By Ruth Watkins
Adventure 27 began tumultuously with the arrival of airline and cruise tickets at the last minute, increased terrorist threats, and a snowstorm looming over the Washington DC area. Our group arrived early (and I mean early) into National just as the Great Snowstorm was starting on Saturday morning. Our flight was delayed for a second de-icing as those on board watched nervously. We made our connection in Atlanta and arrived safely in San Juan. We were greeted with sunny, tropical weather, which immediately put us in the mood for the adventure.
On this trip were Nick and Sue (the honeymooners), Chris and Elaine, Bruce and Heather, and those traveling as singles: Matt, Joanne, Carolyn, Margie, Hilary and me.
The group separated after reaching the ship, and various walkers proceeded to do the walk in San Juan with the so-called map and instructions. The first problem was that the map started from a different pier than the one where our shipped was docked. Second, not all streets appeared on the map. Third, street signs were few or nonexistent. So, we all did a walk, but not necessarily following the exact route. We found the checkpoints, but couldn’t read the answers (pero no comprendo español). Thus, the walk became a mystery walk. We arrived back to the ship in time for dinner. What elegance! What service! What food! We were just starting 8 days of being spoiled rotten.
We sailed that night at 11:00 and arrived the next day in St. Croix. Matt led the walkers for our second walk, which followed the coastline. We had time to wade in the waters of the Caribbean (or swim) before returning to the ship. Some of us took a taxi to the capitol for some shopping before returning to the ship.
The Celebrity Constellation is a beautiful ship about 6 months young. The crew was superb and very hard working; we often marveled at their helpfulness, attention to detail, and long hours of service. The food was great—anything one could want at any time. One could lounge by the pool or in one of the four hot tubs; take in the Thalassotherapy pool (we got in it, but I’m not sure what it was); get a massage; be entertained; entertain others (karaoke); shop—the list could go on and on.
The second day we arrived at St. Lucia. Most everyone had signed up for an excursion of some kind. Hilary, Margie, and Carolyn and I went on a 4 x 4 adventure. We went over mountains and into the rain forest area to see a waterfall. On the way back we drank unlimited rum punches (yum!). Then back to the ship to dress for our first formal night. I must say, we all looked pretty good cleaned up. Must be why there is a dress policy on the cruise.
The following day found us in Barbados. Barbados has lovely beaches and all are public. After our excursion, Margie, Carolyn, Hilary and I wanted to go to the beach so we hopped a cab and said “take us to the beach.” Did we get a lovely public beach? No, we were taken to a private party beach that had an entrance fee of $10.00 and loud music and a DJ! Of course, we were given drink coupons, but they did not cover the cost of a mixed drink. I guess we looked like the party-hearty crowd to the taxi driver (not).
Our third walk in St. Thomas was another mystery walk. Similar to San Juan, we couldn’t find the street signs. Those who found the trail cursed the “99” steps to Blue Beard’s Castle. Those who couldn’t find the steps or trail cursed in general. It is amazing that even the townsfolk couldn’t direct us to where we needed to be!
On the last night, Joanne was selected as the “baddest penny” and received some Caribbean jam for her efforts.
We arrived back in Washington late Saturday night with a dense fog welcoming our flight. It was pretty scary for a while as we circled the airport waiting to land while running out of fuel. Then the drive home showed us what we had missed—snow, snow, everywhere snow!
Everyone enjoyed the cruise and each of us has fond memories of the adventure. Chris and Elaine played with the stingrays, snorkeled and shopped (Chris also did well at the onboard casino). Bruce snorkeled for the first time, Heather, Margie, Hilary, Carolyn and I received rainforest floral bouquets and either snorkeled, swam, or enjoyed the beaches. Matt and Joanne saw the Jewish cemetery and other noteworthy sites that the rest of us missed (Matt was the only one who knew his way around the islands) and participated in many cruise activities, and of course, the honeymooners . . . I’m not even going to touch that one!
by Susan Shields
Matt asked me to write a few words about our recent cruise-honeymoon. When picking the ideal vacation for our honeymoon, my sweetie and I had several requirements. We (okay I, but my honey agreed entirely with me, since we weren’t married at the time) wanted to not have to pack and unpack every day. We wanted to see some different places, do some walks (we met on the trail and hope to keep volkswalking into eternity together), meet some interesting people, enjoy good weather, and not have to cook or look for restaurants constantly.
The Bad Pennies cruise met all of my requirements. We had a nice inside stateroom, meals whenever we wanted, and lots of shipboard activities. In addition, each evening, we met with the Bad Pennies for dinner.
Matt arranged for us to have three walks, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in the US Virgin Islands at St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Because of flight schedules, members of the tour group arrived in San Juan at different times. Coming from the west coast, we had to arrive on Friday to have a reasonable flight schedule, so Matt sent us the walk directions. That way, we were able to complete the walk Saturday morning before the day got too hot. The walk toured Old San Juan, taking us past the old forts, capital building and through some of the shopping district.
The walk in St. Croix was the first day of the cruise. Directly after breakfast, we left the ship and walked out to the town. Turning right we followed the shore, following a trail and the road. We could see our cruise ship in the distance. We passed houses, resorts, and open fields. The half-way point turnaround was in a wildlife refuge, where we stopped to enjoy the beach. Some of us waded or swam, while others just rested on the beach. This was probably the hottest day of our cruise, or perhaps I just hadn’t gotten acclimated to the Caribbean weather at this point. The return to the ship retraced our outward path. We became separated as the ship was easily visible and some chose to walk faster or slower.
The final full day of cruising was our opportunity to walk in St. Thomas. There was a customs inspection so everyone on the ship was up and about. As our group left the ship to start the walk, many cab drivers offered us rides into town, and seemed offended when we said we wanted to walk. The walk took us along the waterfront into and through town, then through a residential section along the shore to Villa Olga, formerly the Russian Embassy. After returning towards downtown, the walk went up some VERY STEEP hills, then down and back up some long stairways (140 steps). If wound up going down 99 steps and back through the shopping area of town. We lingered here, finding the very narrow streets and passageways interesting. After lunch we returned to our ship.