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Review- CCL Destiny 1/7-1/12, long with photos

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Destiny 5 day cruise January 7-12

 

*I am still working with photobucket to post the photos smaller!

 

This review is lengthy and detailed. If you are looking for short and sweet, please feel free to go no further. *Disclaimer: I have posted this on Cruise Critic and shared the link for friends and family interested in our trip so I do not have to duplicate my efforts of posting two different reviews.(Working full time, graduate student and 3 kids- not happening!) Thus, it includes the beginning of our trip for family as well as details about the cruise that will interest CC readers. I posted the good and the bad, but the bad was VERY MINOR in all respects. Truly it was fantastic. I read these boards for a very long time before we pulled off our trip and was very grateful for the reviews so I wanted to return the favor.

 

A little about our family… We are from Colonial Beach, Virginia. Myself (Ashley), my husband David, DS Jake 17, DD Katie 15 (turned 15 on the ship) and DD Elizabeth 11. This is our first cruise, but certainly not our last.

 

Day 1, Saturday, January 5: We left our home in Colonial Beach, Virginia at 8 AM and drove straight through over 900 miles to Sarasota. The kids slept most of the time. The mini-van is awesome. I always said I wouldn’t drive a mini-van… until work gave me one of theirs with free gas! WOOHOO GO MINIVAN MOM!

 

The kids on Pedro’s foot at the bottom right of the frame:

 

 

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We stopped at South of the Border, SC. If you haven’t ever been here it’s hard to describe. Google it… It is about ½ mile of “sucker bait” and fireworks shops and other miscellaneous attractions on either side of the road. Oddly, there is a motocross track behind it owned by the same folks. We bought our share of sucker bait, had greasy diner food at a great price and got back on the road. We stopped in a random town in Florida for dinner and went to the only sit down restaurant in town- Sonny’s Barbecue. Apparently this is a big chain. We had never heard of it but had one of the best meals of the trip. We will surely seek out this place out again.

 

We arrived in Sarasota at around midnight. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, Sarasota East Saturday and Sunday nights. The hotel was clean, had a nice pool, and the front desk guy Benjamin was very nice. The breakfast area was a joke. It was poorly stocked and very messy. The supervisor of the area was annoyed when we asked for help. Monday morning one of the workers burned a biscuit in the microwave. The supervisor was screaming at him outside the front door for several minutes. It was pretty awkward. I spent my reward points on this stay, but if I had paid, I still would have thought it an overall good deal.

Edited by mumtopugs

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Day 2, Sunday January 6, 2012: Sarasota is a sentimental visit for David. His grandmother had a home here on Bird Key and he spent most of his childhood Christmas’ here. His father and grandmother have both passed away, but he has some great memories here.

 

The lot where her home used to be:

 

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We visited the Cars of Yesterday museum. It has changed since he was young, but it may not be there at all on the next visit as a university has bought the land and they plan on developing it. The fate of the museum is unknown.

 

 

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We went to the “Ringling House”. This is a combination circus museum, art museum and enormous gorgeous mansion called Ca’ d’Zan (House of John). I am a huge fan of museums, but I am not a big fan of the circus (always had a hard time with captive and trained “wild” animals), so I wasn’t sure how I would like it. I LOVED it as did the rest of the family. We went through the two circus museums. The first museum has a miniature replica of the Ringling Brothers Circus from the beginning of the 20th century. I cannot express to you the detail in this amazing village. IT IS HUGE! I didn’t post photos of it because you can’t get the true idea of this thing in my photos. Visit the website or YouTube the PBS episode on it. One man designed and created this over 50 years. It is truly a treasure. The kids loved the interactive exhibits. Jake is 6’3 and fit into Lou Collins’ teeny tiny circus car!

 

 

 

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Ca d’Zan is a 56 room, 30,000 sf mansion in Sarasota built by John and Mable Ringling. It is done in an Italian gothic design which is a theme in the furnishings and decoration of the house as well. For German people, they really went wild with the Italian thing! We did the “Private Places” tour and it was an additional $20 pp. It was worth every penny. What you can see self-guided or just the lower level is only a small fraction of the beauty of the home. The docent for the additional tour was Dave Osbourne. There was only one other couple in our group. The docent spoke a little fast, but was very knowledgeable and interesting. We ran out of time to go to the art museum, but it is on my list for the next trip.

 

 

 

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For dinner, we went to the Old Salty Dog. We are Man v. Food fans and about a year ago, we saw an episode where Adam was in Sarasota. We were thinking about the 420 Café. It’s a dive with character and right up our alley. However, I read a review that said they took their kids and there were patrons with pot on the table and no one really thought anything about it. If it were me and Dave, that would be no problem, but with the kids in tow, we went with the Old Salty Dog. I love the app “TV Food Maps.” The app shows you locations that have been on television. It took us right to the Old Salty Dog. The restaurant is mostly outdoors and sits right on the bay. Me, Dave, and Jake ordered the namesake dish. It is a deep fried, beer battered hot dog (don’t think corn dog) smothered in 3 cheeses, bacon, mushrooms, onions and sauerkraut. It was enormous. It is a little pricey at $15, but very unique and a lot of food – so, worth it. Everything else was a terrific price. Kate had a burger that was fresh and tasty and I think it was like $7 or $8. Service was good, location was terrific. We watched the pelicans dip for fish and the sun began to set.

 

 

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Day 3, Monday January 7, 2013: We left Sarasota at 7:45 AM and arrived in Miami at 11:30. It would have been easier to go out of Tampa, but I booked the cruise based on date, price, and ports (wanted to go to GT and HMC badly!) and worked out the rest later. I pre-paid parking at a self-parking garage at 1415 NE 2nd Ave Miami. This was done through Global Parking. I dropped off David and the girls at the port. The parking garage site says it has a strict limit of 4 people shuttled to and from the port. No big deal. Traffic was heavy, but generally easy to get to. To get there via Siri, I had to enter the POM zip code – 33132. There were 7 ships in port this day and it was very busy. However, the signs pointed us the right way and it was easy to get to our ship.

 

We gave our bags to the porter and tipped him $2/bag. I took Jake with me to the parking garage which is about 4 miles away. The garage isn’t in an upscale neighborhood by any stretch, but it is still a couple of blocks from the worst of the ghetto. I chose this because it was self parking- not valet. I didn't want my car to be moved around over and over while we were gone. Also because it was a garage and not an open lot. Any hooligan would have to go past several open lots and up 4 levels to choose my car to vandalize. Not that this is impossible, but anything to make it less likely, right? I paid $44 including taxes. The POM parking would have been about $110 with taxes. It would have been so much easier to park at the port. See the end of review for more information about the end of the cruise and getting the car. We took their shuttle back to the port. The driver seriously was a crazy driver. We were lucky to get there!

 

We went through security. I took the allotted one bottle of wine pp and put it in my carry on. I didn’t think about David and the girls going ahead. I ended up giving the bag to Jake on the shuttle to carry because I was in between him and another guy and he had more room. Security was quick and easy. Jake and I went to two lines and were through in about 3 minutes. It wasn’t until we reunited on the other side that I realized I had sent my 17 year old through the security line with the 2 bottles of wine. OMG Well, no one questioned anything. First: one person, two bottles of wine. Second- HE IS 17!!! Ooooops. Weren’t trying to be shady, but just goes to show it is luck of the draw if your stuff will be questioned or not.

 

 

 

 

 

We got through to David and the girls as soon as we went up the first escalator. The line in the check-in area was small. We had baby mama drama (I am not the girls’ biological mom, but we have them full time. I have been in Lizzie’s life since she was barely a year old). She wouldn’t allow them to get passports. Ultimately, she did sign a paper a week before the cruise saying she would allow them to leave the country with David- but that’s another story. We traveled with birth certificates and ID despite our best efforts. Hopefully, we can get this updated before next time, but really it was just as easy as a passport since we didn't have any emergencies. The birth certificate line was slightly longer than the passport line, but it was very organized and we waited about 7 minutes. By the time we got up top, the line for passports was slightly longer. It seems a wash. We checked in with Martin. We had the notarized letters from the kids’ other parents and he glanced at them but dismissed them and handed them right back to me. The process took another 7 minutes. It was about 25 minutes from our arrival back at the POM until we got on the ship.

 

 

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Edited by mumtopugs

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Our cruise ship is the Destiny. Next month she is sailing to Europe to get a complete makeover and will emerge the Carnival Sunshine, so a lot of what you see and hear here will no longer apply. David won’t sail the Sunshine because the old sailors say it is bad luck to cruise a ship that has changed names. The kids and I will be happy to re-visit her! She was showing her age in some places- rope lights were missing a lot of bulbs, carpet worn in some areas, etc. However, it was clean and still beautiful!

 

 

 

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We used cash for our sign and sail accounts, so we went to the kiosk on Deck 3. There was no wait and we were able to add bucks easily. There was also about $10pp already on there for port fee reduction. The only thing I didn’t like about the S and S was that they were all tied together. Each minor’s card had to be associated with an adult card. I gave my kids each $20 to start and if they spent more, they had to add from their spending money. However, each one was tied to the other and it was really one big tally. I would have liked to have each account individual. It wasn’t a big deal, just would have been easier for accounting.

 

We spent some time on the ship taking in the sights. We spent about an hour or so getting acquainted with the ship and about 30 minutes on the Lido getting lunch from the buffet. We went to our rooms about 130 and they were ready and our luggage was already there. We met our Steward, Yasa. He was nice and was able to put the two twins together for a king and bring us some ice. We relaxed a bit and went out on the not-too-secret deck 7 for sail away. There were about 6 other people on our deck and about a dozen on deck 6. To find these decks, you can go to the very front of either deck and go through the doors at the end of the cabin halls on either side. These are forward decks directly below the bridge of the ship. We were able to see the captain! We were “parked” behind the Imagination.

 

 

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We watched the RCL Majesty of the Seas and a Celebrity ship leave before the Imagination. As soon as the Imagination turned around in the bay and it was coming our way, we began to move. We also went into the bay, pivoted and we were moving out of the channel following the other ships. It was a great place to spend sail away.

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ROOMS:

 

 

 

I initially booked Early Saver back in the spring, but had some uncertainty as the final payment date approached- I was in the running for a job in my degree field (finally) and would not have been able to take off for those dates. This was literally the week of the final payment. I cancelled before final payment and was ready to suck up the $50. I had some price drops and my initial price had dropped about $50 anyway. The job came down to me and another candidate and she got the job. BOOO! But all was not lost because I could now go on the cruise.

 

I called the PVP and she was able to set me up with guarantee rooms in the same categories we had initially booked for the same price- no $50 loss. I was nervous about the guaranteed rooms, but was willing to see how it worked out and go from there. We booked a balcony for us and an inside for the kids on the Verandah (8th deck) in the middle of the ship. The initial rooms we had were directly across from each other. The guarantees were of course, uncertain. About a week after booking, (4 weeks before the cruise) we got our cabin assignments. The new cabins weren’t far from the old rooms and they were close to each other which was the most important part. The balcony room was directly behind the elevators and the interior room was about 3 doors down across the hall behind the stairs. The rooms were 8159 and 8151. They turned out really well and we had absolutely no complaints about the rooms at all.

 

The rooms already had the updated interior. The décor was new and in the colors of blue and gold. We had a flat screen television. There is no refrigerator. The only part that wasn’t updated was the ceiling which was still that peachy/pink color. I thought that was weird. Maybe they do all the ceilings at once instead of in stages like the cabins?

 

 

The room is pretty small, but David and I are not small people and it never felt like an issue. We put the suitcases in the under bed storage. We used the 2 sizable closets and all was well. The toilet is at an angle in the bathroom. If you are over 5'2 you either have to put your right foot in the shower or sit on it sideways. LOL It made me laugh every time I used it. The kids tried to flush while sitting and couldn't replicate the famed suction.

 

 

 

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I was booked in the inside room with the girls and David and Jake were listed in the balcony. They gave us keys to each others rooms and the kids all stayed in the interior room. Carnival knew we were doing this because they pushed the bed together for us and saw us often. This isn’t probably something I would recommend for all kids or all families, but my kids did a great job with the responsibility. We were only a couple doors away and when we weren’t together we were in their room all the time. We talked about rules and reminded them every day. Plus, my kids like to tattle and as soon as one of them stepped out of line, I knew I would hear it from another one! There was an older couple across the hall from them. I asked her to please let me know or speak to them if she even hears a peep- voices, slamming door, etc. I usually saw her about once a day. She made a point to tell me the only noise she heard was my voice when I was holding their door open

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We live in Ga and travel to Ft Bragg quite often to to our son. We pass by South of the Border and have never stopped. It always looks deserted. I have never known anyone who actually stopped there. :D

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That's funny, Butterbean! We used to travel a lot to FL as a kid and we even lived there for a spell. We ALWAYS had to stop there. Believe me when I say there has been almost NO changes since my memories of the early 80's. LOL It is old and sometimes smelly, but I guess it is tradition.

 

I will keep the photos the same size I think. I just checked via Tapatalk and they aren't a problem seen there and I, too, like big photos in a review. Most folks have high enough connection to view them easily.

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Nice Review.....Keep it up. I cruised on the Destiny years ago :p its nice to see that she hasn't changed much

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I will certainly cover the ports for you!!!

 

We had early seating. We had initially wanted Any Time Dining because we didn’t want to feel like we were scheduled on vacation, but we were waitlisted and this turned out just fine. The first night there was wait staff at the front of the dining room to show everyone to their tables. We never saw the Maitre d’ and didn’t care. Our table was #583 in the back of the Upper Universe Dining room. Our wait staff consisted of Zosimo, Wayan, and Chasanga. They were great. Wayan was pretty quiet and we didn’t hear much from him thought he was never rude or anything. Zosimo and Chasanga were excellent- always smiling and remembered ALL of our names ALL of the time. Our table was a booth with a chair on the end of it for Jake. It seemed a bit crowded that way. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unbearable, this inconvenience was a 2. We aren’t dress up people on any given day and are REALLY not dress up people on vacation. Jake and I wore causal pants and David and the girls wore jeans. The girls and I wore decent tops, Jake wore a polo and David wore a Hawaiian shirt. There were people both dressier and less dressy than us. We only got a dirty look once when David wore a light colored shirt and had spilled his dinner on it! HAHA I did have to remind Jake to take off his hat (see photo) but all in all we didn’t feel out of place and felt comfortable.

 

The first night the kids all had the fried chicken (from the regular menu). It was tasty and a good “go to” if nothing else seemed tasty. I had the lasagna bolognese. It was a very large portion and delicious. David tried the shrimp cocktail for appetizer. He ordered two at my suggestion and was glad he did. There are about 5 small shrimp in each. He had the braised beef brisket for his entrée. We all had the warm chocolate melting cake. It was EVERYTHING it was made out to be and MORE! Katie tried the cheesecake. It was good, not great. It was a little more “fluffy” as opposed to dense and rich. No one was disappointed with the meal.

 

 

 

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We returned to our rooms and they were clean and we had some cool towel animals.

 

 

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We did the welcome aboard show with the Cruise Director Tex. Tex seemed like a bit of a salesman, but he was personable. It was good to be introduced to the entertainment staff. They played a game with some of the cruisers and they got prizes. They did a brief bit with the two comics. It was worth our time.

 

We missed Lizzie’s Camp Carnival orientation because it was at 530 and our dinner was at 6 and we weren’t familiar enough with the ship to hurry from one place to another. They had Katie listed in O2 with Jake because she turned 15 on day two. Their Club meet and greet was at 8:30 and we made that one. We had previously filled out the form and simply turned it in. They put a sticker on the kid’s sign and sail card. I talked to the staff about possibly having Lizzie in the Circle C club. The activities seemed a little more oriented to her likes and she is also 5’5 at 11 which makes her feel awkward at times. The gentleman at Circle C said it shouldn’t be a problem, but he wanted to see how many attendees he had. He said during the busy season they do not allow it at all, but I could come back the next day to see if there is room.

 

By this time it was late and we were ready to go to bed!

Edited by mumtopugs

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It was Katie’s birthday. She got a personalized card under her door in the morning. When they were at breakfast I snuck into her room and decorated it with balloons, a banner and confetti. I think it was her best birthday yet. She opened her birthday cards and received money for her new iPod (long story). Just what she wanted!

 

 

 

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It was a sea day and we took our time getting up and about. We slept in and then breakfast on the Lido buffet. We didn’t do breakfast or lunch in the MDR at all. The breakfast buffet was great. There was a huge selection of fruit, cereal, and hot choices. The eggs are powdered, yes. They were icky and I didn’t eat them. However, at the end of the buffet, there is an omelet station. You can get omelets or fresh eggs made to order. I am not sure if this is true on other ships, but if so, I don’t understand all the controversy over powdered eggs? I usually chose the fruit and either pancakes or French toast. David had an omelet every day. We grabbed a couple little boxes of cereal to have for snack later.

Edited by mumtopugs

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The kids did some swimming and we went through the shops. We explored the ships some more. We spent a fair amount of time on the balcony on the sea day. I got a new Kindle Paperwhite. It was a fantastic investment. I found lots of free and near-free books so I read a lot on the balcony- usually with a glass of wine or a “mimosa” with juice form room service.

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparently vacation means a vacation from shaving too!

 

 

 

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The Kindle:

 

 

 

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We all took a nap sea day. We took bonine pills (Walgreen's brand) for motion sickness and it made us feel sluggish and tired. I am sure they did a great job keeping away the motion sickness, but we didn’t take it the last day or so and felt a huge difference. We could always feel the motion of the ship, but none of us felt sick or nauseous. I would probably try the patch or something similar.

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Enjoying your review of the Destiny....looking forward to reading more! Thanks for sharing all the photos.:D

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As I mentioned before, we are not dress up sort of people so we skipped elegant night. Could we have gone in jeans and polos? Probably. We didn’t want to take anything away from those who like to dress up though. The only bad thing about this was that it was Katie’s 15th birthday. I had ordered a cake from Bon Voyage online before we left. It was $8 and the perfect size for 5-6 people. They had vanilla with a strawberry layer- both her favorite flavors. However, I forgot this was elegant night and we weren’t in the dining room. The next night was the one night we didn’t have the kids come to dinner with us (they all asked to hang out with their friends and we didn’t mind). Our wait staff asked about the birthday cake and said they missed us on elegant night. We told them we would be sure to have Kate with us the next night and that seemed fine with them. That night I think we all had a different dish- a combination of grill, deli, pizza and buffet. There was never a lack of food options.

 

This night we went to the show in the theater. It was called Nightclub Express. It went through a few genres of music through last century. The show was worth our time on a sea day. The male singer, Rudy was very good. The dancers were pretty good, too. They weren’t Vegas or Broadway, but really, let’s be honest. I am not paying $100 a ticket either. The only thing I thought was pretty bad was this big talking couch. It was “hosting” the show. I have no idea what this was about. It was weird and out of place. Other than that it was cool.

 

The kids spent most of the day with us, but we did allow them to have a fair amount of free time. All of the kids spent time with new found friends. Jake and Katie stayed in the same group even though at home they really don’t spend a lot of time together. We laid down all the rules well before the cruise and only once Jake did not meet us when he was supposed to. We encountered them and their friends on several occasions and they weren’t running, yelling, or encroaching on others’ personal space. They stayed in public areas and we were able to find them when we needed to. Lizzie, at her age, spent a lot more time with us than the teens. This is partly her age and partly her personality. Either way they all seemed to function within the rules and gave me no reason not to trust them.

 

That night we had an elephant towel animal. Super cute. I am probably the only grown woman who sleeps with her baby blanket every night. I didn't realize I left the baby blanket on the bed until the steward had laid it out for me. I wonder what he thought when he saw this raggedy thing held together with floss!!

 

 

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Travel Day 5, Cruise Day 3:

 

This day was Grand Turk. Based on the reviews here, I reserved two golf carts from Nathan via e-mail. nathanandlinda@tciway.tc Because of the delay in our confirmation of the cruise, I thought I might not make the reservation in time. However, I e-mailed Nathan. I didn’t get a response within about 5 days so I went ahead and e-mailed again. 2 days later he e-mailed me back and we had a reservation. Nathan asked for my credit card over e-mail or telephone and my car was charged within about a week.

 

When we arrived in Grand Turk, we got off the ship within about 45 minutes of the time we docked. We went off the ship, down the dock, through the ships and took a left out of the shop area. Nathan’s area is directly outside of the port. On the left hand side is bikes to rent. On the right were vehicles and gold carts. We initially went to the left but it turns out we need to be on the right. There was a woman in the car who set us up with the golf carts. I saw on the board where someone had a golf cart and they didn’t have one available and offered them a jeep. The golf carts were in bad shape. It was part of the charm of the island, though. Maybe it’s because we have a golf cart and I was comfortable using one as-is or I had a 6’5 285 lb David and a 6’3 Jake or David is the world’s best mechanic, but I wasn’t worried about the carts leaving me stranded. Honestly, it was funny. I had to play with the choke on my golf cart to get it going every time. Dave and Jake’s golf cart backfired all the time and didn’t go up the hills well. Oh, well. Again, it was funny and a fun part of the story.

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the photos- yes, Katie wears jeans to a tropical paradise. She is fortunately the most modest 15 year old that was!

 

 

 

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LOL, he probably didn't think anything about your blanket. They have seen everything. I bring my old down pillow with me, and they always just fluff it (or bless their hearts try to fluff it) and put it on top of the other pillows.

 

Love your review. We stopped at South of the Border once when we drove from Stafford down to Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise. It was pretty gross. Now that we are back home in Texas, we stop at Bucee's on our way to Galveston. Traditions are fun.

 

Loving your review.

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Loving your review, I was on the Destiny a few months ago and and a great cruise, thanks for bringing back great memories. Can't wait for more.:)

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Great review!! Can't wait to hear more. BTW...what book were you reading on your kindle in the pic? Lol I read that one page and it looked interesting.

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Slow going here- back to real life! :)

 

We rode the entire island- a whopping 7 miles wide, I think. The island is really pretty poor. It is absolutely beautiful and all of the people are rich in kindness and personality, but it is certainly not what most Americans have seen. I am glad my kids are exposed to the way other people live outside of our privileged life. We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we are probably wealthier than almost ALL of the inhabitants of the island. Most of the homes have hurricane damage. You can see it is from multiple storms as well- some of the repairs are recent and some are old.

 

 

 

The view from the golf carts looking back at the terminal:

 

 

 

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The golf carts:

 

 

 

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We drove out of the terminal in the direction of the lighthouse. The island is left hand drive. I did really well except for the roundabout in the center of the island. As a claims adjuster, I know roundabouts on the right side of the road are a problem… the left side thing baffled me here. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic and we made it okay. We stopped briefly down at “Columbus Landing Beach.” It was a left turn after the signs for Governors Beach. There was no one else here at that time. The entrance into the beach here is somewhat rocky, but it makes for nice little waves. The water is clear and amazing. We saw some little whitish/clear fish in the pools that gather in the rocks. There were fossilized sea urchins and other weird prints in the rocks here.

 

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The lighthouse is on the opposite end of the island from the cruise terminal. The lighthouse is still in pretty good shape. We enjoyed the write up about it. They said that when the lighthouse was first put up that they would purposely turn it off and when the ships crashed, they would have a salvage crew mysteriously ready to help the crew pick up the pieces. FUNNY! The lighthouse is in an elevated area from the water but there are trails going in either direction from it. They looked like they might make it down to the water. You can’t go up in the lighthouse, but it is still a great view.

 

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Amber, the book is called "Abducted: the Lizzy Gardner Series." It was one of my $2 Kindle purchases. Well worth that :-) my family calls them "dead people books." I also like "dead people shows." Haha

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