Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exploring the Western Caribbean by ship...

7 days onboard the MS Mariner of the Seas. The ship is one of five Voyager-class cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International; it is one of the largest in its fleet and among the largest passenger ships in the world. It was constructed at Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland and had her maiden voyage in 2003. Currently the ship sails cruises from the port of Galveston, Texas  to the Western Caribbean.

Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of 208 square miles (540 km2). Located within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the city is the seat and second-largest city of Galveston County in population.

During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. Galveston is known for the hurricane that devastated the city in 1900. The natural disaster that followed still counts as the deadliest in American history with over 6,000 deaths.

The most perfect bed in the world. I slept like a baby!

The Port of Galveston was established by a proclamation issued by the Congress of Mexico on October 17, 1825, while the land known today as Texas  was still part of Mexico. The Port of Galveston is the oldest port in the Gulf of Mexico west of New Orleans. The Carnival Magic, Carnival Cruise Lines flagship is docked in front of us as we await departure.

Deck 4, a wrap around promenade deck. I spent many a happy hour reading here in perfect quiet and peace.

The Solarium, an adults only pool and hot tubs onboard the Mariner of the Seas. Heaven.

Cozumel (Mayan: Island of the Swallows) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities (municipios) of the state of Quintana Roo. Cozumel is a tourist destination for its balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

The Royal Promenade onboard the Mariner of the Seas. A long 'street' complete with shops and over spilling European style cafes and bars. Good for people watching and live music and parades.

Arriving At Georgetown in the Cayman Islands we had to anchor in the bay and be tendered to shore.

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The Cayman Islands are considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles.

We even came under attack from a pirate ship. Luckily, I didn't see any Somalians! Look carefully, and you will see the puff of white smoke as the canon went off. I nearly dropped my camera in the ocean. It was a big and very loud BOOOM!

The Mariner of the Seas in more dodgy pirate company.

Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234 kilometers (145 mi) in length, up to 80 kilometers (50 mi) in width and 10,990 square kilometers (4,243 sq mi) in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145 kilometers (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometers (119 mi) west of Hispaniola, the island harboring the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking TaĆ­no inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs".

Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it became an English, and later a British, colony, known as "Jamaica". It achieved full independence in 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Kingston is the country's largest city and the capital.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The best lots of Blue Mountain coffee are noted for their mild flavor and lack of bitterness. Over the last several decades, this coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world; over 80% of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan. In addition to its use for brewed coffee, the beans are the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.

Meeting up with a dear friend of mine, Donna Shippie, who is the Asst Director for YWAM Montego Bay.

Distance sailed: 2,462 nautical miles = 2,533 miles = 4,559 kilometers in 7 days
Deepest part of the gulf sailed over: 11,410 feet = 3,477 meters
Average temperature: 72 F = 22 C
Average speed: 21.9 knots = 25.20 miles per hour = 40.55 kilometer per hour

It surely was a mix of all kinds of people... Meet Edie and Bill who definitely had caught Christmas Spirit by it's red nose!
Helpfully, the day gets noted in the elevators. I thought it a bit cheesy, but by Wednesday I had to look in the elevator to see which day it was!

My cabin attended went out of his way to confuse me. I am still not sure if this was a pig or a dog!

Beautiful and well appointed conference center. Very happy about this and well suited for the upcoming Alumni cruise!

Small cinema/screening room located right next to the conference center on deck 2
No matter what time of the day, I loved the quiet and fresh air on deck 4. I reminded me so much of countless hours spent on the promenade deck on the Anastasis.

Question and Answer time with the captain and cruise director in the theater.

One of the murals in the Royal Promenade, it looked more and more like the kid was holding up the Anastasis. I took it as a good sign!

The jogging/walking track on the ship.

The Royalpalooza, the final parade!

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