Our cruise ship, the Explorer of the Seas was docked in Bayonne, NJ at a shipping port. Just across the water was the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan where we just were an hour before. After checking in and grabbing some lunch, we were topside for the Sail-Away Party at 5pm. (the picture here with the life preservers is from the drill that all cruiseships must go through before departing...everyone meets with their preserver at their assigned emergency station) We barely cleared the Verrazano Bridge with less than 10 feet to spare while heading out into the Atlantic Ocean en route to Bermuda. For dinner, we got our request for a table-for-two in the dining room. We have found that we enjoy just eating together/alone more than with a group of 8-10 others who we’ve never met. Harvy from the Philippines was our waiter and provided excellent service throughout the week. Tuesday was a day at sea where we spent the morning poolside under the beautiful blue skies. I brought a travel book on Bermuda so we made our plans for the next 2 days. Afterwards, I challenged the Rock Wall. All Royal Caribbean ships have one and I always visit it. There were kids as young as 6 years old giving it a shot. After lunch, we stopped by the Art Auction and found it incredibly boring. Sometimes, these are packed but this particular crowd on this sailing clearly had no intention of shopping for art. After a few games of Rummy (where I beat Marjie pretty bad!) on the Royal Promenade, we got dressed up for formal night and had dinner. Monday morning by 9am, we were docked in Bermuda. My goal was to be running before sunrise and run through sunrise while pulling into Bermuda. Here’s the video I shot while wrapping up 50 laps or 10 miles topside on the ship. You’ll see the northeast coast of Bermuda in the video. Gorgeous!
Our plan for Bermuda was to do the OPPOSITE of what the thousands of others would do on Day 1. Others would head to the beach and to Hamilton (the main shopping area and capital of Bermuda). So, we headed to St. George, the original 400 year old town on the opposite end of the island and work back towards the ship throughout the day. It worked out perfect and we had no crowds all day. The church in the picture here is over 400 years old. Inside, the church is as it was when it was built and is still used today. We had lunch at the Carriage House, waterside, in St. George, visited the St. David’s Lighthouse, then hopped on the pink bus and headed to find the Swizzle Inn, the supposed home of the most popular Bermudian drink, the “Rum Swizzle.” Pretty cool place and I’d say a “must visit” if you go to Bermuda. It’s tradition to leave your autograph on the wall or a business card. The walls are completely covered with years of old business cards and graffiti. We had lunch not too soon before so we opted for the loaded nachos, instead. YUM! We hopped back on the bus and headed back to the Royal Naval Dockyard where we were moored and browsed a few shops before heading back to the ship. By this time, we craved a hot shower due to so much time walking and riding public transportation. Ahhhhh…10 hours of sleep before Day 2 in Bermuda! Day 2 brought heavy rain and clouds. We kept positive, put on the swimming gear and headed into Hamilton to shop. Not too impressive and a town we’ll skip on our next visit. It is nothing more than a tourist-trap. We stopped by the local supermarket, got some wraps for lunch and grabbed yet another pink bus en route to the most highly rated beach, Horseshoe Bay. This is supposed to be one of the most highly rated beaches in the world with crystal clear water and pink sand. The beach met our every expectation. The “pink” everyone speaks of come from flecks of pink coral mixed in with the sand giving it the pink hue. The water was the clearest I’ve ever seen anywhere. Absolutely crystal clear and not too salty, either. And to answer the question now....NO, these aren't my painted toenails in this picture!We headed back to the ship just in time before getting underway at 5pm. Wednesday was our last day at sea all day so I headed up at 5:30am for my last chance at a “sunrise run.” I knocked out 40 laps/8 miles and witnessed a gorgeous sunrise. After breakfast, we headed topside to the pool but the sun never really came out. We ended up just relaxing in our stateroom while the chick-flick “P.S., I Love You” was playing and then caught the last ice show at 5pm. Yes, the ship is big enough to actually have an ice rink on board! After dinner and the farewell show in the theater, we packed our bags and got up to the Windjammer Café before 9pm for our favorite treat, sushi rolls! By 8:30am Thursday morning, we were in the car and en route back home.All-in-all, it was a great vacation. It is also good to be home. The fast-paced atmosphere in Manhattan followed by being on a ship with a lot of folks from NY and NJ (ie: another fast-paced atmosphere!), makes home in NE Ohio a relief from it all and very much appreciated. It is also really good to be back home with our girls. We sure did miss them.
Gear Shift: it’s time to prepare to pace the 1:45 goal-setters at the Buckeye Half-Marathon on September 7th followed by the Akron Marathon 3 weeks later. I’ll be pacing Karen S. to her Boston-qualifying time…you will do it, Karen! Then 5 weeks later, the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. That should do it for 2008 except for the Turkey Day 4-miler and the New Year’s Eve 5K…two traditions I refuse to break. Is it too early to start talking about goals for 2009? Again, a discussion for another day…Happy Trails, everyone!