Saturday, April 3, 2010

Selected Pics (35); see bottom of page for Sunday, April 4

We arrived in Aruba at approximately 8am and our ship-booked excursion aboard the Mi Dushi departed shortly thereafter at 8:45am. Unfortunately the excursion filled up before Heather and Emil got a chance to book. We considered switching to something else, but Jeremy and Marion were also booked so we decided to go. And how can you pass up an excursion with Captain Jesus. We were quite glad we did decide to join this 6 hour sailing and snorkeling excursion. We had an incredible time. Here is Celebrity's description of the excursion...
Discover an Aruba far from the maddening crowd. Let the "Mi Dushi" spoil, pamper and romance you during your Aruba visit. Built in 1925, out of oak and mahogany, this 78 foot sailing vessel offers barefoot elegance and adventure. Step aboard and enjoy our cool trade winds and the warm hospitality of Captain Jesus and his crew. Experience the thrill of snorkeling at two shallow reefs where you will witness a magical world of magnificent fish and coral and then take a fascinating underwater tour of the sunken WWII German freighter "Antilla". All guests are provided with instruction, equipment including a buoyancy vest and their own personalized snorkel mouthpiece.

After snorkeling refuel yourself with a great island lunch and refresh yourself with complimentary premium bar. Then "if you dare" you may take the plunge off our wild and wet rope swing. On the sail home, stretch out in the bow sprit net, take a turn at the helm or just sit back, relax and daydream. A barefoot elegance cruise on the "Mi Dushi" has all the ingredients to make a perfect day in paradise.
Indeed, this day was perfect from the beginning. We started out with a ride on a fun bus that had a sign in front saying "Drivers Wanted - Call 1-900-STUPID". It had a lot of other funny graffiti inside that I can't repeat. Anyway, by about 9am we were pulling in to the public pier next to the Aruba Hotel RIU Palace and hopping a small passenger ferry to our sail boat, the Mi Dushi. Once we got going, the bartender served up some fantastic complimentary drinks on the way to the sunken WWII German freighter "Antilla". This U-boat was scuttled (purposely sunk) by its captain in 1940 rather than surrender it to the Dutch. It sits a few hundred yards off shore at a maximum depth of 55ft. We got there shortly after 10am and were in the water by 10:15. It was pretty cool to free dive the wreck for the 15-20 minutes we were there. Twenty minutes later was when the real fun began. Just before 11am, we reached our second dive destination.

This place was a bit shallow - 10 to 20 feet - but was crowded with all sorts of great wildlife. The schools of fish were thick and within minutes we spotted our first Caribbean Reef Squid. A few minutes later I saw six of them and within a few minutes the group was up to 15 or 20. They were fascinating to watch. I got some great video of them too. I also saw a couple of small snake-like eels that I have been unable to identify and a nice-looking starfish.

The final highlight was the rope swing. Standing from a platform about 10 feet out of the water, we swung out away from the boat and jumped. Well, some dragged their feet and promptly fell but most eventually got the hang of it. One of the crew members showed off a little with a flip, which of course I had to try. I had a couple of nice 180s and 360s but I should have stopped there. When one of the crew claimed to have pulled off a 1.5, I had to give it a try. When my back smacked the water, I immediately regretted my decision. Of course I couldn't end on a bad jump, so I took a couple more good jumps. It was a lot of fun. I HAVE to get some of those videos posted. On the return, I was quite happy to relax with Martha in the "bow sprit net". This would certainly be one day that required a nap.

But not before a stop at Senor Frog's. Mark had talked it up quite a bit on a previous trip and I had to see what it was all about. We got back to the ship at about 2:30pm, cleaned up a little, and were back out at Senor Frog's by 4pm. Apparently it's either not doing too well or it just doesn't get busy until later. There were probably 10 people in there total and it was a big place. One of those people was apparently a caricature artist and found inspiration in my hat. His sketch shows me talking on a walkie-talkie and wearing backpack with a pick-axe sticking out of it. It is titled "Indiana Jones in Aruba". It was sketched on Senor Frog's stationary with a note at the bottom indicating "Tips Are Welcome". We obliged even though this poor guy couldn't even get a job at King's Island as a caricature artist.

We were back on the ship in plenty of time for our 6pm departure and ready for a quiet evening. The only excitement the rest of the night was the Parade of the Baked Alaska, a dessert tradition on many cruise lines.


Additional Web Sites ( Antilla Dive Pics, Official Tourism Site, Lonely Planet Review, Frommers Reviews, Cruise Critic Review, Cruise Critic Board, Destination360 Review, )

Mi Dushi (no email address or phone listed, must use web form)

Here are some of the other Celebrity excursions we were considering...
    Aruba Sailaway Beach & Snorkel Cruise - AR06
    Aruba Scuba Tour without Equipment - AR52
    De Palm Island Snorkeling Adventure - AR10
    Sail, Snorkel, Swim & Swing! - AR48
    Sailing & Snorkeling Tour - AR05


When we went to Aruba in 2009, we went in with the Rhoades on a Jeep rental and toured the island on our own. We had an awesome time! Definitely check out the link to see a full account of our trip as well as lots of pics and videos.

Here are the Princess excursions we were considering...
    Atlantis submarine
    Catamaran Snorkel & Beach Cruise With Brunch Or Lunch ($89, 9-2)
    Aruba Palm Beach Express & Snorkel ($49, 9:30-1:30)

Sunday, April 4, 2010 (at sea)

Selected Pics (26)

This was another welcome day at sea. We have never done 7 ports on one cruise before and we were pretty wiped out by this point. We slept in and enjoyed the Easter Brunch in the main dining room. It was a beautiful setup with giant chocolate covered eggs, ice sculptures, fruit sculptures, bread baskets, and of course all sorts of delectable eats and treats. After brunch we got a head start on packing and I also roamed the ship and took pictures - from the library to the dining room. But the best pictures of the day were of the beautiful sunset on the clear horizon.

It inspired me to go for a run too - 5 miles, which I think was something like 40 laps around the deck. I had a fan club too. Or were they hecklers? I think they were having trouble deciding. But the free beer they handed me was legit. I handed it back on the next lap since I never acquired a taste for beer. After a cool-down in the pool and a quick shower, we headed to the photo gallery to select our professional cruise photos. We had bought a package earlier in the trip that got us the equivalent of one or two free 8x10 photos. It was a lot more than Martha and I would have purchased but we split the package with Heather and Emil.

Dinner was bittersweet since we had to say goodbye to our fantastic waiters and tablemates.