Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Time to Sail Away From Reality

When you and your husband have opposite political views and you're both retired, your days and nights, particularly when the TV news is on, can be anxious and unsettling.  Going on a vacation out of the country can be a nice respite and quite healthy for a marriage...and we are getting older...and it's cold in New Mexico this month...and we filed our taxes and are getting a refund...and because it's Valentines Day... and Ron's birthday...so, for many good reasons, we booked a Caribbean cruise for February.
On board enjoying the Bon Voyage Party

We found a very nice deal for a large Signature Suite with our favorite cruise line, Holland America, departing from Tampa, Florida on February 17th.  Southwest Airlines was having a sale and we got very inexpensive airfare.

We have good friends who live just outside of Tampa, and they offered to host us for a couple of days before we sailed.  On February 15th, we flew to Tampa and our friend, Anna, picked us up.  She took us to nice places for dinner (Middle Eastern and seafood) and the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg which was also featuring an exhibit of Frida Kahlo art and then dropped us off at the Cruise Port for our cruise which was to set sail at 4PM Friday, February 17th.

Departing the Port of Tampa

Downtown Tampa

Bon Voyage Party on the Aft Deck

Approaching the Sunshine Bridge
Going under the Sunshine Bridge

Sunset departing Tampa Bay

Sea View Pool aft at sunset

We docked at Key West the next day at 11AM.  Neither of us had been here before. The most southern point of mainland USA, it is a 2 mile by 4 mile island 90 miles north of Cuba.

Taking my morning walk around the Promenade Deck

Dawn an hour from Key West

Key West Port

The beginning of US Hwy 1 - The Florida Keys Scenic Highway 

Everything is pretty much sea level here.  Warm in the low 80's F.

We were at sea Sunday night as we headed to Roatan, Honduras.  It was a beautiful sunset.

Ron enjoying the sunset from our veranda
Sunrise on Sunday morning just west of Cuba


The Promenade Deck, always popular with walkers in the morning

The Lido pool mid-ship

  It was Gala Night on Sunday so Ron and I dressed up for dinner and later attended a show.

Vicki and Ron February 19, 2017 on the MS Oosterdam
We arrived at Mahogany Bay in Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.  It is home for the second largest Barrier Reef in the world and it is a haven for diving.

The mountains of Honduras are in the far distance
We had booked an island tour with Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth Hangout.  Our driver, Michelle, drove us to Daniel Johnson's home where he has set-up an animal refuge for discarded pets.  He now charges admission to insure their economic welfare. You can hold some of the animals.  The sloth was so sweet to get a hug from.

Feeding a beautiful macaw

A parrot who knows how to pick a lock

A Three Toed Sloth

A Capuchin Monkey

My friend looking for a treat
We stopped for lunch at Gio's in Flowers Bay

Flowers Bay, Roatan Island
I had the King Crab with Lobster 
Flowers Bay, Roatan Island
Ron with his Coconut Rum drink at Gio's
Enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean from Gio's deck

 We did some souvenir shopping and headed back to the ship.  The next port was Santo de Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala.  We arrived at the steamy tropical port at 8:00AM on Tuesday.

I had booked a Humanitarian Tour to Livingston and the Rio Dulce .  We went up the Rio Dulce to a Mayan school where the children eagerly greeted us with songs and signs and notes written in English.  We passed out pencils, erasers and other school supplies we had brought.

Boarding our river boat from the port

The shore along the bay

Lots of pelicans - five species are represented

Salted fish laid out to dry.  This is an important commodity for Livingston.  

The children (grades 1-3) waiting for us.

An egret

There are many homes and hotels along the Rio Dulce

Heading back to the ship

The Port at Santo Tomas de Castillo is primarily an industrial port.  The cruise ships that dock here bring important tourist dollars to this poor Central American country.
 We sailed north that evening along the Yucatan Peninsula toward Costa Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The Cruise Port of Costa Maya, Mexico

Carnival has a big private cruise ship port development at Costa Maya.  But we passed on this, preferring to book a private excursion to Maya Chan Beach Resort.
Our ship as seen from the Maya Chan Beach Resort
Maya Chan was a a small private beach with great hospitality.

 Maya Chan Beach offered a rum punch and chips, guacamole and Pico de Gallo salsa upon arrival as guests were provided a reserved seating area, kayaks, snorkel gear, beach games,and floating beach chairs.  An all you can eat lunch was served along with an open bar.  Massage was offered for an additional fee and I enjoyed a half hour massage.

Maya Chan Beach Resort

My place in the shade

The dining palapa where we enjoyed a lovely taco bar lunch

Inside the gate entrance of Maya Chan Beach

The many colors of the sea at Maya Chan Beach.

Our ship was sailing at 3PM.  Returning to the ship, I enjoyed looking at the incredibly blue sea by the cruise ship port.  Beautiful day!

We sailed back on Wednesday, February 22nd, through a rain storm and some rolling seas and wind, arriving back in Tampa by 6:30AM on Friday, February 24th,

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