Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zoominations at Lowry Park Zoo

This weekend, Ron and I went to see Zoominations, a Chinese lantern festival at Lowry Park Zoo. The art of lantern-making has been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years, dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). Lowry Park’s exhibit, created by a team of 40 craftsmen from the Sichuan Province, was a fantastical mix of traditional Chinese symbols for peace, wealth and happiness and larger-than-life zoo animals. Most of the lanterns were made from colorful silk fabric over steel frames and lit with LED lights. But there was also a 60-foot high replica of the Manfeilong Pagoda constructed entirely out of porcelain plates and cups. My favorite display was the koi pond and garden of pearl flowers – just stunning.

Zoominations entrance
"The Gate to China"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Celebrity Summit Day 7 - St Thomas

Friday was our wind-down day so we didn’t plan anything too strenuous. After breakfast we did a little packing (boo!) and then met Mama and Daddy to take the sky ride to Paradise Point, an observation deck and bar overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor. The last time we were in St Thomas, Mama and I had planned to go to Paradise Point on our own while Ron and Daddy went scuba diving. But the dive boat broke down and the scuba trip was cancelled so we all ended up going up the mountain together. Even though the guys were really disappointed that they didn’t get to dive, it turned out to be one of our great cruise memories. Paradise Point was such a beautiful place. Plus, that was when Mama and I discovered their famous Bushwacker, a frozen drink with Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, Crème de Cacao, vodka, rum and Coco Lopez.

Paradise Point was just as gorgeous as we remembered. On the ride up, I even forgot that I really don’t like sky rides! :-)  We spent about two hours on the mountain, just talking and enjoying the views and the wonderful breezes. We shared some nachos and Mama and I each got a Bushwacker. I walked around a little to take some pictures and when I got back to our table, Mama had fallen completely asleep in her chair! It really was that relaxing.

on the skyride

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Celebrity Summit Day 6 - St Martin/St Maarten

license plates

Ron and I had been to St Martin once before but it was 19 years ago and we’d done a snorkeling tour that trip. This time I really wanted to see more of the island. After a little research, I found Bernard’s Tours, which had rave reviews on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. Mama and Daddy were interested in an island tour too so I signed us all up for the SXM Island Tour I. Here is the description from their website:
SXM Island Tour I
9:00 am - 1:30 pm
Sightseeing and Shopping - $40/pp | $5/pp Deposit
All tours depart from the Cruise Information Center
• Pickup at the cruise pier
• Iguana Farm (currently under construction until further notice)
• Stop at the French and Dutch border [2 mins]
• Brief stop at Oyster Pond overlooking the island of St Barths [5-10 mins]
• Photo opportunity at Orient hilltop
• Marigot - open market (French Capital) [60 mins]
• Maho Beach - see low flying planes [45 mins]
• Drive through Simpson Bay marina
• Harold Jack Hill (View of Simpson Marina, Airport & Anguilla)
• Return to Philipsburg depends on tour departure time; all guests will be returned in time to meet their ship's sail time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Celebrity Summit Day 5 - Antigua

Summit in Antigua

Ron and I hadn’t made any specific plans for the day in Antigua. After two full-day excursions, we thought we’d just keep things simple and take the local bus to either a nearby beach or to Nelson’s Dockyard, an 18th century British Naval dockyard on the south end of the island. Since we were both a little sunburned by then, we decided Nelson’s Dockyard would be the better option.

We got off the ship around 9:30, armed with walking directions to the bus depot that I’d found on Cruise Critic’s Antigua forum. First we had to get through the gauntlet of tour and taxi ride salesmen. And I thought the vendors in Nassau were bad. It wasn’t so much that they were aggressive; it was just that there were so many of them. After about a 10-minute walk, we finally made it to the depot where the bus was waiting. We sat for a few more minutes until the bus filled up and then we were on our way. It was quite a ride! The bus had a huge crack across the windshield and Ron’s jump seat leaned back so far that he was almost in my lap. As the bus wound over the hills, I could hear the gears grinding and screeching. I’m pretty sure a few parts fell off along the way. When we stepped off at Nelson’s Dockyard 30 minutes later, the two guys at the ticket booth said, “Oh, you took the bus. You’re adventurous.” Yes, a little more than we’d planned to be. :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Celebrity Summit Day 4 - St Lucia

St Lucia

Sunrise was at 5:45 so despite my best efforts to sleep in, I was wide awake at 6 o’clock. I sat out on the balcony where I could see the mountains of St Lucia slowly getting closer. We were in St Lucia with Mama, Daddy, Jenny and Jeremy in 2001 for our 10th anniversary. I think that was Ron’s all-time favorite vacation. We stayed at Sandals Regency La Toc, and Ron loved diving in the morning, golfing in the afternoon and sitting in the pool at the Sunset Bluffs. We both got hooked on Sandals. So of course our plan for the day was to visit another Sandals – Sandals Grande St Lucian.

After breakfast, Ron and I headed off the ship to the taxi stand where we were placed in a cab driven by a very nice man named Cristophe. It was morning rush hour and traffic was crawling so it took about 30 minutes to get to the resort, but the views along the way were nice. St Lucia was even more beautiful than I remembered – lush green mountains and hot pink bougainvillea spilling over walls, coves filled with sailboats. So pretty.

Celebrity Summit Day 3 - Barbados

Welcome to Barbados sign

I’ve wanted to visit Barbados ever since I found out that you could snorkel with sea turtles. We snorkeled with turtles in Akumal, Mexico last year and it was amazing, so I was especially looking forward to this port stop.

We’d booked the 5-Hour Lunch Cruise with Calypso Cruises, which included snorkeling, a sail along the coast and lunch. Here is a description of the tour from Calypso’s website:
5 Hour Lunch Cruise
Sailing Barbados aboard the Calypso Girl is an experience like no other. For this cruise we limit our numbers to just 14 guests for an intimate and personal ambiance. A splendid buffet-style lunch and unlimited drinks await you during our five hour cruise. Transportation and snorkel equipment are other included amenities when you sail with us.

Sail with us for an unforgettable day!
Sailing time is 10:00 am– 3:00 pm
Price: US$100.00 per Adult & US$60.00 per Child (16 & under).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Celebrity Summit Day 2 - Sea Day

I didn’t sleep very well and woke up with a headache. I sat out on the balcony for a little while and then decided that something was missing. Oh yes, coffee! So I snuck out of the room and went down to Café Al Bacio to pick up some coffee and croissants to go. Much better.


Celebrity Summit Day 1 - San Juan

Although Ron and I have taken a lot of weekend cruises in the past few years, we usually prefer to stay at a land-based resort for our “big vacation”. But this year I really wanted to spend some time with Mama and Daddy and they like to cruise. So a cruise it was! We chose a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit. I was excited about the itinerary – only one sea day and five different islands, including Barbados which we hadn’t visited before.

In all our cruises, this was actually the first time we’ve had to fly to the embarkation port. I was a little nervous about flying on the same day but we found an early, direct flight to San Juan on Jet Blue, and since the ship didn’t leave port until 8:30 that night, we had some wiggle room for emergencies. Fortunately, there weren’t any. Our flight even got in 20 minutes early. It was a short cab ride to the port, and we practically walked onto the ship. It was the fastest, smoothest check-in we’ve ever had.

embarkation photo