Wednesday, March 31, 2010Selected Pics (29); see bottom of page for Thursday, April 1
We arrived in Grenada at approximately 8am and after a late night of Cabin Crawling we were ready for a relaxing day on the beach. We had read great stuff about Grande Anse Beach when we researched this port in 2009 (check out the awesome pics), but we had opted to visit a lesser known beach with good snorkeling and a restaurant. Magazine Beach & Aquarium Restaurant is highly recommended on the Cruise Critic message boards. Just as we did in 2009, we took a taxi and then asked the restaurant to call them back at the end of the day (while we sipped cocktails on the deck). This time we were joined by a few more guests. In addition to Heather and Emil, a few Cruise Critic posters joined us as well (mikepowie/Jeremy & Marion and teacher_md/AJ & Jeremy).
The cab ride is about 20-40 minutes from the ship to the restaurant (depending on traffic). According to GrenadaExplorer.com, a private taxi has a standard fee of $26US per hour. That seems about right - about $10 per couple each way if you include tip. I'm pretty sure that's how we split it between the three couples.
Thankfully we had an extra two hours on Grenada this year and we got there 4 hrs earlier than when we were there in 2009 with the Lloyds. I thought we might get tired of the beach so I took the number for Mandoo with me just in case we wanted to do an afternoon tour on the way back. We also considered taking a taxi up to Grand Anse Beach for a couple of hours in the afternoon and catching the water taxi back to the ship (runs from GAB to pier for $5EC/$2US per person). In the end we just chilled out at the beach. The unfriendly old chair man was there again and this time he wouldn't let us use "his private beach" unless we rented a chair for $5 each. Rather than make a scene, I just gave him $20 for the four of us. It wasn't a bad price to pay. We were there until 2:30pm.
The snorkeling was about the same as in 2009. The visibility was not fantastic (about 15 feet), but there were plenty of fish, urchins, and coral. Unfortunately for the novice snorkelers the water was a bit too rough. They spend the day on the beach relaxing and reading books. We departed the Aquarium Restaurant at about 2:30pm and were back in town by about 3pm. We requested to get dropped off in town so we could buy some spices before heading back to the ship. Martha was buying both for us and for a fellow teacher.
After some great shots in front of the ship, we boarded, cleaned up, and enjoyed our own happy hour during sailaway at around 5pm. Afterward, we headed to one of the lounges to enjoy some cocktails and live music. We were having such a great time that we ended up about 30 minutes late for dinner. We were so tired and stuffed by the end of dinner that we had no appetite left for the midnight buffet. So we sneaked a peek from the upper deck, took some pictures, and called it a night.
LinksPopular Tour Operators
Mandoo Tour & Taxi Service (473-440-1428; many positive reviews on CC boards)
K&J Tour & Taxi Service (473-440-4227)
ScubaTech-Grenada.com, DiveGrenada.com, AquanautsGrenada.com,
GrenadaSeafaris.com, First Impressions Ltd. (unresponsive), Others
Web Sites ( Government, WikiTravel, Lonely Planet Review, Frommers Reviews, Cruise Critic Review, Cruise Critic Board, Destination360 Review, Princess.com, Grenada Explorer )
The Aquarium Restaurant
NOTE: The 3 km long Grand Anse Beach in St George's which is considered to be one of the finest beaches in the world, and often appears in countdowns of the world's top 10 beaches. However, the message boards indicate that the beach tends to be very crowded and full of pesky vendors.
ArchiveIn 2008, we had also been considering the following Princess excursions...
Hike To Seven Sisters Waterfalls ($79, 12:45-4:15)
Five-Star Sail, Snorkel & Beach With Lunch ($129, 12:30-5:30)
Island Seafaris Cruise & Snorkel ($99, 1-3) (underwater sculpture park)
Thursday, April 1, 2010 (at sea)Selected Pics (30)
This was our first day at sea as we made the long sail to the southern ABC islands. I usually take this opportunity to explore the ship and take pics, but I felt like I knew the ship well enough by this time. My intention was to relax and to try to get a head start on processing the pictures from the first five ports but we ended up with a very busy day.
The day began with breakfast in the Ocean Cafe at 8:45am and was immediately followed by a Navigational Bridge Tour at 9:30am courtesy of Wil Famoso, the Celebrity Group Event Coordinator. This was the third event that was planned by Wil for our Cruise Critic group. In fact, they arranged the tour in two shifts since our group was so big. Security was tight but also served to underscore the privilege implied by our access to this technologically advanced command center.
After the tour, I headed to the Celebrity Theatre to catch the 10:45am Star Chefs Cooking Competition - "An event as tasteful as a culinary masterpiece." Our new friend Barb (from the bio bay kayaking trip) was selected as one of the guest chefs and seemed to have a great time. Too bad her team didn't win. But all the participants got free food and drinks and it was a fun demonstration.
After lunch, Martha and I headed to the Rendez-Vouz Lounge for the 2:00pm World Wine Tour. For $20 each, we tasted Chardonnays from California and Italy, an Albarino from Spain, Gewurztraminer from France, Zinfandel from California, an Italian Sangiovese, and a Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon from the Okanagan Valley (the area recommended earlier in our trip by the Art Director). It was fun tasting wines from around the world, especially with the creative presentation. The wines were set up by country and were identified by the country's flag. As if we hadn't had enough to drink, we strolled next door at 2:30pmp for the Champagne Art Auction Preview.
I'm not sure what we did next - probably took a nap. I do recall going back out for Tapas at the Cova Caffe & Pasticcera around 5pm and having a couple of small dessert samples, but the pictures indicate we were back in the room with a sushi boat and a plate of bread by ten 'til 7. We had also been surprised with an Easter gift from my parents - chocolate dipped strawberries and Mumm Napa Cuvee champagne. We invited Heather and Emil over for happy hour and toasted to their marriage (and ours).
The fun continued after dinner with the event that may have made Martha's entire trip worthwhile - a dance competition at 10:30pm called Dancing With The Stripes. As Celebrity put it, "Featuring the graceful and deft-footed (left-footed?) Officers of the Celebrity Millennium paired with our divine and delightfully debonair guests for a fabulous dance competition, accompanied by the sounds of Magnitude and hosted by your Activity Manager, Alejandro." Unfortunately for Martha, she was paired with one of the truly left-footed Officers. They made the first cut from 6 to 4, but not the final 2. Still, she did a great job leading her man. :-)
When we finally got back to the room just before midnight, we had one last surprise. Apparently the Classic Romance Package that Mom & Dad purchased as our "Happy Easter, Happy Cruising" gift included rose petals sprinkled on the bed at turndown. It was very romantic and those rose petals decorated our beverage tray for the rest of the trip.