A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

November 28, 2019 – LEICESTER, MA

Celebrating Getting ready!

snow 29 °F

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Our family joined us at Thanksgiving to surround us with their love and presence as Ed and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary! Ed will be chaplain on Crystal Serenity’s Christmas cruise (we were married December 28th during school Christmas break) and we will stay onboard to serve on the 2020 World Cruise. So…this post is our test run. Look for perhaps a few Florida photos after December 16th, and the official start of our cruise on December 22nd! Happy to have you along!

Posted by Swenigale 05:37 Archived in USA

Dec.16–24:THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

– including COCKBURN TOWN, GRAND TURK

semi-overcast 80 °F
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While visiting with friends last week down south we enjoyed the laid-back Central Florida countryside…

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…. With long walks …..

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….. and Sandhill Cranes to accompany us!

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We boarded Crystal Serenity on Sunday afternoon, setting sail immediately for Grand Turk, where we spent Christmas Eve.

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John Glenn's memorable 1969 splashdown was here. We hurried back to the ship for Christmas Eve services.

Posted by Swenigale 13:27 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands

Dec. 25 – CHRISTMAS AT SEA

overcast 80 °F

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Merry Christmas from onboard the Crystal Serenity, where the Christmas decorations are even better than at our house! ????

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Bistro Santa

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Crystal plaza

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Crystal plaza

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Crystal plaza

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At the entrance to Waterside, the main Dining Room

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The Avenue Saloon

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Santa surfer

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Palm Court, deck 12 forward

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On Christmas day, which was a day at sea, we enjoyed the Gala Christmas Buffet

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A big thank-you to the amazing Chefs onboard!

Posted by Swenigale 17:00

Dec. 26-27 – PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN AND GUSTAVIA,ST. BARTS

semi-overcast 82 °F
View Serenity 11 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We docked today in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island. This is the south side of the island; the French side is the north side.

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Strong winds couldn’t keep us from enjoying a few hours at the beach.

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Our beautiful ship was docked overnight, so we had a chance to see her at night, from shore!

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Our second day in Sint Maarten we escorted Crystal guests on a 45-minute ferry ride to St. Barthelemy (St. Barts). The winds had died down, so the crossing was fine.

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On our own for four hours Ed and I revisited a few special places. This is the only Caribbean island that was a Swedish Colony for a significant length of time. We are in the port city and capital, Gustavia. Today, the street names are still in Swedish as well as French since it is an overseas Collectivity of France.

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St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church

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Hmm – is this steeper than the last time we were here?! This is the Svenska Klockstapeln (the Swedish Bell Tower, rebuilt in 1799). The Swedish Church of Sophia Magdalena was inaugurated in 1787, but badly damaged by a hurricane in 1837 and then was torn down 20 years later.

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A visit by Hästa

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Best view of the harbor!

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Some folks went to the beaches, some went shopping – we got our 10,000 steps, sat by the water to read and shared a chocolate bar :)

Posted by Swenigale 12:24 Archived in Saint Martin

Dec. 28 – ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA

OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

sunny 82 °F
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What’s the best thing to do on a tranquil day in Antigua – even if it doesn’t happen to be your 50th wedding anniversary?

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Find a beach (not hard – there are 365!),

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Drink some coconut water….

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…..or something else.

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Guess you can tell who’s got the camera!

Posted by Swenigale 06:14 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda

Dec. 29 – CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA

sunny 86 °F
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Here’s an interesting coincidence – from our ship we can see the Norwegian Gem, also docked in Castries. We were here on the Gem in early November! On that day we took a wonderful catamaran trip to go snorkeling near the famous Pitons, the two volcanic cones of St. Lucia.

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Today we stayed near the port. It is Sunday and shops are closed.

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Our Sunday service on the ship would be later this afternoon. We walked to see the Anglican Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

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Check out the dress code – makes sense to me!

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A view of Castries harbor

Posted by Swenigale 06:25 Archived in Saint Lucia

Dec. 30 -31, Jan. 1 – BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

semi-overcast 84 °F
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Barbados is a popular cruise port and can be very crowded.

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But away from the port it is possible to find gorgeous, uncrowded beaches.

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This is Dover Beach – good thing mama chicken can’t read the snackbar dish of the day (Curried Chicken)!

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We stayed docked in Bridgetown for two full days, giving guests time to explore this beautiful island. For 300 years Barbadians lived under British rule until independence in 1966.

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Our second day in port was New Year’s Eve day.

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We walked to Carlisle Beach to snorkel and see the Sea Turtles – getting there early….

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….before the snorkel excursion boats arrived and anchored by sunken shipwrecks.

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That night, the exciting countdown event onboard –

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And watching the shoreside fireworks to welcome 2020

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New Year’s Day and the bakers’ bread sculpture says it for me: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted by Swenigale 08:34 Archived in Barbados

Jan. 2 – ROADTOWN, TORTOLA

rain 84 °F
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Tourism in the islands is usually the main industry, providing thousands of jobs and other economic benefits. Since the devastating hurricane in 2017 Tortola is recovering, getting the beaches and tourism infrastructure repaired as quickly as possible.

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A rainy start to the day wasn’t going to keep us from the beach! Onboard a 20-person open-air jitney we ascended the mountain spine dividing Road Town from the beaches on the northwest side.

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Going down – we are in the British Virgin Islands, so we are traveling on steep scary roads on the wrong side!

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Always the benefit to coming early – get our own big umbrella to shield us from the sun and rain…..

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…..And Pelicans.

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Looking back toward peaceful Cane Garden Bay and driving up into the clouds

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On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love said to me…..it’s still Christmas!!

Posted by Swenigale 08:00 Archived in British Virgin Islands

Jan. 6 – 7: MIAMI, FLORIDA

sunny 72 °F
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We arrived in Miami (we could not dock in Key West as scheduled due to high winds) looking forward to two full days in port. This gave time for Christmas cruise guests to depart, and the first World Cruise guests to board. The ship is again fully booked, so we and other staff and guests did some stateroom switches to get ready for the 2nd day, when the rest of the 900 guests would board.

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Bayside Miami – we set sail on Tuesday afternoon. It was the start of the 2020 World Cruise, and we looked forward to two days at sea on our way South to Cartagena, Colombia.

Posted by Swenigale 11:16 Archived in USA

Jan. 10: CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

sunny 93 °F
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A familiar sight welcomed us from the Caribbean Sea to Cartagena, our 7th visit by ship.

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Tall buildings on Bocagrande – could be anywhere in the world, right?

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The Old City and city walls are well-preserved.

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Frequent raids by pirates led to the construction of San Felipe Fortress – a 121 year project begun in 1536.

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Our tour of El Centro by horse-drawn carriage took us near the sea wall and then through the Spanish Colonial streets of the walled city.

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Vendors tried to sell us their wares whenever the horses paused.

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Cars, people and horses all share the narrow, cobbled streets.

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Too cute!

Posted by Swenigale 11:23 Archived in Colombia

Jan. 11: PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT

semi-overcast 92 °F
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We await our scheduled time to enter the first lock as we follow Holland America’s Eurodam.

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From our window on deck 5 we are eye to eye with one of our friendly tugboats.

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On this side of the Continental Divide the three locks at Gatun each raise the ship 28 feet above the Caribbean Sea.

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It is unusual to have three cruise ships transiting so closely together. Behind us, the Seven Seas Mariner is next.
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Each lock is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide – giving our ship just a few feet clearance on each side.

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The gates close behind us so that the chamber can fill with water.

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Next to us going toward the Caribbean Sea- a Panamax freighter is being lowered.

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Gatun Lake lies before us – after we cross it there are the Pedro Miguel lock and Miraflores locks which will take us down to the level of the Pacific Ocean.

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Late that afternoon we docked next to the Bridge of the Americas and enjoyed a local folkloric show onboard the ship.
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Welcome to Panama!

Posted by Swenigale 06:18 Archived in Panama

Jan. 12: PANAMA CITY, PANAMA (BALBOA)

sunny 93 °F

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Morning views from the ship

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We are four miles from the final locks – docked in the Port of Balboa, sailing this evening from the Bay of Panama and the Gulf of Panama into the Pacific Ocean.

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Panama City skyline

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Crystal provides a shuttle in many ports – here in Balboa transportation was to the Albrook Mall, one of the biggest malls in Latin America. This carving is of the Harpy Eagle, the National bird of Panama.

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They have a train….

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…..a carousel …..

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…..and you can buy Pringles from a machine ????
We returned to the ship looking forward to a restful few hours before the afternoon Sunday worship service.

Posted by Swenigale 04:11 Archived in Panama

Jan. 13-15: NICARAGUA from a distance and SEA DAYS

semi-overcast 90 °F
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After leaving Panama and turning north into the Pacific we were headed to Nicaragua. Frigate birds eagerly flew near the ship, diving for the sea life churned up by our passing.

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The statue of Jesus Christ overlooking San Juan Del Sur welcomed us.

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Unfortunately, the seas were too rough for us to anchor and tender ashore, as you can see -

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--- so, this day became another wonderful day at sea, always a good thing on this beautiful ship, but everyone was disappointed to miss a chance to visit Nicaragua.

Posted by Swenigale 16:48 Archived in Nicaragua

Jan. 16: HUATULCO, MEXICO

sunny 88 °F
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Choppy seas are replaced by calm and a beautiful sunrise.

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Today we called on the Port of Huatulco, Mexico – hailed as the first “Eco-tourism resort” in the hemisphere.

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The small village of Santa Cruz is nestled at the port.

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In a village up from the coast is Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe y de la Santa Cruz…

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With its beautiful ceiling painting.

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Vans traveled up into the hills, avoiding multiple washouts.

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At 5,500 feet in the much cooler temperatures is a refurbished 19th century coffee estate, Finca Don Gabriel.

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Ed escorted this tour – if you ask him, he can give you many details about the coffee bean plant cultivation and production of the finished product.

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The whole family helps.

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The beans are raked and dried in the sun for approximately a week.

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Behold the beauty of the Sierra Madre del Sur foothills!

Posted by Swenigale 11:51 Archived in Mexico

Jan. 18-19: CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO

sunny 80 °F
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We enjoyed a late afternoon arrival to this Southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, silently slipping to our anchorage near iconic El Arco.

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Here cool Pacific waters meet the warm salty waters of the Sea of Cortez and the next morning we were ready to go in our Apex Inflatable boat, a great way to get up close and personal with the amazing rock formations and abundant sea life.

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In the early morning three more cruise ships had joined us the small bay. We were glad to be out on the water, not in the little town!

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Oh Peter – is that Captain Hook’s ship?

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This Sea Lion isn’t worried.

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Locals call this rock Land’s End – there is nothing between here and Hawaii!

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A fast, bumpy and exciting ride took us to a snorkeling spot outfitted with water toys.

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You can snorkel with seagulls -

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Or try out SUP (stand up paddle – in my case, kneel ????)

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No – not a rescue – I took “uber” back to our boat.

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Humpback whales! A perfect ending to our morning adventure!

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Posted by Swenigale 14:52 Archived in Mexico

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