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Trip Report: Lindblad sailing cruise. Windward Isles of the Caribbean aboard the Sea Cloud II

Trip Report: Lindblad sailing cruise. Windward Isles of the Caribbean aboard the Sea Cloud II

Dec 23rd, 2006, 02:05 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report: Lindblad sailing cruise. Windward Isles of the Caribbean aboard the Sea Cloud II


Laoghair on this forum suggested that I write to relay my impressions of the Lindblad cruise that I took from Dec 10-17th. Here is the itinerary

Day 1 U.S./St. Johnís Antigua/Embark
Day 2 Under Sail
Day 3 Bequia, the Grenadines
Day 4 Tobago
Day 5 Under Sail
Day 6 Soufriere/St. Lucia
Day 7 Dominica
Day 8 St. Johnís/Disembark/U.S.

A little background first. I did not pay to take this trip. In fact, I was actually paid to take it! I've been working part time as a model/actress over the last 20 plus years and every once in a while I hit pay dirt, like this gig. We got to see most of the things that the other passengers saw though and so I can report on what we saw, the food, the staff, and the ship itself.

It took a while to get to the ship. We arrived in Antigua (Ann TEE gah) only to be greeted with a one hour and 45 minute wait to get through customs. Don't ask me why. This is a tiny airport folks, and it's not like there were hundreds of people. By the time I finally reached the front of the line, the man just waved me through. I was told that they had been going through each and every bag. I know that they did not go through the camera crews bags nor mine but apparently they went through everyone else's.

Once we got through customs, Lindblad took over. Lindblad people were waiting for us with their signs. They made sure that they had with them all of us on their list and quickly whisked us off in vans to the port about 15 minutes away.

"WOW!" That's what anyone would say upon the first glimpse of this ship, The Sea Cloud II. It was built in 2000 to resemble the elegance of the original Sea Cloud (Built in 1931 for American cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post) but with all modern equipment. What a beauty. We got out of the van where we were greeted with a warm moist hand towel towel, plus cold juice or water. We handed over our tickets, had our photo taken, and were given our room card. That's when I realized that my little green jacket was still in the van! Once I realized it, the people from Lindblad said, "Don't worry about it, we'll get it back." I could see the van about a 1/4 mile away stopped at the end of the dock and so I decided to run for it. Within seconds a young lady from Lindblad who I later learned was Kimberly (I'll refer to her as "K") our Wellness Director was running along side of me. About 1/2 way there, the van left the area and I figured oh well, I may see my green jacket in a week when we return. When we got back to the ship, they said, "It's OK, we have the drivers number. We already left him a message. He's probably talking to his dispatcher. We'll get it back. You didn't need to run!" I told them that after all the traveling and standing around in the Antigua airport, running actually felt pretty good. I then checked into my room to have a look around.

Holy cow! What a room! Number 220. Great location at the base of the stairs in the middle of the ship. It really is deluxe. First, let me back up. There were 4 models on this trip. Two women and two men. The women were supposed to share a room and the men were to share also. On this voyage, it wasn't sold out. Also on this voyage, the owner of the Lindblad expedition, Mr. Sven Lindblad, was aboard with his lovely wife Maria. Mr. Lindblad decided that since they weren't sold out for this voyage, he'd let the models each have their own room so that they would be more comfortable! Sweet! This room has tons of storage space. There is a small sitting area with a round beryl-wood table and upholstered bucket chairs. There is a b-wood vanity table with a cushioned stool, gold trimmed mirror, 3 port holes, berylwood wainscoting throughout, custom moulding above that. The closet doors, front door, bath door, etagere (with tv and fridge), bath cabinets, end tables were all made from b-wood. There were two twin beds pushed together each covered with a gold bedspread. The carpet and drapes were a deep blue with gold design. There were plenty of lights and lamps and a reading lamp above each bed. The bathroom was salmon colored marble with gold fixtures. There was a small bottle of champagne on the table, a basket of fruit that was refilled each day, soda in the fridge and a few one-liter bottles of water which were also refilled every night. There was a blow dryer and the bathroom was stocked with toiletries.

After taking in this lovely room for a couple of minutes, I placed my jaw back where it belonged (instead of dangling on the floor) and left to go find our coordinator and others. That's when the captain caught me at the top of the stairs and asked, "Is this yours?" It was my green jacket! Yea! What great service. It was just the beginning of their dedication to customer service that I was to witness over the next week.

On the Lido deck we had a champagne reception (BTW, it was always good champagne from France that was served) where we were welcomed and enlightened on what to expect and where to find everything on board. We then had the requisite safety drill and then dinner. The dining area is lovely. By now we had already set sail-well technically we set "motor". We had departed a tad late (airport customs mess) and the captain wanted to get us on schedule. In the dining room there are tables holding anywhere between four to eight people. You can sit wherever or with whomever you want. We started off with a green salad with ribbons of beets, trout (not me. I'm mostly vegetarian so they easily accommodated me) and a horseradish dressing. Next came a pumpkin/ginger soup. There were two entrees to choose from (veal or cod) so I had the cod fillet (one of 5 types of fish I'll eat) encased in potato over truffle leeks. For desert we had a triple chocolate mouse with papaya ragout. Afterwards we were told about and where to find the assortment of cheeses, if we'd like. We were offered coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and a tray with chocolate candies was passed around. We were always offered red or white wine with dinner. (You can also have beer) Every night was a different wine from Italy, Germany, South Africa, etc. Beer and wine is always available at lunch and dinner and is included in your fare. If you want beer, wine or a cocktail before or after lunch/dinner, you charge it to your room.

I'll continue this later. I hope that it will be of use to anyone who is interested in cruising with Lindblad.
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Dec 24th, 2006, 08:51 AM
  #2  
Jed
 
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On the Linblad site, the rate for your room for double occupancy is $6390. Congratulations on getting this expensive trip free. It sounds wonderful.
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Dec 25th, 2006, 08:42 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Jed. And Merry Christmas! It's amazing that mine was one of the "cheapest" rooms, yet it was huge! BTW, This is turning into a much longer TR than I anticipated...but I must say, it's fun to re-live it.


After dinner, many of us were feeling the waves and feeling queasy. Some more so than others. They were offering an evening at the Lido Bar at 9:30 p.m. with their pianist. It's a lovely area of the ship. It's at the back (you'd think I'd know the proper term by now, but alas...) of the ship. The last half of the Lido Bar area is uncovered and is lined with comfortable wooden hammock type chairs. The other half of the Lido Bar is covered with a canvas awning. This is the area to congregate for a cocktail. It's also the place where our buffet lunch was always served. At 4 pm every day they had a "teatime" with pretty little no-crust sandwiches and sliced fruit, cheese, crackers and rolls, coffee and of course, tea. The Lido deck is a good place to grab some sun or shade with others because there are a lot of chairs and tables some in the full sun and many under shade. At 11:30 p.m. they always offered a late night snack on the Lido deck. I can't tell you what was offered as I never made it to the late night snack. I bet it was good though.

Our group decided to call it a night, meet in the morning for breakfast and decide what to do from there. We had 7 mornings left on this trip for shooting pictures so there was no hurry the first day. When I got back to my room, I saw that the bedspread had been removed and in its place was a soft and fluffy white comforter and a chocolate treat on my pillow. There was an itinerary for the next days events. I unfolded the white terry bathrobe which was placed on my bed and opened the package of slippers which were sitting next to the robe and got unpacked and settled in.
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Dec 25th, 2006, 09:19 AM
  #4  
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The next morning, I was a little groggy, a little nauseous, and a little anxious. I hadn't slept well. I really felt the ship rock all night so I never felt like I got a deep sleep. I was needing my coffee fix so I went to the Lido Bar where by 6 am they always had coffee, juices, cold water, small pastries, sliced fruit and rolls. Everything super fresh. One time I showed up right at 6 am sharp. I was so surprised to see that everything was laid out. I half expected to see one of the employees finishing up with the early morning layout, but everything was already out and ready for the guests. Plates, glasses, cups, silver wear, all of the food and most importantly, coffee. 6 am is a nice and quiet time to be out on the deck. I will say here that the coffee in the morning (I don't drink it any other time of day) was hit or miss the 5 early mornings that I made it here. I like semi-strong coffee. I'm not a big fan of Starbucks as I believe it's strong but not that flavorful. Watery coffee makes me want to gag. But I'll take Starbucks over watery coffee any day. A couple of times at 6 am, the coffee was too weak. A couple of times it was great and just what I needed. I took a cup and covered it with one of these neat little saucers that they had which are kind of molded like an ashtray. I think they were to be used by the hot tea drinkers, but they made handy coverings for your coffee mug. I wanted to cover my coffee mug to protect the carpets and floors as I carried my mug back to my room. I would be one lousy waitress. Especially at sea!

Every morning sometime before 6 am, someone would come along and place a rolled up "newspaper" on our door handles. They would print some news highlights on the front and back of standard sized sheets of paper. The newspaper was about 5 or 6 pages. I'm not sure about the regular news but the sports news was one day behind. On Tuesday I learned that two days prior, LT of the Chargers had broken the touchdown scoring record and was hoisted off the field by his offensive line. That was great news. I've been a Charger fan for 30 years.

After I returned to my room with coffee in hand, it was time to get ready for breakfast. The shower was a dream. Hot water, good pressure and did I mention all of that marble and beryl-wood? It was such a pretty bathroom, gold fixtures and all. I was off to the dining room for breakfast which was offered buffet style between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. They offered meats, cheeses, cereals, porridge, fruit, yoghurt, hard boiled eggs, over easy eggs, scrambled eggs, just a ton of stuff. They had orange juice, papaya juice, pineapple juice, get the picture? And now let me take time to mention the baker. Apparently they have this wizard of a baker who begins at midnight and bakes 'til 4 or 5 am every day. These are the best dang brown breads and rolls I have ever eaten. I never inquired as to the types of flour used but they reeked of healthy and delicious! People raved about the bread. A large variety of breads to choose from. In the dining room there were waiters who were always nearby to offer you anything you may need like coffee or more water.

From 7:30 to 8 am, K was leading an early-bird stretch and tone. 14 people showed up for her class. She was happy because that was the most she had led in a class before. K just had started with the company about 5 weeks prior. What a sweet young lady, and very knowledgeable in yoga, pilates, health and fitness.

At 9:15 a.m. we were invited to go to the Lido deck and learn about the sails, masts and rigging of the Sea Cloud II. Our expedition leader (I'll refer to him as "T") handed out diagrams and fully explained how the sails work (don't test me on this!) and was there to answer questions about the operation of the vessel. There are 3 masts and at least two dozen sails. I did learn something interesting that I remember. They don't typically open all of the sails when they want to go "full speed ahead". They open all of the sails when they want a photo-op. When they want the ship to really look great. But for practical purpose, if certain sails are opened up, they can interfere with the wind of other sails that are open and cause you to lose direction.

At 9:30 the crew hit the rig to add sails and the Captain explained the sailing maneuvers of the day. After that, our crew got ready to shoot. The models got ready and put their make-up on. The women that is. The men just used a light amount of powder to remove shine. No one was feeling very well. One male model had a stomach flu and almost had canceled the cruise. Add to that the constant movement of the sailing ship and he wasn't doing well at all. Some of us were trying to find our hidden sea legs. Most of our crew had not slept well. We were a small crew. 4 models, our stylist (let's call her E) who was the one we were to lean on and go to if we needed anything. Lastly, the photographer (S) and his assistant (A) who also shot photos. There was a couple of people from our group who never slept better! The other female model (I'll call her C) said she took some Dramamine and "slept like a baby". That expression always makes me think of the comic who said something like, "I slept like a baby last night, meaning that every two hours I woke up, cried and pooped my pants." In any case, E came to our rooms and helped us pick something to wear. E brought a ton of clothes and we brought some too. There was plenty of wardrobe to choose from. We took some shots between breakfast and lunch. We were in our swimsuits and cover-ups and went to the front of the ship to watch the crew fold up some of the sails they had set earlier. The wind was catching the sails in such a way as to push us slightly off course. They reverted to the ships engines to ensure we'd arrive on time to Bequia (BECK way). While the models watched the crew in action, S took pictures of us and the crew. He had to remind us a couple of times not to pay attention to him. In other words, no posing! He wanted to capture life on board in a natural way. So I started taking pictures of the crew as they drew in the sails. S took pictures of me taking pictures of the crew. Easy stuff!

Because a few from our group felt poorly, we took the afternoon off and so I went to the lounge to hear a lecture on the geological origins of the Caribbean. The lounge is a nice room that smells like leather because of all of the chairs and sofas in there. It's a bright room with large windows and can be darkened easily, making a great theater room, by drawing the hidden window shades and lowering a sizable screen from the ceiling. I found the lecture itself with slides to be interesting. After that I went to the gym and hopped on the treadmill for 45 minutes. They have an elliptical trainer and a Lifecycle too. They had free weights, Pilates balls, a portable fan and 3 port holes for a view of the sea. There were towels, water and apples nearby. K came by later to host for an hour and a half with the masseuse (G) an open house of the spa and fitness rooms.

At 7 p.m. we were invited to the Captains cocktail hour where the dress was "smart casual". Most men donned a jacket (no tie) and the women were mostly in a simple cocktail dress or nice trousers and a top. Champagne was flowing again. At 7:30 we made our way down one flight to the dining room. For dinner we were offered grilled scallops on ratatouille with sepia sauce, cappuccino of tomato (soup) with lamb filet skewer, and then grapefruit rosemary granitée with champagne to cleanse our palate. At this point F leaned over and asked me, "Does it seem to you that we never got our main course?" That gave me a chuckle. But after all, the grapefruit concoction DID look and taste like dessert. The entree was filet and braised shoulder of beef with small vegetable bouquet and white truffle sauce. I had a vegetable plate with a variety of mushrooms which was very good. For dessert an apple torte with sour cream parfait and Calvados sabayon. (I don't remember what in the heck that last one is.) I should look at my photos. I actually took photos of many of the different dishes so that my husband could see! The food was excellent but even more impressive is how the plates all looked as if they were stylized straight out of Bon Appetit Magazine. Martha would be proud! One of the models (F) left early. His stomach couldn't handle the sea sickness he felt.

Once again after dinner, I passed on the piano playing and socializing and went to my room. I was tired and was really hoping I'd settle down and sleep deep. The TV worked tonight. I have a bad habit of falling asleep with the TV and the timer on. They were showing two films on two stations. I was hoping that I could fall asleep to one of the films. I crawled in bed and realized that this wasn't going to work. The ship was rocking and rolling. With the rocking of the ship, the etagere doors closed on the TV. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to pull the TV out on its sliding shelf to prevent the etagere doors from closing on the TV. Along with the rocking of the ship came the "thump thump" sound of the doors hitting the pull out shelf holding the TV. The "thump thump" sound of wood hitting wood is not something that will enable you to fall asleep. I couldn't anyway. So I got out of bed and somehow affixed some of my socks to the TV shelf in order to soften the thumps of the etagere doors hitting it. The movies came to an end. No repeating of film, no more TV for me. By 4 a.m I turned the light on and started writing in my journal. I need to be up by 6. At 5 a.m. I turned the light off and hoped to get an hour of sleep. yeah, right.
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Dec 25th, 2006, 11:51 AM
  #5  
katybird
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So sorry the sailing was rough. Didn't you have any sea sickness remedies with you or go to the ship Dr. for something?
It sounds like a wonderful cruise except for the seasickness, of course.
Looking forward to your next post!
 
Dec 26th, 2006, 06:20 PM
  #6  
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Hi Katybird, I didn't go to the doctor for sea sickness out of denial I guess, but also because I didn't want to feel drugged while I was supposed to be looking peppy and happy. Everybody warned me I'd feel doped up! I would get waves of nausea (pardon the pun) but for me the MOST aggravating thing was being unable to relax enough to fall into a deep sleep. I suffered for 3 nights, but that was it. I finally went to see the doctor. But I'll pick up where I left off. Thanks for your encouragement....

Tuesday I was up by 6 so I could grab my coffee and a small soft pretzel type thing from the Lido deck. I munched on some grapes from the ever replenished fruit basket in my room, and I got ready for our scheduled 7 am photo shoot. The photo team was joining K for the half-hour morning stretch and tone class on the sun deck. The sun deck is a small deck located above the Lido deck. When not used in the early morning for the exercise class with K, it's a good place to hang out if you want to be outside in the sun and alone.

Here's a good time to mention the fact that this cruise also had on board "B & L", the videography team. They've been able to shoot amazing video on all of the Lindblad excursions. They film on a corporate, marketing level. If you go to their website http://www.expeditions.com/ you'll see a short video on the front page which they shot. They also had on this voyage a gal from Sweden who was a videographer. She took video for the passengers-so that they could have a personal memory of this specific trip. Mr. Lindblad said that we will all receive a dvd. I'm excited at the prospect!

This was a bad morning for me as I tossed and turned all night and arose with a very stiff back. The fact we were going to do a stretch and tone with K was a real benefit to me, as by the end of the 1/2 hour my back felt so much better! Unfortunately, internally, I felt worse. We thought the reason almost everyone felt queasy is because the deck is one level higher so you're going to feel the sway of the ship more. Contributing to the nausea is the fact that we were also trying to hold our balance in foreign positions to the sway of the ship, we were "working" after all. Both the photo and film crew were there. I was surprised at how I had so much trouble trying to balance myself. The yoga type poses were not the problem. The problem lies in feeling as if I were trying to strike a yoga pose on the Tea Cup ride at Disneyland. The other 3 had much better balance than I. Just writing this is making my stomach turn a little. Nevertheless, I was still hungry which is a good sign and I knew I needed my nourishment.

Today there was a gal making omelets. I saw her mixture of mixed eggs but I really prefer egg whites. I asked her if she had egg whites to which she replied, "Of course!" She explained she would be back as she needed to go into the adjacent kitchen to grab some. She made a great omelette and I felt slightly better. I passed on a lecture called, "The Real Pirates of the Caribbean" and laid down to rest. I told E where to find me and I was sincerely hoping I'd fall into a deep sleep if only for an hour. I couldn't sleep but I "powered down" for almost 2 hours before I heard a knock at my door. It was E with an outfit in her hands asking me to meet the gang in the lounge for some shots. By now we had docked near Port Elizabeth in Bequia. It was time for lunch but first there was a gathering on the Lido deck to explain how we would get into the zodiac boats to take us to shore. We then had a lunch buffet.

At the lunch buffets they always had a great fresh salad with all the fixins, even seeds and nuts, which I loved. My main course today was a vege lasagna. I really liked their lunch buffets. As a vegetarian who eats only about 5 types of fish, I can always find something to eat but often the pickings can be monotonous. Here, they always had several creative side dishes. Always very healthy options. I was one happy camper! I usually had an ice cold Carib beer with my lunch. Very nice.

We went back to our rooms for a new wardrobe selection and into the zodiacs. Here is how they keep track of you when you leave the ship. Before you're allowed to enter the zodiac, you must hand over your room card and let them swipe it into the computer. Your photo and name appear on their computer and it's recorded that you've left the ship. Upon your return, you let them swipe your card again. They always had someone standing there with moist towels and something to drink upon your return to the ship. Before leaving the ship for the zodiac, they have bottles of water out and available to bring with you if you'd like.

When landing at the dock we were greeted by open air taxis. Covered pick-ups with bench seats. Most of us got in the taxis while some of the passengers got out of the zodiacs just wanting to wander around the shops. These people could also wander around, and then take another zodiac to a nice beach for a day in the sun. Those of us who went in the taxis went first to the old fort. The only thing left of the fort are some cannons. We listened to a brief history of the island by a local whom Lindblad had hired, we took some pretty shots of the vista and then got back in the taxis which took us to the turtle sanctuary.

A local man has made it his mission in life to save the sea turtles. He captures them and cares for them for 3 years and then releases them into the wild, hoping that their size will give them a fighting chance. He releases them from the shores of many of the neighboring beaches in the islands of the Grenadines. He marks them by drilling a hole in a specific spot on their shell. Unfortunately, he has not yet discovered one of his saved turtles return to lay eggs. But that fact does not deter him.

The passengers had a choice of walking back to the port with K the wellness director or taking the cab. It was a 2 1/2 mile walk which was mostly down hill. And what beautiful scenery! The camera crew had our driver take us to a beach we had seen on the way to the turtle sanctuary. E gave me a swim suit and had me change in the bathroom of this tiny bar we had found attached to a tiny hotel. Talk about the middle of nowhere. It was a clean place to change and a clean place to use the restroom (which I'm always grateful to find). We went down to the shore and took lots of photos. It was so pretty. No posing, just walking back and forth. We jumped back in the taxi and went a little further to a beautiful scene of palm trees right on the beach with a great cove. Very nice! We then went to our last beach where we jumped in the water and played. S put his camera in a pouch that transforms a non waterproof camera into a waterproof camera. To quote him, "It's basically a $400 zip lock bag that works." While floating in the water, F lifted me up with an arm under my knees and one under my shoulders while S was shooting. S said, "Be careful where you point her butt. In the water everything is magnified! Her butt looked huge!" Aaahhh, music to my ears, just what a gal wants to hear. NOT!

This 3rd beach is the same beach that the zodiacs from our ship had been bringing the passengers to visit. We got on the last zodiac to the ship, got cleaned up and went to dinner. A half an hour before dinner, M gave a lecture on the types of fish we can expect to see tomorrow on our visit to Tobago. Dinner tonight was buffet style served on the Lido deck. They made it a BBQ night while we were docked off shore of Bequia. They decorated with palm tree leaves. It was festive. Here's some of what was offered. Avocado mango salad, potato salad with bacon, cabbage salad with caraway. Skewer of pork with passion fruit chutney, goat cheese in puff pastry, tuna in pepper crust with papaya chili salad. Chicken breast marinated with orange, spare ribs, rib eye steak, filet of lamb w/garlic, pork loin. A bunch of fish to chose from. More delicious stuff to mention but this report is already too long. Oh! They had a sushi chef too. I had salad, a prawn and I chose a pasta with a white truffle sauce as my main course. They had a big barrel sized wheel of fresh parmesan cheese. They heated the noodles with the mushrooms in a skillet, slipped the hot noodles from the skillet into the wheel of parmesan cheese and quickly scraped fresh cheese around the noodles, kind of like tossing it in a wheel of cheese. Oh baby that was some good pasta.


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Dec 31st, 2006, 11:53 AM
  #7  
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Tonight for entertainment they had "The King of Strings" on the Lido deck. They are a Bequian home-grown calypso band. Speaking of home-grown, the singer arrived on board feeling no pain. I remember thinking if I could have a tad of whatever it was that he was on, I bet I'd sleep well. ha! I can laugh now, but then I was so desperate for sleep it was the only thing on my mind. Nevertheless, he was able to sing and entertain in spite of the fact that he was having a bit of trouble keeping his balance. The band and its music was fun and added to the festive feeling of the evening. Tonight T told us that we were one day shy of optimum viewing for a meteor shower. T said that they would dim the lights at the back of the Lido deck to enable the guests to get a better view. We were scheduled to depart Bequia at midnight. The ship had zodiacs running back and forth to Port Elizabeth. I was pooped so I went back to my room to write in my journal and watch the movie "The Pirates of the Caribbean". My goal and major desire was to fall asleep BEFORE we set sail at midnight in search of one nights deep sleep.

Wednesday morning: NO SLEEP! I was stunned. In my mind I tossed and turned all night. I know it's not possible that I've gone 3 nights without sleep, but in my mind I never fell asleep. I woke up to the alarm and realized that I had been dreaming, so I KNOW I slept, but yet even in my dream I have the sense that I am on the ship and rocking and rolling with the waves. Fixing the problem was the only thing to do.

I went up to the Lido deck for my 7:30 am modeling call. I was really beside myself. I was thinking, "What if I go the whole week without sleep? I CAN'T go the whole week without sleep!" In talking with E, I started tearing up out of frustration explaining how frustrated I was. I was loopy too. Lack of sleep was affecting my speech. I had trouble speaking, finding the right words. People would fill in my speech. I'd walk up the stairs instead of down them to my room. I was just out of it. She said, "Do you want to go now and see the doctor?" I agreed and went to see him. He wasn't in his office so I went to the reception desk. He has open office hours 1 hour a day usually in the early morning. The rest of the time he is on call. She called him and we met in his office about 15 minutes later. He must have been in a hurry as he came into his office sans shoes! I said, "Your feet must be freezing." He just kind of shrugged it off.

After a consultation he checked all of my vital signs and asked questions about my health. He asked if I'd ever taken Valium. I told him that it worked great for me once while traveling from Guatemala to LAX. At that time, I was flying with my mother who had brought Valium due to her fear of flying. I had caught a bad head cold while in Guatemala. I had never heard of ear pain while flying with a head cold. We were headed to LAX with a stop first in El Salvador. As the plane ascended, I thought my ear drums were going to burst! The pain! The flight attendant took two small Styrofoam cups and placed two steaming hot paper towels in each cup. I clasped the cups over my ears which brought MINOR relief. On the descent into San Salvador the pain was just as sharp. When we took off for LAX I thought I'd pass out from the pain. That's when my mom mentioned Valium. I was out in 5 minutes. Hooray for Valium! Hooray for the doctor too!

I left the ship hospital and Dr. Nice Guy with hope in my hand in the shape of a few small Valium pills. I went back to the photo shoot, got some breakfast, and put on a swimsuit. We were now anchored off shore at Man O' War bay in Tobago! This view of the island was so gorgeous. So very, very green. Unfortunately my camera doesn't capture the lush green beauty that I'm witnessing. The air was still and warm. The water was warmer still. I could hear the water lapping the side of the ship. It will be a long time before I forget the beauty of this bay. I really soaked it in.

We were going to get our pictures taken while swimming, relaxing on floats and while jumping in the water off of a platform of the ship. At the platform they were handing out orange juice, ice cold champagne, or mimosas (for courage). I tried to dive off of the platform but totally wussed out and jumped off holding my nose shut. Later I tried to dive off of one of the steps but pretty much did a belly flop. They probably won't use that one in the brochure.

After this nice dip and photo op, we got cleaned up, had lunch and got ready for our visit to Tobago. The ship sailed around to the other side of Tobago to Charlottesville. We took the zodiacs into Charlottesville where we met up with some air conditioned small busses at the port. The camera and film crew got in one bus and we were driven up and over a hill though this green island to a place called the Blue Waters Inn. They have a dock where we were to meet some glass bottom boats from a company called No Fear.

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Jan 3rd, 2007, 11:11 AM
  #8  
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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On the bus ride to meet up with the No Fear boats, there was a guide who filled us in on life in Tobago. I really enjoyed the stunning lush green ride up and over a hill while our guide gave us lots of info. We arrived about 20 minutes later and walked to the dock where we put on some small life vests and hopped in the boats. Our guide handed out cards with photos of fish which showed many of the fish we were to see. We saw what we were told to be the largest piece of brain coral in the world. We motored over to Little Tobago. It's a tiny uninhabited island filled with birds. The first birds you see are the feral chickens which really are not afraid of us at all. I watched a couple of them go after some fresh papaya which had fallen from the tree above. The camera crew hung out while the other passengers went on ahead up the hill to the two lookouts we were to see.

We took our pictures and came to a great look-out view of Tobago. We had seen many different birds. F got a photo of two bright blue birds hanging upside down in a tree. We continued onward and upward through the dense green forest and came to a lookout point where we saw scores of Red-billed Tropicbirds flying, cawing and diving all around near us. They weren't diving on top of us as we were sheltered by a gazebo type structure and a safety railing. Our guide told us that in the late afternoon you can be assured of witnessing this dance from these birds. They nest from November to March. What a beautiful view of blue sky, navy waters smashing on to the rocky beach far below and these white birds with long tails and a speck of red and black on them flying every which way. The air was warm. It was perfect.

As we descended toward the dock and No Fear boats we took more pictures. We got in the boats and stopped before reaching shore so that anyone who was interested could go snorkeling. We had brought snorkeling equipment with us from the ship. We were right near this tiny Goat Island which had one home on it and nothing more. It was formally owned by Ian Fleming the author of James Bond. I think it's for sale

http://www.luxuryrealestate.com/567916

Anyway, it's an amazing sight to see this large house all by itself on an island. You say to yourself, "jeeze louise, when they come to vacation here, I guess they must really stock up on stuff!" I mean, if you want to go and get something, you have to get in your boat and motor for about 10 minutes to the dock and hope that the tiny hotel Blue Waters Inn has what you need. I wondered how long it took to build the house. Not an easy assignment.

After snorkeling for 20 minutes or so, we motored on back to the dock. Already ashore were the other passengers and two smiling local women who handed out beer, soda, juice, water, or rum punch to all of us. Wow! What a great idea arranged by Lindblad. My beer was ice cold and hit the spot. We walked back to the busses and took the air conditioned ride back to Charlottesville where we got on the zodiacs to take us back to the ship. There was someone from the ships crew to say, "Welcome home" and who then swiped my card and someone else handing out moist towels and another held a tray with cold chocolate milk and cold strawberry milk. I hadn't had chocolate milk in a long time and that hit the spot too.

Got cleaned up for dinner and found myself sitting next to a delightful man, Mr.A. Mr. A is 91 years young. Up until one month ago when he hurt his foot he was playing tennis! Here's a good time to say that on these cruises you are bound to meet some very interesting people. Most of the passengers were over 60. All of the passengers had the energy of someone 30 years old. These people are adventurers. They are on this cruise to see and do. The great thing is that they've spent their life seeing and doing which makes for some great stories. Mr. A epitomized the Lindblad passenger. Instead of speaking of his travels tonight, I learned of his work. He was involved with NASA from its infancy. He's met several presidents and knew a few pretty well. I was enraptured. I kept thinking of my husband. I knew how much he'd love to be sitting here asking Mr. A lots of questions. What a great dinner.

There was a meteor shower so they dimmed the lights on the ship in order to see the shooting stars. I would have LOVED to have seen it, as every July or August I try to see the Perseids but haven't had much luck due to cloud cover or too many city lights. But I had a date tonight with Mr. Valium and I did NOT intend to be late. By 10:10, down the hatch, within 15 minutes, lights out! Next thing you know, I awoke at 6 am not groggy but just elated! Ten minutes later my alarm goes off. I am one happy camper.
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