Atlantis Alumni

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Health Care Again

I'm still confused. I'm actually tired of the word "terrorist". I'm also tired of the two words "health care". It's done, let's move on. Here's some hard questions:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me.
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

All from a famous Jewish philosopher, a guy named Hillel. The questions resonate loudly today.

Oh yes and one more - That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow... You know, the Golden Rule.

I think about both of these sayings the minute I wake up in the morning. Maybe all you readers on the net should think about them too.



THE BQE- A Film By Sufjan Stevens from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Topsy-Turvey Morality Of The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church powerful, including homophobic Pope Ratzinger, have been shielding child molester priests for years, while at the same time demonizing decent gay men and lesbians. Shame on Ratzinger and his ilk.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Polarized Country

We live in a country where each side of the ideologial spectrum really hates the other, and the fringes are at vatious times are prepared to act out on their hatred. I guess this is nothing new. We've had home grown right wing terrorists and home grown left wing terrorists in my lifetime. What a country.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Return To A Much Loved Hobby

I used to really enjoy underwater photography. I had forgotten just how much I enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving until our cruise last week. I had the opportunity to go snorkeling in four great locations: CoCo Cay (Bahamas); St. Barts (FWI); St. John (USVI); and Caya Levantado (DOminican Republic.) In the Bahamas, Dan bought me an inexpensive point and shoot camera in an underwater housing. I was able to use this camera throughout our trip. Here are some images that you can click on to enlarge.

From St. John (Blue Tang):

A Blue-headed Wrasse in Caya Levantado:

A friend in the Bahamas:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great Trip!

We're back after a very enjoyable week in the Carribbean. This pic was taken before dinner in the grand salon on board the Celebrity Solstice on our last evening.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic

Our final port of call on Friday was Samana in the Dominican Republic. We opted to spend the day at the beach on the beautiful private island of Cayo Levantado. The beautiful white sand beach and warm, clear turquoise waters were great for swimming. There is a shallow coral reef just off the beach that offers very good snorkeling. We enjoyed the day with our friends from New York, Harvey and Adrian. For lunch Dan and I had local fresh caught grilled fish with rice and beans. Back on board the Celebrity Solstice, the special dinner included lobster and Baked Alaska, the traditional culinary highlights of the Captain’s Dinner. Today we’re sailing back to Ft. Lauderdale with a scheduled arrival early Sunday morning. We’ll catch a flight back to Philadelphia and be home by late afternoon. It felt great to spend a week in the tropics.

On the beach at Cayo Levantado: Dan, Adrian (seated), and harvey

A feathered friend floats nearby:

Our pre-dinner photo:

Friday, March 12, 2010

St. Thomas, USVI

One of the most popular ports of call for cruise ships is St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the shopping capital of the Caribbean. Shuttles take you from the pier to the downtown area. Countless shops selling jewelry, liquor, clothing, and souvenirs line the quaint streets of Charlotte Amalie, the largest town on St. Thomas. We went into town for a stroll and to pick up a few small items before returning to the ship to take a half-day excursion to nearby St. John for swimming and snorkeling. The trip to St. John was by catamaran boat staffed by a young enthusiastic crew determined to make it a fun day for all on board. St. John is a beautiful island and a part of the U.S. National Park system. We anchored about 50 yards off a secluded beach. Dan went swimming while I took the opportunity to snorkel. After about an hour and a half we returned to St. Thomas. Food and rum punch, champagne, and beer were provided on the catamaran, and we had quite a nice party. Once back on board the Celebrity Solstice, we enjoyed an evening cocktail at one of our favorite spots on board, the Martini Bar. This bar features an ice coated bar surface, and showman bartenders adept at mixing many Martinis at once. After dinner we relaxed while the ship steamed toward our next destination: the Dominican Republic.

The view from our cabin: Charlotte Amalie harbor:

The shopping district:

Harvey, Adrian, and Dan at the beach in St. John:

Martinis, Martinis, Martinis:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Barthelemy...WOW!

Yesterday we visited the small and exclusive island of St. Barth’s, a hilly, lush French resort that caters to the rich and famous and average tourists alike. The ship arrived late due to weather conditions en route South. Nevertheless, as soon as we arrived around 3:30 PM we boarded a dive boat that took us to our snorkeling location. We spent about an hour snorkeling in the clear waters enjoying the colorful tropical fish before returning to the ship to shower and dress for dinner. We had made reservations on line at The Wall House, a highly rated gourmet French restaurant in Gustavia, the only town on St. Barth’s. Walking to the restaurant we passed many trendy shops and restaurants. At our table we overlooked the harbor. The food was absolutely wonderful. Dan had the prix fix dinner which included crab ravigotte, a crab casserole with avocado sauce, gnocci with a cheese sauce, a fresh grouper entrĂ©e, and an almond paste cake for dessert. Jim ordered a leek salad, escargot and spinach ravioli, grilled fresh-caught red snapper, and a chocolate tart dessert. The food and wine, a Cote du Rhone, were the most delicious we’ve enjoyed in a long time. The meal reminded us just how excellent French cuisine can be. We returned to the ship after dinner and the ship left the port later that night. Our visit to St. Barth’s was all too short. It’s a lovely French-flavored Caribbean getaway.

St. Barth's:

We went snorkelling...our dive boat:

The Town of Gustavia:

On board the dive boat:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Day At Sea

The Celebrity Solstice steamed South on Tuesday. The distance between the Bahamas and our next port of call, St. Barthelemy (St. Barth’s) is over 900 nautical miles. We’re supposed to arrive at St. Barth’s sometime around 3 PM today. The weather has been quite cool and windy at sea. Very few passengers are using the outdoor pools and yesterday we had a rain storm at about 4 PM. We’re all hoping that it will be sunny and warmer once we get to St. Barth’s, where we have a snorkeling trip planned. I went to the 70s disco tea party yesterday before we joined Harvey and Adrian for cocktails and dinner.

A view onboard the Celebrity Solstice:

70s disco anyone?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CoCoCay, Bahamas

CoCo Cay, Bahamas

We anchored early Monday morning off a private island in the Bahamas known as CoCo Cay. The island is owned by three different cruise companies and offers a wide range of watersports and beautiful beaches. Since it’s a private island, concerns such as safety of personal effects are not a problem. We took a tender ashore and quickly found semi-shaded beach chairs under palm trees. The snorkeling at this beach was a lot of fun with sunken ships, canons, and airplanes offering interesting backdrops to the colorful tropical fish that are in abundance. Spanish Hogfish, Tangs, Sergeant Majors, Barracuda, Spiny Boxfish, Parrotfish, Angelfish, and Blue Devils, were just some of the varieties easily spotted while snorkeling. I bought an inexpensive underwater 'point and shoot' camera and took some underwater photos. We spent a leisurely half day on shore before taking the tender back to the ship. The ship set sail for the Caribbean (over 900 miles to the South) around 5 PM. I went to one of my favorite on-board events, a dance party at 5 PM. The “Dog Tag Tea Dance” is a popular dance party on all Atlantis cruises. The theme is military dress and I packed a couple of military themed apparel items. After the dance we met our friends from Manhattan, Harvey and Adrian, at the popular Martini bar for a cocktail. We had dinner together and went to the comedian show afterward. By the time we hit the pillows we were pretty worn out, but felt great to have had such a fun day in the Bahamas and on board the Celebrity Solstice.

This is CoCoCay:

Jim and Dan at the Dog Tag Tea Dance on board the Celebrity Solstice:

Adrian, Harvey, and Dan on shore at CoCoCay:

The Celebrity Solstice anchored off of CoCoCay:

Monday, March 8, 2010

From Cococay, Bahamas

We survived the great blizzards of 2010, and Nikko turned 18 on March 1. We booked a Caribbean cruise on Atlantis and so this morning we’re anchored off a small private resort island, Coco Cay, in the Bahamas.

We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday. Our good friend Howard picked us up at the airport and we stayed with him and his doggie Rico Saturday evening at his lovely home. Howard cooked us a really tasty dinner on Saturday evening…one of his great recipes for Tilapia. Howard is a terrific host and a real friend.

Howard drove us to Port Everglades Sunday afternoon where we boarded the Celebrity Solstice, a huge, beautiful new ship that holds 2,800 passengers. We sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale late Sunday afternoon. Today it’s time to jump in the water and spend some time with the colorful, tropical salt water fish. They are nature’s beautiful living works of art.

On board the Solstice leaving Ft. Lauderdale

Our host's beautiful tropical garden:


Howard's beautiful home in Tamarac: