Sailing on a marvel of the open sea

The rains were coming down. Snow had canceled the trip to Canada and the harness races. We were more than ready to head south to the Caribbean Sea. We flew out of Seattle in what was to become perhaps the wettest March in history, only to land in Houston to more rain. We saw nothing on our drive to Galveston but still more rain – only a drizzle, but definitely there.
Our spirits were up the next morning as we had breakfast at the hotel and prepared to really begin our adventure. Navigator of the Seas was awaiting us.
A marvel at sea, she has 14 decks, a royal promenade with designer boutiques, unique shops, live entertainment venues and restaurants serving up mouth-watering food. There is a rock climbing wall, full-size basketball court, golf simulator, miniature golf course, ice skating rink, flow rider surf simulator, and a complete spa and workout center. Add to that a three-story dining room, Italian, Asian and Mexician specialty restaurants, a steak house grill, 24-hour cafe, a full buffet center and other miscellaneous food spots tucked in here and there. This is a city completely on its own and would be our home for the next week.
We had two complete days at sea as we headed further south and into warmer weather. The ocean was flat and dolphins could be seen playing in the wake of the ship. Passengers lounged by the pool, became educated at the art auction, won and lost in the casino, enjoyed a production show and late-night comedy. There was an opportunity to learn a new card game, watch a movie on the big screen by the swimming pool, have a treatment in the spa, attend a seminar, take a skating lesson, learn line dancing or just join a trivia group or participate in a wine tasting. There are so many different things to do that boredom can never set in.
At last we awoke in the morning to see the beautiful greenery of the island of Roatan, home of the world’s second-largest coral reef and a divers’ paradise. We hired a car and were driven around the island, which is home to many American and European expats. Just a short flight to Texas allows these people to have summer homes away from the winter weather and into the unique culture of the island. Roatan has a long history of pirates, conquistadors and slaves. We were able to see long, beautiful white-sand beaches and volcanic rock coasts. The interior gave us encounters with monkeys, iguanas, colorful birds and even more colorful tourists zipping through the dense jungle. The shops gave us handwoven baskets and amazing mahogany wood products along with the usual tourist trap items.
The next day was Belize City, founded in the 1700s by pirates. African slaves were brought to help harvest lumber and mixed with the Europeans, whose descendents began to mix and ultimately the Creole culture we see today was created. This is a tender port, and so not everyone got off the ship. Those who did found Mayan ruins, tropical forests, flowing rivers and a zoo created for animals who were injured and unable to return to the wild. Those more adventurous types did zip-lining and cave tubing.
Cozumel was the final port of call. It was a busy spot with five ships in port at the same time. We elected to take a horse-drawn carriage ride to explore what the area had to offer other than a myriad of shops. We traveled into some of the back streets past private homes, schools and churches. We peeked into courtyards, stores and restaurants and got more of a feel as to what life might be like on this busy island just off the cost of Mexico. Cozumel is a diver’s paradise with water temperatures hovering in the low 80s year-round and visibility up to 200 feet. We even had beautiful views while looking off the ship and watching the water sports go on around us.
And then it was back to a final day at sea. It was nice to relax and have a slow, comfortable time to pack up clothes and memories; pick up a last-minute item at the duty-free store, lounge in the sun around the pool, and enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets and one last gourmet dinner.
Cruising is such an effortless way to travel. Unpack once and spend the rest of the time enjoying yourself. We have now scheduled another cruise on Navigator of the Seas for February 2015. This time she will head to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Make plans now to join us. And don’t forget, we have space out of Tampa in April 2015 through the Panama Canal to Vancouver (only have to fly one direction and then relax on the long, luxurious way home). A short cruise is planned in September from Vancouver to San Francisco.
For those who don’t cruise and want to stay closer to home, there is Harrison Hot Spring in June, Victoria in August, Reno in September and Puerto Penasco in November. There are always dinner dates and mystery trips. For reservations or further information, call Linda Finch at 253-927-8207 or get on the e-mail list at