Category Archives: Cruising

Grand Turk 

The largest of 40 small islands that makes up Turks and Caicos with an average temperature between 80 and 84 degrees.

In several locations you can see clear across the island to the other side. This fairly flat island is less than 7 square miles.

The first documented discovery was in 1512 by Ponce de Leon although many believe, Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492.

A monument in his honor has been erected in Cockburn Town. 
Features JAGS McCartney International Airport near John Glen Drive. Astronaut John Glen’s space ship splashed down in the atlantic ocean in 1962 just of the coast of Grand Turk and a replica is placed here, just a few months later Scott Carpenter also splashed down. 

Over 150 years ago The Grand Turk Lighthouse was brought over from the UK to cut down on shipwrecks on the reefs.


Donkeys and even a few horses run wild here and are protected. You can see these are accustomed to daily visits from the Calypso Tram.

Tourism is the main business , the locals are friendly and appreciative of the people.


It’s For Sale with an Ocean View. 


Snorkeling & Diving are plentiful.

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How to Plan a Cruise

A cruise is truly a reasonable way to see the World. You always know where you are sleeping and you will not starve or go thirsty. My first suggestion is to go directly to the Cruise Company Web Site , here you will be able to enter information on where you want to go and find out where the Port is that you need to get to. After you choose your location you will be given only a few options for dates depending on what time of year it is. The farther away the date is, the less expensive the cost will be. Finally call me to get started booking that journey.Our first cruise was to Alaska and when I booked it the beginning of May was the most reasonably priced. I did shop around to other Cruise Lines but for our needs Carnival was the better price and we were able to get a balcony for the cost of an interior cabin at their competition. Some cruise lines are known for hosting mostly older passengers, some younger but there really are only a few companies that own many different brands. Nearly everything is included in your cost (except alcohol) some companies sell add on packages for that also. You will have to pay extra for whatever Excursions you choose. I wanted to have all of our expenses paid so we would not need a lot of cash or extra money so I pre paid for all of our excursions and gratuities (a daily charge per person per room) With Carnival they have a special price (Early Saver Rate) that allows you to make changes to your booking if you need to.  Lower floors can be near engine rooms and upper levels just below a night club so be sure to ask me for help. Check the Cruise Lines web site directly for details on baggage restrictions, port directions and transportation options. Also see if you will need a passport, we were able to just purchase a new passport card it is only good for LAND and SEA travel NO AIR but it is less expensive. Either way you need to start the process months in advance. If you plan your cruise with me I will be sure you have all the necessary details. 

It is a good idea to arrive to the Port’s City a day in advance in case you have flight delays so you will not miss your cruise. When you book your flight to leave be sure it is later afternoon if it is on the day you debark. Even though the ships usually dock very early in the morning there are some times delays getting off the ship and collecting luggage.

  • Get your Passport and start saving your pennies
  • Choose a Destination and Date / do the research and choose a Cruise Line
  • Select a Cabin and read all the FAQ the cruise lines own trip Insurance is usually a good idea to add
  • Select a Hotel and transportation for the Airport and Cruise port
  • Buy Airline tickets or alternate transportation
  • Pick your excursions and check the weather for the time of travel
  • Notify your bank and credit card company of your travel dates
  • Keep a well-organized binder and check prices often if something goes down you can probably get a credit (airlines, hotel or cruise)


    Aruba

    The locals call it The Happy Island , what’s not to be happy about ? The weather is amazing averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it is really a desert there is very little rain, low humidity and it is south of the storm belt making Hurricanes unlikely.

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    The coastline is beautiful with many areas of rough terrain only accessible by Jeep or similar vehicle.

    There are several old shacks from the past where families would come to spend the weekend during festival times to fish and eat and spend time with family.

    Way out in the desert is an old Spanish Gold Mine called “Bushiribana Mine”

    it was made to look more like a fort to desguise it .

    If you are looking for a party there is always the ever popular Banana Bus that is just that a bus ( no windows ) it does a little sight seeing and a whole lot of drinking with music and fun.

    When you run out of steam and need to cool off there are also Thirteen Casinos.

    More to see , a lighthouse, the first church, and an Ostrich Farm and No they are not a native bird.

    Want to visit, get your passport and start packing there are plenty of Hotels if Cruising is not your cup of tea, Taxi’s are easy to come by and the fees are regulated by the Government .

     

    Happy New Year 

    Did I mention that most of my wonderful adventures thus far are thanks to #Carnival cruise ships. Make travel part of your New Years Resolution life is short enjoy it. 

    Dominican Republic 🇩🇴

    I love to visit new places and people and learn first hand about other cultures. Traveling by cruise ship is a simple way to do this. Many may choose the candy coated version but I like to venture out and see things for what they are.

    If you like jewelry Amber and Larimar are both very prevalent here. There are museums dedicated to them.


    With that in mind it surprises me how many people choose here to visit for long vacations. I found the majority of people we interacted with unfriendly and not wanting to bother with tourists.

    We still enjoyed our time, the first day at a resort being pampered on the beach. If you never left this little bit of paradise your golden.

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    The following day we visited La Romana this area exists because of shell oil and Paramount Pictures. Several movies have been filmed here along the river , Rambo , Predator , Anaconda and more.

     

     

    Also overlooking the Charon River is the Village of Altos de Chavon with many cobblestone pathways leading to the Archeological Museum , and The Famous School of Design. The Church of St. Stanislaus Consecrated in 1979 Pope John Paul II sent the ashes of Poland’s patron saint, St. Stanislaus , and a hand carved statue to commemorate the church’s inauguration .  

    Many famous movie stars have been married here as well as held there receptions in the courtyard.

     

     The Amphitheater, inaugurated in 1982 by Frank Sinatra has since hosted dozens of famous performers such as Sting, Elton John, Marc Anthony , Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias and many more. Today this theatre is still a very important part December 30th, 2016 Enrique Iglesias performs.

    Next we continue on to Bonaire and the salt flats. This was a very beautiful view from the ship with clear blue waters and colorful surroundings. During our journey, especially when we find a location we may want to return to , we asked about the crime among other things. We were told the crime is relatively low (relative to what I wonder as all of the businesses had bars on their windows.) 

    BONAIRE

    Congratulations Carnival 

    Cruising

    What makes a great cruise ?
    The definition of a great cruise is as different as the number of Cruise lines. Is it Food? Is it Service? Is it Comfort? More importantly are you comparing apples to apples or are you really comparing to grapes?

    My first cruise was on a Carnival ship and I was pleased with my choice. It was to Alaska so maybe it’s not totally a fair comparison. Besides the spectacular scenery, there are very good comedians and stage productions as well as a Casino and a few stores. Activities are also planned daily at no charge like trivia games and competitions. Many people’s  reaction to Carnival is; outdated with garish décor. Honestly that was fine with me I loved it since it reminded me of the Love Boat. That is especially funny to most since Princess ( owned by Carnival Corp) actually was the real Love Boat. Many of the Carnival ships are being dry docked and overhauled as well as new ships such the Vista being built. You will not find a more dedicated staff, especially at that price-point.
    That is the real elephant in the room, MONEY. Either you want to spend it or you don’t. Princess and Cunard while we are on the subject offers a classier experience. There are more amenities in the stateroom and you will be pampered more. There are fewer children, partly because of the cost and partly due to more programs offered on Carnival geared for young children not offered on Princess and Cunard. There are several restaurants that are an added cost to dine in or you can have a special meal served on your balcony also an additional fee.
    Still not satisfied would you prefer staterooms that were double the size of the average with beautiful sliding glass doors or heated floors in the bathroom and real tile. Drinks often included at Dinner and at least one excursion at no additional cost. Don’t worry although older children are not prevented from sailing the lack of entertainment usually keeps them away. These luxury liners do not have Comedy Clubs and Floor Shows but instead feature large libraries and guest Lecturer.
    If this is more your taste Visit my website or one of my specialty links for Avalon , Ama Waterways, or Viking all very luxurious cruise lines for those that want a more refined experience and to be pampered.

    STILL A BARGAIN
    No matter how you look at it, there is no other way to truly enjoy a vacation. What more could you ask for, you arrive at the Port and hand off you luggage unpacking only once. You know where your room is every night and don’t have to cook or make the bed. ( I know some of you have a maid )
    It is also more comforting in some areas to know you are there with a group even though you may not see a lot of the people from your ship once your off on an excursion. It’s nice to know someone is there waiting for you, you’re not totally alone in an unfamiliar territory.
    I love to hear the naysayers…. I could never cruise, I would go stir crazy being stuck on a ship for days.
    How many of you that have said those words truly understand the size of a cruise ship? Yes there are many but mostly big, bigger and WOW. The next time you go to your local mall (the one with INDOOR stores) look around , could you spend a few days there maybe eating free food or hanging around a pool or three(yes 3 at least) with a drink and lounge chair. Now if you can see from one end to the other of that mall mentally stack another Mall on top and now you’re getting close to experiencing the size of a cruise ship.

    Bermuda

    What is it about Bermuda that draws people in ? Personally I have been fascinated with Bermuda since I was a kid and heard stories about the Bermuda Triangle. Before we headed out, my Mother asked me if I was aware of the stories.  I laughed and said ” Of course that is why I am going there.”

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    We arrived in the area called Dockyard Marina which is the location of Kings Wharf and

    Heritage Wharf. From this area you can take the Ferry to either Hamilton or St George’s.

    You can also get a Taxi or Public Bus ( that’s a scary ride and takes longer than the Ferry) or rent a scooter. We opted to purchase a pass that allows you the choice of Ferry or Bus unlimited trips. Only Bermudians as they call themselves are allowed to drive a car and they may only have one per household.

    In this area of the Dockyard is The Royal Naval Dockyard and The National Museum of Bermuda. wpid-wp-1446575332170.jpegwpid-wp-1446575320753.jpeg

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    The Museum is a self guided tour so you can spend as much time as you would like. During our trip the weather was beautiful until the last day. As you can see from this photo, a storm blew in. wpid-imag0190.jpg I was glad we saved the Museum for this day we felt a little better since this place use to keep our soldiers safe and stayed a little dryer than when we tried to venture out earlier that morning .

    wpid-wp-1446575418639.jpeg  This is a cave that leads to an underground bunker now used for exhibits showing the History of the people imprisoned on the Island.

    wpid-wp-1446575375482.jpegwpid-wp-1446575403950.jpegwpid-wp-1446575384736.jpeg This last corridor was extremely narrow.
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    The photo above on the left is the Commissioner’s home , center is one of the bunker, and the view out of the bunker looking onto the Harbor.  Up on the ridge are the numerous cannons and a road leading to the Casemate.

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    The above areas are off-limits, they are in very rough shape. Casemate Barracks was built-in the late 1830’s to house troops manning the Dockyard, it later closed in 1951. From 1963-94 it was Bermuda’s maximum security prison and currently it is under restoration by Museum volunteers.

    wpid-wp-1446575465793.jpeg This building we were able to walk around in. I stayed to the first floor and that was creepy enough. It did not appear as though the upstairs was off-limits but it did not look safe and there was no way to know who may be up there since anyone can get in there.

    wpid-wp-1446575516102.jpeg   The second photo is looking down the hallway.  wpid-wp-1446575531275.jpeg

    This next photo is of stairways that are located in each corner of the building and look similar to a spiral staircase. The first photo is clear. The second photo should be a mirror image of the first but something happened. I saw a clear view but that is not what I ended up with. You decide what we are seeing.

    wpid-wp-1446575500415.jpeg  Left side of room.      wpid-wp-1446575487005.jpeg   Right side of room.

    The original clock works from the clock tower are here and operational.  wpid-imag0169.jpg

    The face of the clock is down stairs and the inner workings start on the lower floor and go up through to the second floor.

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    Lets take the ferry to Hamilton which is the capital. When you get off the ferry there is a visitor center to the left, this is a great place to start they are very helpful. You can pick up brochures here and get a snack or use the restroom located to the outside rear of the building. We will visit the Crystal Caves which is only one of many caves here on the island. Walk across the street to Queen St and up a few blocks to Church St. to the right past City Hall is where we catch a bus to the caves. Route one will take you out-of-town and route seven brings you back to Hamilton.
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    There are guided tours every fifteen minutes. You can grab a snack at the Cafe before you head down the 83 steps to the floating bridge. I hope you’re not afraid of the dark. This is a great place to visit if the heat of summer since it’s a constant cool temperature.

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    If you have children you may want to visit the Aquarium Museum & Zoo in Flatts. Here you will find a collection of Saltwater

    fish, a Museum of assorted exhibits from early settlers. There are several types of animal exhibits, a gift shop and a snack shop.

    A Government operated facility founded in 1926, it’s supported by The Bermuda Zoological Society and Atlantic Conservation Partnership.

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    The weather in Bermuda is generally comfortable in the seventies. There are several Beaches that are public. The water is a beautiful color and fairly warm. Most of the Beaches we saw had changing facilities, restrooms and some type of food available.

    P1020159                 So what are you waiting for, visit Bermuda. A cruise ship is the way to go since your room is always waiting. www.atouristlifetravel.com   

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    Norfolk

    It’s a wonderful sunny day in Downtown Norfolk, temperature 70 most of the day. It is a very busy city and lucky for us we were not heading to the Airport yesterday as there was a traffic back up for miles. Taxis your main option of transportation still manage to over charge by taking what they call the shorter way which actually takes longer and costs more. The Uber app will tell you it costs $17.90 from the Airport to Downtown when you actually are charged $ 28.50

    The Residence Inn is a fairly central location, if you don’t mind a little excercise. We were able to walk to the Pier where the USS Wisconsin is. wpid-wp-1445457699194.jpeg

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    There is a wonderful walkway along the waterfront and several other tourboats, dinner cruises and a ferry.

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    Granby Street nearby offers many dining options for both lunch and dinner. Just a few doors down from the local community college is a local coffee shop hangout called A Latte Cafe. We had a quick bite for lunch, it’s no frills self service but fair prices and fresh ingredients.

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    Travel

    Travel, Vacation, Holiday what ever you may call it. What does it mean to you?
    Time to enjoy family and friends, or relax and see the world. Vacation means different things to different people but one thing is a constant “It’s WORK.”
    Have you ever sat down and figured out how much time you spend looking for places to go and places to stay. Then more time on how to get there and how to pay for it. And “LADIES” we know in addition to all that research we also have to pack for our children and that includes the “Big Ones.”
    On average according to several different research companies prospective travelers spend between 46 and 60 hours minimum, researching before they travel. Do you have that much time to waste? If you do are you sure you found Reputable places to spend your hard earned money.
    I spent a lot of time over the years doing just that. I decided to go in to Business as a Travel Planner and have obtained connections with the Top Companies in the Industry that use only Vetted suppliers to insure your satisfaction. So take the WORK out of your vacation and let me do the planning for you. www.atouristlifetravel.com
    Check out my website and have a look around, there are answers to lots of questions and many travel options. When you are ready email me or just sign up for email blasts on specialized travel locations you may be interested in at a later date.

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