Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cruise: Day 6 (picture overload)

Day 6
St. Maarten

We loved St. Maarten. It's a small little island with super nice locals which we felt completely safe on. When we got off the ship we hopped in a cab and were driven to the dive shop. Once there we signed the typical waivers promising we wouldn't sue them if we died. We put on our wet suits and jumped on a dingy. This was seriously the best scuba diving experience we have ever had. Granted it's not hard to beat 54 degree murky water and extreme seasickness, which was our experience on our last dive in Mexico. The dive masters put all our equipment together and checked everything to make sure it was working properly, and all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the show. This was actually perfect, because I had kind of forgotten how to do anything regarding equipment since it had been a year since we had dove last. The two dive masters also went down into the water with us, which was not the case on our previous dive. It was so great. They knew the area really well and were able to show us things we would have otherwise missed had we been down there by ourselves. Our first dive was a 60ft ship wreck. It was absolutely amazing! First of all, the water was crystal clear. Once we got to the bottom you could look straight up and see the boat perfectly. We also saw some pretty amazing sights.
Just in reference to all these pictures: I am wearing the yellow fins, and Brad is wearing the blue.

I just have to put in a plug for underwater cameras. We bought one for Brad's birthday, and it was seriously the best investment for this trip. There's absolutely no way we would have gotten such good pictures with just a dinky disposable one. If you're planning a trip where you'll be in the water, look into getting an underwater camera case. You won't regret it.

Ginormous lobster. You can't really tell from the picture, but this thing was as big as my whole arm.

I spy a camouflaged fish. Can you?

 Cool snail surrounded by fire coral, which Brad accidentally touched. Ouch.

Our second dive was another 60 footer. This time down to a discarded old bridge. One of our guides said that "in true Caribbean style" when they build a new bridge they just threw the old out into the ocean somewhere. It was really neat, because it had only been down there for a few years but it was already covered with marine life.

Kinda hard to see, but way back in the back in a huge barracuda eating his lunch. We saw tons of them. And we saw a Caribbean Reef Shark (sorry no picture). 


St. Maarten.

On our way back to the ship we stopped at a few beaches and just hung out for a while. It was so nice since we weren't in the real touristy part and no one was on the beaches. We also decided that since this was our last day we would splurge and actually buy lunch on the island (at every other stop if we were hungry we simply went back to the boat, because why pay for something you could get for free?). We stopped at the first little restaurant we saw. It was all outside (except for the kitchen) and there were tons of locals there, so we figured it must be good. And it was DELICIOUS! Three months later I'm still [frequently]  thinking about how amazing my grilled chicken and cheese panini was. We also got this wonderful kiwi and strawberry crepe. Yum.

I seriously loved St. Maarten. Brad said it was because of what we did that day, which is probably true. But I certainly wouldn't complain if we ever had to go back.

Love, Brad & Courtney

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cruise: Day 5

Day 5
St. Kitts

Day 5 was my day to surprise Brad. He had been saying for weeks, months even, that we really needed to go kayaking. Well when it came time for the cruise planning we still hadn't gone, so I thought "What better place to go than St. Kitts?" This was the only excursion we booked through the cruise ship, simply because I couldn't find a better deal online.
Brad had also been saying the whole cruise that he wanted to get up early and watch the sunrise, but when the alarm finally went off before 6am on day 5 he suddenly changed his mind. Well, I made him get up anyways because it was his idea after all. He watched the sunrise for about 3 minutes before he was falling asleep standing up. So he went back to bed and left me to watch the rest by myself. This meant that I was in charge of the camera, and the result of this was 33 pictures of the exact same thing. (I just counted, I really did take 33 pictures of the sunrise.) Brad just laughed when he saw the preposterous amount. I won't bore you with all 33, but here are a few of my favorites.

We arrived in St. Kitts and had plenty of time to go window shopping and listen to their local radio station play Justin Bieber (yes, the radio really was playing Bieber). We then met up with our group and hopped on a bus and headed to the drop off point. On the way we stopped here:
Atlantic Ocean on the left and Caribbean Sea on the right. It was actually really neat. You could totally tell the difference between the two bodies of water.

When we got to the kayaks our guides said we could have some time to go snorkeling first if we wanted. We, of course, wanted. Two of the guides asked if we were good swimmers, and when we said yes they told us to follow them. We swam out about a mile to a ship that had wrecked during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I had never seen a ship wreck before, so it was pretty exciting.

After we swam the mile back to shore we got a crash course in kayaking and headed off. I had never been kayaking before, and it was A LOT harder than I expected. Brad said it was because the current and the wind were pushing us in the opposite direction than we needed to go. We had a ton of fun, and I now want to try river kayaking.

When we got to the stopping point on the beach, we had fresh islands fruits and fruit juices. I thought BYU had good passion fruit guava juice, but St. Kitts definitely wins.

Love, Brad & Courtney

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cruise: Day 4

Day 4
St. Lucia

The last cruise we went on we decided that it would be fun for both of us to pick a day where we planned the activities and not let the other know. It so exciting and surprising that we decided to do it again. Day 4 in St. Lucia was Brad's day. The boy did his research! He had figured out all the different bus routes and how to get from one side of the island to another. He made a list of all the different things we could do while we were there, and once we got off the ship we decided what exactly it would be. The first bus we ran into would take us within a mile of the Sandals Resort, so we hopped on it. (Going to Sandals was on Brad's list.) We got off the bus at the last stop and had to walk the rest of the way. When we were about half way there we got stopped by some guy with his trunk open. He was selling marijuana - any kind of marijuana you could think of (before this day I didn't even know there were different kinds). We politely refused and had to walk away while he was still haggling us. We finally got to the beach and just relaxed!
The beautiful island of St. Lucia.

The beach we hung out at.

This is by far one of Brad's favorite poses. He pulls it off pretty well, huh?

 Aren't the sailboats in the background wonderful!?

St. Lucia had the murkiest water of any island we visited. I'm sure it had something to do with the weather or the day we were there or the tide or something. The water off the beach was really shallow, and with the murkiness you couldn't really see anything. So I opted to let Brad go snorkeling by himself while I relaxed on the beach where I could actually see my surroundings. He saw some pretty neat marine life during his snorkeling adventure.
 What if I hadn't seen these sea urchins and accidentally stepped on them? Ouch! I'm glad Brad's braver than me and at least got some cool pictures.

 See the GINORMOUS puffer fish? It's in the bottom left-hand corner.

Everyday we brought our hammock with us just hoping we'd find a good spot to hang it up. St. Lucia was the day we found such a spot. It was so great to lay in the hammock right on the beach and have the ocean breeze hitting your face.

While we were swinging in the hammock we saw these two horses run by heading straight for the water. They never got in, but they had a grand old time rolling around and playing in the sand. It was so interesting to watch. Finally their owner came and corralled them back to the riding trail.

Here's a picture of the pool at Sandals.

And here's a picture of how I combated my awful sunburn.

We eventually had to leave our little sanctuary and head back to the port. We walked the mile back to the bus stop and decided we had a little more time than we thought, so we rode to a little market that was set up near the ship. (P.S. It cost about $3 for us BOTH to ride on the bus one way.) It was so fun to walk around and see all the things people were selling - hats, baskets, clothes, food, beautiful woodworkings. We made our way back to the ship just before it set sail for St. Kitts, and we watched St. Lucia disappear in the sunset.

Love, Brad & Courtney