Caribbean Cruise, February 2010

Sunday 31st January 2010

Leaving Miami


As I write it's 8pm Eastern Time and we sailed from Miami three hours ago. The weather's grey and rainy, so it'd better pick up before we get to the Virgin Islands on Wednesday!


Getting to Gatwick on Saturday was a bit scary. Overnight there'd been snow and ice and multiple accidents on the M25 and M23 that had led to them being closed, so our cab driver chose back roads. About six miles from Gatwick the road ahead was closed by yet another accident, leaving us seemingly with no alternative but to sit and wait. But luckily a quick look at Google Maps on my Blackberry showed a little country lane that we diverted to, and we arrived in lots of time.


Saturday's journey to Miami took almost as long as getting to Acapulco last October. We flew at 11.30am from Gatwick and landed at Charlotte, North Carolina at about 9pm (4pm local). Luckily, we had seat-back TV screens which helped the journey pass. Gill watched three films, but I watched just the one (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - again!) before settling down to an excellent 668 page book about the Berlin Wall which I almost finished in a (long) sitting.


There had been worries before we flew about whether we'd be able to land at Charlotte due to wintry storms that were threatening the area, but we landed without problems. Mind you, they must have cleared just the runways, because we seemed to taxi to the terminal on sheet ice.


Charlotte has a really nice airport terminal, with wide open spaces, loads of seating at all the gates and lots of shops and restaurants. With 90 minutes to kill before the onward flight to Miami we shared a nice seafood platter in a lively fish restaurant. This turned out to be an excellent idea because by the time we arrived at our hotel it was 3am GMT and we were too exhausted for anything but a cup of tea :o)


On Sunday morning we had a nice breakfast in the hotel that kept us going until we could have lunch on board at about 2pm. The Celebrity Constellation is really very nice inside, maybe even a bit better than the Ruby Princess that was only on its eighth cruise since launch when we sailed on it last New Year. Gill's done well to get us a 'stateroom' with a balcony and also 'concierge class' service, which includes having breakfast delivered to us every morning - yesssss!


We've now got two 'sea days' before reaching the Virgin Islands on Wednesday, so we'll be doing a fair bit of recreational reading. We've brought Gill's NetBook along and signed up for (expensive!) wireless Internet access.
Our 'Stateroom'
Our 'Stateroom'
Our balcony
Sailing out of murky Miami
Sailing out of murky Miami
Sailing past a gloomy South Beach into the Atlantic

Monday 1st February

Sea Day


The sun came out today, and brought with it a fierce wind, but we've had three or four hours pleasantly lounging and reading on deck.


We had breakfast delivered to our 'Stateroom' this morning, as we will do most days. Their bacon, scrambled egg, sausage, hash brown combination is rather nice and there's plenty of fruit to keep Gill happy.


The various restaurants all seem to serve food of very high quality that's very attractively presented - I'd say it just has the edge over the Azamara Quest that we sailed on last August and that we also loved. As usual, most alcohol is expensive, especially the wine, but apart from at dinner we get by on the free drinks such as tea, lemonade and orange juice :o)

Each night at dinner we'll be on a table with three other English couples, who are excellent company.


Gill thinks that maybe we missed out on our last Caribbean cruise by not taking any excursions - I think that our ports of call were just poor! This time we're going to break out a bit and sign up for trips in most places. We went to an hour-long excursions presentation today in the very impressive theatre and were tempted by quite a few things on offer - we might be swimming with dolphins in Curacao!


Tonight is a Gala Night, so we'll be dressing up :o)

The Constellation's top deck
The Constellation's top deck
There's whimsical art like this all
over the ship
Ice scupture - this was Cupid, carved
on Valentine's Day
Constellation's central staircase
A quiet area in one of the lounges

Tuesday 2nd February

Sea Day


It's nearly 1,000 nautical miles from Miami to our first port of call in the US Virgin Islands, which is why we've had two consecutive Sea Days at the beginning of the cruise. Tomorrow we arrive at St. Thomas at 8am, Gill's booked a morning excursion travelling around one side of the island on a safari bus and returning to the ship at midday. That'll let us cheapskates have lunch on board and then walk back into town afterwards!


Today we've been sprawled on loungers most of the day, reading our books and taking breaks from the sun and quite strong wind only for refreshments or the loo.


We've got into the habit on our last couple of cruises of having formal photographs of us  taken when we're dressed up for the evening. Our favourite so far have been the one that Gill's positioned near the fireplace at home - you know, the one where she's leaning over me making it look as if I'm an old codger with his carer :o) She always looks fantastic and it's usually me who lets the side down, looking as if I'm a bit simple or as if I'm smiling  through gritted teeth. We had another batch taken last night - I've seen them already, but whether we buy any of them depends on Gill's approval.

A deserted bar that was packed every evening
'The Bar At The Edge Of The World'
The enormous theatre

[next day]

[Miami to St. Thomas]   [St. Thomas]   [Antigua]   [St. Lucia]   [Barbados]
[Grenada]   [Sea Day]   [Aruba]   [Curacao]   [Homeward bound]

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