Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grand Turk

This was our last port before returning to Ft. Lauderdale.  Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands.  In 1973 the Turks & Caicos became a separate Crown Colony of Great Britain.

100_2479Grand Turk is renowned among snorkelers and scuba divers.  Its waters are crystal clear and support a thriving coral reef and abundant marine life.    It was here that astronaut John Glenn splashed down in Friendship 7 after orbiting the earth.


Many passengers spent the day at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, which offered dining, a swimming pool including a flow rider and a trading post all right at the pier.

P4161407Don did the stingray excursion that day.  After the traditional British fish and chip lunch at the ships Wheelhouse Bar, we headed ashore to do a little sightseeing.  I left him on the pier to meet his tour guide and headed back onboard to watch Julie and Julia in the theatre. DSC_0047

You can call me a wimp, but I did not fancy dozens of these creatures swimming around me and brushing up against my legs.  Hey, this is open water, not Discovery Cove  where the barbs are removed and the safety of the guests is the #1 priority.   By the way, Discovery Cove is a fabulous place to spend a day if you are in Orlando.

Tomorrow will probably be my last cruise post.  I want to show some of the beautiful features of the ship itself.  We really loved the Emerald Princess.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Thomas

This stop in the US Virgin Islands was my favorite.  It really is a little bit of paradise with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.  The United States bought the Virgin Islands for 25 million dollars during the First World War.  St. Thomas is the capital of this group of islands.

P4151359 Once again, the water was incredible.  What gorgeous blues.


We booked a sail and snorkel tour for this port and it was one of the best excursions ever.  We met with our large group on the pier and then were led to the catamaran where we removed our shoes and climbed on board.  The crew was young and fun, with Johnny (jokingly referred to as Fabio) being our tanned, muscled, and long blonde haired captain.

P4151365 This was my first time on a sailing vessel of this size.  We were soon out of the harbor and the sails were raised for the trip to Buck Island.

P4151368 We were soon away from our ship at the pier and on our way.  The trip took around 45 minutes – plenty of time to visit with a very interesting and diverse group of people.

Castaway%20girl%20tour%20guideOur snorkel guide was a lot of fun, not to mention an amazing swimmer.  He would dive twenty or more feet to pick things off the bottom and bring them to the surface to show us.  He gave me a scare when he dove down to a shipwreck and swam through it.  He seemed to be inside for way too long and I started to panic because there was no one in the group capable of diving down to save him.  He could certainly hold his breath for a long time.

We saw quite a variety of coral, tropical fish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins.  There were groups of scuba divers swimming below us and a group of people riding sea scooters.  The only way to know you were coming up to a bunch of them was the group of buoys floating on the water.  I’ve never seen such strange contraptions. 

The sail back to the pier had a real party atmosphere.  The crew played loud 80’s rock music and the rum punch flowed freely. 

P4151361After a quick trip back to the ship to change, we headed to Charlotte Amalie for a little shopping.  There was a small group of shops on the pier, but it was better to head downtown.  Many of the passengers had told me that St. Thomas was the best place in the Caribbean to buy jewelry.  After seeing just how many jewelry stores there were, I believe them.  I made a quick purchase of Pandora beads and some t-shirts, then we went back to the ship. 


 Lots of these guys made their home around the pier.

It had been a great day and we had formal night to look forward to in the evening.  Time has flown by and there is only one more port to visit. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Emerald Princess Chef’s Table

It was a wonderful surprise when our cabin steward delivered our invitation from the Executive Chef.  This is a very limited opportunity with only six couples chosen per night.  There were approximately 3400 passengers on this cruise.  It began with “Dear Mr. & Mrs. Rogers – It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Emerald Princess Galley and an evening at the Chef’s Table on Wednesday, 14th April”.  Our group of six couples was met by the Maitre d'hôtel (Nicola Furlan) at the International Cafe in the Piazza Deck at 7 pm.

Our gourmet extravaganza began as we all donned lab coats and were paraded through the dining room and into the galley.  We washed up as Mr. Furlan and Chef Christophe Belin told us about the operation of the 17 galleys onboard and the running of the largest staff and department on the ship.


We were served champagne and hors d’oeuvres in the galley and enjoyed a visit from Captain Marco Fortezze.

P4141339 We were then led out of the galley, removed our lab coats and were taken to our specially decorated table in the dining room.   There were bouquets of beautiful flowers, candlelight, sparking glassware and pretty china.


We were served multiple courses of fabulous gourmet food.  The asparagus risotto with lobster tail and claws was one of my favorites.  There was such attention to detail and Don (who is allergic to shellfish) was presented with his own special mushroom risotto.

P4141342 One of the most unusual courses was this strawberry sorbet with fresh cracked peppercorns.  A waiter came around the table and poured Grey Goose vodka over each serving.

P4141346The main course included roast veal shank and tenderloin (flambéed tableside by the chef) with chateau potatoes and vegetables.  The potatoes were fashioned to look like mushrooms standing on the plate (mine have fallen over).

P4141347 There was baked camembert with pine nuts, port wine reduction and walnut bread.

P4141348 This dessert was amazing with its edible blue glass looking bowl and passion fruit dome with whiskey soaked raspberry center and mango glaze. 

P4141349 As if that were not enough, they followed the dome cake with a tray of homemade bonbons.

Did I  forget to mention that each course had its own wine pairing?  There was Barolo, Pinot Grigio Santa Margherita, Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest Errazuriz and Limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur).  I hope that I got the names right. 

P4141353Chef Christophe presented each lady with a long stemmed red rose.  We also received a signed copy of the wonderful Princess book “Culinary Courses Journey”.

P4141350 The wait staff did a superb job.  Messrs. Furlan and Belin really wove a magical night together with their humor, talent and graciousness.  This was a meal that I’ll remember for a very long time.   

Monday, April 26, 2010

St. Maarten

Legend has it that the island of St. Maarten was divided when a Frenchman and a Dutchman (standing back to back) walked in opposite directions until they met once again.  However it happened, the French claim 21 square miles of the island and the Dutch 16.  The only way to know that you are crossing from one country to the other is a welcome sign by the side of the road. Our ship docked at A.C. Wathey Pier, at the mouth of Groot Baai, Philipsburg.


We did a little shopping in Philipsburg and I discovered Pandora bracelets.  I was standing beside a lady who was purchasing an anchor bead as a memento of the cruise.  Jokingly, I told her that there would have to be a teapot bead for me.  That’s when the salesperson jumped in with “we have one”.  I’ll have to share my Pandora purchases later.

After a quick lunch on the ship, we returned to the island and took a taxi to Marigot on the French side.  The scenery was beautiful, as shown in the above photo.  My goal was to find a French tea room for afternoon tea.

P4141325 It was certainly not the tea mecca that I thought it would be, but we did manage to find a little place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and some pastries.  There were many flavors of macaroons.


Outdoor cafes had croissants, pains au chocolat and espresso or cappuccino.


There are beaches near the pier for the less adventurous.  St. Maarten also offered many activities like golf, scuba, tennis, windsurfing, fishing, riding, sailing, snorkeling and biking.


The beaches here are lovely with fine white sand and gorgeous views.  Port days can be very busy with several ships visiting at the same time.


Pulling out of port (leaving the other cruise ships behind) is always a little sad, but we were so excited about the Chefs Table dinner that night and the upcoming stop at St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

I’ll post the Chefs Table dinner next.  It was a memorable experience for us and I can honestly say it was the best gourmet meal I’ve ever had.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Princess Cays

Our first stop was Princess Cays in the Bahamas, in the southern portion of the Island of Eleuthera (discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492).


The island is mostly flat, with beautiful white sand beaches, mangrove trees, and gorgeous clear turquoise waters.

P4121255 It was really amazing what these guys can do with fruits and vegetables.  There were delightful displays of their talents in many of the dining areas on the ship.

There was plenty to do for those not inclined to lay and bake on a lounge chair.  There was swimming, snorkeling, aqua bikes, sailboats, kayaks, paddle wheelers, beach volleyball and the banana boat.  I must admit that the temperature of the water almost caused me to skip swimming, but once we got in it was wonderful and refreshing. 

P4121258A barbeque lunch was served on the island.  It included the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, grilled chicken, salads, fruits and desserts.


The scenery was beautiful.  We could have spent a couple more hours here, but we decided to take an early tender back to the ship for some of the other activities. 


It’s hard to believe that the Bahamas were called the Islas Inutiles (Useless Islands) by the Spanish because of their lack of resources.  They remained uninhabited until the 17th century.

Next port will be St. Maarten – more to come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea at Sea

Our cruise on the Emerald Princess was one of the best vacations we’ve ever experienced.  A highlight of the trip was the Chef’s Table dinner.  There is much to share, but I’ll start with afternoon tea that was served by white gloved waiters between 3:30 and 4:30 each afternoon.


The Da Vinci dining room was a lovely setting for tea.  The tea itself was served from silver teapots and was a bagged black tea, with a nice brisk flavor. 


I was pleasantly surprised with the finger sandwiches, which included a wonderful variety of breads and mini rolls – even the traditional cucumber sandwich.


One of my favorite teatime treats is scones and I was not disappointed with those served on this ship.  They had plain and raisin and both were delicious with a nice texture.  That is apricot preserves in the photo.  There was also a lovely raspberry jam, as well as the thick and rich cream.

The only problem we encountered with afternoon tea was trying not to indulge too much, since dinner time was approaching quickly.  The waiters were quick to refill your teacup and offer more sandwiches and sweets.  We did meet several other couples having tea over the course of the cruise.  Some of them were enjoying afternoon tea for the first time.  All of them really seemed to relish the experience.

I’ll share more soon, but for now it’s off to play catch up with the overwhelming amount of email, laundry, shopping, chores, etc.  I hope to get back to visiting my blog friends shortly.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Birthday Cruise

I’m spending my birthday making last minute preparations for our cruise.  We’ll be visiting the Eastern Caribbean with five days in port and two at sea.

PRI_emerald_350x194I can’t wait to board the Emerald Princess in Port Everglades.  This is the first cruise where we will have a balcony cabin.  I’m already envisioning sitting on the balcony in the sunshine, reading a good Tea Shop Mystery (thanks Angela).


There will be lots of opportunities to enjoy the various dining venues on the ship.  Of course, this means that I’ll need to spend some time on the fitness deck.


I’ll miss visiting all my blogging friends,  but should have lots to share with you when I return.  Now I better hustle – there’s packing and primping (nail salon) and shopping to do.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Quiet Cup of Tea

P4071220It feels so good to have a friend on whom you can depend.  A friend can help to mend a heart, boost you toward a brand-new start, clown with carefree, schoolgirl glee, share a quiet cup of tea.

- Jan Miller Girando, Pals 

This lovely photo of a pique-nique tea is on the April page in the 2010 The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar.  Each month features a beautiful collectible teapot and tea setting.  The calendar is filled with lovely photography, anecdotes, tea history, quotes, etc.  I’ve been collecting these calendars for years and have enjoyed every one of them. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mismatched China Lamp

This is a project I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time.  Take all my china yard sale finds and turn them into a cute teapot lamp.


I really like the blue, lavender and white color scheme.


You can find instructions for this project at the Country Living website.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Silicone Food Pod

This might come in handy next time you are boiling eggs or poaching chicken for your favorite tea sandwiches.  I’ve never seen such a futuristic looking utensil.  It looks like it would be fun to use.

You can find these at Amazon for $15.95.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are generally sold at Easter to celebrate the   resurrection of Christ following His death on the cross. Hot cross buns are made from a rich yeast dough containing flour, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, currants, and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. In England, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.  They are marked on top with a cross, either cut in the dough or composed of strips of pastry.

hot cross bun

Do you remember this nursery rhyme?

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.
If you have no daughters,
If you have no sons,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.
If your sons don't like them,
They're the only ones,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.
I don't tell jokes
and I don't tell puns,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.
Get them while they're hot
and eat them by the ton,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...