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Monday, February 18, 2013

Southern Caribbean Cruise, Close To My Heart Style

Photo by Rachel V. and Rebecca M.
As promised, I'm here to share a bit about the Southern Caribbean cruise I was on a week and a half ago. This is the 10th trip I have earned with Close To My Heart and let me tell you, they are ALWAYS great!  I will never get tired of earning FREE trips around the world for a guest and me.

This year I decided to take my sweet sister-in-law, Cindy (Dan-the-Man's sister).  She is like a sister to me and one of my very best friends. She and her husband did the NICEST thing ever for our family a few months ago and Dan and I were overwhelmed with gratitude. We felt a great way to say thank you was for me to take Cindy on this trip.  We had a blast!

We started by flying from Salt Lake City to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We took the red eye. Cindy was able to sleep the whole way. Me...not so much. I considered taking a photo of Cindy sleeping the night away but realized if I did I might just hate her every time I looked at the photo, so I refrained. :)

Our week really was perfect. We spent every day doing relaxing and/or adventurous activities (we mixed it up pretty well) and the evenings dining in style and then watching a show or some karaoke.  This is the life!  Here's the trip day-by-day:

Day 1: San Juan, Puerto Rico:  We arrived in San Juan and caught a shuttle to the pier to board the beautiful Celebrity Summit. Our room was gorgeous. CTMH never skimps...we got a balcony room complete with all of the ammenities.  After settling in we went to the Close To My Heart welcome reception and then to a nice dinner with fellow CTMH cruise earners.

Cindy coming in the 'front door'

Our beddie bye

Cindy chillin' on the balcony before our ship took off. See those baby sail boats down below? They were the cutest thing ever. They were full of small children taking sailing lessons.
Cindy and I at the welcome reception
Our dinner buddies: (l-r) Karen (Linda's guest), Linday Taylor, Dawn Heuft, and Bren Yule.

Day 2: St Croix:  This was Sunday and Cindy and I thought it would be fun to attend church on the island.  We found out 2 other couples from our group, who are also Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) were going and we all decided to go together. It was a day I will never forget.  There were 2 sets of missionaries there and it was so much fun for me (a mother of 2 former missionaries and 1 who leaves in a few short months) to see them in action.  They were awesome! From playing the piano at church, to speaking, to the baptism they performed (which we stayed to witness) it just filled my heart with joy to know that my boys had sacrificed 2 years of their lives to do this as well. It was also a treat to meet the local church members and hear about their conversion stories and love of the gospel.
Cindy and I in front of the church
Our church buddies: the Holmans and Wihongis
The steeple
Monica and Sister Feliciano. She taught our Sunday School class and it was amazing. Her outlook on life is so positive, and its contagious!
On the way back to the ship, we stopped at this beautiful beach to walk around.  How pretty is this?

A view of our ship from the beach we stopped at
Day 3: St. Kitts:  We spent most of this day on a  nature hike through the rain forest. Before heading out on the hike, we visited a beautiful place called Romney Manor. It was a beautiful mansion surrounded by amazing gardens.  Our hike was led by the one and only "Al." Al was one of my favorite tour guides ever. He kept us entertained and laughing the whole time. He had that great accent (the one I call a Jamaican accent, but is probably just a Caribbean accent) and was full of life. He was one of the most laid back people I've ever met.  Ah, to live on an island 24/7...maybe I'd be laid back too!
Cindy and I in the gardens at Romney Manor (photo by Julie R)
Gardens at Romney Manor (photo by Julie R)
We got to watch some ladies making Batik fabric. It was fascinating.

The famous "Al," our hike guide for the day.
Cindy and I in the rain forest (photo by Mark F)
Cindy discovering an elephant ear

The rain forest hikers with our pal, Al (photo by Mark F)
Day 4: Dominica: This was probably my favorite day of the cruise. I love adventure and this day was full of it.  We spent the first half of the day tubing a river through the rain forest. Although the photos here are all in smooth water, there was quite a bit of white water.  Of course, during the white water parts we were all too busy trying to stay upright to take photos.  After the tubing adventure we hired a driver to take us to Trafalgar Falls. This is a place where there are 2 waterfalls, one hot and one cold. You could hike up to the falls and get in the hot springs or into the cold lagoon. Of course, Cindy and I chose the hot springs!  We got back to the ship in time to shower and head to another wonderful dinner with CTMH friends.
Getting ready to tube the river: me, Denise A-T and Cindy (so sorry! Can't remember who took this photo)
headed down the river with my friend, Shari F (photo by Stacy F)

Do I look a little worried? White water ahead!
Trafalgar (twin) Falls

Cindy and I in front of the falls before our hike
Cindy hiking to the hot sprints.  That water you see running under her feet is hot. Loved this!
Several of us enjoying the hot springs (photo by Rebecca M)
Two little love birds: Jody and Monica. Can you believe these two have 7 kids?
Dinner with more wonderful CTMH friends (l-r): Cindy, Kristine W, Me, Pete W, Michelle B and Greg B
Day 5:  Granada:  We spent this day relaxing on a private beach (think turquoise water and sand like sugar) where we got lots of sun and a nice chicken meal grilled for us on the beach by a local restaurant.  Heaven!  On the way back to the ship we stopped to buy spices. Granada is known as, " The Spice Island."   It was so cool that were were in Granada during their Independence Day celebration. All of the people on the island were dressed in their country's colors and the children marched through town in a little parade. Dinner was spent with more CTMH friends.
How gorgeous is this beach? We stopped here and took a little walk on the way to the final destination beach.

Amy, me and Cindy on our heavenly beach. I could have stayed here FOREVER!

Amy and I on the sugar sand

Brenda and I at the beach. I am so proud of Brenda. She is one of my team members and earned the cruise! Yay, Brenda! doesn't get any better than this: sun, sand and surf with not a single responsibility.

Cindy and I at the beach.
How sweet are these little patriotic children? LOVE!

Cindy and I with the spice lady

Spices before being ground
Dinner with more great CTMH friends (l-r): Ken J, Jean J, Kimberly M, Steve M, Me, Cindy
Day 6: At Sea: What a relaxing day! We heard that there was going to be a big brunch buffet in one of the formal restaurants from 10 am - 1 pm. We hit the buffet (um....WOW!) at 10 am, stuffed ourselves silly, then spent 2 hours at the pool. We then headed BACK to the brunch buffet and got ever more full (how's that for maximizing our optimal buffet time?). After that we waddled back to our room, showered and headed to the Close To My Heart meeting. We enjoyed hearing about upcoming specials and information about the company and laughing as we had our own game show. Dinner this evening was a special one.  CTMH had an exclusive dinner for Executive Directors, Senior Executive Directors and Presidential Directors and their guests.  It was fancy schmantcy (and of course I was so busy stuffing myself that I forgot to take pictures)!

Dessert bar at the brunch buffet

All fruits and veggies carved centerpiece at the brunch buffet

Eagle ice sculpture at the brunch buffet

Owl ice sculpture at the brunch buffet

Swan eclairs at the brunch buffet

Watermelon carving at the brunch buffet
Day 7:  St. Thomas:  Cindy and I decided to take it easy and just mosey around town on the last day of the cruise. We found a tram that took us up above the city to a little lookout with fun gift shops.  We bought a few gifts and walked around enjoying the view. One of my favorite things about St. Thomas was that almost all of the buildings were white with either red or blue roofs.  So pretty. Almost all the other islands had brightly colored buildings (which was also beautiful) but St. Thomas had a little bit different feel.  After we came back down from the tram ride we found a little local grocery store. We had so much fun walking around seeing what the locals eat and buy.  We spent at least 30 minutes on the spice and sauce aisle and both ended up purchasing some locally made spice blends and sauces to bring home. Yum! We then headed back to the ship for a few hours in the sun by the pool, a delicious dinner and the good bye reception with Close To My Heart.

The tram cars on their way up (photo by Rachel V and Rebecca M)
Tram cars
a view of our ship as we started up the tram (photo by Rachel V and Rebecca M)
View from the top
Cindy and I at the top of the tram ride

What a wonderful whirlwind of deliciousness this trip was. Thank you, Cindy for being such a fun traveling companion!  Would you like to join me on next year's CTMH trip to an all inclusive resort in Costa Rica?  You can become a CTMH Consultant for as little as $49 and start working toward earning it TODAY.  Click here for more information about joining my team.


Rick and Kori said...

I'm so glad you posted your trip! It was fun to see al the fun things you did. CIndy looks like a fun travel buddy! I think you should take me to Costa Rica ;)

denise said...

Great recap of a fabulous trip! It was wonderful to meet nice of her to do that sweet gesture for your family...and for you to offer her this getaway with you. Loved being able to visit with you a few times...not nearly enough though! Maybe Costa Rica!!!

Lynn said...

Wow, delightful pics and travel recap. Thanks for sharing. Hope to meet you on one of those trips someday!

Stampin n da Hood said...

Thank you for sharing your trip to Paradise Karen!

Anonymous said...

wow what a great company to work for if those are a few of the perks. Its so beautiful there. I love the little table food decorations and st. thomas is on my BUCKET list maybe one day I will get to go there. Glad you had the time of your life.

Sheila Wilkerson said...

Looks so fun. I'm glad I got to live the cruise through your blog. :)


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