Al and Marsha's Journal



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The Cruise
George Town
Belize City
Santo Tomas
Costa Maya
Key West
The Villages
Harry Potter


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Vancouver to Miami - January 10, 2011

Here we are again, starting out on a new adventure. We had become very enamored of the cruising life after our Mediterranean
cruise in April. As I mentioned at the end of the journal of that trip, we had booked this one while still on the ship. Our new friends
from Florida, whom we met on the last trip are joining us, along with another couple who are neighbours and friends where they
live in central Florida (more on that later).

Unlike many of our flights to reach a holiday destination, this one was totally uneventful, but very long. Altogether it takes about nine
hours to get from Vancouver to Miami. There are no direct flights so there is always an intermediate point to change to another flight.

We asked for Dallas as the intermediate site because we wanted to avoid any weather problems if we could. As it turned out that was
a good thing because the weather in Chicago, etc. was dreadful on the day we went. We arrived in Miami quite late, and found a very
nice restaurant nearby to have a late dinner. And so to bed.

We decided in the morning that we would have breakfast and head for the ship. The hotel was only a five minute drive from the ship,
and they had a free shuttle to take us, and our pile of luggage to the dock.

The routine at the ship was a little different than our experience in Barcelona but that was likely to have been because we got there at
the time when passengers were arriving from everywhere. We were herded into a holding pen briefly before being checked in.

As before, as our baggage had been taken out of our hands as soon as we got out of the shuttle, and would not be in our room for a
couple of hours. We walked around the ship and realized that when they said Regatta was a sister ship to Insignia, our Mediterranean
cruise ship, they were not kidding. It was a bit spooky because we could not discern any difference. It felt like we had gone back in

We went up to the buffet for a little lunch and found it jam packed with early arrivers. We eventually found a table and soon we
spotted our friends Charley and Kathy, along with their other friends Tom and Lori arriving. It felt really neat being with our friends
again. This only added to the spookiness of seeming to be in the same place and time as before. Hard to explain.


The lounge at the entrance to the Grand Dining Room - the set of chairs and sofas at the left near the cabinets
was our "private" meeting area before dinner for schmoozing and a drink. "Meet you at the sofa at 7:30".
We got very incensed if someone else was using our sofa when we wanted it!

The library

This is Regatta reflected in an office building window next to the dock. Weird, but it's my journal!

Supplies on the dock waiting to be loaded. This is mostly beer.

When we arrived at our stateroom on the "Concierge Level" (la di da!!) we were greeted with some goodies,
including a bottle of champagne.

If you have not been cruising, you will not have experienced the wonderful and humiliating exercise which happens
after everyone is aboard and before the ship leaves the dock.  (This happens while at the dock, on the side of the ship facing
the shore so that everybody on shore can giggle and point at us.)  This is the lifeboat drill. If you don't show up (and they have
ways of knowing!) they will hunt you down and drag you kicking and screaming to your appointed station.

                                 Do these folks look happy? How about the guy under the arrow?  NOT!


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The Cruise begins:


Our first day was an "at sea day", meaning that we spent the first night, all of the first day, and the second night at sea.  It was a very
relaxing day and a good way to prepare for fairly active days ahead. After looking carefully at the stops, and doing due diligence
on the internet we knew we would be on the move most of each day at a different port.

A quick look at the itinerary above will reveal that the journey to George Town, Grand Cayman involves a loop around Cuba, and
compared to the other hops from port to port, is a long distance.

The At Sea Day

This cruise differs substantially from the last one we were on in the Mediterranean in that, with a couple of exceptions the places we
visited concentrated on the local culture and scenery with little history, except for one day. Because of that this journal will be mostly
pictures with a smattering of text where we feel that a little detail might be useful. These pictures were all taken by one or another of
the six of us.....

The exercise deck - thirteen laps = one mile.... someone told me that.

                          The crew having a putting contest with passengers. 
                          There were several such activities each day.... We didn't participate.


Kathy and Charlie having a relaxing poolside afternoon.

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George Town, Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman Island                                                         George Town


                    Regatta at anchor at George Town........



                    Fantasy revealed!


                    This dolphin and others in captivity for the entertainment of tourists...... Sigh!!!


                    Here are the tourists waiting their turn to go into the pool and KISS the dolphin!


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                The Great Sea Explorers


                    And off they go!  Plus me.... I soon remembered why snorkeling doesn't work well for me. My beard doesn't
                    allow for the mask to seal properly so I was constantly fighting to clear the mask.....



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                Cathy, Charlie, Tom and Lori (front row) went on a different excursion in Belize. They took a fast river boat like the
                    ones you see on TV in Florida.



                    The main wildlife on this excursion was the variety of birds. Here the guide is pointing out on guide sheets
                    what a bird they can see is.


                    Marsha and I went off on our own with a different guide to take a ride on tubes on a river through underground
                    caverns.  When we got to the place we were enticed to go zip lining first with one of the other couples on the bus.
                    This exciting, last minute, decision proved to be very stimulating.  There were a total of eight separate zip trips ranging
                    from short and fast to long and fast.      


                    After the zip lining we walked a short distance to pick up our life jackets and tubes, and then hiked for about a half
                    hour to the launch point to put our tubes in the river and begin the float downstream. It was an interesting ride mostly
                    dark with occasional bursts of light from above.  I was using my son's waterproof camera for obvious reasons, but
                    when we got to the end of the float I realized that in the last 100 yards or so, it had disappeared over the side.
                    I wandered up and down the stream looking down to the bottom to see if I could find it. I decided the chances were
                    nil (particularly as the camera was blue, which made it much less visible).  The camera wasn't the big problem, it was
                    the pictures which were on it.  When I gave up a couple of young guys asked me if I was looking for a camera. They
                    then jumped into the river with their swim goggles on and began swimming up and down looking for the camera. After
                    a while I gave up waiting and started walking back to the bus. Before I got there the two boys came running up the
                    road waving at me. They had the camera.  I was flabbergasted to say the least. I gave them each twenty dollars and
                    they seemed very pleased. Our guide said that they would be very happy with that reward.


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                Kathy had pre-arranged for all of us to go on a daylong excursion on a boat up the coast and into a river
                    to visit a town and some other places of interest. These were not tourist locations, with one exception which
                    will become clear later.


                    The craft market on the pier - actually had some good looking stuff



                    The boat we were to spend several hours on


                    We ran up the coast for almost one and one half hours and turned into the estuary of a large river on the
                    banks of which is the town of Livingstone. Guatemala was once a British colony, hence the name.   



                    Fish drying on the docks


                    Brown Pelicans are ubiquitous



                    After a fairly short stop at the hotel in Livingstone for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs we continued
                    upstream. Along the way were a myriad of different kinds of birds, including many cranes.


                    We rounded a bend in the river and quite suddenly several dugout canoes operated by young boys and girls
                    appeared.  They approached our boat and offered to sell us a variety of dried marine life. These  included
                    shells, starfish, etc.  The prices were in the order of a dollar or two. They were quite persistent and after some
                    of us purchased their wares they followed us up the river to keep up the sales pressure.              

                    Behind the canoes in this picture is a large field of water lilies just beginning to bloom.


                   We stopped briefly at this store (this is the tourist part mentioned earlier) perched on the river side and got
                    some drinks and goodies, and were again pressed to buy the souvenirs offered by the kids.



                    Our next stop was a school, also on the riverbank, where we met the kids and handed out school supplies
                    which we all brought from home. We had been asked to do this by the company whose excursion we were


                    Little kids are adorable wherever they are!


                    This is their classroom. These people live a simple life on the river, fishing for a living, and seemingly from
                    another time. Once in a while you see things which make you realize that even though this is primitive and out of
                    touch with modern life as we know it, it's just the way these particular folks live. This was one of those moments. 
                    You probably can't make it out but on the teacher's desk in the foreground is a cel phone.




                    As we walked along what appeared to be the main street, suddenly one of the guides directed us into this
                    building and directed us to take a seat, buy a beer, or whatever. There was going to be music and dancing.
                    In very short order a band and some dancers appeared and put on a show (as Mickey Rooney would say).

                    These kinds of tourist activated local "show" always make me uncomfortable. Having the "natives" perform
                    for a bunch of tourists just feels like colonialism to me, and very sanctimonious.


                    The young lady looking at the drawing on the wall inside the Live Music bar is looking at a depiction of the
                    route slaves were taken on from Africa to the West Indies. It appears to portray the members of one
                    African tribe the Ubous and their transport rout to the "new world".



                    Over the years travelling with Marsha she has never been reluctant to get up and join in to whatever dance,
                    or music event going on. This was not different. Other folks, however, when the young ladies were inviting
                    the audience to dance, immediately got up and left the building. I had a picture of Marsha dancing up a
                    storm with the young ladies but it has vanished. I have my own ideas about who was behind that.
                    The old.....


                    and the new.


                    Our boat trip back to the ship seemed longer than the morning trip up the coast, but that was probably
                    because we were all a bit pooped by the day's adventures.

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                    The next morning we arrived at Roatan at the usual 8:00 am, just as we finished our breakfast.

















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