right now on our way to Grand Cayman. Tam and I are hoping to be able to see Jamacia as we pass closer this evening.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Grenada and Isla Margarita

Grenada was quite wonderful to visit. It, like many other of the islands, was quite poor, still recovering from the revolution, invasion and hurricanes. But it is quite the tropical paridise. We visited a spice plantation, an extinct volcano (with lake), and took quite a winding and vertical tour all around the island on some very narrow, but we're assured 2 way, streets. The tour was very informal, informative, and historical. Of all the islands, I feel we got a good view of what Grenada was about, given the time allotted. And, as usual, wow... it was hot. The traditional beer (Carib) was had. Better than Banks (Barbados), it was quite light, cold and refreshing.

It was the only island were we witnessed any violence (a bit of a domestic brawl on the street as we passed). I'm glad we took the tour and didn't just wander... but I think the city would have been safe. The people were so nicely dressed. We saw many leaving church (Easter Sunday) as we drove along. The information on the history, invasion, hurricanes, economy and spice production was wonderful. Thanks Andy, you were a good guide.

Today we arrived at Isla Margarita, and despite not having booked a tour, we just had to go ashore to be able to proclaim that we visited Venezuela and South America. A lovely port, and beautiful (the best so far) beach. We didn't go far, as the port is about 40 minutes from town by cab. It's the point furtherest south of our voyage, 10 degrees, 50 minutes north latitude. Not really that far from the equator.

Currently we're headed west towards Aruba, and expect to arrive early in the morning. My dutch is a bit rusty... I only know two words, ja (yes), and sandsculptingshow. I think only the first would be useful. Fortunately, our information tells us that english is widely spoken.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Barbados - Turtley Delight

The best by far so far. That's all I can say. Sunny, warm, friendly, not-too-pricey (though affluent as my father recently mentioned), and really really nice.

We spent our day snorkeling on the west coast (the beachy side, as opposed to the apparently more rugged east coast/atlantic side). We snorkeled a beach a bit up the coast, along with free bar and breakfast and lunch. We returned the same way, and stopped for about an hour to visit some local wildlife in their natural aquatic habitat. The hawksbill and leatherback turtles are endangered, I believe we saw the hawksbill variety. They were extremely large, gentle creatures. We got extremely close, such that at one point I thought one was planning a trip right through me. Fortunately, they're smart enough to know they're much better swimmers than I, and avoided a collision.

Absolutely fantastic. Tam really enjoyed the day. Yes, we bought the t-shirt.

We'll be back in Barbados, I've no doubt.

Stephen - Just slightly offshore of Barbados.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Today Tammy added a new country to her visited list, but I did not. Martinique is a department of France. We're docked in the cultural 'capital' of Fort-de-France. This morning we took a walking tour of the city, and visited several local landmarks, statues and parks. Some of the plantlife is poisionous, and I was sure to get close for some photos.

It's a beautiful day, sunny and warm, but with a few clouds. With all of the activities recently, we decided to take the walking tour, and to do a little souviener shopping in the downtown area after the tour ended. We didn't take the ferry across the bay to the beach... I was wiped. We're planning a big snorkeling expedition tomorrow in Barbados, and I didn't want to overdo it with the sun and walking today.

It's holy Friday (Good Friday), and here on the islands most everything is shutdown. There were a few little shops open, so we did manage to acquire a substantial booty despite it all. I finally got a hat that I like. The local beer was, of course, sampled. Bière de Lorraine was good, but Wadidili (Antigua) is still my favourite I think.

Martinique is a realitively rich and populated island. I guess that's what they get for being so directly attached to France. The cost of living, and hence tshirts, hats and towels, is quite high as compared to the other places we've been. It's beautiful though, friendly, safe... and today... quiet. I'm told it's much much busier usually. Most people are apparently on pilgrameges up the mountains to atone for their sins. I'm also told, by our very funny tour guide, that they've lots of sins to atone for.

Again, I wish I had a couple of more days. There seem to be wonderful beaches just out of reach. My snorkeling passion should be quenched on the morrow however.

Steve - Fort de France, Martinique.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Today, Dominica (Dom-in-ic-a). Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic.

Dominica is an island nation, and a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the last remaining ocean rainforests. We took a not-so-leasurely stroll up the coast towards the main city. It was kinda seedy, and we were well outside town (apparently the usual cruise dock is under repairs). We were accosted by taxi drivers all competing for our business... but we just wanted to walk. We never did make it to town, it was above 30 degrees, and as you'd expect from a rain forest, quite humid.

We took a tour in the afternoon to Trafalgar falls, in the interior of the island. These dual falls, Momma and Papa a rastafarian man named Christopher informed me, were quite beautiful. They'd have been more beautiful if we could have been under them.

I got to, again, try the local beer, Kubuli.. which is the indigenous name for the island. Quite good. Dominica has no poisionous creatures, our guide informed us after our 30 minute trek in the rainforest... but lots of land crabs, lizards, and snakes (including boa constrictors). Lovely.

We saw wild (or semi-wild) mangos, bananas... and several species that I reconize from the garden at home. Several lizards were spotted, but only one photographed.

There were an unfortunate number of sad looking doggies on the island that Tam wanted to adopt. I managed to convince her that the puppies were happy, and that customs would raise some serious questions about them on our return to Canada.

All in all, a hot, busy, beautiful, poor, sad, bustling place... but we saw quite a bit of the city (Rousseau), and the rainforest, and tried the local beer and guava juice.... about all you can do in 8 hours.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


After an uneventful overnight journey we found ourselves docking early this morning in Antigua. Antigua is quite a bit larger than Tortola both in population and in size. Rolling green hills framed with colorful small, and large houses were presented in a very warm day. The local beer, tried both on the beginning of the shopping, and after, was excellent. Wadadil (or something like that). It was good anyways.

We did some shopping. I saw one of the Star Wars artists (pictured working on Yoda in many of his displays). We bought a map of the carrebean poster there...

We looked at lots of expensive jewlery (which we did not purchase), and lots of cheap jewlery (which we did purchase). Then, a little stroll over to the "Big Banana" to have some food. Let me say this, the flying fish on a bun is excellent. Tam had a club sandwich, but did take a bite of mine. We got some Pizza to go also (it's apparently a local favourite).

Then, after dropping off our booty at the ship, we went out a little off the beaten track to get a photo of the 4 ships docked side-by-side. It took us a little out of the tourist area. Needless to say, Tam was uncertain... but I really appreciated being offered some Ganga. I politely refused... but hey, it's nice to be asked.

Thus far, Antigua tops my list. I only wish I had 2 more days. One to visit the fort on the other side of the Island (Nelson's fort), and another to snorkel (I've really developed a taste for the snorkeling).

Now, onwards to Dominica (otherwise known as the rainforest island).


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Princess Cays and on to Tortola

Well, we arrived the day before yesterday at Princess Cays, basically a beach in Eluthera that Princess leases from the Bahamas. Tried out the snorkeling there... it's very hard to learn to breathe underwater when you've been trained for 30 years not to.

That went well... the underwater camera housing is working wonderfully... got some wicked shots of fish. Well, wicked for an amateur.

Then onward for a day at sea as we crossed to our current port, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. What a mix this place is. African origin people, with very clear english, american dollar as currency, and they do drive on the left.... but with left hand drive cars (same as ours). Odd, and wonderfull.

After the big rain at Princess Cays, Tortola has shown us what Carribean sunshine is all about. We took a quick commute on a small ferry to the Virgin Goda, a beautiful white sandy beach, with grottos, caves, and wonderful volcanic (granite as I read them) rock formations. Also did some snorkeling for a couple of hours, and got in a nice hike and some souvenier shopping. The rum punch was excellent (though I think they watered down the rum).

After that we took a short shopping/sightseeing walk from the shop directly into Road Town. Picked up the usual T-shirts... but Tam bought me a special present... mango/papaya chutney (yum).

Well, that' s all for now. This intraweb thing is expensive. Too bad I can't get photos uploaded... still working on it.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Arrival in US and Embarkation

Spent a very busy (and exceptionally early) day yesterday getting to the airport, flying to Montreal for breakfast; followed by a rather speedy (seeming) flight to Fort Lauderdale, FL. A 30 minute baggage wait preceeded a 10 minute ride to Port Everglades. At the port we were quickly processed, and boarded the ship.

After a quick room inspection, a buffet lunch was quickly found, and the exploration began. Although we started the day at about 3:45AM, it didn't end until we'd explored decks 5-14... and were nearly falling asleep at a movie showing. The "Interpreter" looked like a good movie. I'll have to rent it to find out what the end was.

Leaving Ft. Lauderdale was beautiful. We set sail with a beautiful sunset that hopefully I've captured on film... I'd post a photo, but I don't think I can upload photos from here.... working on a PDA/Wireless hack for that... we'll see when I get a chance.

A goodly 8 hours of sleep later, and I feel human. We've arrived at Princess Cays, and are setup to be tendered (think little boat) to shore for some snorkeling and BBQ. Kinda cloudy, hopefully we'll get some sun later. Not too much... as I think we already got our exposure of RAD's yesterday in the afternoon. Don't wanna burn!

BTW.... it looks like there's some problem in getting my work mail from here (some complaint about scripting required, etc, etc....) So you might want to write Tam at her hotmail address if you'd like to contact us:

Update: Added some photos to this posting. The rest are currently in the processing stage, and I'm getting them GeoCoded with my GPS data, adding captions and whatnot... available soon I promise.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ready for Crusing

Dates and destinations for our cruise:

April 8 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Depart - 7:00 PM
April 9 Princess Cays, Bahamas 10:00 AM 4:00 PM
April 10 At Sea
April 11 Tortola, British Virgin Islands 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
April 12 Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
April 13 Dominica 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
April 14 Martinique 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
April 15 Barbados 7:00 AM 11:00 PM
April 16 Grenada 9:00 AM 6:00 PM
April 17 Isla Margarita 7:00 AM 1:00 PM
April 18 Aruba 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
April 19 At Sea
April 20 Grand Cayman, Islands 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
April 21 At Sea
April 22 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival - 7:00 AM

If you have Google Earth, you can see our destinations and follow along.

I'll try and blog as we go, but it will all depend on internet availability and the schedule.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

No Weekends left in Canada

Well its Sunday, I'm up early with my baby boy who likes to wake me for what ever reason, I’m listing to a bad day, not having one.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Leave for Trip, have fun, relax, explore new places, swim, snorkel, see sting rays, see sea turtles the size of me, sail. For anyone that may be trying to contact us during those days. the best way it via email, Steve’s work address would be the most reliable. Or you could choose the $11.95 a min method and call. Yes i said
Minute. This is thephone # 1- 1-900-565-280
0. We are on the Sea Princess. Going down on Air Canada via Montreal coming back on Delta via Atlanta arriving approx 10pm.

Nova is going to stay at Dog gone Country he was already out for a visit and we believe he wil
l be having a ball to, a house full of dogs, party 24-7 while Mom and Dad are gone. He goes Friday night and we will miss him. Shirley has promised to rescue him in case of Emergency. Sharon has volunteered Bruce. I think i also made mom promise something too.......well it is her grand child! I promise not to worry. BUT HE IS MY BABY! Please just don't do something like this to him!

You must visit this web site

well there was much more I wanted to say maybe I will come back later today.