Xmas 99 in the Caribbean

So you want to know what I did for Christmas and New Years do you? Well, here's a quick rundown. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so have a look at them if you're running a bit short on time...

Claudia and I left for the good ol' US of A on December 16th. When we arrived in California we decided to shop. And shop we did! In fact, I managed to out-shop Claudia at the Great Mall in Milpitas. I had to buy 10,000 Xmas gifts and revamp my Australian wardrobe for another year. Yes, the credit card took quite a beating!

On December 23rd we left for Houston Texas, where my brother Daniel, wife Linda, and two kids, Thomas and Jeffrey live. When I say we, I mean Claudia and I, my parents, my sister Katrina, all stuffed into a limo! That's a story in itself. Let's just say that travelling with DaD is a unique experience, were sedatives are very useful for all parties involved. Back to Houston- The weather was great! Houston is a lot nicer then I expected. As a speed freak, you can appreciate the 70mph (120kph) speed limit. Only wish I had my own hoon-car from Australia J Anyway, we celebrated Xmas together as one big happy family, following the family tradition of oyster stew for Xmas dinner, followed by heavy drinking! While in Houston we went to NASA, pretty cool place. It is amazing to be along side these mammoth rockets (Apollo 18 never made it off the ground). To wrap NASA up in a nut shell, one could say they don't work for food stamps! Everything was measured in the millions! Try converting those numbers to Rupia...

On December 28th we left for San Juan, Puerto Rico via Miami, Florida. This is where the real fun starts. The cruise lasted seven days, visiting five islands. Much more detail on this to follow. After the cruise we basically retraced our steps back to Houston, via Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta has one mother of a huge airport. Judging from the size, poor little old Sydney Airport will never cope when the Olympics rock about.

Once back in California, Claudia and I had nine days to do all the American things we could, like eat yummy Round Table Pizza, and pizza from Mountain Mikes in Los Gatos. Plus catch up with old friends.

And that's about it! The vacation was great fun, and the the time really flew by! It's hard to believe it was four weeks. On our arrival back to Sydney, my poor wallet was feeling the strain of the trip.

Here are a few general maps so you understand the area. Map1 Map2

I can't take credit for what follows. Claudia actually wrote it up. Enjoy the pictures... You can see panoramic pictures of the Sun Princess here.

Day 1 Arrive St Maarten - an island which is half Dutch and half French. We didn't have any tours booked for that day so we basically shopped and walked around the little seaside village area. It was beautiful weather and the people are always very friendly. We didn't swim on the beach but had a great time by the pools and spa on the boat. Each night we had a full a la carte dinner with all the family but basically ate our meals whenever during the day (you can eat what you want whenever you want included in the price of the cruise -  a lot of food!)
Day 2 Arrive St Lucia - another island, which had lush tropical rain forrests RJ and I took an open roof four wheel drive safari tour which was EXCELLENT - there were 8 of us in the back of this old army jeep and at times we thought we'd come right out! We learnt a lot about the island and the people. I've got some great photos.
Day 3
Arrive Barbados - took a half day drinking cruise called the Jolly Roger with RJ and Katrina and her friend Tina - didn't get to see much of the island but a beach where we docked, but had an awesome time. They drink a lot of Rum in the Caribbean. I had to swing off this rope in front of everyone in the boat right out into the water - was lots of fun - also have photo's of us all doing it. Some people hired jetskis' but I chose to lay on the beach and enjoy the water and sun.
This night was New Year's Eve - so we napped in the afternoon before getting up for some pre-dinner drinks and then the party began! They'd done a fantastic job with doing up the boat and there were people taking professional photo's everywhere (I got suckered into buying a few at US$20 a piece - ouch!) By midnight we were all out on the deck with streamers, champagne, balloons and lots of people! We all had a very fun night.
Day 4 we were at sea all day and recovering!
Day 5 Arrive at St Kitts. We once again didn't have any tours planned so all ten of us took a taxi ride to Turtle beach which was very cute (have photos), the water was very warm but the sand wasn't so great and it was pretty small and crowded. They had 10 minute helicopter rides so we went on it - OH MY GOD! It was so much fun - but very scary at times - I never knew helicopters could go upside down (?)!
Day 6 Arrive St Thomas. This island is definitely for the wealthy. Mr and Mrs Sell, RJ and I took a 40 min boat ride to the island of St Johns where we went to a protected beach to do a snorkelling tour. Now this is what I had expected the Virgin Islands to be. It was white sand beach with palm trees lining it. The water was crystal clear - pure paradise! We snorkelled for about 45 mins and then lay on the beach before heading back to St Thomas for a bit of shopping.
Unfortunately this was our last day. Each night we would go see a show after dinner and then hang out in the night club. We met lots of really nice people and drank lots of really nice drinks. It is funny, still two days later I am feeling like I am on the boat! (a bit wobbly)