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#511417 - 04/17/11 07:17 PM Cruise crazy.  
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Al Offline
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Earlier this month (and late last month), we went on our 10th Caribbean Cruise. It was a 11 night cruise to Aruba, Cartagena, Columbia, Colon, Panama, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, and the Cayman Islands.

Of the ports-of-call we visited, we had only been to the Cayman Islands previously.

Aruba was fantastic. We went on a sailing Catamaran up the north-west coast for an hour or so, then a sight-seeing bus trip to return.

Cartagena, Columbia was "interesting". I had no idea it was such a large city - almost 1M in population. One item of interest is there was a huge statue of Virgin Mary or something in the middle of the harbor. It must have been at least 50ft high. We didn't get that close to the statue on our ship, so I didn't see a lot of it's detail.

Panama was really a dump. We didn't venture far from the ship that day.

Costa Rica was very neat. It has the highest standard-of-living for any of the Central American countries, but we were in the poorest area as the port area was pretty industrial. Still, I can see why a lot of US expatriates live there.

This was the third time we were in the Caymans, so we just walked around town. I was looking to buy a nice watch (being retired, I haven't any idea why), and while we found plenty of watch dealers, they were all way expensive - even duty free.

This was one of our most memorable cruises.

Since our retirement 22 months ago, we have been on 6 cruises. It sure seems to have went by fast.

We have a 7 night cruise booked for Oct, and a 14 night cruise next Apr on Celebrity.

It'll be boating season soon in Michigan if it ever warms up. But I have my tan ready just in case it does.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
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#511422 - 04/17/11 08:39 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Sounds like fun- what cruise line was it on?

Who are your favorites so far?


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#511450 - 04/18/11 08:58 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: captkevin]  
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WaterWing Offline
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You gotta love cruises. I just went on one 2 weeks ago too (our 4th). Went on Princess... too many lines.

Sure wish my lake was as clear as the ocean was by those islands. Nice report on the islands Al. My next cruise I want to hit the Europe tour... Italy, Greece and France. 14-days may be too long though.

Captkevin,
I've been on NCR, Royal Car., Carnival and Princess. Royal Car. was the best so far. Never been on Celebrity but hear its a good line.


2001 Larson SEi-230 5.7 Merc/Alpha1
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#511454 - 04/18/11 10:17 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: WaterWing]  
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Al Offline
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WM; our 11 night cruise was from Mar 28th to Apr 8th - on the Jewel of the Seas. We left out of Ft. Lauderdale. Perhaps we were in port pretty close to when you were (assuming you went out of Ft. Lauderdale).

CaptKevin; All of our cruises so far have been on Royal Caribbean. In our 10 cruises, we have been on the Allure, Explorer, Freedom, Grandeur, Jewel, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Radiance, and Voyager.

We like to go to either a new port or ship we have never been on for each cruise. We're violating that rule later this year in Oct when we are taking the Freedom for a second time to ports we have already been to - but our son is going with us, and the Freedom is the ship he wanted.

Celebrity is a Royal Caribbean subsidiary, and I'm told they cater to more conservative crowds. I don't know what that means, because there have been a few nude-cruise charters on Celebrity ships (no, we are not going on one of those). On the other hand, Royal Caribbean ships have been chartered by other groups as well - including a Harley biker cruise and gay cruise earlier this year (but not at the same time - that would be strange).

I am sure most cruise lines have charter cruises as well.

But I'm told Celebrity is not quite as glitzy as the Royal Caribbean ships, although we have not found the Royal Caribbean ships all that glitzy to begin with.

One reason to stay with one cruise line is that you do get some perks after you have had so many cruises. For instance, if the ship has not sold all of their Suites, then the repeat cruisers get first crack at a free upgrade to one (but that has not happened to us yet).

But mostly the perks, while nice, are not that significant. Usually we get priority embarking and debarkation, a free booze cocktail hour one night (or every night, depending on your level), and usually a modest gift when you board.

But the perks overall are not that significant, and it is not the main reason we have stayed with one line. We have just enjoyed the ships and experience.

We have stayed away from Carnival and NCL as feedback from others has been less than good. But I suppose since we have never sailed with them, I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt.

But I think Carnival is too party-atmosphere for us. We would consider Holland America and Princess should the itinerary be one we'd be interested in.

So the reason we have been on Royal Caribbean I suppose is luck of the draw from our first cruise. We have liked them enough that we have stayed with them.

But we are moving over to Celebrity because of the itinerary was not available with Royal Caribbean offerings (at least for this one cruise). Seems of late, they have reduced the port offerings in the Caribbean. Whether this is due to fuel costs or the need to fill the two 6,000 passenger ships, I don't know. The two large ships they have cannot get in to a lot of ports.

On the Celebrity cruise, we are going to Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Marten, and St. Thomas.

Of those, we have been to Aruba, Antigua, St. Marten, and St. Thomas, so we have been to half of the islands even on this cruise.

We are liking the longer cruises as we have the time, and we get to go to islands further away that you would not normally get to go to. Our cruises to date have been 4 night (2 cruises), 7 night (6 cruises), one 10 night, and one 11 night.

One thing about the longer cruises is that sea days tend to get mixed up with the port days. For instance, with the 10 night cruise, we had 2 days at sea, 5 port days, then 2 days at sea again. Those 5 port days were so hectic that on the 5th port day, we were just pooped out and stayed on board.

In contrast, our 11 day cruise consisted of 2 sea days, a port day, a sea day, 3 port days, a sea day, a port day, and a sea day. This split up the consecutive days in port with sea days that we could relax. This ended up being much better and we were rested for each port day.

Since Celebrity is the same company, we get perk credit for the 10 cruises from the Royal Caribbean ships, which includes some free booze, free laundry, and other perks. Again, not enough to make the difference if the itinerary is not what we want, but with everything else being equal...

My wife even owns stock in Royal Caribbean. Not a lot - only 10 shares, but if you own at least 100 shares, you do get a discount. But the discount cannot be combined with other perks, and the real reason to invest is for the return, not for a discount.

I bought the 10 shares for my wife for vanity reasons I suppose more than investment, which is why I didn't buy 100 or more shares. So with 10 shares, perhaps we own a couple of lightbulbs on one of the ships.

Sorry, this was one of my signature long posts. But it's freak'in snowing outside, on Apr 18 - and we're due for 3 inches of the stuff. Yuck! So I got nuttin else to do.

Last edited by Al; 04/18/11 10:48 AM.

President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511463 - 04/18/11 11:33 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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GoFirstClass Online content
Retired Boating Bum
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Geeesh Al, it's good to know you two aren't just sitting around waiting for the Social Security checks to come in the mail.

Sounds like you had a good time on this cruise as well as the others you've been on. Keep up the good work, but we'd sure like to be taken along with you by you posting some pictures! I know that you, being the camera buff you are, have a bazillion shots.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#511478 - 04/18/11 03:52 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Yea, GFC, we're not letting moss grow on the bottom of our shoes.

I have a few photos... in fact I have them on a website (www.caribbean-cruising.net).

But here are a few samples (photo quality has been reduced for file size reduction on the website).


Aruba beach.


Aruba desert isle.


MV Freewinds docked in Aruba.
Freewinds is a Church of Scientology ship where people like Tom Cruise... cruise.


Cartagena Columbia skyline.


Virgin something or other in the harbor...


Panama cruise port.


Pineapple in Costa Rica.


Stingray City Grand Cayman Island.



President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511479 - 04/18/11 04:03 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Here are the ships we have been on since retirement:


Grandeur of the Seas 12-7-09 ~ 12-17-09.
1,900 passengers.


Freedom of the Seas 3-14-10 ~ 3-21-10.
3,500 passengers. Largest cruise ship in the world when it was built.


Monarch of the Seas 3-22-10 ~ 3-26-10.
2,100 passengers. Largest cruise ship in the world when it was built.


Radiance of the Seas 10-9-10 ~ 1-16-10
2,500 passengers.



Allure of the Seas 1-16-11 ~ 1-23-11.
6,000 passengers. Largest cruise ship in the world.



Jewel of the Seas 3-28-11 ~ 4-8-11.
2,500 passengers.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511480 - 04/18/11 04:15 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
And to complete the list...


Majesty of the Seas 10-2-00 ~ 10-6-00.
2,100 passengers.


Explorer of the Seas 9-29-01 ~ 10-6-01 (just a couple weeks after 9-11).
3,000 passengers.


Voyager of the Seas 9-22-02 ~ 9-29-02. Largest cruise ship in the world when built.
3,000 passengers.


Mariner of the Seas 10-16-05 ~ 10-23-05.
3,000 passengers.

Sorry some of the photos are not the best quality. But sometimes it's hard to get in the right position to take a photo of something that is up to 1,100 ft long. Some photos were taken from a tender boat or in a bus (through windows). And if the lighting is not right, you cannot often walk over to the other side of the ship for better lighting.

Also some of the photos were scanned in by a scanner as I took them with a film camera - especially the older ones. And with the humidity and haze in the Caribbean, the long distance photos are sometimes washed out too.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511481 - 04/18/11 04:17 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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OK, here are some of the more unique photos:


Dos Equis Girls, Cozumel, Mx.


Allure of the Seas (left) and Voyager of the Seas (right) in Cozumel.



Allure next to the Voyager - hard to believe that just 10 years ago, the Voyager was the largest cruise ship in the world.


Rainbow at Sea, Grandeur of the Seas - Dec 09.


Megayachts in Long Bay Harbor - St. Thomas USVI.


English Harbor and Admiral Nelson's Dockyard - Antigua. They had a Yacht Show (not a Boat Show) when we were there in Dec 09.


Chaccohoben Mayan Pyramid - Majahual, Mexico Jan 11.


Megayachts at the Atlantis Marina Village - Paradise Island, Nassau Bahamas.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511483 - 04/18/11 04:39 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.

Wife kissing a dolphin - Nassau, Bahamas.


Our family taking a rest at Dunn's River Falls - Jamaica.


el Morro Castle - San Juan, Puerto Rico


America's Cup Sailing experience - St. Marten


Size comparison between Adventure of the Seas (left), and Grandeur of the Seas (right).

The Adventure is a clone to the Voyager (see photo with the Allure). And the Grandeur is the smallest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Pretty good idea how the size differences are between the ships.


Welcoming committee - St. Kitts


Atlantic Ocean on the left, Caribbean Sea on the right - St. Kitts.


Harbor in Tortola, BVI. Look at the beautiful blue water...


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511484 - 04/18/11 04:48 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Here is a list of the places we have been in the Caribbean by cruise ship:

Antigua
Aruba
Nassau, Bahamas (4 times)
Little Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (3 times)
Belize
Cartagena, Columbia
Labadee, Haiti (3 times)
Cozumel, Mx (3 times)
Costa Maya, Mx (2 times)
San Juan, Puerto Rico (2 times)
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Grand Cayman Island (3 times)
Key West, Florida
Jamaica
St. Kitts
St. Marten (3 times)
Colon, Panama
St. Thomas, USVI (3 times)
Tortola, BVI

And ports we have sailed out of:

Tampa, Fl
Port Canaveral, Fl
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
Miami, Fl



Cruise ships all in a row - Nassau, Bahamas.



President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511501 - 04/18/11 08:19 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Al]  
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Jeffski Offline
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We have sailed Carnival twice. The first time because it seemed like the cheapest/best deal, and the second (like Al said) we got a great repeat customer deal.

First cruise was to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios.

Second cruise was to Panama, Costa Rica, and Cozumel.

First cruise was by far our favorite. I was shocked at how poor and trashed Panama and Costa Rica were. I hear the Western side of those countries are nicer. I will definitely cruise again and for our kids both were their favorite vacations, but after an average last cruise we'll take a few years off.


2009 Four Winns SL 242
Searching for that "One Particular Harbor."
#511502 - 04/18/11 08:32 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Jeffski]  
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Justification Online content
Admiral
Justification  Online Content
Admiral

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Fruit Heights, Utah
But the unasked question is:
How much weight have you put on with all the eating available onboard?
I'd love to take an Alaska cruise. Being in the travel industry we can get some great deals, but I'm afraid all I'd want to do is pig out and sleep.


Beer makes you feel the way
You should feel without beer.
#511505 - 04/18/11 08:56 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Justification]  
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kdl Offline
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Great pics Al, thanks for sharing. Brought back some good memories and a few familiar sights. Been on Majesty of the Seas twice.


2005 Cobalt 246 8.1 Gi
"Paradise..."

2001 Key Largo 190 CC
"After Five"
#511507 - 04/18/11 09:05 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: kdl]  
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CharlesS Offline
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Very Nice! That's the way to start off your Spring.


#511511 - 04/18/11 09:44 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: CharlesS]  
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WaterWing Offline
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One thing is for sure Al, your life revolves around boats. Nice pics. Many of them match my pics.

Al, we were on the ships during the same time. I was on mine April 2 - 8. Yes, port was at Ft. Lauderdale.

So Al, you were at St. Maarten and St. Thomas 3 times? Did you see any jewery stores? crazy


2001 Larson SEi-230 5.7 Merc/Alpha1
2013 Ford Explorer
#511514 - 04/18/11 10:55 PM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: WaterWing]  
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MarkHB Offline
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I have never been on a cruise. Not sure if I would enjoy it as I don't like being around a lot of people. My wife would love to go so I guess one day I will try a cruise.

On a side note, if you get out of Panama city it is really beautiful.
I am off to Aruba on business this coming September for a couple of months.

Mark


24' Monterey Explorer
Honda PWC
http://www.picturetrail.com/markhb

Golf!! Waste of a good gun range.
#511521 - 04/19/11 07:13 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: Justification]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Originally Posted By: Justification
But the unasked question is:
How much weight have you put on with all the eating available onboard?
I'd love to take an Alaska cruise. Being in the travel industry we can get some great deals, but I'm afraid all I'd want to do is pig out and sleep.


About eating...

The old saying is that you walk on as passengers and are rolled off as cargo.

It is easy to gain weight on a cruise. What we do is wear a pedometer, and take the stairs if we are going 3 decks up, and always take the stairs going down.

With the pedometer, we average 5 miles a day, and we usually like to walk a mile in the morning around the jogging track if we did not make the previous day's goal.

Still, we manage to gain a couple of pounds. But it comes off really quick as soon as we get home and get back to our regular routine.

Alaska cruise...

At this point, I have no interest in an Alaska cruise. My niece went on an Alaska cruise and she thought it was great, but my idea of cruising is being somewhere warm in the middle of January when everyone else is in the snow.

We did however look into a back-to-back extended-length cruise that would start in Seattle, with a 7 night cruise to Alaska and back (cruise 1), then stay on board (cruise 2) for a 16 night repositioning cruise from Seattle, through the Panama Canal, and to Ft. Lauderdale. This only happens once per year as the ship leaves Alaska for the winter in the Caribbean (or I suppose twice if you count the spring repositioning).


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511522 - 04/19/11 07:24 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: WaterWing]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Originally Posted By: WaterWing
One thing is for sure Al, your life revolves around boats. Nice pics. Many of them match my pics.

Al, we were on the ships during the same time. I was on mine April 2 - 8. Yes, port was at Ft. Lauderdale.

So Al, you were at St. Maarten and St. Thomas 3 times? Did you see any jewery stores? crazy


You now I got a story here...

The first time we went to St. Thomas - in 2001, my wife saw this piece of jewelry called a flip-ring at Cardow Jewelers. It was moderately expensive, about $250 or so. She couldn't make up her mind if she wanted it or not. Then about 15 minutes before the ship sailed, and we were on board, she decided she wanted it.

Obviously it was too late for me to go back into town and get it for her, so I told her if we ever got back to St. Thomas, I'd be sure and buy it for her.

And in 2005, we went back, and that is the first thing we did when we got off the ship, she made a bee-line to the Jewelry store and I bought her the ring. I think the price was about $350 when we paid for it.

A couple of years later, one of the diamonds fell out. We got an estimate of $300 to $500 to replace it from a local jeweler. The diamonds in the ring are in a cluster, so each individual diamond is really small - maybe 1/50h of a carat, so we both thought it was silly to pay as much or more to get the ring repaired as it cost.

I did contact Cardow and the ring was under a 5 yr warranty, so they would fix it if we sent it to them. Well, as the procrastinator that I am (which sometimes works to my advantage), I didn't get around to mailing it.

Then we booked another cruise that included St. Thomas in 2010, so on the third trip, we went to the Jewelry store again, as I planned on simply dropping it off.

They said no problem - didn't even ask to see the paperwork - and they had a Jeweler on staff that day. So we went on an excursion, and when we returned, the ring was fixed with the new diamond - no charge.



The flip ring as above is rather unique, and it is a formal diamond set at night, and when you flip it around, it is a less formal gem at day. And the price of the rings are now $600. Cardow I think is the only place that makes these, so it is kind of a unique item from St. Thomas.

We usually cruise in the fall-winter-spring when our boat is in storage. During boating season, we don't cruise. So it is basically an off-season activity.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
#511523 - 04/19/11 07:39 AM Re: Cruise crazy. [Re: MarkHB]  
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Al Offline
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Al  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Originally Posted By: MarkHB
I have never been on a cruise. Not sure if I would enjoy it as I don't like being around a lot of people. My wife would love to go so I guess one day I will try a cruise.

On a side note, if you get out of Panama city it is really beautiful.
I am off to Aruba on business this coming September for a couple of months.

Mark


Aruba for two months - wow, sounds great (you may not come back). Surprisingly Aruba has quite a refining operation.

While we were only there one day, we immediately fell in love with the island. There is a much higher standard of living there than on many of the islands, so you will not see a lot of poverty that you see in a lot of the islands.

One thing about Aruba is that due to the trade winds, it is always windy, and being so close to the equator, the sun is Hot, Hot, Hot.


President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.


2004 Mercury 270 Dinghy.
2016 Grand Design Reflection 29RS 5th Wheel
2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT 6.6L Diesel

previous boats:
1995 Carver 325
1999 Four Winns 268
1999 Four Winns 225
1996 Rinker 180
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