There’s nothing quite like a cruise on the high seas. Floating on a luxury hotel with all your daily needs catered to is bliss. Every nationality of food is catered for, and if not just speak to one of the many chefs. Norwegian Joy offers you a wonderful 14 day cruise from Los Angeles to Miami, more than enough time for you to really chill out, or burn up on the sundeck.
Your evenings can be spent in one of the many lounges listening to live music, or watching a dynamic show in the theatre. If you want to get more involved, take dancing classes, play chess, play cards, learn a craft, or take a run on the upper deck. The gym is fully equipped so no excuses. Burn off the calories and replace them with luscious afternoon teas. No-one is counting how many delicious pieces of cake you’re sneaking onto your place – only your conscience.
You also have the option of day excursions when the ship docks at various ports. You can choose to go with a tour guide or make your own arrangements.
The pool deck will give you plenty of time to frolic, or just relax in the jacuzzi. Watching movies on a huge screen on one of the sundecks wrapped up on a warm blanket is heaven. Having your stateroom cleaned every day and new bedding put on is wonderful. I wanted to bring the lovely Enrique home with me.
CHILL OUT ON THE SUNDECK
Don’t forget the sunscreen if you intend to sunbathe. I ended up with an imperfect mathematical triangle on my neckline rather like the ones I did at school. Maths wasn’t my best subject and neither is sunbathing. I attempted the ‘pulled up trousers’ tan on my legs and ended up with two thirds tanned meatloaves.
I only saw one pair of upright (bet they were fake) boobs. The rest were the waist resting kind on both male and female. Although, some of the males had better boobs than myself.
PAST AND PRESENT
The story of a city, any city is the same no matter where you go. The culture may be different, but the great divide between rich and poor shows in the dilapidated buildings, cracked stonework once created by talented masons, symptomatic of so many lives. Beautiful buildings that should be loved and preserved. Every stone has a story to tell – past and present. High-rise modern apartments are etched against the skyline, old and new. Modern windows shimmer in the sunlight.Old windows have washing lines draped with people’s clothing. A fight against poverty, the story of the past and the present, of people who are struggling is whispering in the wind.
I was excited about seeing the young men dive thirty to forty metres from the cliff top. Watching them clamber up barefoot without the aid of robes was the most exciting part. They huddled together for at least a half hour, whilst we waited expectantly in the hot sun. I imagined them arguing –
‘You go first.’
‘No. You go.’
‘Ah come on will ya. I went first yesterday.’
‘No you won’t. You’re too scraggy. You’ll bend in the wind.’
Eventually they dived. Whoosh and it was over. I was taking photos with my phone and ended up with photos of miniature pixies. No matter what it takes a lot of courage to dive off any cliff. Fair play to them. The tourist police were out in full force, Darth Vader creatures holding their rifles aloft. Eish! A strong reminder that we needed to be cautious.
CABO SAN LUCAS
Swimming with the dolphins is an amazing experience, but a part of me felt sad that these magnificent creatures were trained like circus animals. However, the centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of dolphins. Beautiful architecture lined the streets and every brick had a story to tell.
PUERTO QUETZAL, QUATEMALA
Antigua is an old town worth exploring. Visit the Central Plaza and the nearby streets which are peppered with churches, convents, museums, art galleries, restaurants, cafes and stores. A map of Antigua highlights its main attractions and you’ll be able to explore the city on your own. Relish the memorable scenic drive back to your ship, with stunning views of the Agua and Fuego (Water and Fire) volcanoes.
THE PANAMA EXPERIENCE
Cruising slowly through the Panama Canal is a wonderful experience, especially with a running commentary by an expert guide. Now with three locks the Panama Canal is a wonderful feat of engineering. Originally opened in 1914, global trade has benefited hugely from its expansion. The upper decks were crowded as everyone watched our progress through the canal. A journey of memories being stored to treasure at another time. A journey of life.
No matter where I travel I’m aware of the great discrepancy between wealth and poverty. Does one depend on the other? Do we need cheap labour to provide the fattened cow, the road to riches?
Poverty versus wealth. Houses in disrepair. Bars on doors and windows as if they contained something worth stealing. Lives perhaps. Houses and apartment blocks gleaming brightly in the sunshine. Standing proudly proclaiming their wealth.
Buses with peeling paint. Mercedes and gleaming Porches. Rusty bikes and elderly people selling their wares in the heat of the day. Armed police protecting the tourists and one hopes the local people who are the heart of any city.
THE SPA EXPERIENCE
Final days of the cruise are looming and my sun-wrecked hair leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t mind being ship-wrecked, but windy and wet Ireland is calling. I was looking for the spa and got a lot more than I asked for. One young lady told me that she was ‘The Spa’. I love that! Who wouldn’t want to be The Spa.
The hairdresser went into great detail about what my hair needed including his own brand of shampoo, conditioner and various serums – called Arrogance. (Now I’m being naughty.) Jokingly I asked if he also did face lifts. He responded by telling me about the non-invasive way he could lift my eyelids. I can barely lift them in the morning so whatever potions he had in mind, I doubt he had enough in stock.
He also pointed out the fine lines and wrinkles on my face that he could minimise. All of that information sure deflated my ego and deflated my face even further. I decided to skip the spa experience in favour of afternoon tea. The cream there was edible. Ooh la la! Who needs a mirror when you have such beauticians roaming the earth in search of their prey.
Arriving back in sunny Miami, we were sad to see the end of our cruise. However, dining out in Bal Harbour is not to be missed, especially if you love fish. The Peruvian restaurant in The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, was also excellent and how could I possibly forget brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel.
There are a lot more excursions ashore which I haven’t mentioned. Some days I just wanted to curl up with a book in a comfortable, quiet lounge, enjoying the ambience. We met some lovely people whilst aboard and wonderful staff. It was a truly wonderful experience.
Life is a series of experiences and wonderful adventures. Grasp every precious moment if you can.
Read my blog ! – A Tale of Two Cities
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