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mimmy52

Epic So. Caribbean trip report Jan 26-Feb 6 lots of photos

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We were on this cruise too!  Enjoying your review  and pictures!

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January 31, Castries, St. Lucia, cont.

 

Our tour guide was giving us a lot of information, but her accent was so strong it was work for me to try to understand anything, so I just gave up and enjoyed the scenery.  Our first stop was described in the excursion information as "...historic Morne Fortune, home to St. Lucia's Governor General and the highest point in Castries. Pay a visit to the many vendors..."

 

We came to a viewing area, that's true.  The "many vendors" were in this building

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Every tour bus was stopping here and it wasn't a large area.  It was a great view overlooking Castries though.  We could see the Epic and the Disney Wonder in the distance.

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Bro caught them with his zoom lens

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If we passed the Governor General's house, I either didn't see it or didn't understand what was said about it.  There is a dirty toilet here but you won't get another chance to use a bathroom until much later in the tour.  One of the ladies had interesting footwear.  When you can't decide if you want boots or heels, you choose a pair that's a combination.

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Then back on the bus.  It was not easy getting in and out of the front seat.  I had to climb over a kind of console in the middle of the two seats and step down.

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We continued on

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A shy egret

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We did see a lot of greenery, lush vegetation as the tour description called it.

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On the northern end of the island we came to a viewpoint on the Cap Estate.  The views were spectacular.

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What is it that compels people to put their mark on nature?

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Our last stop was at the sand portion of our Green to Sand excursion.  We were taken to a golden sand beach at the Pigeon Island National Landmark for 90 minutes of relaxation.  Our guide had bottles of water for us that were greatly appreciated. Someone said that at the entrance to the park you could buy beer, soda, and very basic snacks but water was enough for me.

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I guess this was one of the island's pigeons

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Our beach was secluded from the bigger beach that was across a spit of land

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The sun was starting its descent as we were there

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When time was up, we walked back to the bus, passing the entrance

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Once we were back in Castries, traffic was just as bad as it had been when we were leaving.  Plus it was now dark.  We got back about 6:30.

 

As usual, we had dinner at Taste, but just for three of us.  Sis and Bil had reservations at Moderno.  They were afraid they'd missed it since we had just arrived back at their reservation time, but they were told it was okay.

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I always find it interesting to see how the food matches up to its description.  I decided for my appetizer to try Grilled watermelon "steak" salad with arugula, bibb lettuce, toasted almonds, Balsamic reduction.  

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For my entree I had the classic Fettucini Alfredo with mushrooms.  Pretty good.

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Chocolate ice cream for dessert, so no picture.  In the theater tonight the "Epic Beatles" were playing music through the years.

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They did not look anything like the Beatles but their sound was good. I couldn't even tell who was supposed to be who until "John" introduced them.  We were allowed to take photos of their last set when the guy who was John looked a lot more like John once he had the clothes, the glasses, and the hair.

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So people decided to use their cell phones as points of lights. Made me laugh.

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Enjoying all your photos!  We will be on the TA in April from Miami to Barcelona so none of these ports but we've visited them on other cruises.  You made great use of your port time!

 

Did you happen to have a Meet & Greet and did you attend?

They usually give out cards of the senior officer team.  If you happen to have it would you mind sharing the names?

Of course, I realize there could be changes between now and when we sail but I'm curious nonetheless!

 

Besides the Beatles in the Cavern Club, were there any standout entertainment like house band, vocalist, guitarist?  Sometimes they have rather long contracts.  Did you notice if they still have music during dinner in the Manhattan Room?  They've stopped that in the latest new ships.  I always enjoyed it as they would change things around with different band, show band w/vocalist, etc.  

 

Were there any crew members/waiters who you would highly recommend?  Since you had different family members trying various venues, maybe there was someone you especially liked.  

 

Thanks again for taking time to do this!

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2 hours ago, snorklinbarb said:

Enjoying all your photos!  We will be on the TA in April from Miami to Barcelona so none of these ports but we've visited them on other cruises.  You made great use of your port time!

 

Did you happen to have a Meet & Greet and did you attend?

They usually give out cards of the senior officer team.  If you happen to have it would you mind sharing the names?

Of course, I realize there could be changes between now and when we sail but I'm curious nonetheless!

 

Besides the Beatles in the Cavern Club, were there any standout entertainment like house band, vocalist, guitarist?  Sometimes they have rather long contracts.  Did you notice if they still have music during dinner in the Manhattan Room?  They've stopped that in the latest new ships.  I always enjoyed it as they would change things around with different band, show band w/vocalist, etc.  

 

Were there any crew members/waiters who you would highly recommend?  Since you had different family members trying various venues, maybe there was someone you especially liked.  

 

Thanks again for taking time to do this!

We had a kind of Meet & Greet that I talk about in post #17. Basically a flop due to miscommunication so no officers attended, at least not while I was there.

 

We didn't get around much to the various music venues.  We saw the Beatles in the Epic Theater.  Saw the Priscilla production which was great, enjoyed Howl at the Moon in the Comedy Club.  We only ate in Manhattan once and there was no music then although there might have been later.  Entertainers from Burn the Floor performed in there a couple of nights, but we didn't get to see them.  We pretty much stuck together at all the venues.

 

The only waiter I would highly recommend is Akita Thomas who started out in Taste and was moved to O'Sheehan's so I have no idea if she'll be around in April or if she is, where she'll be.

 

I hope you have a great TA and that you have some time in Barcelona. I love Barcelona. It's so different and quirky.

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4 hours ago, Mrworldwide_88 said:

Great review, very excited to go on epic soon!

Hope you have a blast!

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Saturday, February 1, Bridgetown, Barbados

 

I woke up way too early this morning, couldn't get back to sleep, so decided it was time for breakfast.  No trouble with buffet lines this early.  The Epic was arriving in Barbados around 8:00 and I was on deck 16 to take pictures.

 

There goes the pilot boat.

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The P&O Britannia is in port and the Logos Hope is next to it

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And the Seabourn Odyssey is also in port

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The Star Clipper

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A picture of the Star Clipper taken a little later

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Yes, we are docked in Bridgetown.  A tip from the Freestyle Daily reminds us that wearing all types of camouflage apparel is illegal on the island.

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I had signed up for the "Best of Barbados" excursion, but changed it because I was tired of long rides on buses.  I couldn't decide what else I wanted to do and finally decided since I'd enjoyed the Atlantis Submarine so much in Aruba, I would do it again in Barbados.  Meeting place was on the pier through the terminal building and the excursion ticket said to allow 30 minutes to reach the terminal building, so I left in plenty of time.  If you didn't want to walk to the terminal building (and it seemed that most didn't), there were shuttles available.  Some shuttles were regular buses but the little trains were the fun ones.

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Passengers were disembarking from the Seabourn Odyssey

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I spent some time looking through the shops

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Went to the meeting place early following the red dots on the floor.  These people were in line for a long time.  Apparently something had happened to their transportation and they were late leaving because they didn't get on their bus until I was on mine.

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I'd been sitting on a bench, having checked in with the Atlantis people and been given my boarding pass, when the woman next to me jumped up and hurried away.  I followed.  I hadn't heard our tour being called but there was a van waiting.  It only took half our group, though, and I had to wait for the next van which took about another ten minutes.  Traffic was horrible just trying to get out of the parking area.

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Our driver is trying to get into that long line of vans and buses as is the white bus with the phone number on it.  People on that bus were the ones who had been waiting in line so long.  Once we managed to get into the flow of traffic, it was stop and go until getting out of the port.  After that it was just a short ride to the Atlantis office where we each had to sign our name in a book.  Once that was taken care of, we headed to the boat that would take us to the submarine.

 

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Edited by mimmy52

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I was on my tour solo today because when I went to make my excursion reservations a month or so prior to the cruise, the excursions The Four had chosen were sold out.  Sis and Bil were spending the day at Copacabana Beach but I'm not much of a beach person anyway and Bro and Sil were going to Harrison's Cave.  Both excursions were available once I was on board, but I would have had a whole set of rearranging to do by then since I'd signed up for the tour of Hato Cave in Curacao. 

 

Anyway, we had now arrived at the submarine.

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The tour description had talked about being seated in spacious, air-conditioned comfort, so I thought perhaps the bench indentations were a bit bigger.  That was silly thinking of course.  They were the same as the other submarine, so we were packed in tightly again.

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The water was murkier than in Aruba.  I don't know if that is always the case or if there were causes that made it that way for today.  I still saw fish, especially schools of fish, but the coral wasn't as well defined.  The pictures aren't great (understatement) but I'm sharing some anyway.

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We went down to 147 feet although for such a short while I missed getting a picture.  The guide and the sub captain were bantering during the tour.  It was supposed to be funny but it wasn't working very well.  Or maybe my sense of humor has been short circuited.

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There was a sunken ship here too.

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We were down about 45 minutes to an hour before we surfaced.  On the way back, we were all offered a glass of rum punch. If we'd been offered that before going into the submarine, I might have found the banter to be clever.  Or I might have fallen down the ladder.  Once we were back in the office we were given a certificate certifying we'd completed a voyage beneath the Caribbean waters and bestowing the title "Atlantis Submariner."  So now I have two certificates.

 

If you're thinking about taking a submarine voyage, I highly recommend it.  Both were very much fun and very interesting.  I'd choose Aruba over Barbados though, even with the rum punch.

 

We were dropped off back at the terminal building.

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I have sailed on all of the Star Clippers ships, an absolutely amazing experience. Very small rooms with portholes, amazing food, but the best part is leaving port with the sails flapping then feeling them catch and the ship just take off.

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I had lunch in the buffet, then ran into Bro and Sil.  Sil suggested it was Mimosa time and that sounded good.  We got our Mimosas from the Wave Bar but then music started.  Nothing against music, but Bro and I both have hearing aids and talking over loud music doesn't work for us so we moved right inside to a corner of the Garden Cafe.  And since we were near the buffet area, I looked over the desserts and chose a no sugar added chocolate pudding.  Didn't look like any pudding I was used to but it was very tasty.  And then I went back for olives because I love olives.

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Took a short nap after that, then went up on deck.  Saw this little boat go by that seemed to be kind of a party boat.  At any rate, the passengers were loud and seemed to be having a great time.

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The Logos Hope was their destination.  I didn't see exactly how they got on, but they transferred right from the water.IMG_4480.thumb.jpg.374368dd624c3ddadf1dcc8230b229cd.jpg

 

All aboard time today was 4:30.  After 4:30 I started hearing announcements requesting four people, called by name, to check in with guest services.  We left over 30 minutes late.

 

Every evening when I'm leaving my cabin to meet up with The Four for pre-dinner drinks, I cross over the studio lounge.  There always seems to be a good sized group getting together for dinner.  I took a picture of the bulletin board for today.

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Ever since I got on the ship, I've been struck by the symbol for the public restrooms.  Hands on hips makes the character seem angry.  There are times when a line to the ladies room makes me feel like standing with hands on hips, but there's never a line on the ship.

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We met in Maltings for a pre-dinner drink, then went to Taste.  The service tonight was so poor we wondered if everyone was new that night.  It took forever to get our wine and my pre-dinner drink had been a Diet Pepsi, so I was impatient.  The food, when it arrived, was good.  I had creamy spinach soup for my appetizer.  

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Linguine with Little Neck Clams for the entree.  It was delicious, but even so I have to say MSC has it all over NCL when it comes to preparing seafood (and pizza and French fries too).

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For dessert, milk chocolate mousse.

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Oh, yummy, yum, yum

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We went from the restaurant to the Comedy Club to see Howl at the Moon.  I carried out my second glass of wine to take with me and the reservation person stopped me.  She poured my wine into a different glass, then handed me the empty one.  We laughed, and I called her tricky.

 

There were three performers at Howl at the Moon so two were able to continuously perform.  They were very talented and interacted with the audience.  I sat with Sis and Bil near the back in the high chairs that had tables. 

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Bro had made a song request and tipped a million dollar bill which they found funny.   When Sis and Bil left, I moved up with Bro and Sil in the regular chairs and they'd managed to find seats with a little side table.

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 A man from the audience was called up a couple of times to perform on his harmonica.  He did a good job.  Sometimes one of the performers would play the drums.  Shortly before I left an entertainer from Burn the Floor came in and played the guitar. It was a fun evening, but I didn't last any later than 11:30, then it was my bed time.

 

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46 minutes ago, stefmaia said:

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I have sailed on all of the Star Clippers ships, an absolutely amazing experience. Very small rooms with portholes, amazing food, but the best part is leaving port with the sails flapping then feeling them catch and the ship just take off.

We had talked about how exciting it must be to sail on a ship with tall sails.

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My DH wants to take a submarine dive...me not so much.  I do not like enclosed spaces and then underwater....

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So glad that I was nosing around the NCL Forum and found another trip report by you. Loved your Poesia one on the MSC forum, and loving this one!

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2 hours ago, JP82 said:

So glad that I was nosing around the NCL Forum and found another trip report by you. Loved your Poesia one on the MSC forum, and loving this one!

Thank you.  That is such a nice thing to say.

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Thank you so much for this trip report.  I'm doing a shorter version of this next February.  Your review makes me so excited!  Yet frustrated I have to wait almost a whole year to go. 

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Sunday, February 2, St. John's, Antigua

 

Groundhog Day and Superbowl Sunday back home.  Perfect weather day in Antigua.

What the bridge cam showed when I woke up

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Almost every time I'm on my way to or from my cabin, I cross over the studio lounge.  This morning I took a few more pictures of what the lounge offers.

The coffee machine that so many people say is great. I'm not a coffee drinker.  Sorry I didn't get a clear picture of what all those buttons do

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Although the self serve pastries are no longer offered, we could still help ourselves to dry cereal and milk.  Funny that in the buffet you have to be handed your plates and bowls, but in the lounge it is okay to take a bowl.

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And the bar offerings

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I went up to the buffet. I think the Garden Cafe is a pretty place.

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This picture was taken through the window from my table.

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We're not scheduled to arrive in Antigua until 10:00 am so I thought this would be a good morning to get pictures of some of the buffet offerings. 

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When we were entering the harbor, I went up to deck 16 to take a few pictures.

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Shortly after that I made my way to the theater where I was meeting Bro and Sil for our "Taste of Antigua" excursion.  Sis and Bil were doing Highlights and Lobster Lunch.  I don't like lobster.  That excursion was also quite a bit more pricey.  Groups were called one after the other but we still had to identify our particular tour on the pier.  We were good girls and boys and lined up as we were told.

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It was a little walk to the van but we passed some pretty flowers on the way.

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We had a short drive through a very poor neighborhood.  When we pulled up in a messy parking lot in front of a "rum shack" called Julees, one woman on the bus said she was afraid to get out.  The guide assured her that once inside it was different.

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She was right, it was nice inside with tables, chairs, umbrellas, comfortable seating, a cool breeze.  Actually, although we were inside, we were outside.

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It was lovely.  We sat on a raised platform under a roof so didn't have to worry about the sun as some did.  Our taste of Antigua was to experience what the Caribbean is known for (according to the tour description)--rum and savory food.  I presumed these were the rums we would be tasting.  We were sitting at the table where you can see a blue hat in the right hand corner.

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There was a mango tree nearby.  Tiny birds were flitting around and chirping.

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The tasting started with an explanation of the history of Antigua, the sugar mills, the rum making.  The types of rum we would be tasting were described. I found it difficult to hear sometimes because on the other side of the wall behind our backs were people talking and a constant humming noise.  A microphone would have been useful.  

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We were served some raw sugar cubes to chew on--very fibrous--and also were given a taste of the black pineapple grown on the island.  Sugar cubes are served in the photo below.

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Our first rum tasting was a glass of distilled rum in punch.  Our second was a taste of the golden rum pictured.  I didn't get the description in my notes.  I'm not a rum person so I was still working on the punch when we were served the second tasting.

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Time for another kind of tasting, the food.  We had ducana, an Antiguan dish made with coconut, sweet potato, raisins and spices.

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Salted cod aka salt fish, small round bread, clam cakes, and a type of fish sauce that was really good.  I think the other food was kept waiting a little too long since it was just barely warm.  The tour description had shown a couple of chicken dishes but those never appeared.

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Here's my plate with one of everything

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We then had one more rum tasting, the five year old English Harbor.  Bro said it was great.  As I said, I'm not a rum person so I couldn't tell.  The bottle of Wadadli beer is what I had with lunch.  That had to be purchased from the bar.

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Then came dessert, rum pudding.

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It was almost time to leave, but five people got a coconut to drink.  They were the fastest on their feet when we were told there were five coconuts to be had.

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As we were leaving, I noticed what appeared to be a nest on the electrical wires.  I think it was actually weeds that had grown that high at one time and had remained attached when the rest had been cut down.  I couldn't find evidence on the internet of birds building nests on wires.

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We got into the bus for the short ride back, although we paused at an intersection so we could see the memorial to V. C. Bird, the first prime minister of Antigua (1981-94) who was declared a national hero.  The airport is named after him.

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We were dropped off in the shopping area and Bro, Sil, and I shopped a few stores.

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From this angle, the Epic appears to be plowing into some shops.

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Back through security to get to the ship.  Be sure to carry a photo ID with you along with your cruise card.  The cruise director told us that every morning.  You're not asked for your photo ID in every port, but when you are, you'd better have it.

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The Marella Celebration was docked on the other side of the pier. I think their logo looks like an emoji although I can't figure out what it would be representing.  A profile emoji with one eye and a half smile?

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After we got back, the three of us went to O'Sheehan's for a snack.  I had that delicious spinach and artichoke dip and it's so good I think it deserves another picture.

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I planned to read for a while on deck 18, but first I wandered through the buffet.  This must have been my day to think about food.

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My favorite station

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Some prefer soft serve.  A crew member was stationed there to serve it.

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Today at the Grab & Go you must have a crew member grab it for you.

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Once I was on deck 18, I spent more take taking pictures than I did reading.  The Marella Celebration was interesting.  It appeared to be an older ship so I had to look it up.  Marella is UK based and the Celebration was built in 1984.

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Then I took a lot of pictures of the town of St. John's.  I'm not sharing them all but you might think I have.

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Tonight at 6:30, Burn the Floor was going to perform in the Manhattan Room.  I requested that we eat there tonight instead of Taste.  We'd been eating in Taste because you could wear shorts there.  We met up outside the Manhattan Room but we weren't allowed in.  Bil was wearing shorts.  He said, "That's ok.  You guys go in and we'll go..."  Before he could continue, I interrupted and said "Let's go to Taste."  One of the reasons I was on this cruise was to spend time with my family.  I was looking forward to the next two days when all five of us would be on excursions together.

 

I ordered asparagus and artichoke risotto.

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We asked Sis and Bil how their lobster lunch was that afternoon.  Sis said it was disappointing since they were each served one lobster tail.  She likes the whole lobster, plus they'd expected more than one tail.  Sis said on the bus for the highlights part of the excursion, she was squished on a bench seat.  At one point the guide wasn't able to see her she was scrunched down so far.  He came back, brought her up to the front, and gave her his seat.  Bil said they'd gone ahead and canceled the rest of their shore excursions.

 

Time for the entree.  I had Pan-Seared Alaskan Pollock.

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Our table was close to the chandelier and the opening above to the casino.  The smoke from the casino almost drove us out of our seats.  It really took away from the enjoyment of the meal. And poor Sil was so tired I thought she was going to fall asleep and end up with her face in her plate, but she held on.

 

Dessert solves everything, almost.  I had double chocolate roulade. Very tasty.

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Bil was talking about the various venues where the Super Bowl could be watched, but Sis said she was tired and he could watch it in their room.  Sil woke up enough to walk back to their room with Bro.  If I had gone back to my cabin, I'd have had my little cubicle with no where to sit except the bed and nothing to do.  I walked through the Atrium where they had set out a lot of extra chairs so people could watch the Super Bowl but they were all filled.

 

I went up on the pool deck and headed toward Spice H2O.  Along the way

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The pool in Spice H2O was covered, the loungers gone and many extra chairs in place.  I got there just in time to see the Chiefs first touchdown.  IMG_4597.thumb.jpg.d8df04c282922f977b0cf597fb41fd93.jpg

 

The chairs were filled up here too.

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An extra bar had been set up

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And they had a special cake

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I couldn't sit in a lounger on the pool deck because they were all tied up for the night.  I found a seat in the Great Outdoors to listen to music for a while.IMG_4612.thumb.jpg.a13e8314263a81067539956e91c1905f.jpg

 

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I got there just in time for their last song.  Moving on, there was karaoke in the Bliss Lounge and I hadn't been there yet.

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Maybe it got going later but for now no one was participating.  Also, I'm not comfortable in a bar by myself.  Weird, I guess, but that's the way I am.  Comic Julie Barr was performing in Headliners so I went to her session.  It was listed as PG 13, so maybe that isn't Julie's forte.  Toward the end she told a few off color stories and they were funny.  But that was it for my night.  

 

 

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10 minutes ago, JP82 said:

@mimmy52 Marella is part of the TUI travel group, and their motto is "Crossing the t's, dotting the i's and putting u in the middle" See what they did there?

 

I think the logo represents the U with the "t" and the "i" combined.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TUI_Group

In that case, it's clever.  I could picture it better when I followed your link.  Thanks.

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