Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Fri, March 27 - Flying Out
I dropped the girls early and headed to work for a little while.  We had a late afternoon flight, so there was plenty of time to work out and shower before hitting the road to Latrobe.  This is the second time I've flown on Spirit and I'm content.  Sure, the seats don't recline that whole 2 inches, the weight limit is only 40lbs rather than 50, and there isn't an included drink onboard, but they leave on time (or early), have free parking, short security lines, and are a short 45 minute drive away.  The prices were pretty competitive to those from the burgh as well. Since the parking is free it was perfect to just meet my Favorite Egg there.

We stayed at Rodeway Inn again.  The convenience of knowing they have an airport shuttle, included transportation to the pier, an eatery attached, included breakfast, and wine for sale make it a great choice when leaving from FLL.  Unfortunately, the restaurant there no longer offers the cranberry hamburger I fell in love with.

Sat, March 28 - All Aboard
We headed towards the ship around 10:30, but weren't onboard until close to 12:30 thanks to the security lines being halted.  Not sure what their deal was, but they moved us to a new line where we stood waiting for a half an hour easily as the staff just stood around, not processing anyone.

Our first night at dinner we had a family of four, but they were gone the second night (gee, thanks) but were replaced by a very nice couple and a Mother/son that we got on well with.  The third night two female friends traveling together also joined us at the table to fill it up.  Our staff there was nice, the assistant waiter quite good.  Our stateroom attendant was also very pleasant and efficient - completely out of our way and covering everything we needed.  Food was good.  I even tried a special they offered on the last night and indulged in a filet from Chops.  It was good, but will I cough up to go eat at that specialty venue?  Probably not.

Sun-Mon, March 29-30 - At Sea
I'll use these days to talk about Independence.  Our room was as I expected, and very conveniently located down a wider than many hallway very near the concierge lounge making it easy to get a morning cup of cappuccino.

Indy seemed to be in good condition.  It boggled how good the casino could smell like it was constantly being febreezed, but still wreak of smoke at the same time.  Same deal w/ half of the pool deck and deck 4.  I really wish they'd just eliminate smoking onboard entirely.  It's just disgusting to have your hair stink after walking through a section for 30 seconds.

During our time onboard there was the requisite art auctions, ice skating show with an amazing violinist, trip to Johnny Rockets for a greasy meal, nightly drinks, others flowriding to watch, mini putt, time in the hot tub, a little less time in the gym than I should have spent, and nightly shows.  The shows included a ventriloquist I've seen before, a comedian, and a 'strong couple/aerial act' that were pretty darn amazing to watch.  The last act also introduced me to a Sade song I've never heard before but instantly fell in love with.

Tues, March 31 - St Maarten
Let's talk about the most fun I've had on an excursion.  We booked a jet ski tour that went around part of the island.  Oh yes.  Not only am I going to want to jet ski every time I vacation henceforth, but I want one of my own and somewhere to live that I could actually use it. There was very little instruction before we headed out and boy did we head out, sailing up to 40 mph at points.  Thank goodness I had a driver who wasn't sick of me and didn't toss me off the back, although there were a few really rough spots that I had to cling pretty tight to stay onboard.

Before we headed back onboard I drug him to get a Guavaberry cocktail and into a couple of the stores on the pier side.

Wed, April 1 - St Kitts
Third trip out with Thenford Grey's tours.  This time we ended up with his older brother as our guide.  I've done this specific tour before, but I figured it was a nice overview of the island for him.  Plus the views from the fort are quite nice, as is the beach time at the end (we went back to Carambola and I caved and tried some of their sushi which was pretty tasty).

Thurs, April 2 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
This is where the crazy event of the trip occurred, but I wasn't made aware of it until I returned to work on Monday.  A news story was brought to my attention of a couple involved in a murder suicide on a cruise ship while I was away.  I read the article and realize - oh snap, they were in San Juan w/ us and THAT is where the people were found on that day!  I quickly searched the name of the ship for a photo.  Imagine my surprise to see it is the ship I photographed as it came in (while we were at the one fort) a mere hour before the couple were found.  A later photo I took has her right beside our ship in port a half an hour before they were found.  It's kinda creepy to me.  Here are those photos.  I'm sure there was a bit of controlled mayhem onboard shortly after these photos were taken, but I never heard sirens or anything outside of our ship that made us aware anything was up.

Fri, April 3 - Labadee, Haiti
We headed out and straight to the Dragon's Cove area for that view and to listen to the 'dragon breathing'.  Good thing too as it was pretty empty when we went.  We pulled in here w/ Granduer, who beat us into port and left before us.  It was lovely to see her.

Remember that surprise I had in the works?  This is it - time for the reveal!  I had been in contact with the concierge, Raj, ahead of time to try and secure a cabana for our time in Labadee.  Turns out he had availability and was not only able to get us one, but he was able to get us one along Barefoot Beach, rather than Nellie's.  Barefoot Beach is the gold-pass holders (suite guests) only area.

We had an awesome hillside cabana, which offered us privacy and a great view.  There was much floating about on the mats in the water, taking in the view, and just enjoying a bit of a slow/quiet day.  There is a slightly upgraded lunch buffet there, but it's pretty much the same food, minus the lines, and strikingly absent birds stealing your food.

Sat, April 4 - At Sea
Nothing really else to say here other than, as always I get to this day and think two things:
1).  Dang, there are so many things we still didn't get to do.
2).  I don't wanna go home.

I did get another sailing booked on Liberty, snagging an interesting aft cabin with a bit of a strange set up.  But that's kind of far off.  Things may change between now and then.

Sun, April 5 - Homeward Bound
Leaving the ship went relatively smoothly considering something as hosed up and they didn't process our charges to our credit cards as we had wanted them to.  Again, thank goodness for the concierge who cleared this up for us while we sipped our morning java.

We had a bit of a wait at the airport, but nothing too bad, and our flight left a few minutes early - so bonus!  We arrived and headed straight to Egg's Aunt and Uncle's for Easter dinner, arriving JUST in time.  Can you beat that?  After a few hours I had to head out, on my own for the first time in over a week.  Gratefully the weather has finally broke here.  The sun was out and the temps reasonable to welcome us back.  It is, of course, chilly and rainy again today.  I have way too long until I see my honey again.  :(

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