A wonderful vacation

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I just wanted to share some memories and photos of what was a wonderful, beautiful vacation last week. The primary reason for the trip was to celebrate my oldest daughter's 13th birthday. Having 5 children, sometimes individual time for the kids can be a challenge to obtain. So, we have decided to take each of our daughters on a trip like this when they turn 13. It's just our gift to them.

The trip was a week-long cruise on the beautiful Carnival Magic. Folks, this ship is spectacular. There's always something fun to do (or plenty of areas to relax and do nothing, if that is your preference!). Even though there are over 3,000 passengers onboard, never once did it feel crowded.

After having a great time and enjoying the activities on the ship the first evening and through the first sea day, we arrived at our first port of call: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic.

This portion of the Dominican Republic is breathtakingly beautiful. A portion of the movie Jurassic Park was filmed here, and you can see why. I was blown away all day by how gorgeous the scenery was. There is also a great pool with nice waterslides down the side of the mountains that were a blast, and my daughter had an awesome time zip-lining through the day.

Our next stop was another beauty.....St. Thomas. The beauty of the city of Charlotte Amalie nested in the mountains surrounding the sparkling blue water was amazing.

The view as we were docking here was fantastic, and I was able to snag a quick time-lapse.

This was a port where we walked from the pier to downtown. The folks that work in the U.S. Federal building in St. Thomas don't have too shabby a view out their front door...haha.

Here is Fort Christian, a Dano-Norwegian-built fort in 1671.

Just a beautiful place.

From there, the next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yet another beautiful place. Again, we decided to do a lot of walking since there were a ton of things to see right there close to the cruise pier. We are history nerds, so being able to walk through the forts of San Cristobal (built in 1700s) and San Felipe (built in 1600s) was just outstanding. These are Spanish-built forts that were built to protect ownership of the ultra-important port of San Juan and the entrance into its harbor in this era.

San Felipe has some modern-day guardians that are pretty friendly to the visitors:

Again, the views simply took your breath away as well.

Our final stop was in Grand Turk, in the British West Indies. Once again, this was a fantastically-photogenic port with beautiful scenes abounding. 

Here, we did a really great shore excursion that allowed us to kayak up and down North Creek right to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. From there, the guide had dove down and scooped up a ton of plant and animal life for us to see and hold....anything from conch to star fish to jelly fish. Then, we had time to roam around on our own and search for souvenir conch shells.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a water-proof camera with me, so photos at this point of the trip were limited. 

The waters just off Grand Turk is also the location where John Glenn's Friendship 7 Mercury capsule splashed down, and there are monuments to remember the occasion.

With that, a final sea day was ahead, and then we had to end the vacation as-scheduled..... for some reason, they wouldn't let us stay on and go around again. Haha. 

One final note, the Magic is a great ship with many fun things to see and do. My wife and I enjoyed going in the Red Frog pub each evening.... just a really neat vibe in that place that we liked. 

The onboard Italian restaurant, Cucina Capitano, had what was possibly the best lasagna I've had in my life.... we ate there three times.

Just an awesome trip....thankful to have had the chance to go.


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