A Travellerspoint blog

The Island Girls say "Yeah Mon"

Great day in Jamaica

Located on Jamaica's North Coast in the Parish of St. Ann, Ocho Rios offers breathtaking sights and exhilarating adventures for visitors of all ages. In the last twenty years, Ochee, as it is known by the locals, has grown from a small, sleepy, fishing village into a world class tourist destination. With a deep water pier that can hold up to three cruise ships, allowing for easy disembarkation, Ocho Rios has become Jamaica's premier cruise port. The name, Ocho Rios, is misleading, as eight rivers do not exist in this area of Jamaica. Historians seem to think that the title is a British misinterpretation of the original Spanish moniker Las Chorreras, a designation meaning "the waterfalls." This assumption is more than understandable, as the region is an amazing place of beauty with many water features, areas of lush forest, and, of course, gorgeous Jamaican beaches.

The Island Girls chose not to go to the most visited attraction in Ocho Rios, Dunn's River Falls. With its 600-foot waterfall gently progresses down a stepped series of volcanic rocks seemed a recipe for disaster for the ladies. Instead they opted for a tour titled “Jewels of Ocho Rios” - a four hour tour of the area.

After introductions from the Tour Guide Arlene and driver Blair, the Island Girls boarded the air conditioned coach and were driven along the northeastern coastline to a small town known as St. Ann’s Bay. En route, Arlene, a beautiful girl, sung a welcoming song…not necessarily a contestant for Jamaican Idol, but it was the thought that counted. She then proceeded to explain the four most important phrases in Jamaican culture:

1. Irie Mon – to be at total peace with your current state of being. The way you feel when you have no worries. “Everyting is irie mon.”
2. No Problem Mon – Everything is OK
3. No Mon – Self Explanatory
4. Yeah Mon – The Island Girls are really good with this one! Just ask them…

The quick tour through the town was narrated by Arlene, explaining the history, tales and interesting facts about Jamaica – through the town squares, by the Court House of 1866 and Statue of Columbus and then back to Ocho Rios. First stop was a visit to local artisans at the Wassi Art. The Island Girls listened intently as a potter explained about finding the rocks and soaking them to retrieve the clay. Once that was explained, he proceeded to take a clump and in a matter of minutes, produced a six inch vase with a circular design and lip. From there it was onto the gift shop to purchase a couple of examples of their work.

Back on the coach, it was time for feeding with a nice visit to the Almond Tree Restaurant – a little time for leisure, relaxing on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace that overlooks the hypnotic Caribbean Sea whilst enjoying a cup of Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain coffee and a piece of scrumptious banana bread.

Then it was onto to Jamaica’s Garden of Eden, the place that the Taino Indians called “Coyaba” or paradise. The Island Girls could hear the roar, feel the fresh mist of the spray from the spectacular waterfall, cascading down level after glorious level. With another professional guide, the ladies worked their way through the rainforest. They saw all shades of green, splashed with exotic flowers of every conceivable color. Coyaba Gardens presented a fascinating museum with ancient artifacts form the natives and early colonials excavated on the site.

Posted by IslandGirls 17:03 Archived in Jamaica Comments (1)

Relaxing During A Day At Sea

Lovely warm weather during sailing into the Caribbean Sea

The Island Girls had a quiet day at sea as they cruised towards Jamaica. Breakfast at Cagneys, yet again. Relaxing, reading, Sudoku were the call for the day. Marilynn made a quick stroll around the walking trail to maintain some semblance of healthy behavior . Dinner was delivered for La Cucina, the onboard Italian restaurant, to the stateroom early so that the ladies were able to attend the show “Oh, What A Night” – a tribute the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Off to bed to get ready for an early arrival in Jamaica!

Posted by IslandGirls 16:58 Comments (0)

Day 3 - Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

A short jaunt from Miami with arrival in the Bahamas

sunny 81 °F

So what do people remember most about their experiences in the Caribbean? For the Island Girls, so far it has been the food. Day 3 started with fresh pastries and cut fruit delivered to the suite at 7:30 a.m. and since that was not quite enough the ladies, they strolled down to Cagney’s (the private restaurant reserved for suite guests) for a hearty breakfast. Marilynn kept it simple with some eggs over easy, bacon and sausage, whereas Margaretta decided to have the Crab Cakes Benedict. It was at this point, the Island Girls declared they would never eat again…by noon, they were back at it, enjoying fresh Caesar salad and roast beef sandwiches.

The ship pulled into Great Stirrup Cay, an island in the Bahamas at 8:00 a.m. It turns out that Great Stirrup was a pirate hideout while the British settled in Nassau and the larger islands until 1815. This time marks the first documented settlers of Great Stirrup, and many of the structures from this settlement still stand today. Charts of this era show simply "Stirrup's Cay". The island remained active during the American civil war, as the Confederates wished to continue to export cotton to Europe. The island was used as a landfall for provisioning while Federal warships patrolled the area to thwart their efforts. After the abolition of slavery, the British began to slowly withdraw from the out island colonies, and the plantation at Great Stirrup was abandoned.

Great Stirrup is the northern most island in a chain of islands known as the Berry Islands, and is situated in an area along the Northwest Providence Channel. In 1863, the Imperial Lighthouse Service erected the lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay. The lighthouse site was manned for many years, but it is now timed and solar powered, making it self-sufficient. The structure stands nearly 80 feet, and its light is visible for over 20 miles. During World War II the United States, in an effort to protect its eastern shores, came to the Bahamas and Great Stirrup with a wide array of observational and defensive equipment. Among these were submersible cables, which were run along the ocean floor to listen for enemy submarines. Two "cable houses" still stand on the southeastern shore of the island, also overgrown by jungle. Bellcher Oil Company of Miami staked claim to the north section of the island for many years. Their interests there included real estate speculation, oil exploration, and a possible site for a corporate retreat. In 1977, Norwegian Cruise Line acquired this section from Belcher Oil.

The Island Girls elected not to be tendered to the Great Stirrup Cay and remained on the ship. Marilynn made a few laps on the walking/jogging track and racked up over a mile of exercise. Then she sported her new bathing suit and hit the hot tub. Margaretta, on the other hand decided that reading was more her speed!

The evening was spent with dinner and a show. The ladies got gussied up and strolled down to Teppanyaki, the onboard Japanese steak house. Marilynn had gone too many hours without her shrimp, so both ladies ordered filet mignon and shrimp for entrees. They were enthralled with the antics of the Phillopino chef that was preparing their dinner tableside. The ladies protested that they were full but managed to make it through the four courses and ate some green tea cake and ice cream.

The Island Girls enjoyed their evening at the theater. The show was titled “That’s Entertainment” and was a “tribute” to classic entertainment; from the Golden Age of cinema to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas….moments inspired by Valentino, Sinatra, Busby Berkley and Marilyn Monroe. Ladies were back to the stateroom by 9:00 p.m. and ready for bed!

Posted by IslandGirls 09:08 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)

Day 2 - Off To Miami

The second leg of the trip to Miami and boarding Norwegian Pearl

sunny 80 °F

The Island Girls got a quick start on Sunday morning setting off for Miami from Vero, once again defying death on I-95. The corridor from West Palm Beach to Miami was massive – not ever sure where one city started or ended six lanes in one direction of concrete and high rises. They were greeted in Miami at the first traffic light off the highway by a female panhandler sporting a Bob Marley T-shirt (pot leaves and all) – windows were rolled up, doors locked.

Arrival at the Port of Miami was pure pandemonium with a total of five cruise ships leaving (two Carnival, two Norwegian and one Disney) – it was decided that neither of the Island Girls had any desire to be on the Disney ship! Working their way through the security check point, they were quickly escorted to the Priority Check-In. No more standing in lines for these ladies! Check-in completed, the ladies were escorted onto the ship, skipping the long lines and chaos the masses had to endure.

Once on the ship, the Island Girls made their way to their stateroom, a quaint 3 bedroom, 5,000 square foot abode, featuring a private courtyard and hot tub. Wide eyed and sure they would get lost in the suite, they made themselves comfortable. About 1:30, they made their way to Cagney’s Restaurant for lunch – a special feature of the suites is a private restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch daily. Margaretta opted to go light for this meal and had the corn chowder and the grilled asparagus and prosciutto salad. While Marilynn continued with her trend of shrimp at every meal, started with a large shrimp cocktail followed with bruschetta with roasted peppers and fresh mozzarella on arugula.

Satiated for the moment, the ladies made themselves at home in the suite, dutifully unpacking their suitcases. By 3:15, the ladies made their way down six floors to the mandatory muster drill and then back to the room.

The sail out of Miami was beautiful - from the stately homes of Star Island, the yacht club to the views of South Beach. The waters of Biscayne Bay were almost Caribbean blue, the weather was warm and the views breathtaking.

After a busy day, the ladies chose to dine in the stateroom – time for a little steak and lobster. This isn’t your regular room service; the white linens and silver were a nice touch!

Posted by IslandGirls 09:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 1 - Off To Vero!

A nice stop in Vero Beach for an overnight stay. Just enough to get the Island Girls ready for the big cruise!

sunny 81 °F

The road tripping with the Island Girls started in St. Marys, Georgia. We went cruising down I-95, dodging the early snowbirds driving those huge RVs that really should require a special driver’s license rather than letting those grey hairs loose to terrorize the roadways. It is a 380 mile journey to Miami so we decided to break it up with an overnight stay in Vero Beach at our friends’, Maxine and Roy’s vacation home. After a few short hours and 230 miles closer to our embarkation port plus a few life or death experiences, we arrived in this quaint little town. Maxine and Roy’s home is located right on the harbor, just off the Intracoastal Waterway, in a beautiful golf course community. The home had been decorated for the holidays. As we relaxed on the back porch looking in awe at the beautiful boats that were moored, we were thrilled to see three dolphins that came into the marina. Apologies for the lack of quality photos of flipper, we were all just mesmerized by their beauty!

The feeding commenced a little later with a trip up to Captain Hiram’s, a funky beach restaurant where your feet are in the sand, music is a little loud but the scenery and food are great. The Island Girls decided they were in the mood for some fresh shrimp (Marilynn had some fried, Margaretta enjoyed the peel and eat variety). The ladies watched as the fishing charter came in and proudly weighed their catches. The charter crew commenced to clean and filet the fish for their guests, this activity did not go unnoticed by the ever growing group of pelicans who awaited the scraps.

With everyone fed, it was off to bed – big day tomorrow!

Posted by IslandGirls 19:57 Comments (2)

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