For this cruise, we traveled with 45+ individuals from The Church of St. Benedict in Mohnton, PA.  Several of our neighbors are members of the church so it was a real pleasure traveling with people we knew.  John B. has organized several cruises and through experience has become a master at somehow getting everyone going in the same direction. 

 

Like previous cruises, we signed onto the Cruise Critic "Roll Call" for this cruise and began making contact with a bunch of fellow cruisers.  We participated in a Meet & Greet where the Hotel Director and a number of the officers came to introduce themselves to us.  All from the church group were invited to attend the M&G even if they were not Cruise Critic members.  Several chose to do so.  In addition, there was a Slot Pull.

 

Be sure and click on any image for a larger view, some additional information about the image, some camera information and a satellite image of where the picture was taken.

 

New York City Departure....

Sailing from New York is always a pleasure and affords spectacular views of the Intrepid, the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline.  

                        

 

San Juan, Puerto Rico....

This was our second time in San Juan.  We met Jennifer and Ron during one of the sea days and spent some time talking about photography so the four of us decided to stay in town taking pictures.  Kathy and I are passionate about this stuff and were tickled pink about sharing the experience.  As you can see, San Juan has a lot of old world charm.  Christmas decorations were still up.

                                                        

 

St. Thomas, USVI....

We had heard about Blackbeard's Castle and the 99 steps leading DOWN to the in town shopping area so we set out on our own to check it out.  Getting to Blackbeard's Castle was a $5/pp taxi ride and admission (with senior discount) was $12/pp.  There were several things to see, photograph and learn about as we made our way down the 99 steps.  Fortunately the rain held off until we arrived in the shopping area where we were able to duck in/out of the various shops.  I was on the hunt for an Invicta 8928 watch and met with success finding one at the right price.

                                                                                

 

 

 

Philipsburg, St. Maarten....

For this port I wanted to go match race sailing on some 12 meter America's Cup sailboats but Kathy wasn't interested.  Looking over the list of potentials, we settled on an excursion where you drive around in "Scoot Coupes".  "Scoot Coupes" are little three wheeled cars that accommodate two people.  The driver steers with handlebars much as you would see on a motorcycle with handbrakes and a throttle.  All of us went off caravan style with a guide motoring ahead to block traffic at intersections.  This was a good thing because cars and trucks look mighty BIG when you're motoring along in a "Scoot Coupe".  Roads were generally filled with pot-holes but we did encounter a smooth straight section where I got our Scoot Coup cranked up to 25MPH.  We made two stops along the way.  One was at a scenic overlook along the coast and the other was at "Orient Beach" for a swim.  I should mention that we were NOT on the clothing optional section of the beach.

                                                                                   


 

St. Lucia, Saint Lucia....

Alice from the church group mentioned setting up a 5-1/2 to 6 hour tour with Cosol Tours so we went online and made arrangements to join in.  The tour included visiting several fishing villages, stopping at a banana plantation, taking a boat to a beach near the Pitons, visiting a volcano, a waterfall, and stopping to sample various kinds of island foods.  Of course there was plenty to drink along the way.  We were also supposed to stop at some mud baths but, frankly, we ran out of time and interest.  As is, the tour ran over 6 hours and all of us were getting pooped and wanted to get back to the ship.  Overall, the tour was well worth the $65/pp.

                                                                                

 

 

Bridgetown, Barbados....

Right after being told that the ship was cleared by local authorities, an announcement was made that wearing of any camouflage clothing was against the law in Barbados.(??)  We arrived in Barbados on a Sunday and EVERYTHING in town was closed for the day.  That was OK with us so we decided to take the $4/pp shuttle into town to capture some images of some structures and anything else we might come across.  As luck would have it, we came across Mike and Lill who were looking to fill a 4 person taxi for a private 2-1/2 hour island tour.  Not really having anything better to do, we decided to go with them on the tour.  The cab for up to 4 people was $120 which worked out to $30/pp.  Our driver, Ali, took us to some scenic overlooks, a couple old churches, showed us some monkeys and kept us informed about all the island has to offer.  Ali was very good at answering all of our questions including why camouflage clothing is against the law.

                                                     

 

 

 

St. John's, Antigua....

This was our final port of call on this cruise so we decided to make it a beach day.  Don, who was part of the Cruise Critic "Roll Call", found out about Coconut Beach Club and made a reservation for a dozen of us to spend the day there.  For $45/pp we got use of the facility, drinks, and lunch.  We shared a cab/van for $4/pp each way.  Because of some recent storms, the water was very rough with only one of our group making an effort to go in.  For the rest of us it was walks along the beach, the pool, and just plain enjoying each others company.  Of course a return to the pier meant a walk thru the straw market and checking out the free wi-fi hot spot

                                                           

 

The Ship....

This was our third time on JEWEL.  A big part of cruising for us is life aboard ship.  On this itinerary, we had two sea days at the beginning and three at the end.  Sea days represent a time to kick back, read our Kindles, take a nap, wander from reading spot to reading spot, and meet people.  This time around, we were affiliated with two groups so there were lots of familiar faces to run into on the cruise but that doesn't preclude meeting other cruisers along the way.  Pictured below are Ron and Jennifer who we spotted on deck using a sextant, an instrument many navigators have forgotten how to use.  In an attempt to burn a few calories, I walked four decks worth of hallways each sea day at 6am.  These ships are amazing machines that continue to fascinate me.  .

                                                                          


Our Cabin, 10530....

This time around we booked a balcony cabin and have to admit that we used it more this time than ever before.  Balconies are nice when going in/out of port but are usually to cold or to hot or to sunny to simply sit and read.  This time around, it was different and we not only sat there and read but also brought our lunch down from the buffet a couple times.

                    

For the photographers among you:  We knew we were going to spend some time at the beach so the DSLRs stayed home.  Instead we packed our Nikon Coolpix P7000 P&S and Nikon Coolpix P7700 P&S cameras.  We found ourselves sharing these cameras so we were not able to define who took which individual image.  In addition, we also geotagged our images with a Sony GPS-CS3KA.

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 New January 2013,  rev 6/15/2014