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Tuesday
Jan292013

Southern Caribbean on the Celebrity Eclipse Days 1-3 

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Last year when we were on the Eclipse / Solstice combo cruise we met a great couple form Calgary, Robyn and Doug at our dinner table - so before we left, we decided to book another cruise together this January - and the day finally arrived. After a couple of weeks of single digit temperatures in Denver, it was nice to get out of the cold weather and head to the Caribbean. Our itinerary this time was 14 days on the Eclipse. It is one of our favorite boats, simply because it has a huge acre sized lawn on the top deck. In fact, as I sit here and write this, I have a cold coors light in my hand, my toes in the grass, the afternoon sun behind me and island music playing in the background.

Travel to Ft Lauderdale was uneventful. - we went through Atlanta and were a little worried we wound run into ice storms, but no glitches and our suitcases all arrived without problem. Lauderdale, however, was packed. We always fly in the night before just to give ourselves enough time to deal with any delays. There was one poor guy on our airplane that was trying to get on a boat that afternoon - and when we landed at 3, he was trying to push past everyone in the isle saying "I have to catch a boat!" … fool.Hotels were a little harder to come by this trip, because there were eight (county them 8) other ships in port on this particular Saturday - including the massive Oasis of the seas - so all the port hotels were $$$$. We did find a deal at the Days inn - but instantly regretted it once we got there. - Luckily we had a car for the day, so we pulled up anchor and ended up spending the night in a Westin, up in Plantation.

Embarkation was painless as always on Celebrity. Budget has a rental location directly outside the port gates that has a free shuttle, and we have the process down pat. We rent at the airport - then hit a liquor store on the way to the ship and grab four bottles of wine and a case of water. Celebrity lets you bring on one bottle per person so two go in the checked bags and two in our carry on backpack. We slap a ship luggage tag on the case of water and drive the car into the port and drop all our bags and the water off with the porter at the ship. Then drive back out, drop the car off at Budget and catch the shuttle back with just the backpack…. Easy Breezy.

We did run into a bit of a traffic jam getting out of port, with the seven other ships - and did not leave until almost 630 - Too dark to wave to the sail away cam - bummer. On this particular itinerary - our first two days were at sea so there was no need to try to get anywhere in a big hurry… Decent weather for both days, and lots of deck time, followed by a bit of gluttony and washed down with a great bottle of Zin. The one item of note on this particular cruise, however, was the mean age of the other passengers. When we traveled last year at this time, we did 2,  seven day back to backs and most forks were in there 30's- 50's with some younger and some older. I'm not sure if it is because this time was a 14 day strait, but the average age seemed to be mid 60's. Celebrity has very few kids - and that suits us just fine. Our days of belly flop contests and limbo by the pool are long over…  On a positive note - you never have to battle Edna for a prime deck chair!  

Our first port was St Thomas. Since we have been here several times, we ended up grabbing a ferry over to Tortola to swim with the dolphins. This ended up being a amazing experience. Colleen has always wanted to swim with the dolphins - so this time we took the plunge (pun fully intended) and booked the whole swim encounter. The facility (Dolphin Discovery) was very clean, and seemed to have nice accommodations for the dolphins. - We have always had mixed feelings about paying to support a captive dolphin program. This one seemed to be pretty well run - compared to some we have seen down Mexico way. Our two dolphins, Hippo and Kepler were great. They are beautiful, powerful beasts that are incredibly docile and you can just tell how smart they are when you are next to them. We got to practice several behaviors with them, including a rocket jump, where they come up behind and below you and each one pushes on a foot, launching you out of the water like a rocket. - simply amazing. (photos below).

Thats all for now…..

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