Jan 17 Tue. Willemstadt, Curacao. Lovely Dutch island with houses in bright primary colors along the harbour. We found taxi/bus and paid $5 for both to the Aquarium. My compaion visited the fish and I walked to Mambo Beach for the best snorkeling I've had so far. There's a big breakwater, and by risking getting scratched by coral through a small channel, one can get out beyond where the waves break up the little critters and lots of beautiful fish come to feed. A bit scary, but I just float up and down in the breaking surf, knowing (and hoping I'm right) that the waves don't usually push one forward. Then the $5 back to the ship.
Jan18 Wed. Oranjestad, Aruba. Another clean Dutch city, with local buses just across from the dock. One left for the beaches every hour, but we missed the first and spent an hour in an excellent local museum with many artifacts from pre-history to recent times. Took the next bus to Marmok beach in a residential area. Not many people. First place I tried to get in had a high wall with sharp coral all around; walked a half mile and found a sandy beach, good for swimming, but no fish. There are probably better places to get in. So it goes. Took the next bus back.
Jan. 21 Sat. Back in Lauderdale at 7 a.m. after the first week of Crown Princess back to back cruise. Will sail again at 4:00 p.m. today. Some experienced cruisers told us we can walk to 17th St. and get a $.50 hop on/off bus that goes along the beach to a Galeria mall. Took about 15 minutes to walk to stop. Didn't get off at mall but rode back to beach for a walk along the Lauderdale beach. Another $.50 hop to a stop at a Ft. Lauderdale art museum, which turned out to be an art school with a some interesting works, mostly artistic photographs of life in contemporary China. Easy walk back to the ship.
23 Mon. Grand Cayman. We have been here before and know where to find a local bus/taxi and where to go: Cemetery Beach. There is excellent snorkeling on a reef perhaps a quarter mile out. I found a British couple; the man planned to swim out and said he'd welcome a companion. We saw a lot of fish and one ray. Then back to the ship.
Jan 25 Wed. Belize City A grungy kind of coastal city. We'd visited a Mayan ruin on an earlier trip, about an hour away on a bumpy one-lane road with two-way traffic. An interesting place worth the ride, but not a second time. Other interesting attractions are an hour or more away via expensive tours on narrow bumpy roads. So just wandered around the town, learned that a lot of produce is locally grown, found a good internet cafe for $3 an hour to catch up on emails, and then back to ship.
(We were supposed to stop at Roatan, Honduras, but waves and winds prevented docking or tendering.)
Jan 26 Thu. Cozumel, Mexico. Been here before and have visitedthe Chankanaab Nature Park, a large beautiful but expensive area with excellent swimming and snorkleing. We take an $8 taxi ride to the "Money Cafe," on the same beach about a mile before the Nature Park, where my partner can sit and read or work crossword puzzles and I can snorkel. My partner feels sad that the cruise is coming to an end. I feel sad too, but also have my usual get-home-itis and am missing family, friends, farm walks, and the daily rut I was glad to escape.