The soft purring of the engines and subsiding of the gentle swaying awakened me from my first restful night in months. We’re in paradise! I shuffled out of the butter soft bed sheets, over to our balcony deck window to take a peek at our first port destination. I pushed back the heavy drapes and glorious bright sunlight poured into the ship cabin. My mouth dropped open in awe. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope made of sea glass! Oh my, the color! Gorgeous, snow white beaches surrounded by crystal clear turquoise and aqua seas, salty winds, and warm tropical breezes whispered…
“Welcome to paradise”.
Nassau, Bahamas ~
We had arrived at island #1, Nassau in the Bahamas. I’m certainly starting to feel spoiled if waking up to glorious vistas like this each morning was going to be “normal” for the next week. A girl could quickly get used to this! The view from our 12 deck balcony on our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, was of the majestic Atlantis Resort. Water taxis carried tourists back and forth to Atlantis’ private island for a few hours of exploration and fun.
We only had a few short hours to venture out, so we decided to walk around the mainland a bit and hit the shops. In hindsight, I wish we had gone over to Atlantis instead. Everyone raved about all that Atlantis had to offer. Oh well, maybe next time.
The word “OVERDUE” does not even come close to describing how badly this vacation was needed. It was the first time since our honeymoon, 20 years ago, that we had been away (together) from our kids for more than 24 hours. We ventured out on the Allure of the Seas. It is the largest cruise ship in the world! We had no clue! This ship boasts: 17 decks high, 4 football fields long, 24 passenger elevators, 12 pools, holds the largest kitchen in the world, 125 chefs, a crew from over 127 countries, and 8000 people on board! It was insane… a virtual floating city. And the service and food was amazing! The crew catered to our every need.
As I stood in the lush and tropical “Central Park”, you could almost forget you were on a ship, except for the occasional sense of vertigo. This Central Park is located on deck 8 of the Allure and is surrounded by specialty restaurants and shops like Coach and many interior guest rooms that can people watch from decks above.
St. Thomas ~
Port destination #2 was the island of St. Thomas. Do you see that large white hotel looking structure in the center of the hills? That’s our ship! The maneuvering of this behemoth vessel into these small ports is quite a thrilling experience and speaks to the mastery of the Captain.
We explored the unwater world with a snorkeling excursion on the Silent Lady Schooner to see rare green sea turtles and colorful fish. Being the warm water snob that I am, anything below 80 is just too cold for my taste, so thankfully I had brought my spring suit (a short wetsuit). I think we were the last ones to come out of the water, we were having so much fun (and staying warm!).
Then we ventured over to picturesque Honeymoon Beach, anchored and swam to shore for a delicious beach barbeque lunch. Iguanas scampered around and palms rustled in breeze. It was an enjoyable time meeting new friends, sipping rum punch, and dancing to Caribbean steel drum band music.
St. Maarten ~
Last stop was the beautiful St. Maarten. The day was in the low 80’s and gloriously sunny, with a light balmy breeze. The skies were brilliant blue with fluffy white cotton ball clouds. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. St. Maarten is very hilly and has a multitude of powder white beaches to discover. Goats and cattle roam the hillsides and the locals are very friendly and accommodating. I would love to spend more time at this island in the future.
Orient Beach in St. Maarten is on the French side of the island, the other side is owned by the Dutch. We were warned ahead of time that this beach was a clothing optional beach, and yes, a few flaunted their birthday suits, but not too many. Let me just say that if you are over the age of 80, I’d rather you not go au ‘natural in public… blink-blink… ahem.
Now this is not a beach that I would personally bring my kids too, though many families were there, but for adults I recommend it. The water is pristine and warm and the views of the low mountains are just beautiful!
We are so accustomed to free beaches here in the US, so having to pay $20 a day for 2 lounge chair rentals quickly reminded me I wasn’t at home. I couldn’t resist recreating my own little Corona commercial! Just look at that turquoise water! I can’t get over the color! What a beautiful Earth we live on!
The sunsets were pretty but not as gorgeous as I thought they would be. Maybe it’s the time of year? But I’m not complaining! I was thankful for every moment I was able to spend in paradise!
Is it ok to admit that I’m a bit sad after having to say goodbye to my vacation last week? Back to reality and four kiddos who I was missing terribly! Bon voyage!
Now I know this wasn’t the typical Pin-tastic Tuesday. None of these pics were found on Pinterest, they are all from my camera, but they are perfect for you to PIN on your Pinterest travel or coastal boards!
So feel free to pin-away!
Don’t forget to enter my Home Sweet Home Giveaway ($4000+ in cash & prizes). It ends tomorrow!