S: Caribbean Cruise and Florida Trip December 2011
FC: Caribbean Cruise December 18-26, 2011 and Treasure Island Florida December 26-January 9, 2012
1: We arrived in Tampa two days before the cruise departure. We stayed two nights in Tampa at the beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel which was a short walk from the cruise ship terminal.
2: We spent the time in Tampa touring around the downtown waterfront and visiting the Florida Aquarium. | Our hotel from across the water | Our cruise ship in port prior to departure | Home of the Tampa Bay Lightening next to the hotel
3: Some of the buildings in downtown Tampa. Rolland particularly liked the one with the peaked roof! | Trolley Terminal in front of our hotel. The trolley takes you through downtown to the historic part of the city known as Ybor City. | View of Convention Centre from our hotel
4: Florida Aquarium | We enjoyed seeing all the different fish and sea creatures including alligators, sharks, barracudas, sting rays and many more. But after a while, a "fish is a fish."
5: Cruise Port | Carnival Legend Built 2002 length 963 feet 2124 passengers 930 crew | Stateroom 4121 on Main Deck
6: Arriving on the Carnival Legend | Beautiful lobby and atrium of the Carnival Legend | Rolland relaxing on the Serenity Deck while our stateroom is being prepared
7: Key West Florida | Typical Key West architecture | Original Margaritaville bar -- the basis of the famous Jimmy Buffet song | Southern most point in USA -- start of Highway 1 | We don't know why this chicken was crossing the road but he changed his mind and came back.
8: Ocho Rios, Jamaica | Mick Jagger's hilltop mansion | Ocho Rios is very beautiful, but poor. Taxi drivers and vendors are very aggressive. And everything is negotiable 'Ma'an"
9: Dunn's River Falls Ocho Rios, Jamaica | As you can see, people literally climb the Falls. We took the safer, drier route, following the steps beside the Falls.
10: Beach at base of Falls | Termite nest in tree | Rolland exploring beach with tour guide
11: Bamboo growing by beach | Bob Marley Falls | More Ocho Rios | We were a little nervous about this part of our tour as we were alone on the bus and our bus driver and guide took us to a remote hilltop to take pictures (in someone's back yard for a small donation, of course). Everything went well and we were able to have a beautiful view of the city and port.
12: Grand Cayman | As we had toured the Island before, we spent Christmas Eve shopping in Grand Cayman. We found the Pandora Store -- duty and tax free!!!
13: Christmas Eve | Formal Night in Dining Room | The children onboard put on a Christmas Concert | Santa paid a visit to the children onboard on his busy night | It was certainly a different Christmas but very beautiful and fun, especially with the children.
14: Towel Animals | Every night we came back to a different towel animal prepared by the room stewards. Here are a few of them.
15: Land's End Condominiums Treasure Island, Florida | Walkway along the inland waterway behind the condo | We stayed at the same condo complex where we stayed in 2003 with Martin and Danielle. This time we had a view facing the Gulf. Condo #203.
16: Views from Condo Balcony | Every night a beautiful sunset over the Gulf
17: Day Trip South Along Gulf Coast (Sarasota, Venice and Port Charlotte) | A trip across the beautiful Skyway Bridge | Interesting and nostalgic statue on the waterfront in Sarasota
18: Visiting with John and Peggi Young | at Bay Aristocrat Village, Clearwater, Florida | Sponges drying on boats at Tarpon Springs, Florida | Tarpon Springs is a Greek community, outside of Clearwater, where sponges are harvested. We walked the waterfront and had dinner at a very nice Greek restaurant. | John and Peggi's home is on the left of this inlet
19: Golf with Ken and Maureen at Mangrove Bay Golf Course St. Petersburg, Florida
20: More Downtown Tampa | Charge your car! | Beautiful building | Interesting sculptures
21: More from the cruise
22: We decided to take this trip on the spur of the moment one day in November which was out of character for us. Our plan was to get some rest and relaxation over the Christmas season, when things are slower in Pad Pro. We picked this particular cruise so we could visit some places we had not been before. Although we could not dock in Grand Turk because of the high winds, we saw Key West, Florida and Jamaica. We missed our family at home over the holidays, however, Christmas on a cruise ship was a beautiful and interesting experience. We were surprised at the number of families with small children who chose this experience as well. We felt a bit sad for the crew who work on these cruise ships for 6 months at a time before getting two months off. "Wee Jimmy" was our cruise director from Scotland. Although he was hard to understand at times because of his thick accent, he was lively, helpful and fun. The only down side, was one of the comedians they brought on board in Jamaica to replace another comedian was a "dud." Other than this, we had a wonderful time on the cruise. In Florida we stayed at the condos we were familiar with from our trip in 2003. We managed to spend some time at the beach and pool. For a couple of days the weather was extremely cold in Florida (below freezing at night and only getting up to 50-60 degrees in the day). The rest of the time the weather was sunny and warm. We got to visit with friends, John and Peggi Young (Clearwater) and Bette and Victor Brooks (Lake Wales), and got to play golf with Ken and Maureen who were spending a week at Bonita Springs. We shopped at the outlet mall, visited John and Peggi's favourite beach side bar (Woody's) for happy hour, and ate some Pen Shell Clams that Rolland found on the beach! He found out how to prepare them from a You Tube video. We even got to search out some real estate in the area in the event we would like to have a place here someday. All in all, we had a wonderful trip. Lots of rest and relaxation with exploration of some different locales and fun with friends and family. Mission accomplished!!!!!!!! Rolland and Marilyn