Lynn and I returned a week ago from a Caribbean cruise on the Holland America MS Oosterdam where we met up with her brother Art and his wife Michele. Since we’ve been back we’ve had Mike, Sara, Calvin, and Avon in town for the holidays (and MaryKate – yay family!!!). Anyway, I don’t have a lot of spare time for writing this week, so I think you’ll just have to make do with some photos and captions from our cruise. I hope you enjoy them!
Inviting! – This scene is from the beach on Half Moon Cay (Holland America’s private island). Lynn and I both enjoyed the sun, some swimming and conversations with Art and Michelle.
Make it a double. – There were other things to do on the island too!
Clouds over Cuba – We haven’t ever been to Cuba and this is as close as we got on this cruise. This photo is from six miles east of the Punta Maisi Lighthouse. I wish it had been clearer and closer!
Clouds in the valley – I spotted this low cloud bank as we arrived in Montego Bay Jamaica and rushed to make several images.
Masked Booby in flight – Different people on (and off) the ship saw a variety of wildlife. I enjoyed photographing the Masked and Brown Boobies that followed us for a while.
Approaching the Cayman Islands – We were scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman, but the seas were too rough for the tenders to operate. The captain ended up skipping that port call and moving on early to the next one.
Cozumel at night. – I had hoped to get many more images in Cozumel, but the photography tour we’d signed up for was canceled (due to lack of interest!). I like this photo of the city after dark.
Mike, Sara, and Mary joined Lynn and I for Christmas this year. When we’re together we often visit a theme park, but since we liked our last cruise so much, we decided to take a holiday cruise instead. We booked on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas and departed from Port Canaveral for Nassau and Coco Cay on Friday, Dec. 21st.
Port Canaveral is about an hour east of Orlando on the 528 Beachline. We found parking right at the pier and the embarkation wasn’t too bad, although there was a line getting through security.
Overall the Monarch of the Seas was very enjoyable. The food was good (the Strawberry Pavlova dessert was a BIG hit!), and so was the service. Our staterooms were in different parts of the ship this time, which made coordination a little more difficult – but we worked it out. Once nice thing about sailing at this time of year is that the ship was fully decked out for the holidays – Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and other seasonal touches.
Ship’s decorations in the main atrium
We departed Port Canaveral late in the afternoon. The weather was nice for the whole cruise and although Friday’s sunset wasn’t that great Saturday’s sunrise made up for it:
Pre-dawn clouds in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida
We arrived in Nassau Saturday afternoon and spent time shopping. Then Mike and Sara found us a great place to sample the local food (the Bahamian Cookin’ Restaurant) where we enjoyed their Conch Fritters. After that, we all boarded a catamaran for a sunset tour of the harbor. The low light combined with a moving boat made for a challenging photo-op, but I did get a few nice images. One of the highlights was seeing Oprah Winfrey’s pair of side by side mansions (with a huge matching yacht). I guess she uses the second mansion for guests – quite impressive.
Nassau harbor at night from the sunset cruise catamaran. I thought the red and green running lights were an unexpected seasonal bonus!
From Nassau, we sailed to the Berry Islands where Royal Caribbean has exclusive use of Coco Cay (also known as Little Stirrup Cay). They’ve set the place up for cruise passengers to enjoy beach time, snorkeling, shopping at a straw market, parasailing, wave runners, an aqua park, kayaking, hammocks, and of course – food. We had kayak reservations for first thing in the morning. The wind was really blowing and even though we were a bit worried about it we went anyway. It was a workout, but worth it in the end. We paddled about a mile to a sand bar off of Big Stirrup Cay, where I made this photo:
A starfish in the ocean near a sand bar at Big Stirrup Cay. We haven’t been able to ID this one – our guide told us it isn’t common.
Later, back on Coco Cay we relaxed, shopped, and yes, ate too much. Mike and Sara also went snorkeling and saw fish, Sting Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays, and coral.
Sara and Mike enjoy the view from our Coco Cay cabana
It was a wonderful way to spend time with our family. Except for the wind, the weather was great and not at all typical of the season in most of the country. Poor Mike and Sara had to return home to winter storms and snow. I imagine it was a bit of a change!
You can click any of the photos above to see larger versions on Flickr and I’ve posted several more from our cruise in this set.
This is my last post of 2012. I’ll be back next year and I hope you will too. May you, your family, and your friends all have a happy and prosperous new year. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, get cruising and make some photos!