We left Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, November 11th, 2 days after our 10th Anniversary.  We were joined by our friends, Eric & Shari, who were also celebrating their 10th.  Here is our itinerary:

We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale, had one day at sea and arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then to St. John's, Antigua; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; a day at sea, then Nassau, Bahamas and back to Fort Lauderdale.

Here is some information about each of our ports and links to our photos:

The Ship!


Click here for photos of us around the ship!

Radiance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, at a capacity of over 3300 people, including crew, 5 restaurants, a casino, 3 pools...etc., this was basically a floating city!

First Port: San Juan, Puerto Rico:

We did a self-guided walking tour around Old San Juan, visited the forts and walked through the cobblestone streets.  The weather was overcast but warm and it didn't rain until the very end of the day, so we did get a bit wet but were on our way back to the ship anyway!


Click here for our photos in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521 and is the oldest city in Puerto Rico. Today, San Juan serves as Puerto Rico's most important seaport, as well as the main manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourist center of the island.  The buildings in Old San Juan date back to the 16th and 17th century.  The core old city is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets and colonial buildings, and encompasses less than a mile by a mile and a half.

In 1898, United States troops bombed, shelled and subsequently occupied the city during the Spanish-American War. Spanish rule ended after 1898 and the island became a territory of the United States of America. The latest census estimates place the city's population at 433,733, making it the 42nd-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. It is also the oldest European settlement in United States territory.

Second Port: Antigua:

We walked around the city of St. John's for about an hour before meeting up with our tour guide, taking us on an Eco-Tour.  The city was quite poor, it looked like it had some earthquake damage to the streets, they were really uneven all through town.  There were a few stores for shopping but I'm glad we had planned an excursion out of the city.  The Eco-Tour consisted of hiking, kayaking and snorkeling with Antigua Paddles, which was fantastic!


Click here for our photos in Antigua

Antigua (pronounced An-tee-ga) is an island in the Caribbean, part of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. It has a population of about 68,000, of which over 24,000 live in the capital of St. John's, and is 54 miles in circumference, with an area of 108 square miles. Sugar and pineapples are the chief products for export, but sweet potatoes, yams, maize and guinea corn are grown for local consumption. The major Antiguan sport is cricket. Antigua is the location of a 2007 Cricket World Cup site, on a new ground constructed on an old cane field in the North of the island. Sir Vivian ("Viv") Richards is one of the most famous Antiguans, who played for, and captained, the West Indies team.

Third Port: St. Thomas:

When we arrived in St. Thomas it was raining and we had to go through customs, since we had been out of the country (in Antigua) and were now back in US Territory (The US Virgin Islands).  Customs was a fairly long process as every person on the ship had to clear customs before anyone was allowed off the ship.  But when we got off the ship it had stopped raining, thankfully!  We caught a cab to the ferry on the other side of the island, which gave us a good (but quick) tour of the island, and took the ferry taxi to St. Johns, which reportedly has some of the best beaches in the world.  The weather had completely cleared by the time we reached Trunk Bay, and it proved its reputation, it was a fabulous beach! 


Click here for our photos in St. Thomas (and St. John)

Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and a constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States.  As of the 2000 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,181, about 47 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 80.9 km² (31.24 sq mi). In 1917 St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. Like Great Britain, cars travel on the left side of the road. However, unlike Great Britain, the steering column is located on the left side of the vehicle.

St. John is the smallest of the three main islands: Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Saint Croix. St. John is located in the Caribbean Sea about 4 miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory's capital, Charlotte Amalie, and 4 miles south and west of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. It is 50.8 km² (19.61 sq mi) in area and has a population of 4,197 (2000 census). Because there are no airports on St. John, there is only access to the island by boat. In 1956, Laurence Rockefeller donated most of the land he had acquired on the island to the United States National Park Service under the condition that it be protected from future development.

Virgin Islanders are now U.S. citizens, although they are not able to vote in U.S. presidential elections and have only non-voting status in Congress. The Virgin Islands are an organized, unincorporated territory of the US and, since 1972, have elected their own Governor and have a large degree of self-rule through a small, 15-seat local legislature.


Fourth Port: St. Maarten:

Our day in St. Maarten started out hot and sunny!  We were headed for an America's Cup Sailing Regatta on 12 metre racing yachts, actual yachts that sailed in the America's Cup.  We were all given jobs on the yacht, Scott and I were Primary Grinders.  We raced against another yacht, they beat us by a hair!  By the end of the day, it was raining so hard there were floods in the streets, but again, we were on our way back to the ship anyway...we did get wet though!


Click here for our photos in St. Maarten

Saint Martin (Dutch: Sint Maarten; French: Saint-Martin) is a tropical island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 240 km (150 miles) east of Puerto Rico. The 98 km² (38 square-mile) island is divided roughly in half between France and the Netherlands; it is the smallest inhabited land mass in the world that is divided between two nations. The southern Dutch half is called Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; the northern French half is called Saint-Martin and is part of the French overseas région and département of Guadeloupe.

The French part of the island has a land area of 53.20 km² (20.5 sq mi). At the October 2004 supplementary French census, the population in the French part of the island was 33,102 inhabitants (up from only 8,072 inhabitants at the 1982 census, a quadrupling in just 20 years).

Sint Maarten, the Dutch part of the island, has a land area of 34 km² (13.1 sq mi). In 2004 the population of Sint Maarten was estimated at 33,119 inhabitants.

France and the Netherlands agreed to divide the island on March 23, 1648. To divide the island in two sections, the inhabitants had to choose two walkers, one chosen by the French-dominated community and the other one, named Menno Versteeg, by the Dutch-dominated community, who were put back to back in one extreme of the island, making them walk in opposite directions, and not allowing them to run. The point where they eventually met was set as the other extreme of the island, and the subsequently created line was chosen as the frontier, dividing Saint-Martin from Sint Maarten. Seemingly, the French walker had walked more than the Dutch walker. (54km to 32km).

Fifth Port: Bahamas

We had planned to go para-sailing on the beach here, but it was too windy!  It was a gorgeous day but the wind was blowing, so none of the water sports were available.  We decided to take a ferry-taxi over to Paradise Island and see the famed "Atlantis Resort" which was definitely worth seeing.  We wished we had more time to visit "The Dig" which has the largest captive marine environment in the world.  We did see quite a bit in the areas open to public but didn't have enough time to do the whole tour.


Click here for our photos in the Bahamas

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent English-speaking nation in the West Indies. An archipelago of 700 islands and cays, Christopher Columbus' first landfall in the New World was on the island of San Salvador, in the south part of Bahamas. The Bahamas is an independent country and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom. The Queen of the United Kingdom is the ceremonial head of state, represented by a Bahamian governor-general. Prime Minister is the head of government and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the elected House of Assembly. The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. The Bahamas is generally reckoned to be one of the leading offshore financial centers.

Back to the Ship: Food Pictures!

For my blogger friends and all the folks out there who enjoy food photos, this is a gallery for you!  We definitely ate well on the cruise and have pictures to prove it (of the food of course):


Click here for more food pictures!

Overall:

Overall it was a fantastic trip and I'd do it again in a heart beat!  My biggest wish is that the times in port didn't seem so rushed and that we would have had time to experience the culture a bit more, experience some of each culture's food, music, and local traditions.  There just wasn't time for that, but it did give a taste of several different islands and which ones I would like to go back to. 

Bahamas was nice but I would have to say my least favorite.  Most of this was due to our plans being changed due to the wind, and that there were 7 cruise ships in port along with us (at least 20,000 people) which made it VERY crowded, and the people selling their wares on beaches, and in markets, were quite pushy.  I guess that is how they make a living so you can't blame them!   But it seemed more 'commercial' there than the rest of the islands, with little to do other than bars and casino's (neither of which we take part in) and shop (which is not either of our favorite past times!)

My favorite islands were St. Thomas and St. John (Trunk Bay), and I would have loved to spend more time there.  The people were friendly, the cities were very clean and of course, the beaches, are something you just have to experience yourself!!!

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

P.S. Info blurbs are from Wikipedia

Melissa's Blog 

Email Us! melissa@forsythfamily.com or scott@forsythfamily.com