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The following are photos I took during my 14-day cruise to the southern Caribbean, December 7 – 21, 2014.
Tampa’s cruise ship port is somewhat gritty. I’m guessing these silos contain phosphates, mined locally, which are then loaded onto barges.
Downtown Tampa. From right to left, the hockey arena, the Embassy Suites Hotel, the convention center, the Marriott, and then a few high rise condos on Harbour Island.
The hockey arena in the foreground with our glittering skyline in the background.
I took about 100 shots of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as we passed under it on our way out of Tampa Bay. Not sure if this is the best one, but it’s close.
Then again, this one isn’t bad either…
A sea serpent on the Lower Promenade Deck.
Our first port of call: Key West, Florida. Always a fun place to hang out for a few hours.
Earnestly, it’s Hemingway.
The Pitons of Soufriere, St. Lucia
Mile marker zero. I’m guessing they replace this sign every few days or so.
Depending on your perspective, Key West is either the end of the road…
Or, Key West is just the beginning.
A giant statue depicting Renoir’s Dancing in the City adorns the entrance to the Key West Art and History Museum. The same artist, Seward Johnson, did the famous “sailor kissing the nurse on VE Day” statue – entitled “Unconditional Surrender” – in Sarasota.
Happy Hour in Key West!
This rooster was standing in a tree, directly above the passed-out guy, trying to wake him up.
It’s a Woman’s Club…not a Women’s Club? Really? Not to get lost in semantics, but the singular possessive struck me as odd. But then again, it’s Key West…
In terms of architectural genres, Key West is in class all by itself.
The old restored Key West homes are simply incomparable.
My Floating Hotel.
Wasting away again in Margaritaville…
Blew out my flip-flop…stepped on a pop top…
But there’s booze in the blender, and soon it will render, that frozen concoction that helps me hang on.
A Key West landmark.
Sail away from Key West at sunset.
On our way to San Juan, PR. We cruised the entire length of Cuba, just a few miles off-shore. More mountainous than I imagined.
Ya know how you see awesome clouds and figure you could never quite capture their awesomeness with a camera? This is actually pretty close.
Fuerte San Felipe del Morro. Constructed in 1540 to protect Old San Juan from pirates. It stands at the mouth of the harbor: Bahia de San Juan.
Fuerte San Felipe del Morro.
San Juan Airport in the foreground, the city in the distance.
The waterfront with Castillo San Cristóbal on the hill above.
Downtown San Juan.
Old San Juan is filled with gorgeous restored apartments.
But…much of Old San Juan is still awaiting restoration to its former glory.
Nice ironwork on the balcony.
One of my favorite shots from my trip.
My Spanish generally sucks, but I think this is an old soft drink factory. Wonderful tilework.
Castillo San Cristóbal
La Perla. An (in)famous barrio at the water’s edge on the backside of Old San Juan. I’m guessing that someday soon, these falling-down houses will be replaced by million dollar condos. But for now, it’s no-man’s-land.
The Puerto Rico police department conducted a raid in July 2011 and arrested several high profile community leaders for heroin distribution. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that the drug trade in La Perla is a twenty million dollar enterprise. Like an idiot, I fearlessly explored the area with my camera only to find out later that the streets of La Perla are not printed on most city maps to keep dumb-asses like me from walking into a high crime area.
La Perla was established in the late 19th century. Initially, the area was the site of a slaughterhouse. The law required slaughterhouses, as well as homes of former slaves and homeless non-white servants – and cemeteries – to be established away from the main community center. In this case, outside the city walls. Sometime after, some of the farmers and workers started living around the slaughterhouse and shortly established their houses there.
Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis. A colonial-era (1863) cemetery in Old San Juan. The final resting place of many of Puerto Rico’s most prominent natives and residents. The cemetary sits at the water’s edge, just outside the walls of the San Felipe del Morro fortress.
This gives you some perspective: Shot from inside the outer perimeter of Fuerte San Felipe de Morro, you can see Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis, the abject poverty of Barrio La Perla next door, and Castillo San Cristóbal in the distance. Pretty rough surf!
While most of the residents I encountered were quite friendly, I ran into some pretty tough gangs while walking through Old San Juan.
He and I managed to hit it off pretty well, but his English was about as good as my Spanish.
It’s easy to work up quite a thirst exploring the hilly streets of Old San Juan. Thankfully, I stumbled across Greengos, a Mexican restaurant with a well-stocked bar. Best margarita ever.
Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and acknowledged around the world. People gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. It’s celebrated October 31 through November 2. Sort of like America’s Halloween, but with tequila shots.
The murals at Greengos were brilliant.
More wall art.
This is Jules. She is a former Californian who has lived in San Juan for 20 years.
After enjoying several of their killer margaritas at Greengos, my new friend Jules led me down this alleyway and made sure I was on the boat before it left San Juan.
Oh…there it is.
Old San Juan at night, safely back onboard the Ryndam.
It was party time on the Lido Deck as we sailed away from Old San Juan.
Every night, I’d come back to my stateroom and find a towel animal on my bed. And a chocolate.
Next morning, we all awoke to this view of the harbor at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Magens Bay, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Hans Lollik Island in the distance.
The beach area was crawling with mongoose and iguana. This guy was pretty huge. Just over two feet long, give or take an inch, from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.
A view of Charlotte Amalie and the bay which is protected by Hassel Island.
View off the starboard side, toward the bow. Promenade Deck. At sunset.
The pool on the stern. Lovely display of beers in the foreground. St. Thomas in the background.
Back on the dock in St. John’s, dey was having a party, mon.
The Lido Deck pool with its retractible roof.
Magens Beach, Magens Bay. Outer Brass Island in the distance.
Outer Brass Island
The Virgin Islands are gorgeous.
Sail away from St. Thomas
I never got tired of the sunsets. On our way to Antigua.
I really enjoyed St. John’s, Antigua. It’s quaint, people were very friendly; not as commercial as Aruba, etc.
This is the oceanview from an oceanview stateroom.
This isn’t a ceiling fan. It’s the prop on a lifeboat. The circular thing around it is the rudder.
This is where pay phones go to die.
Hair braiding is a growing industry in Antigua.
Free wi-fi. And evidently, it’s where everybody knows your name.
Cheers also makes some of the best wings I have ever had.
Antigua Welcomes You!
This is what she does for a living: Balances a locally-grown black pineapple on her head. You can take her photo for a dollar. It was worth a dollar.
I was fascinated by the people I met on Antigua. Several let me take their photos.
This is my friend, Steve.
Over a few beers, I came to discover that Steve is more than just a tourist wrangler for his girlfriend’s souvenir business. He’s a philosopher. He can also score you some very potent weed.
Turners Beach, Antigua. Simply pefect.
Buy some fresh aloe. Or an awesome conch shell. Capitalism is alive and well here. Dental care, not so much.
On the Antigua horizon, the island of Montserrat.
I really enjoyed St. John’s, Antigua. It’s quaint; not as commercial as Aruba, etc.
If they didn’t change the rugs in the elevators every day, how would we ever know what day it is?
This is my secret spot. On the bow. I like to stand in the pulpit and scream, “I’m on top of the world!”
Artsy shot of the stern. Experimenting with the new camera.
An experiement in perspective with a vintage, timeless look. (There is a steward at the end of the hall, leaving a stateroom.)
Not a lot of action in the casino.
Late afternoon, just off St. Lucia.
My home away from home. Not sure how two people could survive in here for 14 days without killing each other.
Curacao. The water was about eight feet deep. Crystal-clear. Teeming with fish. Great snorkeling.
Curacao. Easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.