After a few days of theme parks (which did their best to ensure that we were sick of Christmas even earlier than usual), we got on a 7-day Caribbean cruise that we were able to book last-minute for really cheap. We were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to slow the pace down a little, get some work done, relax, etc.
We left from Port Canaveral, which is right next to Cape Canaveral, where NASA launches its space shuttles from (pay attention, there’ll be a quiz later). Our first port of call was Nassau, Bahamas, where we took a catamaran out to a smaller island to go snorkeling.
The snorkeling was really cool and I wish we had a waterproof camera so that we could include some pictures of all the tropical fish, but we don’t, so it looked something like this (only slightly less anthropomorphic):
Our second stop was the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we took a bus tour that went up the local mountain, then to the misleadingly named Blackbeard’s Castle (misleading because the “castle” is in fact just a small tower and because, according to their own pamphlet, it’s unlikely that it was ever used by Blackbeard).
The views were gorgeous,but all told the tour was a bit of a mistake. The bus broke down three times, though the driver got it going quickly each time and it only delayed us by maybe 10 minutes in total. What made it hard for us to enjoy ourselves was actually the other passengers; I won’t get into details, but on an hour-and-a-half-long tour we witnessed a grown woman have a hissy fit that she didn’t have a window seat, a passenger loudly insulting the bus driver, and someone’s snarky complaint that it was “poor planning” that it was raining when the driver dropped us off (as if the driver had any control over the weather– and lets be clear here: it was barely spitting with rain). So to sum up: great views, ridiculous people.
The next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we made the smart decision of going it alone and seeing Old San Juan and the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel on the hill above the old town. San Juan was really beautiful and it made us really want to go back some day and see more of the city and the island.
Our last port of call was supposed to be at a private island in the Bahamas owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines, but it was cancelled because wind and swell meant the tender boats couldn’t safely run, so we had an extra day at sea instead. We enjoyed the cruise a lot and it was nice to have some days where we didn’t feel obliged to do anything, but by the end we were pretty well ready to get off the ship.
We were really lucky that the day we docked was the same day that NASA was launching their latest Mars Rover and the timing was so good that we got off the ship, picked up our car, stopped at a cafe to check our email, etc. then went to the beach and only had to wait five minutes before the rocket was launched. It was pretty cool watching it streak across the sky and knowing where it was headed.
We then headed North, back into Georgia, and visited the Okefenokee National Wildlife Reserve (the swamp that’s as much fun to say as it is to visit!) where we took a boat tour and saw lots of alligators, turtles, sandhill cranes, a great blue heron, and an american bittern. It was really cool.
So, we’ve started to make our way towards home now. After 5 months of driving we’re getting a bit worn out on the road trip, which means it’s time to head back to Victoria, sell the van and get ready to head overseas!