Archive for the ‘Caribbean’ Category

Every Minute Counts…

May 7, 2009

I have a thing about being on time. It dates back to my drill sergeant-ish basketball coach in high school whose motto was, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re LATE! Now do some suicides!” So I am usually early to things. But after many years of living in New York where everyone else is “fashionably late,” sometimes tardiness rubs off on me. Except in the case of catching a plane, train or boat. I get a little stressed about getting to the airport on time, and I had never missed a flight until my beloved, James, came along.

Flash forward to the first trip we ever planned together – a quick jaunt to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, land of all-inclusive resorts and mysterious fruity drinks that have no alcohol in them. We found a ridiculously amazing deal for a 4-day trip in February, which included an early morning flight on a Friday. If you’ve flown in or out of New York, you know there are tons of options to get to the airport – some are very cheap (subway) and some are insanely pricey (car service – usually reserved for expense accounts!). If you’re really pressed for time, there’s even a helicopter. But if you have all the time in the world, the subway/AirTrain option is great – it’s only a few dollars and can take about an hour. Unless the E train is wonky that day…then you might be in trouble. Or if you get off at the wrong subway stop…

It’s 6:45AM. We’re both tuning the world out on our subway ride to Jamaica, Queens (where you connect to the AirTrain shuttle to the airport). All of a sudden, James look up and sees “Jamaica” on a sign outside a stop, so we exit the train in a hurry. It took about 10 seconds for me to realize this was not the right Jamaica stop (there are three – the correct one is Sutphin Blvd). So we wait for the next E train to go another stop. This takes twenty minutes. We arrive at the Delta counter nine minutes too late (9, nueve, neuf, niiiiiine!!!!) to check in for our international flight (there actually is a rule that you have to check in one hour prior to departure, though we didn’t know that).

@*#$#@^&^*(^*%$%(*()*&(*!!!!!!!

Sigh. There is no worse feeling than being so ready for a tropical vacation and having to just go back home, especially when it’s 25 degrees outside.

So what’s the best remedy for this situation?

If you can't get to the caribbean, bring the caribbean to you.

If you can't get to the caribbean, bring the caribbean to you.

Seriously, the little umbrellas will make you feel about 7 percent better about missing your flight!

Seriously, the little umbrellas will make you feel about 7 percent better about missing your flight!

Well, we spent about 2 hours on the phone with our resort and the airline, and ended up rescheduling our vacation for a month after that. We drank pina coladas and daiquiris and went out for Mexican food, and, you know what? It was probably the next best thing.

Cruisin’

March 11, 2009

In early 2001, I had just moved to “the big city” AKA, New York, and had a real, grown-up job. I decided it was time to start going on some “real” vacations since my initial dive into international travel back in High School (France). Luckily, a group of girls decided to go on a fabulous cruise in the Caribbean in December 2001, so I said, sign me up! I had never been on a cruise but heard good things, such as the endless amounts of food (this was before cruise ships started making masses of people sick). Carnival Holiday – seven days, six islands (St. Thomas, Tortola, Martinique, Dominica, Barbados, St. Kitts/Nevis)…quel variété!

So then in September 2001, well…you know. Carnival then moved the date of the cruise to November 2001 since half of the travelers canceled their tickets to Puerto Rico (where we would get on the ship). Most of our own travel group canceled as well, except for three of us. But we three brave souls were determined to experience the cruise life and enjoy the vacation we worked hard to pay off (…even though I was scared to fly, and at that time, even more so).

Well, we arrived and embarked…ahhhh, vacation.

All aboooooard!

All aboooooard!

So this was a trip of firsts for me:

  • First time in the Caribbean & Puerto Rico.
  • First time on a cruise ship.
  • First trip that I had photos taken from my 35mm camera burned onto a disc and uploaded to share online (hello, old school).
  • First time I ever saw a towel shaped into a little animal by the cleaning staff (and you know how I feel about animals).
A different animal surprised us each day - clearly my favorite part of cruise life...

A different animal surprised us each day - clearly my favorite part of cruise life...

This particular cruise visited several different islands, so we were able to experience a bunch of different countries in one trip. You wouldn’t think that a bunch of islands in the same area could be so different, but they definitely had their own flavor (we didn’t do any research on where we were going beforehand – amateurs). Tortola was very British, Martinique was French, St. Thomas was overly American, Barbados had a surprising amount of variety, and Dominica (my favorite) was just insane…

Hiking the rainforest in Dominica.

Hiking the rainforest in Dominica.

Cliff diving in Dominica.

Cliff diving in Dominica.

St. Thomas

St. Thomas

El Yunque, the rainforest, in Puerto Rico.

El Yunque, the rainforest, in Puerto Rico.

While what we saw was just beautiful, this has still been my one and only cruise to date. There were some downsides to this particular trip:

  • Since this cruise visited so many different islands, the ship left each port in the afternoon (sometimes 3PM), giving us only the early part of the day to experience each place (generally enough time to go on one excursion or just walk around).
  • As the cruise was rescheduled due to 9/11, half of the passengers canceled, so the ship was fairly empty. Which some might see this as a pro, as young, single 23 year olds, we were bummed to be the only ones in the lounge at night.
  • Speaking of nighttime entertainment….the shows were kind of catchy, but once they were over at 9PM, we were stuck on a boat with no one our age and nothing to do…

I might be up for trying another cruise someday – perhaps one that docks for a bit in one place. I just need to decide where…..suggestions?

It’s 5PM Somewhere Right Now…

February 27, 2009

The perfect happy hour (whilst traveling, or anywhere really): Champagne and air-popped popcorn. Served up at the Sirenis Resort & Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Balancing out the calories.

Balancing out the calories.