Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Personalized Cabin Door

Many passengers decorate their cabin doors aboard Atlantis Events gay cruises. This was our door on the last cruise this March.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gay Dance Club San Juan

This is Oceano, a gay club in San Juan, the site of one of the Atlantis Events Exotic Southern Caribbean pre-cruise parties.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Authentic Local Food In San Juan

On a recommendation we tried the restaurant "Latin Star" in San Juan. The food was pretty good and very authentic. MY favorite dish to order is seafood Mofongo...made with plantains.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unusual Daffodil

There are tons of beautiful yellow daffodils along the Schuylkill Banks walk, but only one orange hybrid that Dan spotted. I wish I had this color in our gardens here in Philadelphia and on Fire Island.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Home After A Fun Trip

This picture was taken Friday on the final evening of our Caribbean cruise.

Friday, March 23, 2012

St. Barths...The Best Of Trip!

French St. Barthelemy…what can you say about a place that makes you feel so wonderful and offers you so much? Returning to this lovely island yesterday I anticipated much. But St. Barths didn’t disappoint. The natural beauty of the island combined with the feeling of being somewhere truly special…over the rainbow….was almost overwhelming for me. Since this was our third annual visit to St. Barths, we are familiar with it and I have grown to really love the place. For me it is truly a home away from home, more so than anywhere else in the world that we have visited repeatedly. Our visit this year was only for a day, but what a day! This week the island is hosting the annual “Bucket Regatta,” so Gustavia harbor was filled with beautiful sailboats with exotic names and home base registrations from London, Georgetown, Valletta, etc. We had a delicious lunch at Wall House restaurant, where the food is always wonderful and the owner always gracious. I spent the day with my young dive master Jean, who took me twice to the depths in the beautiful waters surrounding the island. While I previously dived this week in Grenada and Dominica, my best dives and my best diving photographs were in St. Barths. The island was crowded with people here for the regatta, so we were unable to have dinner as planned at Eddy’s, which was completely reserved. But there is no shortage of great places to dine on St. Barths, and so we enjoyed a fine and leisurely French dinner at The Palace restaurant. Leaving for out ship after dinner we passed the spectacularly illuminated row of sailboats in the harbor. The longing for this beloved place that I have is mitigated only by my determination to return.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scuba Dominica

My diving in Dominica was quite good. Spending my time underwater in Dominica I didn't encounter any unpleasantness in regard to my sexuality. Our dive boat was full of about two dozen or more divers from our ship. We visited two sites: "La Sorciere," and "Champagne." La Sociere is a wall dive site with a drop off to 750 feet, so it is necessary to watch your depth carefully. The main attraction are the sponges and crinoids. Champagne is a moderately shallow reef dive that ens at a very shallow underwater hot vent that bubbles like champagne. You can see the bubbles coming out of the sand on the bottom in the photo of one of my dive mates,

About The Arrests In Dominica

Two of our fellow passengers were arrested in Dominica yesterday and charged with indecent exposure and "buggery" while they were on board the ship. Apparently someone was watching the ship very closely. The ship was docked
at a pier that is probably a couple of hundred yards from shore. While I think having sex on your balcony was not a great idea in port, someone must have been using binoculars or some such in order to be able to spot the guys and identify the cabin location. I can see authorities not permitting the offenders on shore, but arresting them and detaining them? I disagree with Atlantis' policy of visiting these places with homophobic laws. My husband was on a trolley tour of the town and they were subjected to homophobic slurs. Who needs it? Why give them our dollars?

Prejudice In Dominica

PREJUDICE IN DOMINICA Our fourth stop, the island of Dominica, is yet another Caribbean nation. It was founded by the French but became English for most of its colonial past. In the morning I took two different tours. One was a bus that transported tourists to a mountainside where we saw the grand Trafalgar Falls. They are actually two separate water falls, both flowing down the volcanic rock in lush rain forests. Bright orange land crabs scurried along the paths, surprising us as we walked up a series of steep steps to reach a viewing platform. Our guide Elvira added extra sites to the tour: a sulfur spring and the botanical garden in the capital town of Roseau, where our Celebrity ship the Summit was docked. Trees from Africa, Asia and Madagascar grew huge in the Botanical Garden. My second tour was an orange trolley that drove through the town. The stops were the Botanical Garden (explained in more detail), the Catholic Cathedral and a lookout point slightly outside Roseau, on a high road. Past the Market we encountered hostile stares and some men shouting mocking words at us, as all the inhabitants knew that the Summit had brought gay passengers to their island this week. Roseau is a small, ramshackle town blighted by poverty. It’s this terrible poverty in the Caribbean, combined with ignorance that gives rise to the prejudice. Earlier the first guide, Elvira, had said that she liked the openness of American gay men, because as she said, then ‘you know where you stand.’ But she also explained that gay men were not considered acceptable in Dominica. Earlier she had mentioned that there were five women for every man on the island. Someone asked why, and she said that most of the men left the island to find work elsewhere. So the trip to Dominica was marred by the sad facts of the island’s poverty and prejudice, which go hand in hand. --Dan

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sailing In Barbados

We took a late afternoon sail on a large catamaran in Barbados. It was a two hour cruise along the shore. Drinks and munchies were served.

Visiting Barbados

VISITING BARBADOS While Jim made some sea turtle friends (see his photos) I took an excursion by bus to a few interesting places. Our first stop was Tyrol Cot. Originally built by Austrians (thus, ‘Tyrol’) this cottage was actually a plantation house. Barbados formerly and until today has sugar as its primary export crop, and the island is covered with cane fields. Tyrol Cot is famed for being the home of the first Prime Minister, Sir G. Adams and his wife. Both were active in pursuing freedom and education for the population and as a result the island has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Prime Minister Adams himself was educated in law on a scholarship at Oxford. The house is full of Victorian furniture but also photos of the family. Later generations left the house as a museum, to the state, after the death of Lady Grace Adams around 1989. From Tyrol Cot, our bus traveled to another parish, St. John’s where we saw an old church of the same name. This mid-19th century church has an amazing graveyard, full of gigantic stone tombs and aging Banyon trees. One of the tombs was that of Ferdinando Paleologus, descendant of the last Emperor of the Byzantine Empire at Constantinople. Since I once wrote a long work of fiction that included a scene describing the Fall of Constantinople, this was a fascinating tomb for me to see. Ferdinando died in the mid 17th century, and one wondered how he wound up in Barbados. From the peaceful church and graveyard our bus travelled on to Orchid World. I’ve never seen so many orchids in my life, and a hand-out revealed that there are over 100,000 orchid hybrids found in greenhouses in addition to 30,000 orchid species found worldwide, growing (usually without soil) in every conceivable habitat on the earth. The vivid colors of the orchids were fun to photograph before we left and returned to the ship. Barbados is one of the more impressive and friendly Caribbean islands, as the sailors and captain on our catamaran later in the day were to prove, when we took a sail at the end of the day. – Dan

A Close Encounter Of The Turtle Kind

Yesterday in Barbados I had to opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles. These remarkable creatures are protected by law in Barbados with heavy fines for anyone who harms them. They are fun to interact with, not shy especially when offered tidbits of fish, and very photogenic. There had to be almost two dozen of them near our boat...all Green turtles except for one Hawksbill that swam on the bottom but didn't come up to feed and join the visitors (us) to his underwater kingdom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scuba Diving In Grenada

I had a great time yesterday while scuba diving in Grenada. The dive site was Flamingo Bay. I did two dives and I got to use my new dive computer as well as the underwater housing for my great Panasonic Lumix camera. I took about 120 photographs. Today I'll do some snorkelling with the turtles!

Industries Of Grenada

Photos: Welcome to Grenada; Westerhall Distellery; cruise ships and St. Georges, Grenada INDUSTRIES OF GRENADA Since Jim was underwater photographing the fishes, it was left to me to document the island of Grenada. My photos show the town of St. George, a garden at a nutmeg factory and the ancient stills at a rum distillery. Grenada is a small island, only 21 miles long, where 9,000 people live. Tourism is the main industry, but the island is also famed for its spices. The colonization of Grenada passed back in forth from the 17th to the 20th centuries between France to England, until independence. Though perhaps not as poor as some Caribbean islands, it’s easy to tell that life must be a struggle for most of its inhabitants. Like Montserrat and St. Barth’s, the terrain is mountainous, and there are also many beaches, the usual for most islands in this part of the world. On my jitney excursion our first stop out of the crowded harbor town was a factory that made products from nutmeg. “De la Grenade” also featured a colorful garden that showed living examples of all the types of spices and fruit trees that grow on the abundant island. There were close to sixty, and they included cinnamon, almond, mango, clove, nutmeg, different types of bananas, cocoa, guava, the peculiar noni, tumeric, rosemary, soursop, lemongrass, papaya and breadfruit, among many others. Our guide to the place handed scraps of bark and leaves to the tourists to sniff. After the garden tour, we trotted up to the factory where samples of nutmeg syrup and nutmeg liquors were offered. The locals were friendly but tried repeatedly to sell long strings of dried spices that one doubts would be allowed back into the States by customs officials. Our second stop, after another drive on the winding roads, was at the Westerhall Estates, a rum factory. It started out in the 17th century, when the most important industry on the island was sugar production. In the 19th century, when the price of sugar plummeted, the planters switched to making rum. The ruins of the Estates included gigantic stills, some dating back the 17th century. Though I didn’t sample any, my shipmates on the tour tasted various varieties of rums, a few of them in the 130 proof range. These local industries on the island showed how difficult it was and is, to wrest a living from the green islands of the Caribbean, despite their lush natural beauty I arrived back on the ship around noon and my waterlogged spouse came back a few hours later, famished (since there was no lunch on the dive boat), and with all his documents (such as his wallet) and other belongings soaking wet. But he was elated that he had spent so much time seeing all of the wonders of King Neptune’s underwater realm. Later Jim slurped down multiple rum punches at the Atlantis Alumni Party, near the pool, while I read a Peter Carey novel in the solarium and back in our cabin. We enjoyed dinner with new acquaintances before taking a long and restful sleep. Today, it’s on to Barbados. - Dan

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Day At Sea

Sunday was a day at sea for us on board the Atlantis chartered Celebrity Summit. After breakfast we utilized the track for a 2 mile walk. Then we spent time poolside (Jim) and in the solarium (Dan.) The solarium is a glass enclosed pool on the same deck as the outdoor pool. Lunch was a sumptuous brunch that included an extensive array of entrees and a tasty assortment of desserts. Cruises are not designed for dieters. In the late afternoon Atlantis sponsored the “dog tag” tea dance. The theme was military and passengers came prepared with costumes for this as well as the other theme parties of the cruise. Today we’re in Grenada, the small island that the U.S. invaded back in the 1980s.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Returning To San Juan

RETURNING TO SAN JUAN The island of Puerto Rico is much more beautiful than one remembered, with its lush green vegetation and surrounding oceans of aquamarine and deep azure blue. The Condado, in San Juan, with all its giant hotels facing the beach, gleams in the sun. The Condado, where we stayed, is a neighborhood that jostles smart boutiques alongside welcoming, small-scale neighborhood restaurants, like the Latin Star, where Jim so enjoyed his mufungo with crab. A short taxi ride away, Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) beckons with its history of global domination, represented by the huge fortresses of stone that still symbolically dominate the city. Besides our walking through one of the fortresses, San Cristobal, we were able to wander the streets both on foot and by the free tourist trolley. Countless buildings are being restored, some of them still mere shells. The restored old 18th and early 19th century houses are now painted in bright colors: salmon, lapis blue, pink and chartreuse. The intense sun turns this world of back street houses into a stage set for a Hollywood operetta. But at the same time you notice the shouts of Puertorican Spanish, the smells of cooking plantain, or beans with rice, staples here for hundreds of years. Before we took a taxi back to the Marriot Hotel to check out, we even had time to explore the large building of the Galleria Nacional. In that museum we saw some rooms filled with the work of local artists, stretching from the colonial days down through the Academic realism of the 19th century to the everyday scenes and Cubist-influenced portraits of the mid 20th century. Vibrant and colorful, but also sometimes dark with the despair of poverty, these paintings remain witness to life on the island that still remains the Eastern entrance to the Caribbean Ocean. Though we’re now on the sea on the way to Grenada, the short trip to Puerto Rico made us hope we will once again return to this unique island. Dan Evans

Old San Juan

It’s been about 20 years since we’ve been to San Juan. Much has changed it appears for the better. While there is still some restoration going on particularly in Old San Juan, the city looks very good. On Sunday we visited Old San Juan, We started at one of the two big fortresses, San Cristibal, built during the 18th century. The ruins in San Juan are administered by the U.S. National Park service. First we viewed a very nice video before our self-guided visit to the fortress. It is a very photogenic locale. After the fortress we boarded the free sightseeing trolley that circumnavigates Old San Juan. The buildings in the old town are painted in vibrant colors. After our trolley ride we walked down the main street in Old Town…Calle Foteleza until we found a great local restaurant El Punte, where we had our lunch. I particularly enjoy the local dish Mufungo…cooked plantains combined with seafood, chicken or meat. After lunch we returned to the hotel, picked up our bags, and made our way to our ship. Boarding was relatively smooth this time probably because this ship is a bit smaller than we are used to holding about 2,000 passengers. We had a delightful dinner and watched the show by a performer calling herself Dame Edna before retiring for the night. Today, Monday will be a relaxing day at sea. Tomorrow we will visit Grenada.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

San Juan's Upscale Resorts

These photos are at our hotel in San Juan, the Marriott Solaris Resort and Casino. It's really a beautiful place. The Condado district of San Juan is full of luxury hotels with beautiful beachfront amenities. Things have really become fancy probably with the advent of gambling here. The ocean is a delight although it was a bit rough due to the strong breeze we have here. This morning we'll head down to Old San Juan for some sightseeing. After lunch we'll make preparations to board our ship, the Celebrity Summit, for our cruise. First stop will be the island of Grenada on Monday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lovely San Juan

A dip in the ocean, an afternoon poolside, warm tropical breezes, rum drinks...what more can we say? The photos show us on the balcony of our room...with a great scenic ocean view. The view out of the airplane window shows our approach to the airport. The peninsula in the distance is Old San Juan. Tomorrow we will go to Old San Juan and spend the morning before boarding our cruise ship in the afternoon. The Celebrity Solstice sails for Grenada Saturday evening.