April 1 – 9, 2018

Caribbean Cruise

  • 3052 miles flown
  • 1832 miles sailed
  • 6 caches found
  • Caches found in 3 new countries

Last month we enjoyed a nice vacation during which Signal and I had the chance to do a little bit of geocaching. I was happy to add some new countries to my geocaching resume. This post is long overdue, but I will try to do it justice by recalling our adventures along the way. 

We started our journey early on Easter Sunday, flying from our little Tri-Cities airport at 6:10 am. After a short layover in Atlanta, we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL just before noon. We walked to find some geocaches near our hotel that afternoon, had lunch at I ❤ Mac and Cheese, got pedicures, and indulged in some yummy ice cream treats. When we visited the local Dollar Tree to pick up a couple of necessities, we were surprised to find our friend Scotty who lives in Erwin cruising the aisles. We knew that she and Dawn were planning to be on the cruise, but it was funny that we had to travel all the way to Florida to run into her when she lives so close to us. 

The next morning we boarded the Celebrity Summit cruise ship and settled in for a wonderful week of cruising fun. We both enjoyed a relaxing massage that evening and a show by our favorite comedian, Vickie Shaw.

Our ship sailed Monday evening, and we spent all day Tuesday at sea. I went to the fitness center that morning for the first of three sessions with a personal trainer. He taught me a lot about how to target various muscle groups, and proper techniques for weight training, breathing exercises, and stretching. 

Our first stop was in Labadee, Haiti on Wednesday, April 4. This section of the island of Hispaniola is restricted to cruise ship passengers and the local residents who work here. After a leisurely breakfast on board, we walked ashore so that I could find the geocache near the dock.

Deban waited at the bottom of the hill while I followed a stone pathway up into the woods. My phone’s GPS took me directly to the geocache and I found a container very quickly. I was squatting behind the rock where it was hidden, inspecting the contents of the cache, when I heard voices on the path. I heard the word “geocache” so I popped up and said to the startled woman on the path, “Did you say ‘geocache’?” She said, “Yes! Did you find it?” I invited her over to sign the log. 

After finishing up with this cache, I moved a little further up the trail to see if I could find a second container that other finders had reported. I did not find it after searching a bit, but the mosquitos were finding me. I also knew that Deban was waiting for me, so decided to be happy with the one container, knowing that I had added a new country to my resume. 

Once I rejoined her, we went back on board the ship. After lunch, we returned to shore to check in for our excursion. We were early, so after checking in I went back up the trail again to look for the second container. While on board I had re-read some of the logs and learned that recent hunters had found it within just a few feet of the one I had found, rather than at the coordinates that had been posted in earlier logs. I found it almost immediately, and soon had signed that log book as well. 

We enjoyed a fun afternoon of riding Sea Doo wave runners. Signal the Frog came along for the ride, tucked securely in the straps of my life jacket. This was a guided tour on the open water, and we were asked to ride single file without passing the person in front of us.  There was one woman in our group who insisted that she be in front because she wanted to go fast. She couldn’t keep up with the leader, so eventually he put Deban in the lead with me second. It was a blast flying at what felt like top speed across the water, but in reality was only about 36 mph. 

At one point we stopped in a cove and were soon surrounded by locals paddling kayaks. Across the decks of their boats they had spread a variety of hand-crafted items for sale. I saw something I liked but told the man I didn’t have any cash with me. Apparently, that happens a lot. I’m sure not many people carry a wallet with them while riding wave runners. He was prepared for this and handed me a card on which he had written the price. He instructed me to show it to Jorge at the dock and he would collect my money. Sure enough, when we returned to the dock, a man approached me to ask if I had bought something and I gave him the money. I just hope it was the right person and that the man who sold me something got his share. 

The next day we stopped in the Dominican Republic. This country is also part of the Hispaniola island. Because there were large swells in the harbor making it difficult to transport passengers to the pier on the tenders, we had to wait over an hour to go ashore for our excursion. 

For this stop, we had booked a dune buggy tour. We rode for about 45 minutes on an open air bus to the ranch where the tour started. Along the way, I checked my phone repeatedly for nearby geocaches. Although there were several along the coastline, our route never took us closer than a mile or so. 

Once we were on the dune buggy, we spent a good bit of time driving around dusty back roads. Still, all of the geocaches on the island remained just out of reach. Along the way, we saw many young children standing by the side of the road offering us flowers they had picked in the fields or pictures that they had colored. It was heartbreaking to see them run alongside the dune buggies hoping to sell their flowers or pictures to make a little money. I found myself wishing that I had a pocket full of dollar bills so that I could give every single one of them at least that much.  I worried that one would fall or get too close to the dune buggies and be run over. Fortunately, I did not see that happen. 

We eventually stopped at a location where we were treated to a show of native dancing, had a bite to eat, and then had the chance to swim in a cave. The cool water felt good on this hot day. We had our pictures made with a spider monkey, and then learned that we would drive the dune buggy to the beach before returning to the ranch. I was hopeful that we would end up near one of the several EarthCaches and handful of traditionals that I had seen on the map. Sadly, we were still about two miles from the closest one. 

At the end of our tour, we were bused back to the pier where a tender was waiting to take us back to the ship. It was already past time for our ship to leave, so there was no time to grab a geocache in this country. It will just have to wait for another visit. 

Our next stop was in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. As soon as we went ashore, I visited Frederick Fort at the end of the pier. It is the site of an EarthCache. I collected the answers to the required questions and sent them to the cache owner. She replied right away to let me know I had answered correctly. This find earned 

When we cruise, it is typically with Olivia Travel and this trip was no exception. Before the cruise, Olivia had let us know that they would be providing the opportunity to help the island of St. Croix which was hit by two hurricanes last year – Irma and Maria. They had been in touch with two organizations on the island – the animal shelter and the domestic violence shelter – to see what items they needed most. Deban had bought most of the requested items on the list for the DV shelter, and we brought those ashore with us. Olivia had set up a collection table at the end of the pier, and later that morning we were welcomed by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw and a representative from the governor’s office who accepted the donations we had brought. Deban had the opportunity to talk with a member of the Women’s Coalition Board of Directors. When she learned that Deban was an attorney with Legal Aid, she encouraged her to keep up the good work of representing women who are victims of domestic violence. 

The next port of call was St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles. Deban and I had made separate plans for this island. She joined our friends Scotty and Dawn on a whale watching excursion while I chose to go zip-lining. I had a great time flying over the Caribbean forests with Signal the Frog tucked into my harness. 

I also had a chance to find two geocaches here. The first was a traditional cache near the dock. As I was reaching for it, a local man called out, “Did you find it?” He then offered to take my photo with the cache. 

I was also able to log an EarthCache at this port. It was near the entrance to the harbor where we docked. To reach the plantation where the zip-line was located, we were taken by a boat that passed right by the location of the EarthCache, so I was able to collect the answers needed during that trip. 

Our last day of the cruise  was at sea, but like the rest of our time on the ship there was no lack of activities to keep us occupied. Because this was the 45th Anniversary Celebration for Olivia (which began as a record label for women in 1973), there were even more great entertainers than usual. Some have been part of the Olivia family since the early days of Olivia Records. Some have been entertaining women on Olivia cruises for many years. Others were brand new to Olivia, performing on their first cruise. 

Here is a list (in no particular order) of the great entertainers that were a part of this cruise: Cris Williamson, Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Barbara Higbie, Mary Watkins, June Millington, Vickie Shaw, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Karen Williams, Ferron, Lisa Koch, Dianne Davidson, Deidre McCalla, Lucie Blue Tremblay, Michele Balan, Roxanna Ward, Mouths of Babes, Julie Wolf, Margaret Belton, Zoë Lewis, Shelley Doty, Kofy Brown, Katie Cash, Melanie DeMore, DJ Rockaway and DJ Citizen Jane. At times there were multiple shows happening at once in different parts of the ship, so we had to decide which to attend, or when to squeeze in dinner. 

Our cruise ended in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We made a quick trip from the sea port to the airport for our flight home, only to learn that it was delayed. Our late take off meant that we had a very short amount of time to make our connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale. We were very fortunate to encounter short lines at every turn and made it to the gate with time to spare. 

We returned home tired, but happy to have had such a wonderful time away. 

One thought on “April 1 – 9, 2018

  1. As I hate flying would love to go on a cruise so really enjoyed reading about yours. My worry is, a bit like your experience, you have to stick with the cruise itinerary and possibly miss some caches. Hmm… decisions, decisions. Happy caching.

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