Western Caribbean Journals

Fun Aboard the Fascination

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A September 2001 trip to Western Caribbean by vampirefan

In the dining room Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean More Photos
Quote: Several years ago, when I was a travel agent, we took a cruise on Carnival’s Fascination. It was a seminar at sea, so it was a working cruise. Boy, that was the best work environment I have ever been in!

The Fascination

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Story/Tip

In the dining room Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
It is very easy to get to the port in Miami. It is centrally located on Biscayne Boulevard. All the cruise ships are here, and you just follow the signs to the Carnival docks. If you are driving in, they do have parking and your car will be very safe. If you fly in, you can either arrive at Miami International (MIA) or the Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) airport, which is only about 45 minutes away. You can take a taxi or the cruise line shuttle from MIA. Ask about the shuttle when you book your cruise. If you are arriving in Ft. Lauderdale, the cruise line shuttle is a cheaper alternative. You do need to make sure your plane arrives no later than 1pm or noon in Lauderdale to give you enough time to get to the p...Read More

Key West, FL

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Story/Tip

Key West Fl.  Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
One of my most favorite places to visit is Key West, Florida. Located approximately 3 hours from Miami or 90 miles from Cuba, it is a terrific place to stay and visit awhile. It has been the home of Ernest Hemmingway, Jimmy Buffet, and the Conch Republic. It is also a stop on the Western Caribbean itineraries of many cruise ships. Discovered by Ponce de Leon when he was in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth, it served for many years as a major port city. Later, in 1939, US Highway 1 was extended to Key West, making it accessible by car. But it didn’t become a major tourist destination until after the end of WWII. Today, more than 3 million people a year pour into this fun and quaint town. It serve...Read More

Key West Lighthouse

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Story/Tip

The Key West Lighthouse Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
One of my favorite spots in Key West was the Key West Lighthouse. I love lighthouses, so every time I get a chance to see one, I am extremely happy. The original lighthouse was built in 1825. The 65-foot brick lighthouse served the busy Key West harbor, which attracted fishermen and salvage wreckers. In 1846, a devastating hurricane swallowed up Sand Key, as well as most of Key West, including the lighthouse. By 1847, a new lighthouse had been built and stood in a much more secure place. In 1872, the lighthouse received its third-order Fresnel lens, offering a much better beam. In 1892, 20 more feet were added to the tower to also increase its visibility. There it stood until 1969, guiding many ships ...Read More

Hemmingway House and Musem, Key West

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Story/Tip

Hemmingway's House Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
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Located at 907 Whitehead St. you will find the home of American author Ernest Hemmingway. The house has been lovingly turned into a museum and opened for the public to enjoy. Hemmingway was a Nobel Prize winner and author of such literary classics such as For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and The Snow of Kilimanjaro. You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy this place. My literary preferences tend to lean toward Anne Rice and Stephen King. But I still enjoyed the heck out of the house. Marine architect and salvage wrecker Asa Taft built the beautiful Spanish colonial house in 1851. It was one of the first houses on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing and an indoor f...Read More

Cozumel Mexico

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Story/Tip

Beautiful Comzumel Mexico Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
The second stop on my cruise was in the magnificent city of Cozumel, Mexico. This tiny island (only 28 miles long by 10 feet wide) is the largest island in Mexico and sits off of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is home to 75,000 people. The history of Cozumel dates back to the 13th century and the ancient Mayans. The Mayans were farmers, fishermen, and warriors. The Mayans considered Cozumel a sacred shrine and called it Ah-Cuzamil (Island of the Shallows). Ancient Mayans would sail to the island to worship the goddess Ix-Chel. She was the goddess of fertility and the wife of the sun god. Today many descendents of the ancient Mayan culture still call this beautiful island home. In the 15th century, Spanish ...Read More

Ancient Tulum: Part 1

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Story/Tip

Beautiful Play del Carmen Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
One of the most popular shore excursions in Cozumel is to the ancient city of Tulum. Tulum is actually not in Cozumel but in the smaller city of Playa Del Carmen, which is about 30 minutes away. The ship stops near Playa de Carmen. The ships are too big to pull into the port, so you get on a small boat, which will take you to the pier. Once you arrive at the pier, you will take a brief walk though this very lovely town to your tour bus. From here you will board your very luxurious tour bus, and then the trip starts. Soda, beer, and snacks are provided. You will have a bilingual interpreter onboard (I don’t know why since everyone we met spoke English) who will give you a history lesson along the way. ...Read More

Ancient Tulum: Part 2

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Story/Tip

A sweeping view  Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
Tulum, which in Spanish means wall, probably dates back to between 250 and 600 AD. It is one of the few walled Mayan cities. It most likely did not become a major city until about 1200 to 1530. This city served as both a city and fortress for many ancient Mayans. The first mention of this sacred place was not until 1518, when Juan Diaz, an explorer, mentioned it in his writings. In 1842, John Stephens and Fredrick Catherwood wrote about the Mayan city in their book Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan. Excavations of the site started as early as 1916. It was not until 1937 that Miguel Angel Fernandez began full-time work on the excavation. Today, the National Institute of History and Anthropology...Read More

Carlos and Charlie's

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Story/Tip

Guy, Scott, Tammy, and Guy's date Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
When on a cruise, you should always take the time to experience one meal at a restaurant while in port. While in Cozumel, I always send folks over to Carlos and Charlie’s. In business since November of 1979, Carlos and Charlie’s is the place to be. The Anderson group owns it, and they also own the restaurant chain Senior Frogs, which is also located in Cozumel. The restaurant is located on Av. Rafael Melgar No 551. Taxicabs from the pier will only set you back $5, and they will know the place. The place is easy to spot since there is usually a large crowd waiting to get in. Thankfully, when Guy and I arrived, our friends Tammy and Scott were already holding a table. The place is loud, rowdy, an...Read More

Cruise Tips

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Story/Tip

Scott, Tammy, and Guy Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean
Quote:
When I was a travel agent a few years ago, the company I worked for sent me to this seminar at sea. I learned about Carnival and the line and got to experience a cruise firsthand. I am sure I am getting no sympathy from anyone right now. I traveled with my fellow coworkers Tammy, Scott, and Guy. Tammy and I had a wonderful ocean-view cabin. Talk about a great way to work! Cruising is the perfect vacation. You pack and unpack only once, get to see some great places along the way, and are treated like royalty. It is also very affordable, especially if you compare it to a land vacation. To show my clients the difference, I actually priced at a 7-day cruise against 4 days in Myrtle Beach, and the cruise w...Read More