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A CARIBBEAN ODYSSEY - REACH FOR THE SUN
 
(2012 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: SHIRLEY EDWARDS



Cruising is definitely my preferred way to travel.

A recent cruise on board the Celebrity Solstice gave me exactly what I needed: warm sunshine and excellent value.

Built in 2008 and decorated with artwork and amazing sculptures, the magnificent Solstice features ample space for 2,850 guests. However, on a recent Caribbean cruise, finding time to roam and admire it all was not easy. A long list of daytime activities, such as an ancient technique of glass-blowing, line dancing and floral arranging, constantly redirected my attention. Crowd-pleasing evening entertainment included fine shows in the beautiful theatre, a European-style theatrical circus, live music venues throughout the ship and trying your luck in the casino. For those who sought peace and quiet, there were also many relaxing lounges as well as a library.

Dining on board the Solstice was always an enjoyable experience; the food and service in the Grand Epernay restaurant was delightful. For a small cover charge, one could also dine in one of the specialty dining rooms. I chose the Murano where French cuisine and ambience suggested an evening in Paris. It provided the perfect excuse to indulge in foie gras and Dover sole along with champagne.

Staterooms ranged from inside cabins to the penthouse. My average-priced stateroom with a large balcony was well-appointed, comfortable and overseen by a remarkable steward.

Nude Beach, Snorkelling and Shopping

Sun-kissed beaches, warm turquoise seas, shopping excursions and historical tours always enhance the Caribbean cruising experience.

In Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, I toured the Pablo Casals Museum and San Juan Cathedral (circa 1520) and browsed through shops, all within a very manageable seven-square-block neighbourhood. I adored the Hotel El Convento, a 350-year-old restored Carmelite convent, where I sat in their beautiful courtyard garden, enjoying sangria and watching people. You might also consider visiting the 16th-century Fort San Felipe del Morro and 17th-century Fort San Cristobal, both National Historic Sites.

Saint Martin, our next port, which is half Dutch and half French, is the smallest landmass in the world to be shared by two different nations. Orient Beach, a nude beach on the French side of the island, is a popular tourist distraction, where, I’m told, snorkelling is also excellent.

St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands offered amazing beaches. Magens Bay is considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world while in downtown Charlotte Amalie streets and alleys were lined with never-ending jewellery shops. No wonder it is called “the duty-free capital of the world.”

Stay Awhile

One week went far too quickly, so it was a godsend to spend a few more days in Fort Lauderdale, known as the Venice of America.

Conveniently located near Port Everglades and the airport, Lago Mar Resort and Club is situated on Fort Lauderdale’s largest private beach. As soon as I stepped into the luxurious Mediterranean-inspired lobby laden with gold-leaf accents, I was prepared to relax.

On site, two pools, four tennis courts, great restaurants as well as interiors created by world-famous designer Carleton Varney welcomed guests. My spacious suite featured a large balcony overlooking the ocean, gardens and palm trees and friendly staff catered to my every whim. If you do decide to stay here before or after a cruise, show them your cruise ticket to receive a complimentary buffet breakfast.

A visit to the excellent spa at Lago Mar Resort is a must. Try the hot-stone massage to prepare you for your trip home.

During my stay, I managed to take in some of the Fort Lauderdale attractions. My favourite was the water taxi ride on the scenic inland waterways, which featured many step-on, step-off stops including Las Olas Boulevard—Fort Lauderdale’s fashion, fine-dining and entertainment district. As he manoeuvred his craft, the captain pointed out some interesting history—with a little gossip thrown in—about the magnificent mansions and sites we saw along the way. But that’s another story.

Travel Planner

Elite members, who have accumulated 10 sailings or more on Celebrity Cruises, can access the Captain’s Club with free cocktails in the Sky Lounge between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m., and enjoy other privileges, such as cocktail parties with the officers and invitations to view arrival into ports on the ship’s helipad.

For more information, visit or call:
Celebrity Cruises: celebritycruises.com
Lago Mar Resort: lagomar.com; 954-523-6511
Greater Fort Lauderdale: sunny.org; 1-800-356-1662

 
 
 
 
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