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Old 07-11-2018, 08:31 AM   #31
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I think I've been to 26 different ports in Mexico, Cali and the Caribbean and all of them (except Venezuela, which is another story entirely) have some sort of recreational opportunities/tours. Many of them are great because you don't want to just walk around in port and shop. You want to get out there and experience something of every place you stop.

My absolute favorite was Twelve Meter Yacht Racing on St. Martin, which is one of the top 3 islands overall, imo.

Nobody else in my group wanted to do it, so I went solo on the actual Stars and Stripes boat that won the America's Cup for Dennis Connor back in the day. I volunteered for an active role so was assigned to be a "grinder" and work the winch that moved the sail for tacking and jibing. My partner on the two-person winch was a 90 pound Canadian woman which meant I had to do the majority of the work and it was extremely demanding. If you ever get a chance-- don't do it. Just sit back watch somebody else sweat.

We raced against a Canadian boat. It was very exciting and the crews were quite competitive against each other. At one point I slipped on the wet, tilted deck and gashed my shin on the winch and started bleeding pretty good. An island crew kid tiredly says to me "get out of dere, mon, you're bleeding ull over de place", but I told him to get lost and he soon gave up. I ain't got time to bleed.

I was sucking wind by the end of it, but we won by one foot and I was completely elated. An endorphin rush. Until you've been on one of those boats you would never believe how beautifully they slice through the waves. Like a hot knife through butter. An amazing experience that cost me 115 bucks. Well worth it for the memory bank.

2nd place was scuba diving to a shipwreck in Grand Cayman down to 85 feet-- which was the deepest I'd ever gone. The water was crystal clear. I ended up blowing an eardrum out, which was fairly serious, but I still treasure the memory of that day. I'll never be able to dive again, but it was worth it.

I'd give 3rd place to river kayaking in Dominica which is a largely undeveloped, natural island. We shot rapids and ended up out in the ocean in good-sized breakers and then drank like Vikings.

All this reminiscing is making me want to go back.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:11 AM   #32
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I think I've been to 26 different ports in Mexico, Cali and the Caribbean and all of them (except Venezuela, which is another story entirely) have some sort of recreational opportunities/tours. Many of them are great because you don't want to just walk around in port and shop. You want to get out there and experience something of every place you stop.

My absolute favorite was Twelve Meter Yacht Racing on St. Martin, which is one of the top 3 islands overall, imo.

Nobody else in my group wanted to do it, so I went solo on the actual Stars and Stripes boat what won the America's Cup for Dennis Connor back in the day. I volunteered for an active role so was assigned to be a "grinder" and work the winch that moved the sail for tacking and jibing. My partner on the two-person winch was a 90 pound Canadian woman which meant I had to do the majority of the work and it was extremely demanding. If you ever get a chance-- don't do it. Just sit back watch somebody else sweat.

We raced against a Canadian boat. It was very exciting and the crews were quite competitive against each other. At one point I slipped on the wet, tilted deck and gashed my shin on the winch and started bleeding pretty good. An island crew kid tiredly says to me "get out of dere, mon, you're bleeding ull over de place", but I told him to get lost and he soon gave up. I ain't got time to bleed.

I was sucking wind by the end of it, but we won by one foot and I was completely elated. An endorphin rush. Until you've been on one of those boats you would never believe how beautifully they slice through the waves. Like a hot knife through butter. An amazing experience that cost me 115 bucks. Well worth it for the memory bank.

2nd place was scuba diving to a shipwreck in Grand Cayman down to 85 feet-- which was the deepest I'd ever gone. The water was crystal clear. I ended up blowing an eardrum out, which was fairly serious, but I still treasure the memory of that day. I'll never be able to dive again, but it was worth it.

I'd give 3rd place to river kayaking in Dominica which is a largely undeveloped, natural island. We shot rapids and ended up out in the ocean in good-sized breakers and then drank like Vikings.

All this reminiscing is making me want to go back.
The yacht racing sounds like a great excursion. I don't think I've ever seen it offered on any of our cruises. I'll pass on the scuba diving, just not my thing.

Every port has some variety, although many of them get repetitious after awhile. We try to find unique things, but there's not much left for us to do that we wouldn't have to pay a mini fortune to do.

We've been 4-wheeling (Cozumel), swam with dolphins (Cozumel), zip-lined 3 times (Jamaica and Belize), caving (Belize), jet-skis (Haiti), swan with sting rays (Grand Cayman), Horseback Riding (St. Maarten), power boats (St. Thomas), pirate party ship (Barbados), River rafting (Jamaica) where the guide nearly got me severely injured due to his ineptitude (complained to RC and got refunded) and numerous snorkeling adventures and many private beaches.

One of our favorite stops was Curacao. We skipped an excursion, but the town is very European and we enjoyed exploring all the various alleys and came across a hidden cafe in one of them. We did our own thing in Aruba (beach and downtown), we've been to Cozumel enough times that we go off on our own and find the bars that the crew go to (we were told it's their favorite stop), Martinique was laid back and easy to explore.

I know I'm missing some stops, but we're at the point where we are trying to find new itineraries. We were supposed to do the Mediterranean cruise next month until circumstances forced us to cancel. All this talk has made me look into the Boston-Bermuda trip. We've never had a desire to do the Alaskan cruises although I'm told they're amazing.

A few years ago, we managed to get booked on Quantum's first full cruise. It was originally offered only to RC's most experienced cruisers, but we got one of the final cabins. The ship was full of people who had been on 50+ trips. We met one couple who was approaching 100 and they had several more scheduled. Damn, I wish I were wealthy, I'd probably be on a ship half the year.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:50 AM   #33
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A few years ago, we managed to get booked on Quantum's first full cruise. It was originally offered only to RC's most experienced cruisers, but we got one of the final cabins. The ship was full of people who had been on 50+ trips. We met one couple who was approaching 100 and they had several more scheduled. Damn, I wish I were wealthy, I'd probably be on a ship half the year.
I think cruises are actually cheaper than elderly housing and have everything you need on board. I thought I read of a woman who did retire to a cruise ship and just travels on it all the time.


will look for link later.

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Old 07-11-2018, 10:25 AM   #34
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The yacht racing sounds like a great excursion. I don't think I've ever seen it offered on any of our cruises. I'll pass on the scuba diving, just not my thing.

Every port has some variety, although many of them get repetitious after awhile. We try to find unique things, but there's not much left for us to do that we wouldn't have to pay a mini fortune to do.

We've been 4-wheeling (Cozumel), swam with dolphins (Cozumel), zip-lined 3 times (Jamaica and Belize), caving (Belize), jet-skis (Haiti), swan with sting rays (Grand Cayman), Horseback Riding (St. Maarten), power boats (St. Thomas), pirate party ship (Barbados), River rafting (Jamaica) where the guide nearly got me severely injured due to his ineptitude (complained to RC and got refunded) and numerous snorkeling adventures and many private beaches.

One of our favorite stops was Curacao. We skipped an excursion, but the town is very European and we enjoyed exploring all the various alleys and came across a hidden cafe in one of them. We did our own thing in Aruba (beach and downtown), we've been to Cozumel enough times that we go off on our own and find the bars that the crew go to (we were told it's their favorite stop), Martinique was laid back and easy to explore.

I know I'm missing some stops, but we're at the point where we are trying to find new itineraries. We were supposed to do the Mediterranean cruise next month until circumstances forced us to cancel. All this talk has made me look into the Boston-Bermuda trip. We've never had a desire to do the Alaskan cruises although I'm told they're amazing.

A few years ago, we managed to get booked on Quantum's first full cruise. It was originally offered only to RC's most experienced cruisers, but we got one of the final cabins. The ship was full of people who had been on 50+ trips. We met one couple who was approaching 100 and they had several more scheduled. Damn, I wish I were wealthy, I'd probably be on a ship half the year.
Wow. That is an impressive track record of excursions. I want to party with you, dude. Kudos to your wife for giving all of that a go. My wife is not terribly interested in my taste for a little outdoor adventure, so I'm always a little jealous when I hear of one who does. We have to compromise.

I have not done an actual Alaskan cruise ship, but have a brother in Juneau and have been there a couple of times. You can take any number of amazing tourist excursions using that as a base and spend more time with your boots on the ground and have a better (imo) experience. I know a guy that said about cruising Alaska "if you've seen one glacier, you've seen them all" and I kind of get that now, although you'll see some mighty impressive sights.

Last summer we took a boat up the Tracy Arm Fjord from Juneau and it was pretty short money. You can get close enough to drink glacier water from the cliffs. Spectacular waterfalls everywhere. Before that trip I had seen zero icebergs. Now I've seen a hundred. We saw whales, eagles, seals and bears and at the end of the fiord there are a couple of huge glaciers that look like the wall in Game of Thrones. Total wilderness only about 20 something miles from an interesting little city. That is just one example of dozens. We also took a float plane to Skagway and caught a railroad into the mountains to the Yukon Pass. From the plane we saw tons of untouched glaciers and looking down on the inside passage from the plane you could see it was filled with all sorts of sea life. Just teeming with life. Incredible sight.

I'm not dumping on the idea of an Alaska cruise, but if you go to the Caribbean, you see the beautiful turquoise water and you can actually get into it and swim. In Alaska, the water is also beautiful, but you definitely don't want to go into it unless you enjoy instant hypothermia.

No matter how beautiful something is from a distance, you need to see it up close, touch, feel and get a better sense of it. I can only observe stuff for so long. Know what I mean?

I would do the exact same thing next time. Stay in Juneau and try some of the other places for day trips/hikes and never get bored. Alaska is so huge and offers so much that it really is challenging to describe the place, but I'd say that I got a decent feel for the state offers without trying to go everywhere.

I've been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of amazing places, but Alaska is probably the most impressive and I've only seen a very small fraction of it.

A nice shot of the Tracy Arm fjord:
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Old 07-11-2018, 11:09 AM   #35
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Wow. That is an impressive track record of excursions. I want to party with you, dude. Kudos to your wife for giving all of that a go. My wife is not terribly interested in my taste for a little outdoor adventure, so I'm always a little jealous when I hear of one who does. We have to compromise.
To be honest, she's the adventurous one. I had to be talked into the 1st zip line tour and I would have backed out if my daughter had not challenged my manhood. The women in my life are very strong.

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I have not done an actual Alaskan cruise ship, but have a brother in Juneau and have been there a couple of times. You can take any number of amazing tourist excursions using that as a base and spend more time with your boots on the ground and have a better (imo) experience. I know a guy that said about cruising Alaska "if you've seen one glacier, you've seen them all" and I kind of get that now, although you'll see some mighty impressive sights.

Last summer we took a boat up the Tracy Arm Fjord from Juneau and it was pretty short money. You can get close enough to drink glacier water from the cliffs. Spectacular waterfalls everywhere. Before that trip I had seen zero icebergs. Now I've seen a hundred. We saw whales, eagles, seals and bears and at the end of the fiord there are a couple of huge glaciers that look like the wall in Game of Thrones. Total wilderness only about 20 something miles from an interesting little city. That is just one example of dozens. We also took a float plane to Skagway and caught a railroad into the mountains to the Yukon Pass. From the plane we saw tons of untouched glaciers and looking down on the inside passage from the plane you could see it was filled with all sorts of sea life. Just teeming with life. Incredible sight.

I'm not dumping on the idea of an Alaska cruise, but if you go to the Caribbean, you see the beautiful turquoise water and you can actually get into it and swim. In Alaska, the water is also beautiful, but you definitely don't want to go into it unless you enjoy instant hypothermia.

No matter how beautiful something is from a distance, you need to see it up close, touch, feel and get a better sense of it. I can only observe stuff for so long. Know what I mean?

I would do the exact same thing next time. Stay in Juneau and try some of the other places for day trips/hikes and never get bored. Alaska is so huge and offers so much that it really is challenging to describe the place, but I'd say that I got a decent feel for the state offers without trying to go everywhere.

I've been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of amazing places, but Alaska is probably the most impressive and I've only seen a very small fraction of it.

A nice shot of the Tracy Arm fjord:
That's an amazing picture.

We are constantly being pushed to do the Alaskan tour, but we don't want to be land bound. We enjoy the warm ocean.

We've discussed the Baltic cruise mainly because it stops in Helsinki and she'd be able to spend the day with a bunch of cousins. But she's holding out for a normal trip to her motherland.
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Old 07-11-2018, 07:56 PM   #36
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I was out on a boat with a guy once, and the outboard fell off and went to the bottom of the lake. I had to swim down and tie the anchor rope to it to pull it back up. It was damn cold water, my lips turned blue and I was shivering uncontrollably for the next 30 minutes while we rowed back to the camp.

Not a cruise story, but it's all I got.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:08 AM   #37
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I was out on a boat with a guy once, and the outboard fell off and went to the bottom of the lake. I had to swim down and tie the anchor rope to it to pull it back up. It was damn cold water, my lips turned blue and I was shivering uncontrollably for the next 30 minutes while we rowed back to the camp.

Not a cruise story, but it's all I got.
I was at my brother's cabin once way out in the Alaskan bush and was giving his neighbor a hand with some of the fishing gear on his boat and I slipped and almost went over the side into very deep and icy water.

I caught myself at the last second and the guy, a man of few words, says to me "if you ever fall into this water, then you should just swim for the bottom. It'll be quicker".

Scared the shit out of me.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:24 AM   #38
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I've taken 2 Caribbean cruises; a 7-day on Carnival and an 11-day on Celebrity. Rented a two-seat hard-botton Merc on Grand Cayman, and had a spectacular experience snorkeling in 65' waters.

Took a rum cruise around Aruba, and saw ships pass through the Panama Canal; also took a boat to the Embera Indian Village in the Panama rainforest. Drank, ate, and danced a lot. Soaked in the hot tubs, took in a few shows. Relaxed. Spent an overnight in Old San Juan before the cruise embarked--loved it. Spent a day in Ft Lauderdale, and took a boat ride along the intracoastal--beautiful. Met some great people (and a few wingnuts).

Have a blast!
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:32 AM   #39
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I've taken 2 Caribbean cruises; a 7-day on Carnival and an 11-day on Celebrity. Rented a two-seat hard-botton Merc on Grand Cayman, and had a spectacular experience snorkeling in 65' waters.

Took a rum cruise around Aruba, and saw ships pass through the Panama Canal; also took a boat to the Embera Indian Village in the Panama rainforest. Drank, ate, and danced a lot. Soaked in the hot tubs, took in a few shows. Relaxed. Spent an overnight in Old San Juan before the cruise embarked--loved it. Spent a day in Ft Lauderdale, and took a boat ride along the intracoastal--beautiful. Met some great people (and a few wingnuts).

Have a blast!
My wife did a Panama Canal cruise with her mom some years ago (it started our cruise obsession). She still talks about it and would like to go back at some point. She was on Brilliance (Royal Caribbean) and that class ship is the largest that can get through. She said there was no more that a foot clearance on either side.

A few cruises back, we had a short stop in old San Juan, in the evening during Christmas season. It was great. The streets were lit, full of people, celebrations and the smells of authentic Caribbean cooking filled the air. We really wish we could have spent more time there.
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:34 AM   #40
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We did the canal cruise once and it was a very interesting experience going through the locks. They pull the ship through the locks on these little trains driven by guys that are always smiling and waving at everybody. I wondered if they get tired of doing that every day, but then I learned they make 65 bucks an hour so they ARE the happiest folks in Panama.

So, we go through the locks to the huge man-made lakes where tankers and cruise ships await their turn at the next set of locks and I hear that a lot of native villages were at the bottom of those lakes -- and of course, I get to feeling sorry for the poor people getting steamrolled in the name of progress, as I often do when I'm in that neck of the world.

Then, the ship stops at a port where there is a big indoor shopping area in like an industrial warehouse building. I see a whole native indian family (mestizo? not sure) who appeared to be straight out of the jungle with bowl haircuts, facial piercings and almost naked in front of all these tourists gawking at them squatting on the floor and they're selling these really nice reed baskets etc. that they were weaving. I get curious and check out the price of one of those sweet baskets to maybe buy one for my wife. 70 bucks!!! No thank you.

They looked like the real deal, but I wondered if it was all a marketing thing.

In any case, they had plenty of cash to buy machetes.
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