Skagway Train Ride

cruise ship in Alaska

Ruby Princess in Skagway

Ruby Princess docked at the Railway Dock on the opposite end of the harbor from where the Norwegian Sun was at the Ore Dock on my last visit to Skagway. In between those two docks sits the Broadway Dock. The Railway Dock holds two ships so 4 cruise ships can dock in Skagway at the same time. We were the only ship in town that day on the first cruise of the season in early May. All the docks are just a short walk from town. There’s a park and public boat launch between the ship and town from the Railway Dock.

If your ship leaves from Seattle a visit to the free Gold Rush Museum in Pioneer Square before you board makes a great start for an Alaska cruise. Skagway bound ships left from Seattle during the gold rush era. People stocked up their supplies there. The museum has a lot of  the history and some artifacts from that era and it all ties in with things in Skagway. When I went there they had a wheel of odds you could spin that showed what a very small percentage of people actually got rich from the Alaska gold rush, and of those an even smaller amount managed to hold on to their money. More people made money selling things to the miners than from mining and not many of the few who did strike it rich spent wisely and stayed rich to the end of their days. All the good claims went to locals before the first ship of gold hit Seattle so most of the gold rushers from other places were doomed before they started.

White Pass & Yukon Railway

the tail end of the train crossing over a bridge

The most popular excursion in Skagway is the White Pass Train, which would have saved the miners a lot of grief and many horses their lives had it been built before the gold rush started rather than because of it. They had to get to Canada to get to the gold, but weren’t allowed to cross the border without 2000 pounds of goods, which they had to take up the mountain to reach the border.

old steam engine

steam engines like this one one pulled the trains

Miners started out either from Skagway over White Pass or nearby Dyea over Chilkoot Pass. The two towns competed for gold rushers. Many crossed each pass until an avalanche killed 63 people near the summit of Chilkoot Pass. That and the completion of the railway in Skagway eventually left Dyea abandoned. The townsite now lies within the boundaries of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, but little remains of the town beyond some foundations, a few ruins, and 3 cemeteries, one of which holds mainly victims of the avalanche who all died the same day.

The gold rush ended shortly after the completion of the railway, but it was used to haul freight and passengers until1982 when the railway shut down. It reopened as a tourist attraction in 1989 and remains the most popular shore excursion in Skagway.

train ride in Skagway

inside the White Pass & Yukon Railway – with conductor

People can take a train one way and a bus the other and go farther up into Canada and actually get off the train, but the most popular excursion goes up the mountain just across the border and then back down. The train picks passengers who booked through the cruise line up right at their ships regardless of which dock they are on. One car on the train had a wheelchair lift making this excursion accessible to all. If there is more than one ship in town they each have separate trains. The railway also has a station in town where other tourists board a train that leaves from there. Cruise ship passengers can disembark either at the depot in town or back at their ship. Passenger cars are either restored originals or replicas, but the engines are diesel powered rather than the original steam engines.

derailed steam engine

old rusty engine lying on its side at the train yard

The train ride starts on level ground through the edge of town and past the train yard before heading up the mountain. When we took this journey about 7 years ago my grandson (who was 6 at the time) thought an old rusting derailed steam engine lying next to the tracks shortly out of town was the most interesting part of the whole trip. We saw an old rusting steam engine lying on its side at the train yard this time and did not find the one lying by the tracks. We speculated that it could be the same one and after all the time it spent lying next to the tracks after derailing someone finally removed it. It could have been considered an environmental hazard, or perhaps the nearby river has changed course and someone worried it might end up in the water. Or maybe they decided to rescue and restore it. Could be we just looked away at the wrong moment and missed the derailed train and the one in the yard came from somewhere else too.

The first sight on the train tour is the old graveyard where the town’s notorious character Soapy Smith and Frank H. Reid who both died in the same duel after shooting each other are buried. Someone looking for a good hike could walk to the cemetery on the trail adjacent to the tracks.

old train trestle near Skagway

The current track bypasses this old bridge. Once an engineering marvel, now a deteriorating wreck.

Other sites along the way include remnants of a toll road which predated the train and the black cross on a boulder that killed two railroad workers and their pack mules after a dynamite blast went awry during track building. The enormous chunk of rock unexpectedly flew through the air, landing on them and crushing them instantly. The bodies are still there, under a rock so big it would just blend in as part of the natural landscape were it not for the black cross on top.

tunnel through the mountain on the way to White Pass

the train enters a tunnel

The train passes through a couple tunnels and over several bridges, but not the old wooden trestle bridge which was once an engineering marvel. That immense bridge now sits deteriorating alongside the current track which bypasses the original, replaced by a tunnel and a much smaller bridge in a far narrower crossing nearby.

White Pass

there was still snow at the top of the mountain

At one area they explain why White Pass was often called the dead horse trail as it was once lined with the overworked and underfed horses who often fell 500 feet to their death there. These horses were worked to death by would-be miners who used them to pack the required supplies up the mountain, then sold them to the next guy when they got done. Over 3000 horses and mules died there. The bones of many still remain where they fell in Dead Horse Gulch.

Near the top of the mountain a portion of the actual trail used by gold rushers parallels the tracks for a stretch, marked by a lone small sign.

White Pass Canadian border

there’s nothing much at the Canadian border besides these flags

At the top the train stops and waits for any other ascending trains to arrive so all can descend the single track without running into any trains moving in the opposite direction. The engineer unhitches the engines and moves them to the opposite end of the train on a parallel track and the passengers flip the seat backs to the opposite side of the seats so the back becomes the front and they can face forward on the way down. Passengers are also asked to switch sides so those on the mountain side can see the valley views on the way back down.  (The left side of the train on the way up which becomes the right side on the way down has the best view in both directions.) The train cars that started out at the front end up at the back on the way back down.

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway shops near the cruise docks

In Town

Skagway is not a big town, but it has shops and restaurants, a playground or two, and  a few museums. A lot of work was going on to restore some old buildings and a park so it looks like more may come for the future.

For those who didn’t book anything on the ship and would like to do something besides wander about town There’s also a trail and several shops offering a variety of tours. I did not see any of the signs about town offering last minute tours we had seen there before, but we were also the first ship of the season.

Skagway Street Car Tour

Street Car Tour

Other Skagway Excursions

If you don’t want to ride the train, or have already done it, other things to do in Skagway include a city tour, trips up the mountain by road with different activities depending on which one you pick, salmon bake, gold panning, suspension bridge, sled dogs, native culture and bald eagles, jeep adventure, bicycling, hiking, kayak, helicopter, fishing and glassblowing.

Skagway train heads toward White Pass

White Pass & Yukon Railway in Skagway

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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Interview with John Heald – Quick Fire Questions

Bermuda

Carnival Vista in Bermuda

While on the Vista transatlantic cruise we had the opportunity to interview Carnival spokesperson John Heald, who was also on that cruise. John has been with Carnival for many years, initially as a bar tender and for quite some time as a cruise director before becoming the face of Carnival he is now.

yak photo

yak photo courtesy of DK findout!

On John Heald’s facebook page he often mentions yaks, so we asked him if he had ever met a yak. Watch the video for the answer.

John often has quick fire questions on his facebook page where he asks readers their opinons of things. We turned the tables on him for this interview and asked questions suggested by people we talked to on the ship.

Some of the questions involve Carnival’s loyalty program, and things given to passengers. All the major cruise lines have loyalty programs because once you cruise with any particular line they would you to come back. These do work because some people will only sail with one line so they can build their status up.

We sail for the experience and destination and usually look for the best deals we can find on whatever line we can find them on rather than for any perks we might get for sailing with a particular line. It is nice to get things like free laundry service though once you get to a high enough level on lines that offer that as a perk.

In the video John hints that changes may be in the works for Carnival’s loyalty program. He didn’t say what or when, but since it is due to the number of people at the higher levels overwhelming the program it is likely to mean cuts to the benefits. It boggles my mind that people are always clamoring for Carnival Corp to combine benefits on all their lines when adding so many new people at every level would mean the points required to receive anything good would be tremendously high. Most don’t look beyond thinking that they would get exactly what they do now on every single line without considering how adding that many new people at every level all at once would affect the program since Carnival Corp owns so many cruise lines. One of those watch what you wish for things.

we liked the bear - the hats not so much

croc hats and a towel bear

A gift is a gift. It doesn’t cost the person receiving it anything and if they don’t like it they can always return it or just not take it with them when they disembark. Unfortunately in our it’s-all-about-me society of entitled people some are bound to loudly complain and expect something else. When the gift was a croc hat that nobody liked, we didn’t want them either, but rather than making an issue of it we just asked our steward to return them. Mainly because we didn’t want to waste space in either the room our our suitcases on something we’d never use.

cruise ship trophy

ship-on-a-stick

We don’t cruise for the gifts and did not expect anything else in return for them, but the next time we came back to the cabin the hats were gone and we had ships on a stick in their place. (I had to borrow someone else’s hat for the video since ours were long gone by then.)

Carnival platinum gift

platinum gift – night light

On our last cruise the gift was a night light, which came in quite handy since we were cruising with kids. Loyalty programs are important to the cruise line because they are important to some of the passengers and if they can inspire loyalty among some guests they can insure themselves of returning cruisers, which makes up a good portion of their revenue.

John Heald of Carnival

Carnival Spokesperson, John Heald

More Interviews with John Heald

Rescue at Sea

Gratuities

Left Behind in Port

Best Places on Carnival Breeze

Life on a Cruise Ship and Funships 2.0

Carnival Breeze Things to Do and Best Kept Secrets

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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Cucina del Capitano

what do cove balconies look like from the outside

Carnival Breeze outside view of oceanview and cove balcony rooms

Sometimes on a cruise it’s nice to go somewhere different than the main dining room or the buffet for dinner occasionally. Passengers looking for something special can find what they seek at the ship’s premium restaurants. All the major cruise ships have premium restaurants of some sort. Carnival Breeze has several including their Italian restaurant, Cucina del Capitano.  Many cruise ship captains come from Italy which is why Italian food could come from the captain’s kitchen.

outside of menu

Fancy menu from Cucina del Capitano

As premium restaurants go, this one is not too pricey at just $15 per adult or $5 per child for dinner (and a free pasta bar at lunch.)

cruise ship decor

A little bit of Italy inside Cucina del Capitano

A stairway near the dessert bar at the back of the Lido buffet leads up to Cucina, where the décor changes from the Caribbean casual look found in most of the ship to old world Italy. It can also be accessed directly on deck 11 from the rear elevator.

cruise ship menu

Menu at Cucina del Capitano

The menu offers starters, mains and if that isn’t enough additional sides as well as dessert. Portions are larger than those found in the dining room with the appetizers about big enough for a meal.

meal starter

slices of toasted bread double as serving dishes

Bread served with roasted garlic and tomatoes starts the meal, followed by tasty starters.

appetizer

if you like squid you can order calamari

cruise ship premium restaurant

this soup and the bread could have made a meal, but it’s just a starter

This menu is just for dinner. At lunchtime they have a completely different menu for the free pasta bar. It’s a great choice for lunch. The food is good and it’s not usually very crowded so you can avoid the lines at other lunchtime venues.

cruise food

spaghetti carbonara

One of the main dishes is spaghetti carbonara, a recipe revived from Carnival’s very first ship, the Mardi Gras.  This spaghetti with a rich sauce and topped with bacon tastes better than the spaghetti carbonara they serve in the dining room.

tasty

dessert menu

Dessert offerings include tiramisu, cannoli, and a warm apple tart.

fancy dessert

Tiramisu

The tiramisu is different from that found in other restaurants on the ship and comes topped with chocolate in a big bowl.

cruise ship dessert

apple tart

The crust of the apple tart is cake-like rather than a pie crust pastry. Prepare to leave well stuffed even without finishing all of any of the tasty courses.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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Carnival Magic

Carnival cruise ship

Magic in Saint Thomas

Carnival Magic is aptly named, at least it seems so to me as this ship wormed its way into my favorites. Maybe it’s the happy vibe the brightly colored fun decor gives off, or perhaps the group of 9 we sailed with made the cruise extra fun. Whatever the reason the Magic cast her spell on us and we really liked the ship. Cruises are usually the main point of our vacations and time spent before or after in port areas is the side trip, but this cruise was different as the focus was in the reverse.

towel takeover

towels take over the Lido

The Magic currently cruises out of Port Canaveral, the closest port to Orlando, which is of course home to Disney World and other major theme parks. Our daughter and her family came to visit from Australia, the main purpose of their visit to participate in the Run Disney marathons at Disney World – so of course we were invited along to watch the kids while she and her husband ran. He went back to Australia shortly after the last run, but her and the kids stuck around long enough to take a cruise. Meanwhile one of my sisters, my American grandson, his mother, and his other grandmother joined us on the cruise.

bright and cheerful hallway art

hallway art in passenger cabin areas

Port Canaveral is a fair distance from the airport in Orlando at just over 45 miles. The best mode of transportation between the two depends on group size as well as whether or not people are going straight from airport to ship and back. For one or maybe even two people going directly between airport and ship the cruise ship shuttle may be the cheapest as well as the easiest means of transport. Shuttles charge by the person so they get a bit pricey if you have too many in your group. Taxis charge by time or distance and Ubers by distance and vehicle type. Uber usually costs less than taxis, but while taxi rates remain constant, Uber rates go up when demand is high so it never hurts to compare.

Carnival waterworks

water slides and splash park

For larger groups or people with plans to spend time in the Orlando or Cocoa Beach areas pre or post cruise, a rental car may be the way to go. Even when just going straight from the airport to the cruise ship a rental car may be the cheapest option. Rental cars can be returned to the appropriate company fairly close to the port. The rental car companies provide free shuttles to and from the port, though when disembarking there may be more people wanting on than the shuttle has room for.

color changing lights

Lights in Magic’s atrium change colors every few minutes

When the rental car shuttle is too full for everyone and their luggage, some groups send just one person ahead to get the paperwork done. The rest can either follow on a later shuttle or move to an area where private cars can go and wait for the person with the car to come and get them. It’s also a good idea to drop the luggage and most of your party at the port for embarkation and just have one or two people return the car and take the shuttle back. Space on that end may be limited as well since a lot of other people are embarking at the same time and there are often multiple ships in port.

stairway art

stairway art included this painting of marbles on one stairway

Magic is of Carnival’s dream class, the second of that series with the Dream the first and the Breeze the third. It’s similar to the Breeze in size and amenities, but has completely different decor. The kids thought the lights in the atrium that constantly changed colors were awesome, and little Daniel loved a painting of marbles on one of the stairways. Some of the stairway art had beachy scenes, and a lot of the paintings had birds. Corridors between guest rooms had brightly colored artwork, of which my favorite was the toucan which appeared every so often. Even the casino had sparkly decor. While I don’t normally set foot in Carnival’s casinos due to smoking allowed there, this one at least seemed to keep the smoke from spreading too far beyond its boundaries.

casino on the Magic

Hat Trick Casino – where money magically disappears

Things around the ship had magical sounding names like Hat Trick Casino or Lower Magical Way. Some of the ship’s artwork also had magical type scenes. Best of all the dining room had a real live magician who performed tricks tableside for individual tables. The kids liked him so much the first night he came back to our table every night with different tricks. He also put on a show for Hannah’s age group at Camp Ocean, which she made sure to go to, and a very good one for everyone at the comedy theater later in the cruise. We gave him a tip the last night, which he really appreciated.

adults only

the Serenity Deck has hammocks

Magic has a dive in theater for outdoor movies. The adults only Serenity deck has hammocks of the big comfortable cushioned sort. The ship also has two big waterslides, a splash park with small waterslide, and a ropes course. The big waterslides and ropes course do have minimum height requirements, which is 42 inches for the slides and 48 for the ropes course.  That info is well buried in the FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) on Carnival’s website where my daughter never found it so little granddaughter Hannah was very disappointed when she couldn’t go on the ropes course she had looked forward to for months.

life jackets for young cruisers

life jackets on the Lido

Magic had something I haven’t seen on a cruise ship before – an array of life jackets near the Lido pool available for youngsters who would like to use one when they swim there.

food & beer served here

Red Frog Pub

Magic is a 2.0 ship, which means it has amenities like Guy’s Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ (open for sea day lunch only), Red Frog Pub, Alchemy Bar, Red Frog Rum Bar, and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar.

fun and games on the top deck

Sports Square

There’s plenty to do on board. Sports Square has mini golf and other games under the ropes course. Daytime entertainment from the crew includes games like scavenger hunts, trivia, Carnival tower (which looks like giant Jenga), and bean bag toss. Besides the nightly movies there’s also shows in the main theater and often comedy in the smaller theater. Kids can go to the kids club for their age group, which is Camp Ocean for 2 – 11 year olds, Circle C for 12 – 14, and Club O2 for teens age 15 – 17. We made sure to attend Hasbro the Game Show and the Dr. Seuss breakfast, which are both fun for the whole family.

tasty and delicious veggie lasagna

Carnival’s vegetable lasagna

Magic is 1004 feet long with a guest capacity of 3690. It entered service in 2011 and is registered in Panama. Magic has 14 passenger decks and 17 decks total. Food on the Magic is from Carnival’s American Table menu, of which our absolute favorite meal is the vegetable lasagna. Guests with restricted diets, like my gluten and dairy free sister, order their meal for the next day ahead of time so it can be altered to their needs. On the first night our waiter told her to order from the daily menu that doesn’t change, saying those items were already gluten free. Passengers on the your time dining pre-order by their cabin number so the dining room staff can still find them the next day if they were to sit in a different section. They do have a gluten free version of their signature dessert, the chocolate melting cake.

cruise ship life ring

life ring

For more about ships and cabins see My Cruise Stories Ships and Cabins page.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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You Can’t Control The Weather and Neither Can The Captain

P&O Arcadia

Arcadia in the mist in New Zealand

Cruising Disappointments – Missing a Port Due to Weather

Up to this point, I’ve been lucky. In all the cruises we have done we had never missed a port or changed course due to weather. We once missed a port because the ship left a day late due to back-up generator issues. We overheard another passenger say “Why do we have to miss a port? Why can’t we skip a sea day, we have three of those!” (Um yeah perhaps because the captain can’t beam the ship to the port and cruise ships don’t travel at warp speed.) On a European cruise the port stop in Turkey was dropped from the itinerary a couple months before the ship set sail due to unrest there. While we would have liked to see that port, it was nice to have a second sea day on a 10-day cruise that otherwise had just one.

horse swim at private stable

Swimming with horses at Montego Bay, Jamaica

Another time long before a Caribbean cruise we got a notice that our ship was docking at Montego Bay rather than Falmouth, a different Jamaican port than originally scheduled. It was months before the cruise. We hadn’t made plans for that port yet and ended up with one of the best excursions we’ve ever done by arranging our own private excursion at a stable with a horse swim for real at Half Moon Bay Equestrian Center.

horses pretending to swim

Not swimming with horses at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Not to be confused with Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas where the horses definitely do not swim for real. At Half Moon Cay it’s a cruise ship excursion and you’ll get your legs wet, but the horse’s feet never leave the ground. At Half Moon Bay they go out about 20 feet deep and you slide off their backs and hold onto the tail while they pull you around in the water. Their feet are definitely off the ground there.

cruise ship at anchor

Spotts Bay, Grand Cayman

We nearly missed Grand Cayman once, but the captain chose to anchor on the other side of the island at Spotts Bay instead of at Georgetown where they normally go. Taking shuttles into town was far better than missing the port entirely, which would have been the other option. The weather cleared up later and we had a fun day there.

On one of our earlier cruises when the Mexican Riviera was still a popular destination we tailed a hurricane down the coast of Mexico. The ship had some rocky times and one of the poker dealers threw up on the poker table, clearing the area of players in record speed. We were between a hurricane and a tropical storm another time in the Caribbean, but remained in relative calm unaffected other than weather at a couple ports not as nice as normal.

bora bora snorkeling

What we missed in Bora Bora – internet photo obviously since we didn’t go there

Our 21-day Pacific Crossing on the P&O Arcadia had just 5 ports scheduled. The one I looked forward to most was Bora Bora, which is surrounded by a lagoon where snorkeling is supposed to be like swimming in an aquarium. I had a snorkel safari excursion booked, which was to include three stops. One in an area where rays live, another with reef sharks, and the third with coral and tropical fish.

Bora Bora’s lagoon turned out to be the undoing of our stop there. There is just a narrow opening through the coral reef surrounding the island where ships can enter into the lagoon. The captain said the ship was nearly as big as the opening. We came on a windy day with high waves and the captain felt it unsafe to try and maneuver the ship through the shallow, narrow channel where either wind or wave could easily push it into the reef. While running aground would definitely be worse than missing a port it is still a major disappointment that we missed the one port out of all the stops on this cruise that I wanted to see most.

Bora Bora

narrow passage into Bora Bora – internet photo

That is a part of cruising though and if you cruise you have to roll with the punches. Cruise lines and cruise ship captains have no control over the weather. Sooner or later things are bound to happen. If you read the fine print when you book there is no guarantee that you will go to the ports as scheduled because the captain’s number one job is to keep the ship afloat and the passengers safe. If that means altering course or skipping a port then that is what they will do. No matter how much you want to see a particular port, missing that stop is far better than leaving a sinking ship by lifeboat. Odds are if the weather is stormy enough that the ship can’t make port it probably wouldn’t be a fun day there anyway. The seas may be to rough for water activities and wind or rain might make land adventures miserable.

Not long after the announcement about missing the port another announcement came saying that all excursions would be automatically refunded to the onboard account if booked on the ship and to credit cards if booked online prior to the cruise with no need to go to the reception or shore excursions desk. A cluster of panicked people lining up in the lobby demanding refunds may have spurred that announcement as it is common practice on any cruise that these things would automatically be refunded, as would any port fees or taxes paid for the missed port.

Bora Bora

island in the mist – all we saw of Bora Bora

Breakfast in the dining room suddenly became popular with quite a crowd there on a day where normally very few would have shown up. Later came an announcement from the entertainment manager (known as a cruise director on most ships). He listed a number of new activities added to the day’s schedule. Port days normally have a much lighter list of things to do than sea days so when facing a port day suddenly turned sea day it is up to the entertainment staff to provide alternate activities.

The spa, which is usually pretty slow on a port day, suddenly found itself quite busy with people trying to change appointments to that day or make new ones and more people in the thermal suite at one time than we had seen all cruise. I guess that’s to be expected though since all the passengers on board suddenly found themselves having to find something different to do for the day than what they had planned. We had the thermal package for the cruise, but a lot of people must have got the one-day pass just for that day to give themselves a treat onboard.

Sailing away from Bora Bora the captain made one further announcement to expect high seas and gray skies for the next 24 hours. The wind blew hard enough that whenever a wave rolled over into a white cap it would blow the white right off the top of the wave in a shower of sea spray. Water drops rolled off the ship and danced around like bubbles on the wind rather than just falling straight down like drops of water normally do. We could definitely feel some movement in the ship rocking, but by this time the people had been at sea long enough to walk normally down the hallways and not stagger like drunks the way they do if faced with stormy seas shortly after boarding. Barf bags still showed up in the elevator bays for anyone who needed them though.

About Bora Bora

island of Bora Bora

Bora Bora surrounded by lagoon and motus – internet photo

Bora Bora sits about 150 miles northwest of Tahiti and is the best known of the Leeward Islands in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The volcanic island sits in a lagoon ringed by coral reefs and small islets called motus, one of which was used as an American base during World War 2. The war never came to the island, but evidence of the military occupation remains.

The main island is around 6 miles long and 2 miles wide with a circumference of 20 miles. Though the Dutch were the first Europeans to discover Bora Bora, the French eventually annexed the island. Bora Bora is believed to be the inspiration for Roger’s and Hammerstein’s South Pacific based on the James Michener novel Tales of the South Pacific.

Bora Bora in the mist

leaving Bora Bora behind

Things To Do in Bora Bora

Cruise ship tenders land at Bora Bora’s largest village called Vaitape. Visitors will find a few shops and a visitor’s center there. A bus runs to Matira Beach 4 miles from the village. Shore snorkeling is possible there, but better snorkeling is found out on the reef. Bicycle rentals are available near the tender landing.

According to the pamphlet provided by P&O, the island does not have much in the way of public transportation so they recommended booking in advance for passengers wanting to do excursions through outside companies. When doing so just make sure you pay only if you actually do the excursion. I’ve pre-booked excursions through outside sources in Belize and Jamaica and both were paid at the time of the excursion rather than in advance so had the ship missed those ports no payment ever would have been taken. Before paying in advance for anything check out their refund policies. I have heard of people blaming the cruise line for outside excursions they missed and didn’t get refunded for. The cruise line isn’t responsible for things you book through outside sources so that is a buyer beware situation. The ship’s brochure listed parasailing, jet ski rental, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing as things that could be booked in advance through outside sources. That is one advantage of booking excursions through the ship – if it misses the port you get that automatic refund.

Excursions through the ship if it had been able to make the scheduled port stop would have included island tours by 4×4, truck or helicopter, water adventures, the snorkel safari, glass bottom boat, aqua trek with surface supplied air, a lagoon cruise and picnic, or aqua bike (underwater scooter).

copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
Posted in Arcadia, P&O, Pacific Ocean & Islands | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Athens and Piraeus

Athens, Greece

View of Vista in Athens from the seaside walkway

Like many ports that list a famous city for the port when they really stop in a smaller less known place, when ships stop in Athens they actually dock in Piraeus. Our local taxi driver pronounced it Peer-ray. None of the other locals said the city’s name so we don’t know if it was just him or if they all say that. Nobody else we met pronounced it that way, but then again none of them were Greek. The European portion of our cruise on the Carnival Vista started there, but our adventures began before ever reaching the port. We flew into Paris with plans of staying a couple nights there and seeing the sights. When we got there Greece was threatening an air traffic controller strike that would close down the airport in Athens for four days. With our flight to Athens cancelled along with all other flights for the day we planned to leave, we got a last minute flight and left Paris the morning after we arrived without seeing anything other than the local area near our hotel. The strike got called off, but our original flight remained cancelled and getting another that day may have been impossible so we were glad that we left when we did to insure we made it to the ship in time for our cruise.

modern statue

running man statue in Athens

Arriving in Greece a day early we had no hotel booked for the night, but we had the taxi drop us off at Faros 1 in Piraeus. We had a room booked there for the next two nights and hoped we could add that night on. If not we figured we could find something in one of the other hotels nearby. They had one room available and other than the very noisy all-night bar across the street it’s a great hotel at quite an affordable price.

Piraeus train

Happy Train takes people around Piraeus

There are 3 different companies that have hop on, hop off bus tours you can take around Piraeus and into Athens. Along with that at least two of them have little tour trains that go around the port area with stops both near the cruise ship docks and in the more touristy area by the fancy yacht marina where the streets are lined with shops and restaurants. From our hotel it was just a short walk past a beautiful and very Greek church to the waterfront and the stop by the cruise ship docks, where there also were people offering private taxi tours to Athens. The hop on hop off bus tickets are good for two days plus if that bus company operates one of the little trains it includes that too. The taxi tour costs more for just for a few hours, but goes some places where buses can’t.

Acropolis looms high over Athens with the Parthenon visible for miles

Acropolis looms high over Athens with the Parthenon visible for miles

Athens has quite a variety of historic sites, the most famous being the acropolis which sits prominently on a hilltop overlooking the city. The acropolis has several ruins, most of which were under renovation when we were there. The most famous ruin, the Parthenon looms large over the other less well known temples. It’s amazing how ancient people were able to construct such monumental buildings that last for centuries while modern man with all our technology makes things that don’t last.

ruins at Athens

up close you can see that the columns are not all one piece

The enormous columns are made from smaller sections stacked on top of each other. Perhaps not the best idea since some have fallen, but something that was do-able for their time without any machinery to lift heavy full-sized columns intact.

gate gaurd at the presidential mansion

guard at the presidential palace

Changing of the guards is a well-known thing in London, but Athens has their own version of it. We happened to see their guards on a Sunday, which is when they wear their official white uniforms. They guard the monument of the unknown soldier and the presidential mansion and stand completely still except when performing official maneuvers.

Piraeus tourist shops

touristy shopping area near the marina

While the port area doesn’t have such spectacular ruins, it does have things to see and do including a maritime museum and a seaside walkway through the more touristy area of the town. A lot of people come to Piraeus to catch ferries out to Santorini and other islands.

Piraeus marina

marina in Piraeus

The marina is quite interesting in the contrast between boats so tiny they almost look like toys and megamillion dollar yachts. There’s also a row of run down fishing boats with the owners on board selling the day’s catch to passers by. There are a lot of shops and cafes in the port area too.

Piraeus beach

seaside walkway in Piraeus

The walkway along the waterfront goes way beyond the marina. People can take a pretty long waterfront walk from the marina nearly to the port area. Much of what looked like a former park was fenced off, perhaps getting excavated for ancient ruins or something. It had a big sign, but it was all in Greek. Once past the fenced off area there are still places on the shoreline where people can sit and enjoy the view or go down to the water to swim.

tourist walk

follow the little yellow guys to the marina

There were little yellow guys painted on the sidewalk on the main road by our hotel. At the corners they had arrows pointing anyone following the little guys on across to the other side of the street heading toward the marina. Zea Marina with all the yachts, not the cruise ship or ferry ports.

Piraeus city walk

map for the city walk – in English

Along the way there’s a museum with a sign outside saying it is a town walk going past a variety of sites to see, something like Boston’s Freedom Trail. The trail was well marked until it got to the marina area where a key corner had a turn in the path and no marker. From there it was pretty easy to pick the trail back up and follow it on through the sidewalk cafes and tourist booths and shops until all of a sudden it ended with a partially worn away arrow pointing to a left turn. Funny how it was well marked everywhere you go straight and not so much at turns. Beyond that faint arrow there were no more markers and a couple blocks up the streets and sidewalks were all dug up undergoing some sort of construction so any markers that once had been there were gone leaving no way to follow the route any farther by sidewalk markers unless they repaint the little yellow guys after finishing the construction.

church

church in Piraeus

People stayed all over the Athens area prior to the cruise. We met someone who found a bayview suite for cheap in the touristy marina area. Others stayed near the port as we did, and some stayed in Athens. Hotels in that area generally don’t have shuttles, free or otherwise so getting to the port on cruise day is up to each person. Most go by taxi. While the cruise dock was within walking distance of our hotel, it was pretty far to go with luggage. It was also raining that morning so we took a taxi. Some friends staying in Athens made use of the free second day the hop on hop off bus offered and used that as transportation to the port – which would not have worked for us since the cruise port was the closest stop to our hotel.

Parthenon

the Parthenon undergoing restoration

The cruise ship port in Piraeus has several terminals and quite a few docks. The little train that goes around Piraeus stops in the same place near one terminal where the hop on hop off buses stop. The marina is within walking distance, but it’s a long walk. Taking the train is quicker and an easier way to find it if that is what someone on a port stop there wanted to do, though most would likely go to Athens instead.

acropolis theater

theater at the acropolis

ruins of Athens, Greece

wall by the theater at the acropolis

Greece is a nice place to visit and quite affordable. We found food, hotels, and transportation cheaper there than anywhere else we went this trip. Even after adding in their 24% sales tax things still cost less there than elsewhere. Not everyone in Greece speaks English, but we were always able to find at least one person who did.

greek temple

one of the smaller temples at the acropolis

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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Cartagena, Colombia

Infinity in Colombia

Celebrity Infinity in Cartagena, Colombia

Find a window seat when sailing into or out of Cartagena, Columbia because the ship sails past some fantastic scenery including ancient forts. Celebrity Infinity visited Cartagena as the last port on a 17 day Panama Canal cruise. The ship docks in an industrial area of container ports. At first glance it looks as if there’s not much there, but following the path along the water’s edge toward the exit brings passengers into a jungle area where pink flamingos greet their arrival. Wooden walkways wind through the jungle, which holds all sorts of delightful things awaiting discovery. There is a shop and restaurant there, and a sign that says they have wifi, though it was not working on the day of our visit.

vulture in Colombia

vulture in Cartagena

Along the paths little monkeys run playfully through the trees and bigger howler monkeys sometimes emit quite a racket. Macaws and parrots perch in plain sight and a little animal resembling a tiny deer or antelope ran around licking the salt off people’s sweaty legs.

toucan in Colombia

toucan in the aviary at Cartagena

A walk-through aviary held a very colorful vulture as well as toucans and other birds. One cage held a small monkey who occasionally came out of its little monkey house to run around. Anyone who didn’t want to go anywhere at this port could stay quite entertained wandering through the jungle looking at the birds and animals.

ancient walls and modern skyscrapers

Looking from the old part of Cartagena to the new

Somewhere in the jungle maze signs point to the exit as well as the way back to the ship.  At the exit locals gather passengers without prior plans for van tours at $20 per person, and a taxi stand provides a way into town for those who want to explore on their own. Cartagena has an old part of town, a walled city from ancient times with a fort and lots of beautiful old buildings. It also has a new part of town filled with tall skyscrapers and modern buildings. A taxi ride into old town costs $20 for the cab regardless of the amount of passengers, and private taxi tours for two are available for $60 per person.

zoo at Cartagena cruise port

parrot in the aviary at the port in Cartagena

We went with the $20 van tour. They had about 3 people waiting and initially said they needed two more after us, but when they got the 2 more they said they still needed 3. When three more joined and they still weren’t ready to leave people got restless and ready to abandon their tour so they said they would go, but really just loaded everyone into a van and then disappeared for quite some time and came back with a couple that spoke only Spanish. Everyone else in the van spoke English other than the driver who spoke only Spanish and the bilingual tour guide.

Colombian fort

old fort in Cartagena

Finally the van left for old town. The tour guide now had to repeat everything she said in English again in Spanish for the last guests. Our first stop was in front of the old fort for a photo op of the outside. People can go inside the fort for $10, something those who took a cab to town on their own might choose to do.

traditional Colombian clothes?

for a buck you can take photos of ladies in fruit hats

As soon as we got out of the van we were mobbed by peddlers selling all manner of things including hats, jewelry, and t-shirts. They did not like to take no for an answer. Even after people got back in the van peddlers would walk around it banging on the windows trying to get people to buy something. Women dressed in bright colors with real fruit hats posed for pictures for $1. At some stops what initially appeared to be statues turned out to be live people, who also wanted a dollar from anyone who took their photo.

new use for old building

it’s a barracks…it’s a dungeon…it’s tourist shops

We stopped at a place that during the course of history had been used as everything from a barracks for soldiers to a dungeon for prisoners, but now housed little shops selling trinkets to tourists. Outside the shops people set up little stands to sell more things. A step above street peddlers, but selling the same sort of stuff. At least these could not follow us too far as they didn’t want to leave their wares unattended.

metal sculpture and fancy building

this city square had a row of metal sculptures

At one stop we got out of the van and took a 45-minute walk through the narrow streets of the old city. Many of the buildings had beautiful old Spanish style architecture. Our tour guide pointed out things like the building where the inquisitions took place in a dark time of their history. The Spanish lady had a habit of getting in front of everyone and did her best not to let anyone get around her for long enough to get even one picture without her in it so getting decent photos was a bit of a challenge. Her husband took several photos of human statues and refused to pay them even though our guide had made it clear at the start of the journey that payment was expected for photographing the buskers.

scraping by

peddlers with carts

Peddlers pushed food carts up and down the streets selling fruit, drinks, or even cooked food. One parked his cart in front of us at a corner and whatever he had cooking smelled very good, but we had warning from the ship to be careful what if anything we might eat in town to avoid getting sick. The ever-present peddlers selling their wares now included people with cigars, which from the smell walking through town it was apparent some people bought. Columbia must not have any anti-public smoking laws. The smoke from all those cigars permeated the air enough to make me feel ill before we finished our walk through town so in spite of the beauty of the area I would never want to spend much time there.

making money off the tourists

some people took rides in horse carts

Sweaty people happily returned to the air-conditioned van after the walk through town in the heat. The van was parked in a lot on a busy road where the exhaust fumes aggravated my pounding headache, chest constriction, and breathing issues brought on by cigar smoke and a tobacco allergy so I was quite happy when the van moved on to cleaner air at the next stop.

emerald museum

fake miner outside the fake mine

Columbia’s claim to fame is the quality of the emeralds mined there. Our last stop was at an emerald museum/jewelry store. The first room we entered in had several men at work crafting metal into settings for fine jewelry. All Columbian they said, for silver and gold are also mined there. The museum part had quite a few displays of raw emeralds and some jewelry from ancient times. It also had a walk-through model of a portion of an emerald mine.

raw emeralds

emeralds in the mine exhibit

The museum part was pretty interesting, after which of course we were sent into the store area. They did have some pretty things, but also pretty expensive. People looked around a bit and then made their way back to the van, all except the Spanish lady who stayed in the shop until nearly the time they had said the tour would return to port before the guide finally wrangled her out of there so we could leave. After all that time she did not even come out of the store carrying a bag, though one of the other ladies managed to purchase something and still get back to the van on time. Meanwhile street peddlers walked around the van banging on the windows trying to get people inside to buy stuff, but nobody did.

Cartagena city street

buildings in Cartagena

We made it back about half an hour after they had said we would, but still with enough time to wander through the jungle paths and look at the animals a bit before going back to the ship.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
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Food on the Ruby Princess

cruise ship in Alaska

Ruby Princesss in Juneau

Like all the big cruise ships, Ruby Princess has food in abundance and a variety of places to get it, with the two main places in the dining rooms or buffet. Ruby Princess has 3 dining rooms. Bottticelli serves first and second seating at dinner, Michealangelo is open throughout the dinner hours for anytime dining, and Da Vinci serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, first dinner seating, and then is open for anytime dining during the later dinner hours.

princess dining room menu

one night’s menu from the dining room

The main buffet on the Lido deck is called Horizon Court and is open for all meals. It has identical stations on the port and starboard sides of the ship. Both are open during the busiest hours and just one during slower times. There is a third station at the stern called Cafe Caribe which is sometimes open during the same time as the others and sometimes at different times. When it is open at the same time it has different food. Cafe Caribe occasionally has specialty items like crab shack or chocolate buffet.

Ruby Princess premium restaurant

Salty Dog Gastropub, one of the premium restaurants

Passengers can also find food out by one of the pools with places that serve pizza, ice cream, and burgers. Premium restaurants include Salty Dog Gastropub, Crown Grill which serves steak and seafood, SHARE by Curtis Stone, and Vines wine and seafood bar. There’s also a 24 hour cafe where the food is free, but the drinks cost extra. Room service is available as well.

dinner on the Ruby Princess

surf and turf gluten free version

There’s something for everyone, including people on restricted diets. People with food issues such as gluten free order their next night’s dinner a day ahead so the food can be altered to suit their needs. For that reason it is best to choose a set dining time rather than anytime dining so that you have the same waiter each day. We had not thought of that since I normally cruise with my husband rather than my gluten free sisters and chose anytime dining so the headwaiter at Da Vinci made special arrangements for us with the same dining time and waiter every day.

cruise ship menu

menu from Curtis Stone’s SHARE, a premium restaurant on Ruby Princess

cruise ship restraunt menu

Menu from Crown Grill premium restaurant

We didn’t try any of the premium restaurants, but the food in the dining room was excellent. While my sisters got to choose their dinner courses, their dessert was whatever the waiter brought them each night. The Lido buffet always had a gluten free dessert option so they enjoyed having that as a late night snack since they got to try an extra thing each day and said the gluten free desserts up there were very good.

afternoon tea on Ruby Princess

waiter serving treats at afternoon tea

At afternoon tea they serve little sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and scones. We went there one day with my sisters thinking they would just pick the fillings out of the sandwiches, but the head waiter saw them and sent down to the kitchen for something gluten free. Even on the fly with no warning they had gluten free scones and macaroons.

chocolate experience

fancy chocolate

Ruby Princess had special chocolate desserts each night and sometimes chocolate treats at other events as part of their Chocolate Journeys program.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017

 

 

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Interview with John Heald – Rescue at Sea

Helicopter Rescue at Sea

rescue at sea

helicopter coming to the rescue on Carnival Vista

Cruise ships have two types of sea rescues that could happen during the course of a cruise. The least common and most unlikely is rescue of people from another vessel in distress. If a ship comes across a disabled or sinking vessel they may either alert someone who is responsible for rescues in that area such as the coast guard or rescue the people themselves depending on the situation. It’s quite rare for them to actually bring stranded people on board, but in a life or death situation it could happen.

Spanish rescue copter

rescue helicopter

The more common sort of rescue at sea seen aboard cruise ships is that of a passenger or crew member on the vessel in distress. Nobody plans for anything bad to happen to them during the course of their vacation or work day, but accidents can happen as can illnesses. Many older people enjoy cruising and some even live on the ships full time or nearly so. Ships do have medical facilities, and while a ship can sail without the captain as there are other people on board qualified to run the ship, it can’t sail without a doctor. The Carnival Vista had 2 doctors and 6 ER-trained nurses on the transatlantic cruise. Ships however do not have all the equipment found in a land-based hospital. Some medical issues are beyond the scope of what the ship is equipped for and they prefer not to have any reason to use the ship’s morgue.

Interview with Carnival spokesperson John Heald about helicopter rescues from cruise ships

Rescues can be made by boat or by helicopter depending on the situation, availability, and proximity to shore. On an ocean crossing they can get to a point where they are too far from any land. The Vista was close enough to Spain when the need arose for them to send out a helicopter to rescue a passenger in trouble.

helicopter rescue at sea

rescuer looks down from the helicopter

The captain announced that the helicopter was on the way, and passengers were told to leave the area of the top deck where it would land and asked to stay out of that area as well as off of the outside portion of the promenade deck.

looking up at helicopter from cruise ship balcony

the helicopter came in and out of view from the balcony

The helicopter came and went on the side of the ship where our room was so we had a pretty good view of it from our balcony. It seemed to take it quite some time to complete the rescue. It hovered over the ship going in and out of view as our room was on the side of the ship and the patient up on top. At some point they sent down a rescue person from the helicopter as well as the basket for the patient, and of course had to bring both back up before leaving for the hospital in Spain.

helicopter during a rescue

the helicopter drops a line

Names and medical details are not made public so we can only hope the person survived. Vacation insurance is always an option and in a situation like this definitely a good investment for the patient if they purchased it.

helicopter rescue

the helicopter leaves with the patient on board

More Interviews with John Heald

Gratuities

Left Behind in Port

Best Places on Carnival Breeze

Life on a Cruise Ship and Funships 2.0

Carnival Breeze Things to Do and Best Kept Secrets

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2017
Posted in Atlantic Ocean & Islands, Carnival, Randoms, Shipboard Life, Vista | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grand Cayman Turtle Farm

cruise ship at Grand Cayman

Breeze at Georgetown from the marine park where people snorkel with tarpon

Why does Grand Cayman need a turtle farm? Because without it the turtles there likely would have become extinct by now. People have harvested turtles for food from the Caymans since Columbus first came across the islands in 1503 and called them Las Tortugas due to the amount of turtles there. Seafarers of the 17th and 18th centuries followed suit and used Grand Cayman turtles as a means of fresh meat on their ships. Early settlers of the islands hunted turtles to sell to passing ships for income as well as for their own survival. By the 19th century the turtle population was depleted to the point that ships had to go elsewhere for turtle meat. Turtle remains the national dish of the Caymans to this day, though a good percentage of the population doesn’t eat it.

young turtles

Baby Turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm

Caymanians of the 20th century still consumed turtles, but by then they had become too scarce for commercial hunts. In 1968 the turtle farm was established, originally just as a means of producing turtle meat both as a source of income and to reduce poaching of the few remaining wild turtles. Somewhere along the way the farm also started releasing turtles to the wild.

The farm still sells some turtles as meat, which greatly reduces illegal hunting of turtles still left in the wild. Most turtle meat is consumed by locals, but there are some restaurants that serve it and a few tourists give it a try. The farm now breeds rare Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles as well as their original Green Sea Turtles, which are also an endangered species. Some of their released turtles have matured and come back to the island to breed helping the number of turtle nests in the wild to rise.

tropical bird

aviary at the turtle farm

What started as a private enterprise is now a government-run facility. After losing the majority of their turtles in 2001 when a hurricane washed them out to sea, the farm moved inland to an expanded facility with a bigger breeding lagoon, an artificial reef where visitors to the farm can snorkel with fish and turtles, and other tourist amenities including a restaurant.

more fish than turtles

the saltwater snorkel lagoon has lots of fish

Shore excursions from Carnival Breeze in Grand Cayman included a couple to the turtle farm, one with lunch included and one without. The one without cost the same as getting there on your own by public bus and less than taking a taxi. We chose to go on our own anyway so we could visit the exhibits at our own pace and avoid the crowd rather than getting herded through in a group on someone else’s timetable.

Cayman Turtle Farm

turtle in the breeding pond

Our ship came in to port at 8am, the same time the turtle farm’s website said they opened. The ship was on Miami time though, one hour earlier than island time. That actually worked out quite well for us. We caught the first tender off the boat and headed ashore with a map in hand showing a bus stop next to the public library. There are 3 tender piers in Georgetown. We were at the one in the middle. From there we took a right and walked about a block to Fort Street where we headed inland. The library is about a block from the water and the bus terminal sits right next to it. The bus cost $2.50 USD per ride. The yellow line bus goes to the turtle farm and one goes by about every 15 minutes. One sat at the terminal when we got there so we got right on. It had just one other passenger at the start, but this is mainly local transportation and various people get on and off all along the way. They let us out right in front of the turtle farm and said we could catch a return bus either under a tree there or at a bus stop just down the road.

Cayman Turtle Farm

Shark in the Predator Tank

We got there at 8:45 our time, so just before they opened. When they did we were the first visitors there. A few more people showed up between when the front desk opened and when the doors out into the exhibits did. The turtle farm has two price options. For $18 you get a green wrist band and can see the large turtles in the breeding pond, the hatchery, and a few other exhibits at the front. For $45 you get a blue wrist band with full access to the rest of the park including a pond where you can snorkel with turtles and fish, a waterslide and pool, aviary, and nature trail. There’s also a predator tank with sharks and a barracuda. You don’t swim with them though.

turtle

from the bridge you can see turtles and fish in the salt water swimming lagoon

The swimming areas opened an hour after the park so we had a bit of time to stroll around and look at things. A booth sold turtle food, and the big turtles in the breeding pond are quite happy if anyone buys some to throw to them. It looks just like dry dog food. The hatchery had cases of turtle eggs and a little room with a movie explaining all about the turtles they raise there and how some get released into the wild and others sold for meat which helps to prevent poaching of the wild ones.

A group of little tanks with little turtles serves as an area where visitors can hold the turtles if they are careful and follow the directions on signs posted there. A couple of the tanks have stairways where people can go in the water with the little turtles. All of the bigger turtles in bigger tanks have signs saying not to touch them, though throwing turtle food into the water for them is fine.

wild iguana

wild iguanas sunned themselves on rocks around the ponds

By arriving at the farm ahead of the crowd we got to see most everything without anyone else around us. We did run into a group at the little turtle handling ponds, but had the option to leave there at will and go off in a different direction. The turtle snorkeling pond stayed empty of people awhile after my watch said it should have opened, but apparently nobody else was ready to swim yet because the only thing the worker there said when I went to get in the water was that snorkel vests were required. I despise snorkel vests. Warm salt water is very buoyant and it is much easier to float than to dive under the surface. At least they didn’t charge a rental fee for it. Though a lot of places require the vests they don’t ever make people put air into them if they don’t want to.

turtle hangout

several turtles stayed near this reef just beyond the turtle and fish crowd

We had seen from the bridge between the turtle and predator ponds where most of the turtles and fish hung out, the opposite side of the pond from the beach near the area where the restrooms/showers and booth of snorkel equipment were located. There is a ladder into the water near the bridge, but it’s a lot more fun to swim there and snorkel along the way.

underwater video from snorkeling in the turtle lagoon

Some turtles and a few fish swam about through areas of the pond away from the bridge and a sunken ship around the middle of it made a nice resting place for several turtles. Another advantage of going there on our own – I had the whole bathroom to myself to shower off and get ready for the swim and the whole pond to myself for quite some time. As I swam back to the starting beach a few people went by the other way, the first of the cruise ship crowd that were entering the water as I left it.

swimming pool

freshwater pool and slide

From there we went to the freshwater pool, which had a waterslide, a waterfall, no turtles, and not many people. The slide was not as tall or as fast as the ones on the Carnival Breeze. Iguanas sunned themselves on the rock by the waterfall at that pool. Other iguanas and lizards large and small roamed the park freely and sunned themselves anywhere they liked. Little birds hung out at the edge of turtle ponds, stealing food from the little turtles and hoping some washed ashore from the bigger ones.

snorkling with turtles

turtle in the snorkel lagoon

We had paid the $20 deposit for locker use, but since John decided not to go in the water we never actually used the lock since he watched our stuff while I snorkeled. We did remember to return the lock before we left though and got $17 back because they keep $3 as a locker rental fee whether you actually use the lock or not.

We only waited about 5 minutes before the bus came by when we decided to leave. Another couple was already under the tree waiting. Before returning to Georgetown the bus went through Hell, so anyone wanting to go there could get off and have a look around before going back to the ship if they had time. They would just have to pay another $2.50 each for the bus fare on the next ride.

Marine Park

marine park stairway to the sea in Georgetown

We had time after reaching Georgetown to walk down to Paradise Restaurant and look at the tarpon. John still had his swimming trunks on since he had decided not to swim with the turtles. He’s not nearly so fond of snorkeling as I am, but he can’t resist snorkeling with tarpon.

Tarpon Video

I’d already changed and figured he’d be done quicker than I could put my swimsuit back on (which he was) so I just stayed on shore while he went in to swim with the giant fish. Farther from shore they have coral reefs and more colorful fish, but it’s the tarpon he always wants to see. From the restaurant there is a stairway into the sea, which is a marine park. It’s free to snorkel there. Anyone who doesn’t have their own gear can rent it from the restaurant. They also have lockers available.

Grand Cayman Turtle Farm

turtle in the snorkel lagoon at the turtle farm

More Adventures in Grand Cayman: Kittiwake Wreck and Reef Snorkel, Island Tour, Snorkeling with Tarpon, Grand Cayman.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Breeze, Caribbean, Carnival, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments