Karen's Caribbean Cruise 2015

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Susan Meyer and I went on a wonderful Eastern Caribbean cruise March 22-29, 2015, departing from Ft. Lauderdale with ports of call in Cozumel, Mexico; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Labadee, Hispanola. We were on the 22-deck Celebrity Solstice, on a "Wine cruise" with about 30 other people and the winemaker for Milliaire Winery, Ironstone Wines and Black Sheep Wines. We had wine tastings and a luncheon and a tour of the ship's kitchens and ate some very fancy dinners in the formal dining room!
We took shore trips in Cozumel to Mayan Ruins and a chocolate factory, and in Georgetown to a turtle sanctuary where they are raising several types of endangered turtles - here I am with a two-year old.
We traveled to the other side of the island and motorboated out to "Stingray City", along sandbar reefs where fishermen used to anchor their boats and clean the catch before bringing it into shore to sell. Western Stingrays of all sizes swam around us, because they've learned to expect that they will get fed. So we did: with squid from our hands (fingers curled in so they didn't get nipped!) It was amazing, and fascinating to hold them and feel how the upper skin feels like sandpaper and the lower skin and stomach feel like thick velvet. The visit to Stingray City was probably one of the off-ship highlights of our cruise.
We spent the day just walking around in Jamaica. Then, for our last shore trip in Labadee, Haiti, we went kayaking! Susan and I each were able to have our own kayak; we paddled around a bay and to a shore landing where people who live there sold crafts they'd made. It was a wonderful way to be outdoors and explore a newer port and interesting part of the island.
The two days at sea were relaxing - that's when we had the two wine tastings and four-course luncheon with matched wine for each course - which was enough that we skipped dinner that evening! The food was wonderful. Several evenings we opted out of the formal diningroom and just went up to the buffet for salad, sandwiches, or something else light, since there is always too much great food on a cruise ship! This was a wonderful trip in many respects including the company of winemaker Steve Milliaire and his wife Liz and several of the people who were part of our small group and our travel agent, Connie. I hope to be able to take another wine cruise in the next year or two and am hoping Susan will travel with me again, and perhaps Gene.