Category Archives: Caribbean

Can Adults Enjoy a Disney Cruise?

We set out to see if a Disney cruise would be a good choice for two adults. We departed on the Disney Dream from Port Canaveral, Florida for a quick Bahamas four-day weekend. The ship, weather, and stops were wonderful. The adult experience on this Disney cruise ship had its ups and downs.

The ups:

Up #1:  Palo Restaurant: A for- pay specialty restaurant (not expensive) with fine Italian dining. No kids allowed. It was delicious! The sunset view was romantic.

Disney Dream cruise

Sunset from Palo Restaurant onboard Disney Dream

Up #2:  The stop at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas was the best thing about the trip. The adults- only beach called Serenity Cove was exquisite.

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise

Does it get any better than Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, in the Bahamas? Adults seek out Serenity Cove.

Up #3: The fireworks show off of the ship! No pictures because I was so enthralled I forgot to take any. Next time…..

Up #4:  The adults- only pool area

Disney Dream adults only pool

The adults- only pool, spa, and bar area is a lovely oasis of quiet.

So now for the downs.

#1 (and only) down: The sound of kids running through the ship reverberates throughout the stateroom areas!

Since kids will be kids, and parents are hard pressed to control them in a Disney environment, this drawback was not a huge problem for us. We actually had a wonderful time watching the kids with the Disney characters, and seeing all of the children running around dressed as princesses and pirates. All of the children we met were well-behaved and polite, as were their parents.

So an adult couple can have a wonderful time onboard a Disney cruise, given the right attitude and the ability to eat and drink in the adults-only bars and restaurants. As a childless couple, we wouldn’t hesitate to go again, and especially would enjoy going as an extended family. We know now that there are plenty of opportunities for quiet, adult time and would quite enjoy sharing the experience with the younger members of our extended family.

Contact me at 561-841-2224 or susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com to plan your next Disney cruise. Even a short getaway like ours was a wonderful break from the routine!

15 Pictures You Should See of the Celebrity Silhouette

Take an onboard tour of the Celebrity Silhouette! Then join us…..

On a special departure fundraising cruise to benefit Free The Girls, an organization devoted to helping victims of human trafficking. We depart from Fort Lauderdale on February 23, 2014 for seven nights on a western Caribbean itinerary aboard the Celebrity Silhouette. Here is your home away from home as she cruises the waters of the Caribbean. Picture yourself here!

Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette

The first thing I saw onboard was a beautiful tree growing in the atrium. Elevators surround this beautiful chrome and glass area. A fully-stocked library is opposite.

Susan McDaniel Travel

Celebrity Silhouette atrium

The grand staircase echoed the modern luxury theme of Celebrity Cruise Lines. Beautiful!

Susan McDaniel Travel, Celebrity Silhouette

Staircase on Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Solstice ships have an upper deck area called “The Lawn Club.” A grassy area with rental cabanas and a grill restaurant highlight this area.

Lawn Club on Celebrity Silhouette bu Susan McDaniel Travel

Grass at sea? Yes, at the upper deck “Lawn Club.”

The pool area (this is the adults-only pool) is on the upper deck, too.

Susan McDaniel Travel, Celebrity Silhouette pool

The Celebrity Silhouette adult pool area

Not to leave the children out, the Silhouette has extensive (and I mean extensive) areas for children. An entire upper deck is divided into different age group areas, complete with their own sports court. Older children have their special lounge areas, No Adults Allowed! Very nice for family travel.

Susan McDaniel, Celebrity Silhouette children's areas

The Celebrity Silhouette has extensive areas for children of any age

Also on the upper deck is the Sky Lounge, a huge area that can be used for meetings, club get-togethers, family meet-ups, and at night is a bar and dance area. It was gorgeous!

Sky Observation Lounge on Clebeirt Silhouette by Susan McDaniel

Sky Observation Lounge

Staterooms were well-appointed in each category.

Susan McDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette

Stateroom appointments on Celebrity Silhouette

Susan McDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette bathroom

Bathrooms were modern and elegant on the Silhouette

I really liked the closets and storage space in the various staterooms. The color schemes were calming, too.

Susan McDaniel Celebrity Silhouette stateroom

The stateroom decor was understated elegance. Soothing.

You just have to have a veranda. It makes cruising so special.

Susan McxDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette veranda

Veranda on the Celebrity Silhouette

Loved the casino area, and you will, too!

Susan McDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette casino

The Celebrity Silhouette casino has something for everyone

Everywhere you look there are gorgeous architectural details and design elements.

Susan McDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette bar

If you can’t find a bar to suit your taste onboard the Silhouette, then you’ll never find one. There are so many to choose from. This is the casino bar.

Celebrity is known for its fabulously fresh food and the offering at lunch did not disappoint. The wine they served was delicious, too.

Susan McDaniel travel Celebrity Silhouette lunch

Food on the Silhouette is top-notch

I’m not leaving without dessert!

Susan McDaniel Travel Celebrity Silhouette lunch

Does it get any better than this?

Give me a call at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com to experience the Celebrity Silhouette up close and personal. The Silhouette is part of Celebrity’s Solstice Class of ships which includes the Equinox and the Reflection, so those ships will look similar to what you saw here. Has anyone sailed on her?

Visit www.susanmcdanieltravel.com to begin planning your next cruise.

MSC Cruise Ships Welcome Families Aboard

Last Saturday I was invited to tour the MSC cruise ship, Poesia, docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a lovely afternoon made all the more special by the appearance of Richard Hickey, the Manager of National Accounts for MSC. MSC is a newer cruise line poised to welcome the family cruise market to their fleet of beautiful ships. You can show your kids the world for free with MSC. Kids ages 11 and under sail free on MSC. Let me show you what else the MSC Poesia cruise ship has to offer.

MSC Poesia cruise ship

The MSC Poesia

The MSC cruise line evolved from an Italian family’s cargo ship company. MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company.

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I’m in the right place

MSC is the fastest growing cruise line in the world. They are very popular in Europe and are making inroads in the US market.

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The MSC Poesia grand staircases are done in Swarovski crystals

The interiors are opulent and new. In fact, the MSC cruise line has the newest ships in the industry.

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The theatre seats 1000 people in two levels. It’s beautiful.

The new ship Divina will begin making Caribbean voyages from Miami in winter of 2013/2014.

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The MSC Poesia pool and “movies under the stars”

Although known as “quiet ships” with a minimum of announcements, MSC cruisers stay up late in the many bars and lounges. Music continues into the wee hours.

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Of the 15 bars onboard the cruise ship Poesia, the Zebra Bar was my favorite

The clientele on MSC ships is quite cosmopolitan. You will experience many nationalities, cultures, and languages.

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More Zebra Bar

The food onboard is amazing. They pride themselves on their outstanding cuisine of all sorts, as well as their wine and drink selection.  The Italian influence shines through in these areas, deliciously.

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What can I fix you from the sushi bar?

From sushi, to Northern Italian, to Caribbean, to pizza…..you’ll find whatever cuisine you enjoy onboard the MSC ships.

MSC Poesia balcony stateroom

The staterooms are comfortably sized.

The staterooms are nicely appointed. I was told the founder’s daughter and wife personally chose the fabrics, marble, tile, artwork, and furniture found throughout the ship. It really is a family affair onboard MSC.

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A balcony stateroom verandah

A standard balcony stateroom on the Poesia is 213 square feet. It comes with an intimate verandah.

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I’ll have a hot stone massage, please. An Aurea Spa treatment room.

You can go right from the Aurea Spa and Fitness Center to the casino, refreshed!

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Casino aboard the MSC Poesia cruise ship. Craps is my favorite.

The casino suits every gambler’s tastes.

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Slots in the MSC Poesia casino

A popular highlight of the MSC cruise line is that kids sail free. MSC is very family-oriented and anxious to expand into the multi-generational American market. For family reunions, anniversary and/or wedding celebrations, or for an extended-family cruise, MSC will make your travel special. Please call me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com to explore the options MSC Cruises has to offer to you and your family. I look forward to introducing you to this gracious and welcoming cruise experience. Visit my website at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com.

MSC Cruises is Italy’s largest privately owned...

MSC Cruises is Italy’s largest privately owned cruise line. The company operates eight cruise ships and has a further two vessels under construction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Clients are in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas this week aboard a Holland America cruise. I ran across this picture I took last spring while I was there and thought I’d share it as I think about them. This is a private island in the Bahamas that HAL cruisers get to enjoy. The crescent beach is beautiful, the sand is powdery, and the colors are obviously magnificent.

The Bahamas sport such wonders on all their islands. I’d love to help you plan a vacation there, whether by land or by sea. Call 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanielttravel.com.

How to Choose the Correct Cruise Line

Generally, cruisers start with one cruise line and tend to stick with that brand. This loyalty is good to a point, but don’t let it restrict your cruise experiences. Cruises can all be quite different  depending on your choice of cruise lines. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, cruising offers many choices. Here’s a quick, and absolutely non-inclusive, primer on cruise lines.

AMA waterways: River cruising at its best. Known for their wine cruises in the fall, after harvest time, for bargain prices. But luxury anytime.

Avalon: River cruising with the added benefit of cooperative tours in every port. Immersion in your destinations along the great waterways of Europe.

Azamara: The small-ship line of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity. Their forte is overnight stays, longer stops,and  night tours for the full experience of each port of call. Especially great for European sailings. Will not disappoint.

Carnival: The “fun” ships are geared towards just that. Inexpensive, lots of activity, sometimes criticized for being too loud, very popular with groups. Good for the partying crowd. Lots of bars, DJ’s, comedy clubs. “Fun for all. All for fun!” Here is a Carnival ship all decked out for fun.

The Port of New Orleans has a cruise line term...

Celebrity: Sophisticated, modern luxury ships, stand outs for their spa experiences and cuisine. More expensive, but good value for the price. Any age group looking for upscale experience. The premium line of the Royal Caribbean group.

Crystal: Luxury cruising all the way. No one doesn’t like Crystal. Pricey, but sometimes run nice specials.

Cunard: Old-world elegance, traditional cruising. Beautiful ships. Excellent for transatlantic crossings. A step above Holland America, but in the same family.

Disney: You’d think it was just for kids, but it’s not. Consistently top-ranked ships for food and service. Families love it, of course, but adults have their own areas. This Disney ship calls Port Canaveral, FL home.

English: Disney Cruise Lines' Disney Wonder in...

Holland America: Refined elegance and traditional cruising. Some complaints that the cruisers are too old, but a great line for peace, quiet, romance for the over 50 crowd. Larger cabins than most. Mid-priced, but considered a premium line of the Carnival parent company.

Caribbean cruising by Susan McDaniel Travel

The Holland America Noordam in St. Thomas

MSC: Family-owned line known for its cleanliness and top-notch entertainment.  Quiet ships. You may not have heard of  them, but you should know them.

Norwegian: Known for “Freestyle Cruising” because of its unconventional and innovative nature. Good for the individualist and individuals. The newest ship, the Epic, now has studio cabins for solo-travelers. Mid-price range. The Norwegian ship below sports beautiful murals.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Pearl and Star in Skagway

Oceania: Deluxe cruising on smaller ships with emphasis on cuisine. Price point higher than most.

Paul Gauguin: Tahiti, Fiji, Bora Bora. THE line for the South Pacific. Small-ship cruising to amazing ports. Usually offer free air from LA and sometimes 2 for 1 sailings. Gauguin will take you to Bora Bora in style (below).

English: Mount Otemanu in Bora Bora

Princess: Relaxed, comfortable elegance. Total pampering. Their motto is “escape completely” because they tend to every detail, unobtrusively. For the total getaway consumer. Mid-priced. Princess knows Alaska. It’s the only choice for this destination. Ask me about it. I am a certified Princess Alaska Expert.

Regent: Luxury cruising and a price to match.

Royal Caribbean:  Active travelers, but appeals to every age. You don’t have to participate in all the activity. You can just watch, too. Fitness buffs will love all the options. Well-priced, well-kept ships.  New emphasis on food: farm-to-table fresh menus. (The Allure sports 25 restaurants!) Everyone loves Royal!

Caribbean cruising by Susan McDaniel Travel

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas at Labadee, Haiti

Seabourn: Luxury cruising. Pricey, but you’re worth it!

SeaDream Yacht  Club: “It’s Yachting, Not Cruising” on these small-ships. Luxury all the way! 5-star service. You can’t afford not to go on SeaDream. Below is a SeaDream Yacht.

SeaDream II

SilverSea: Small-ship (500 passenger) luxury romance. Goes to rarely-visited ports. Romantic restaurants on board. Spare no expense and go for it! All-suite, all-inclusive.

StarClippers: Real small-ship sailing vessels and a crew that knows how to sail. You can even help. Taking you to the lesser visited ports in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Europe.

Viking River Cruises: Luxury along the rivers of Europe. Viking are adding dozens of new “Longships” in 2013 and 2014. The Viking ship here is representative of smaller river cruise ships.

Viking Helvetia River cruise ship on Rhine Riv...

Windstar: Competes with StarClippers. Small-ship sailing vessels but these use the motors more than the sails. Unusually itineraries because the small ships can go where larger vessels can not reach.

Did you know there are so many cruises lines available to you? A cruise line exists for every occasion, destination, and fantasy.

NOT ALL CRUISES END THIS WAY

NOT ALL CRUISES END THIS WAY (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter)

And despite Robert’s caption above, cruises very often turn out that way! You should try one. Begin planning your own at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com or let me do it for you. Call 561-841-2224 or e-mail me at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com. Cruising is a sweet confection you should enjoy!

Seven Tips to Avoid Seasickness: Smooth Cruise Sailing, Part 2

After the last blog post about avoiding seasickness on a cruise, readers wanted more specific suggestions. In “Five Steps to Smooth Cruise Sailing” I suggested that you entrust your travel consultant with many of the arrangements to make you and your party comfortable. I still recommend that you do this, but here are seven more specific tips.

1.) Get an outside cabin with a balcony. You want to be able to see the horizon as a stable point of reference if you start feeling wobbly. The fresh air will also help.

A nice verandah will help you avoid being seasick on a cruise.

2.) Get the biggest cabin you can afford so you don’t feel closed in and confined. You will feel like you are in a luxurious hotel rather than on a ship!

A larger cabin will help you avoid feeling claustrophobic and keep you comfortable.

3.) Let your travel consultant chose the cabin’s location. You want to be in the middle of the ship, on a lower level, to prevent as much motion as possible.

4.) Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water and eat lightly (if you can resist all the goodies!) for the first day or two.

Drink lots of water and eat light, if you can!

5.) Don’t have your heart set on a specific itinerary. Be flexible. Due to routes and ocean currents at certain times of the year, you will be more comfortable leaving from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the winter months rather than leaving from a more northerly port. Then, in the Caribbean for example, you will feel better if you head east initially through the protected waters of the Bahamas, and turn south rather than heading straight south to Aruba and then heading north. There are many variables and these are only suggestions. Let your travel consultant scrutinize your chosen itinerary and make suggestions.

6.) Caribbean waters are generally calmer when you travel in the fall after hurricane season ends November 30 (or even mid-November), and spring (March-May). Other areas have their own “seasons.”

7.) Stick with the ships that have state-of-the-art stabilizers. Your travel consultant can guide you to the right choice.

Certain cruise lines have better stabilizers built into their ships.

You can never be sure that there won’t be some rocky days, but you can certainly increase your odds of smooth sailing by doing these simple things. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me at 561-841-2224 or susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com. An unfounded fear of rough seas  prevents too many people from enjoying the wonderful experience of cruising. Don’t you be one of them. Once you cruise you will definitely do it again. I’d love to be the one to introduce you to this type of vacation.

Willemstad, Curacao: Do You Think it’s a Successful Mix of Old and New?

Willemstad, Curacao: Is it old? Is it new? Is it a successful mixture of the two?

Royal Dutch/Shell Company built one of the world’s biggest refineries on the island of Curacao to refine Venezuelan oil. After all, Venezuela is only 35 miles away. The influx of refinery workers from around the globe created a diverse and lively population, a mix of many cultures and races. Then tourism grew and the resultant growth created a mix of colonial treasures and modern attractions. Cutting-edge shopping, entertainment, and dining live side-by-side with historical reminders of the island’s legacy of changing colonial rule. Integrating all of these changes has been a challenge. Look at these pictures and see if you think the integration has been successful.

Lovely pastel Curacao and a great place for people watching on the waterway

Pastel Dutch-colonial buildings house luxury jewelers and designer retail stores

Cruise ships stay in port late enough for dinner ashore or a casino visit

Cruise ships stay in port late enough for dinner ashore or a casino visit at the ultra- modern resort complex right next to ancient Fort Amsterdam

New resort infinity pool in front of colonial fort and historic buildings

The resort’s infinity pool in front of colonial Fort Amsterdam

Modern cruise ship docked by centuries old fort

Cruise ships dock right in Willemstad too. Notice the fort in the foreground.

Ancient Curacao fort in shadow of Caribbean style skyscraper

Fort Amsterdam in the shadow of one lone Caribbean version of the skyscraper

Crystalline waters against a backdrop of wastewater treatment plants and landfills

Curacao’s crystalline waters exist against a backdrop of wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and oil refineries

Curacao port area

Curacao’s modern port area, designed to look colonial

Great port area to shop and relax

The relaxing port area is adjacent to the neon-enhanced ultra-chic resort/casino complex

Do you think the integration of old and new was a success in Willemstad? As a cruise ship visitor you will love the easy access to many great points of interest, all an easy stroll from the ship.  Still, the contrasts of Curacao are not subtle. But the sometimes jarring juxtapositions do not detract from the fairy- tale feel of the historic area, or the energy that exudes from the island. You’ll have a great time here whether by cruise ship or a land vacation.

Contact me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com to arrange your next vacation to the Caribbean. This area is my specialty and I will see that your trip is custom designed for you. Start your planning at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com .

Five Steps to Smooth Cruise Sailing

Cruise rookies worry way too much about getting seasick. This issue shouldn’t be a problem for most cruisers, but there are five steps you can take to assure yourself of smooth sailing.

Step one: Find a travel agent with boating experience. Cruise experience does not count. You want someone familiar with  boating basics like currents, prevailing winds, and other environmental factors that affect your journey. It’s best to work with Mother Nature rather than work against her.

Blue water and no white caps

Step two: Let your concerns be known. It is completely normal to be concerned about getting seasick on your cruise vacation, but most people are embarrassed to even mention it. Don’t be embarrassed! Speak up so we can make sure you have a wonderful trip.

The view you want to see!

Step three: Be flexible on your dates of travel, your itinerary, and the cruise line. Different times of year are less apt to be rough, as are different routes. If you want to go the Caribbean, for example, think about going later in the spring or in the fall. If you want a winter Caribbean getaway, be open to starting your cruise out of San Juan or points south.

Cruising Mt. Pelee

Step four: Trust that your travel advisor has your best interests at heart. The location of a cabin or the choice of a ship has a big impact on the motion of the ocean. You may be asked to pay a bit more for a cabin less prone to motion. Your comfort is well worth the extra $30 or so. Also, listen to your travel advisor’s tips about what ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilization systems, and which ones aren’t.

The correct ship is crucial to smooth sailing

Step five: Visit your doctor and get a prescription for an anti-emetic drug. You will see many people wearing little round “patches” behind their ears. These dispense medication throughout your cruise to keep you comfortable. Be advised, however, that this medication doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work for me. Bring along some Dramamine or Bonine, some crystallized ginger, and ask your travel agent about other remedies before you set sail, just in case.

Another beautiful cruise day ends!

Getting seasick shouldn’t be much of a concern if you follow these guidelines. Cruising is a fabulous way to have a relaxing, fun-filled vacation. You will never look back once you try it. But that initial trip needs to be the best it can be. You can be a major component in making it so if you follow these steps. Then you’ll wonder why you stayed land-locked for so long! Cruise once and you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it.

Contact me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com with any questions about smooth sailing or any cruise related matter. I’d be happy to answer any question you  might have. You can also visit my website at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com and start planning your cruise vacation right now.

Are You a Pirate at Heart? Find Out in St. Thomas

Start at the top in St. Thomas, USVI. There are lots of ways to do this, but if you think you might be a pirate at heart, start at Blackbeard’s Castle, high above the harbor. Whether you take a tour or take a taxi, chances are you will stop at the overlook on the way to Blackbeard’s. In one direction you will see the cruise ships at dock in Charlotte Amalie; in the other, you will gaze out to the azure sea. (If a man holding a donkey is charging you five dollars “donation” for a picture, then you are in the right place. He says the “donation” is for the ASPCA, but the ASPCA should really rescue the donkey. )

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Looking away from the dock area, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Carry onwards and upwards to Blackbeard’s hangout. This locale has two pools, spacious changing rooms, chaise lounges, and a bar and restaurant, too. The expansive view is just more booty. They make delicious flavored rums here now, so take the tour and taste all of the varieties. Afterwards, you will be in fine spirits to climb the lookout tower and do all of the fun, touristy, pirate-themed photo ops available.

I get into trouble everywhere I go!

Climb to the top of Blackbeard’s lookout tower for a great view

Now begins the descent down the 99- steps from the hilltop to the shopping district below. In between you will pass beautiful historic homes (many with docents giving talks on early island life), bountiful gardens, and statues commemorating various events in St. Thomas’s past. It’s a gradual descent. The 99 steps are not all together in one long staircase!

At the Statue of the Virgins you are one-third of the way down the 99-steps. You can see Blackbeard’s lookout tower in the background on the hilltop.

When you laugh your way to nearly street level (a function of the rum, no doubt), you’ll be ready for the cool oasis of the Amber Museum. The Amber Waterfall welcomes you, and inside you’ll learn about amber from all over the world. Did you know real amber floats in saltwater? It also smells like pine if you hit it with a hot needle. There is apparently a lot of fake amber on the market.  I never knew it came in so many colors! The blue-green is especially beautiful, and you can purchase a piece to take home here.

The Amber Waterfall at the Amber Museum

Then it’s off to shop in St. Thomas’s world-class duty-free shopping district. You will land right in the middle of it at the end of your 99- step tour. I suggest seeking out the Belgian Chocolate store in the little mall. You are also very close to the ferry that can whisk you back to your cruise ship if it is docked at Crown Bay instead of right downtown. Take your sword, your eye patch, your pirate hat, and your bottle of authentic island rum and mosey on back to your own sailing ship, just as Blackbeard did hundreds of years ago.

Your sailing ship awaits

As you leave St. Thomas to a picture perfect sunset, make plans to return. This island never fails to provide a fun time. I’ll tell you about other adventures in future blog posts. You can start planning your own St. Thomas getaway by land or sea at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com . Then contact me at 561-841-2224 or susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com to finalize your trip details.  The United States Virgin Islands are a national treasure. Even Blackbeard recognized that fact.

Leaving St. Thomas and another perfect cruise day! See you again soon

Eden and Satan Meet at Dominica’s Botantical Gardens

“Don’t touch the fruit of the Cannon Ball Tree! It smells like ‘Satan’s feces.’ ” This statement is the most vivid memory I have of our visit to Dominica’s Botanical Gardens. The warning was delivered in the lilting sing-song voice of our tour guide, and it was met with a resounding round of laughter from our group. But we all steered clear of the Cannon Ball Tree fruit. I did wonder what Satan’s feces smelled like, and how anyone would know, but I wasn’t quite curious enough to find out.

The Cannon Ball Tree

Don’t go near the fruit of the Cannon Ball Tree

The Botanical Gardens lie just outside Roseau, at the base of Morne Bruce, which is the mountain overlooking the town. On our cruise ship tour we had only a fleeting glimpse of the gardens. On another trip, we would spend many hours there exploring. The plantings are extensive, and a captive breeding program provides close up views of the endangered Sisserou and Jacko Parrots. It makes for a perfect picnic spot, as well as a convenient and relaxing stop for birdwatchers visiting Dominica. The plantings encourage a diverse array of birds to visit, so bring your binoculars and listen closely to their songs.

Ficus at Dominica Botanical Gardens

Aerial ficus roots, Dominica Botanical Gardens

The Spiny Bamboo House was an interesting topiary. We were told it was sometimes used for weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations. We wondered if “other celebrations” included island “religious” ceremonies. Various forms of voodoo (for lack of a better word) are reportedly still practiced in certain areas of this portion of the Caribbean. The bamboo house’s spooky quality was not lost on us.

Bamboo House

The bamboo house is used for celebrations and events

The national tree/flower of Dominica is called the Bwa Kwaib. It sports prolific crimson blooms in the spring, but only after shedding all of its leaves. It was chosen to represent this country because it thrives under the harshest conditions, just like Dominica.

Dominica's National Tree

The Bwa Kwaib tree blooms after all its leaves are lost

According to Frommer’s, the Gardens were established initially to provide Dominica’s farmers with crop diversification. London’s Kew Gardens provided exotic plant seedlings from every tropical outpost to determine what would grow well in Dominica’s climate and soil. The result: everything grew well here.

On your next cruise stop at Dominica, consider a walk to the Botanical Gardens, or take a quick taxi ride there. Pick up a few beers and sandwiches in town and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. The lack of beaches on this island is quite overcome by its incredible natural beauty. I would first encourage a trip to the many waterfalls, rivers, lakes, or the rainforest. If, however, you decide to stay close to Roseau, these Gardens can transport you to a beautiful, tranquil, relaxing Garden of Eden. Just don’t be tempted by the fruit of the Cannon Ball Tree.

Contact me at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com or 561-841-2224 to plan your trip to Dominica. Or visit my website at

www.susanmcdanieltravel.com  and use the tools there to explore any destination you choose. Travel begins with a dream, and I make dreams reality.

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