Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Noordam: The Beginning

This past week and a half was our first cruise together on the Noordam. Ron went one cruise ahead of me to learn the shows and allow me some more time to visit friends and family. I had planned on stopping in Pennsylvania for several days before heading down to meet the ship but I ended up getting really sick and having to stay in California an extra week. I would have been just as glad for the extra time with my west coast friends but as it was, I had to cancel all of my plans and spent several days coughing and complaining. It was really nice to spend some extra time with my parents though. I really enjoyed our time together this trip.

Now that we have a full cruise down on the Noordam, I can safely say that we are in for a ton of fun and a boat load of adventures this contract.

Our first port was St. Maarten. We had been there before on the Eurodam but don’t have the lay of the land down just yet. So we just relaxed at a cafĂ© near the beach and wandered around for a while. We foresee St. Maarten being our beach day more than anything else.

The next day Ron had a long work call in the theater and after my boat drill (which was an especially long and boring one) I escorted a tour in St. Lucia. In doing so I was treated to beautiful view of the Pitons (which are a World Heritage Site), a wonderful winding drive in the countryside, a stop at a chocolate plantation where I tasted a cocoa bean straight from the shell (it tastes like oranges!), pet a baby donkey, and saw how sugar was processed. The scenery in St. Lucia was really beautiful.

Petite Piton


One of many, many beautiful views!

Barbados was our next port of call. We took a cab to the city and unsuccessfully tried to find somewhere for lunch. We quickly tired of wandering around very poor and crowded city streets, so we snapped a picture of the bridge (after which Bridgetown was named) and headed back to the cruise port where we shared a burger. We called it a day after that and went back to the ship. We figured that we would probably stay on the ship when we are in Barbados but then one of the cast members told us about a resort area that is supposed to be very pretty and a lot of fun. We’ll try that next time we’re there in March.

That night the ship went into Code Red. This is my least favorite thing about eating on ships. Code Red means that some filthy passengers didn’t wash their hands enough and a bunch of them got themselves infected with the GI illness that is so prevalent on cruise ships. Once it hits a few people on a ship it spreads like wildfire. So many of them have it that we had to shut down self service food which means that getting meals takes for-ev-er. But since none of the crew had it we were quarantined to eating in the PO instead of the Lido so the filthy passengers don’t get us sick. Sadly, on Dominica day, a few Crew members fell victim to the awful GI symptoms. So everyone got a little nervous. Luckily Ron and I made it through in full health.

The following day on Martinique I again escorted a tour. I boarded a bus of eager sightseers and a wonderful tour guide named Bridget and we all made our way around the isle. I really enjoyed the whole day. I found Martinique to be very different than any of the other Caribbean islands we have visited (and at this point we have seen almost every one of them). The French influence on the island gives way to European architecture, a peaceful presence, a value on history, lovely churches and narrow streets. We made several stops along the way and enjoyed some nice views and historical snippets but the highlight of the trip was Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden with a series of suspension bridges. Later on that afternoon we attempted to grab a bite to eat off the ship and we had high hopes for some local treats because Carnival was occurring right across from our ship. Despite the harbor being tourist-centric, barely anyone spoke a word of English (my French is far rustier than my Spanish despite the fact that I took French in school and never had any formal education in Spanish – go figure) and nobody accepted our American money so we were forced to eat more icky PO food on the ship.

Hummingbirds in the Botanical Garden
The suspension bridges

 We didn’t have high hopes for Dominica (say Dom-en-eek-uh) because we know that Samana, which is also in the Dominican Republic, is very poor and has little to do, but we were pleasantly surprised to say the least. Our day in Dominica was absolutely our favorite of the week! Some of the cast members called us in the morning and asked if we wanted to share a cab to Trafalgar Falls. Of course we jumped at the chance for a new adventure. Most people can take a short hike up to a viewing platform and watch the falls from a distance but I think we can safely attest that we are not “most people.” The five of us trekked past the viewing platform and climbed over slippery, moss covered rocks, splashed through sulfur hot springs, and navigated nooks and crannies in the landscape in order to get to the top of the falls. Once we reached our destination, we jumped in and splashed around in the waterfall. Climbing up to a remote, natural waterfall and being able to swim in it has been on what I guess you could call my “bucket list” although I would never really refer to it as that. It’s just something I have always wanted to do. We plan to go back and climb up a little further at the end of March. But our next trip to Dominica will include tubing down a river. I think I’m in love with this place!

We climbed up the waterfall on Ron's right

The whole hike consisted on climbing over rocks like this

The reward at the end of the hike!

So fun!

One nice thing about this itinerary is that we stop at St. Thomas. When we were on the Eurodam we were absolutely sick of the place but now that we’re so rarely in American ports, it’s a treat to be able to use our phones. We spent the day catching up on the every day stuff like paying bills, calling family, and returning e-mails and then met some friends at Tickles Dockside Pub for a quick drink before heading back to the ship. It’s weird to us that some of these places are becoming so familiar. We will miss some of our favorites when our time on ships wraps up.

After a day at sea we arrived in Half Moon Cay. I’m not sure why we didn’t get off the ship but I guess it didn’t seem important. We laid by the pool and enjoyed the sun and felt jealous while watching the guests eating food from the Lido. We never thought we’d wish we could eat Lido food but it sure does look good after a week of eating unidentifiable PO food. Seriously. You guys just have no idea. I can’t do it justice with words alone. It’s really something.

And then we were back in Fort Lauderdale. Lauderdale really holds a special spot in my heart now. It does feel a little like coming home every time. It’s a nice place too. We’ll have to get out there and take pictures for you all one day soon. We’re usually so busy with internet and grocery shopping that we forget that our home port is pretty too!

And off we go on our next cruise. We have some new destinations coming up and few familiar ones as well. We’ll keep you posted on our crazy life! 

1 comment:

Erin Ranallo said...

Heck yeah, I read this post...I always read your posts!

Have fun!