A Travellerspoint blog

Roatan, Honduras

rain 12 °C

Well we have been home for 10 days, from our lazy and very relaxing trip to Roatan. Our first visit was in October 2010 and we have always wanted to return. So after this very long, cold, snowy Canadian winter which never seemed to want to end. What a perfect time for a sunny, warm, tropical vacation.

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Roatan is located between the islands of Utila and Guanaja, is the largest of Honduras Bay Islands. The island was formerly known as Ruatan and Rattan. It is approximately 77 kilometres (48 mi) long, and less than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) across at its widest point. Its an easy flight from Calgary, with a quick stop over in Houston, just enough time to get your duty free booze and have a snack.

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We rented a condo at Infinity Bay Resort and it was perfect. - http://www.vrbo.com/468107 The owner of the condo was very responsive, easy to deal with and we would rent again or recommend it to anyone. If your not interested in renting a condo there are many hotel options on the island. Although Infinity Bay is located on West Bay Beach, with amazing snorkeling and diving right out in front of the resort. If you don't want to swim in the ocean, the resort has a huge beautiful and very clean pool for your use. There are lots of sun loungers both around the pool and on the beach, we never had trouble finding a place to sit. - http://www.infinitybay.com/index.html The resort restaurant was pretty good too, reasonably priced, decent food, and good service. They also brought in some entertainment in the evening.

We rented a car, not really a necessity but we like having one when we travel. Our first stop after the airport on our way to the resort was at Eldon's grocery store. There are a few on the island, they are a large and well run North American style grocery store. If your taking a cab from the airport you can ask the driver to stop.

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After getting settled at the condo, we headed down to the beach for a walk. May was the right time to go, high season was over and beach was pretty much empty - perfect!!! There has been quite a bit of development around the island since our last visit, defiantly more restaurant choice's. Which its always good to have choice's, many are run by expat's and have excellent food and service. One of our favorites was Roatan Oasis, excellent, excellent, excellent, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this place. Another place we returned to for dinner was Foster's Resort, again great food and service.

We wasted no time in setting up some diving with Infinity Divers, conveniently located the resort. They were excellent as well, all your gear is brought down to the boat for you and setup. It you wanted to setup your own gear they were more than happy to let you. I would not hesitate to use them, even if your not staying at the resort.

The diving here is excellent, and you don't have to go very deep to see everything, I think our deepest depth was 100ft when we did the El Aguila wreck. Here are some pictures from my dives.

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But you don't have to go diving to see the sea life, there is great snorkeling in Roatan. The reef is very close to shore and easily accessible right from the beach.

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The reef in Roatan is quite healthy, you can always tell by the amount of sea life on it. I have dove in other areas of the world, where the reefs are almost completely void of life.

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We did some exploring around the island, Coxen Hole, French Harbour, The lookout.

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During our exploring we headed out to Palmetto Bay Plantation - http://www.palmettobayplantation.com/index.html and had lunch.

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Something new we notice was the Roatan Rum Company - http://www.roatanrumcompany.com unfortunately they were closed all the time.

Unfortunately like all holidays it came to an end. It was easily the laziest and most relaxing holiday we have taken. But it came at a time when we needed to be lazy and relaxed. We would return anytime.

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Posted by MRCL72 09:40 Archived in Canada Tagged honduras roatan Comments (1)

Moving on

sunny 5 °C

Well I never finished the blog entries about our cruise, mostly because it just wasn't my favorite trip. We did enjoy some of the destinations and a cruise allows you to see several in one trip. But you only stay for a few hours and don't really get to experience the destination. Needless to say another cruise on a large ship is not in our future, but I wouldn't rule out a trip on a smaller boat like what we were on in the Galapagos. We did get to discover Cartagena Columbia, which we loved and wished we could have spent the week.

But moving on we have a trip coming up to Roatan, Honduras. I'm really happy to be returning to Roatan, it was were I did my open water and has some of the best diving the ocean has to offer. Now that I am a more experience and accomplished diver I can't wait to go back and do some of the more challenging dives around this beautiful island.

Posted by MRCL72 13:23 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Cartagena Columbia

sunny 28 °C

This morning we awoke to the sights of Cartagena Columbia, and we never expected this view from our ship balcony.

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Cartagena is a busy port city of approximately a million people, on the Caribbean side of Columbia. Columbia is the only South American country to have coastlines on both the Pacific and Caribbean oceans.

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We had a quick breakfast and got ready to disembark the ship and find our tour. We decided on a tour of the Old Walled City of Cartagena, time to see some history. We boarded our tour bus and got introduced to our tour guide - Judy. What a great lady, very good english and lots of knowledge about Cartagena, and Columbia for that matter. The population of Columbia is 48 million people with Bogota having 8 million of those people. Bogota is only an hour flight from Cartagena but due to poor infrastructure it is a 22 hour drive. And according to Judy your lucky if you make it.

That aside, Cartagena is a relatively safe city for tourists to visit and doesn't suffer from the crime and drugs that other columbia cites do.

During our ride to the Old City, we pasted by the Castillo de Dan Felipe de Barajas, an old fortress built by the Spanish for protection against pirates while shipping gold to Europe. Unfortunately much to our disappointment, and more so to the many street vendors. It wasn't a stop on our tour so we didn't get out of the bus.

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After a few more minutes of driving which I was surprised to see, seemed very civilized. We arrived at the Old Walled City. Which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

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We were greeted with winding streets, colourful buildings and lots of Spanish Colonial architecture. Judy did her best to explain to us the history of the old city and keep us from wondering off on our own.

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During our tour with Judy, she pointed out several balconies full of flowers and plants. People do this for privacy and shade from the sun.

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We were given some free time in the old city to explore on our own.

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Of course we would find the house with the pride flag on the balcony.

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After a lunch of some local cuisine, we rejoined our tour group for the trip back to the boat. Judy and our driver took us past some of the old homes in Cartagena and out along Manga Island, which is were all the new buildings are that we could see from our balcony on the ship.

Back on board we waved goodbye to Cartagena, this was easily the biggest surprise and highlight of our cruise. Safe to say we will be heading back to Columbia one day
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Posted by MRCL72 12:40 Archived in Colombia Tagged columbia cartagena Comments (1)

Aruba

semi-overcast 29 °C

We woke up this morning to find ourselves in Aruba, the typical climate of Aruba is sunny, dry and warm. This was not to be on our day here, cloudy, rainy and extreme humidity was the order of the day.

We decided to do a jeep tour of the island, which would take place in the afternoon. After breakfast we headed off the boat for a look around and promptly found a Starbucks. The coffee on the boat wasn't the best stuff you ever tasted. As we enjoyed our coffee in the patio, the first rain started, for about 10 mins, the rain was a heavy downpour. But it helped break the humidity a little bit.

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After the rain we started back on our walk around the area of Oranjestad. If you in the market for jewelry and high end watches then you will find both here in Aruba. The island is also known for its white sand beaches and clear water making a good place for divers, snorkelers and sun bathers.

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Here is our photo to prove that we were in Aruba and on this trip.

After our wanderings we headed back to the ship for a quick lunch and to get ready for our jeep tour.

We met our tour back on land, and were taken to De Palm Tours - http://www.depalmtours.com/home.do. Where we met our guide and our drivers for the tour. They did a great job, I wouldn't hesitate to use them if you find yourself in Aruba.

Our tour took us around the island to some of the highlights.

Our first stop was a view point, where we could see about 180 degrees around the island, Aruba is not very large only 69 sq miles.

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Back on the jeeps, we were headed for our next stop. The Natural Bridge, which unfortunately collapsed in 2005, but the Baby Natural Bridge is still in one piece.

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The ocean on the other side of Aruba was much rougher.

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Our next stop was going to be the Alto Vista Chapel, which was built by Spanish missionaries in 1750, services are still conducted in this little yellow chapel that is considered to be the first church established in the Caribbean.

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On our way we stopped at the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. On the northern coast, midway down the island, sits the abandoned gold mill that once processed ore from mines in the nearby hills during Aruba's gold rush of the nineteenth century. In 1824, gold was finally discovered in Aruba, and eventually, the industry produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. We weren't allowed out of the jeeps, since it wasn't an official stop on our tour.

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Next up the California Lighthouse, so named after the steamship California, which sunk of the coast of Aruba. The lighthouse was built in 1910.

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Our final stop on the tour was a beach, unfortunately the rains decided to follow us and our beach time was very short.

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Our tour returned to our departure point and we were taken back to the ship in time for us to board and head off towards Cartagena Columbia.

To be very honest I was really looking forward to seeing Aruba after all I had read and heard about the island. Unfortunately Miguel and I were left disappointed with Aruba, it really didn't seem to live up the hype about the island. But I guess everyone enjoys different vacations, but I don't feel the need to return to Aruba in the future.

December 11th was another at sea day.

Posted by MRCL72 08:50 Archived in Aruba Comments (1)

And so we're back!!!

sunny 27 °C

Wow it's been along time since I have wrote a blog entry. We just returned this week from an 11 day cruise through the Caribbean, and I can honestly say that another cruise is not in our future. Unless its on a smaller boat, like the cruise we did in the Galapagos Island's. But cruise's do allow you to see many places in a short period of time. We had 5 ports on our cruise, Aruba, Cartegena Columbia, Panama and the canal, Limon Costa Rica, and Grand Cayman. We travelled a total of 3252 Nautical Miles or 6022 Kilometers, 1nautical mile = 1.852 kms.

We boarded the Coral Princess in Port Everglades, Florida On Satruday Dec 7th. We flew down the day before and spent the morning in Hollywood Florida, having lunch with my uncle and walking around. It was a beautiful sunny +27, a welcome change from the snowy cold -29 of Calgary the day before.

In the afternoon we boarded the Coral Princess, passenger capacity 1974.

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The Coral Princess is 956 feet is length, is 203 feet tall, has 16 decks, 1000 cabins and 895 crew members on board. 4 pools, 5 hot tubs, 2 formal dinning rooms, several other restaurants, and food options. A theatre, 3 lounges a main bar, library, gym, spa, card room, shops, a casino and even a smoking room - which made you gag every time you had to walk by it. But since there is no smoking in your cabin or on your balcony, I suppose its needed.

Given the festive time of the year, there were several Christmas trees and decorations about the ship.

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As we left Port Everglades and set sail for Aruba, our first 2 days were at sea, we sailed past Cuba and Haiti. During "at sea" days there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy, including lots of eating and drinking a common theme on any cruise boat I'm sure. There was even a an LGBT get together on the boat. So Miguel and I headed down the Wheelhouse bar to have a drink with our fellow gay passengers. We got to the bar and were met by a member of the crew, welcoming us onboard, after about 15 mins we seemed to be the only ones showing up. But along came 2 more gay cruiser's, fashionably late of course. They were from Florida and on the cruise to celebrate a birthday.

Our first night on the ship was quiet and uneventful, we had a great dinner in the Italian restaurant on board. Our waiter was very friendly and shocked that we didn't want to order the full 5 course meal.

Dec 8th and 9th were both sea days, so we familiarized ourselves with the ship and spent sometime in the sun.

Posted by MRCL72 07:00 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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