Archive for the ‘Sailing/Crusing’ Category

Happy New Year!

I wanted to get this posted in January, and it looks like I just made it!

I can’t believe just how fast January has flown by. We spent the final days of December and the first few days of January in Mary’s happy place…the Caribbean, specifically in the Grenadines aboard our favorite ship the S/V Mandalay owned and operated by Sail Windjammer.

Mid-January Sail Windjammer shared their plans for the future of the S/V Mandalay, and sadly past 2020 those plans will not include passenger vacations.. and sadly we don’t have enough vacation days in 2020 to add another week (or two) on our favorite ship.

So, our last Windjammer photos have been uploaded into our online photo album under the 2019 folder.

Here are just a few of photos of that trip:



Last year around this time, we took an amazing trip to the South Pacific; visiting islands in the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, and the Marquesas Island.  We boarded a very unusual vessel, the Aranui 5, in Papeete, Tahiti.

We had a wonderful room with a balcony.

The ship had a wonderful crew and amazing food.

During the trip, we visited some very exotic islands….

First there was Tahiti, where we spent a few days exploring before boarding the Aranui 5 and almost a full day after disembarking.

Moorea where we visited with the sharks and stingrays.

On Fakarava we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the Heiva festival activities.

Nuku Hiva is an island that has to be experience to believe that it exists. Its remarkable scenery and welcoming people make this an island that we’d love to return to someday.

On Ua Huka we visited an  arboretum garden and a cultural museum.

We got our exercise on Ua Pou by hiking to the top of the hill to enjoy the amazing view. After our hike, locals entertained us performing the traditional bird dance of their island.   And before bidding this beautiful island farewell, we enjoyed a delicious buffet at a local restaurant.

Te l’lpona on Hiva Oa has the largest tiki statues in French Polynesia! It is easy to see why Paul Gauguin chose to live here.

The Church of Vaitahu on the island of Tahuata has the prettiest stained glass window.

Fatu Hiva welcomed us with music and demonstrations of local craftsmanship.

Rangiroa is the largest atoll of the Islands of Tahiti. From snorkeling to learning about pearl farming, everything here centers around the crystal clear endless shades of blue water.

Bora Bora, so beautiful its name has to be said twice!

If you’d like to see even more photos, visit our online photo album:

It was definitely a trip of a lifetime! Come on lottery, I’d like to do this trip a few more times!!!!!

Ships we’ve sailed…

Came across a website with cruise ship size information.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the traditional cruise ships that we’ve sailed on with the size of the current largest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.  Harmony of the Seas which weighs 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,479 guests, and 2,100 crew members.


Holland American Lines / Eurodam (2016): 
GRT: 86,700 
Length: 935 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 23 knots
Registry: Netherlands
Passengers: 2104
Crew: 929
Shipyard: Fincantieri


Carnival / Victory (2010):
GRT: 101,509
Length: 893 ft
Beam: 116 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2758
Crew: 1100
Shipyard: Fincantieri


Carnival / Legend (2009):
GRT: 88,500
Length: 963 ft
Beam: 106 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2124
Crew: 930
Shipyard: Aker Yards 


Celebrity / Galaxy (2007): 
GRT: 77,713
Length: 866 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1850
Crew: 909
Shipyard: Meyer Werft 


Celebrity / Horizon (2000):
GRT: 47,427 
Length: 682 ft
Beam: 95 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1875
Crew: 670
Shipyard: Meyer Werft


Dolphin Cruise Line / Sea Breeze (1997):
GRT: 20,416
Length: 606 ft
Beam: 79 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 840
Crew: 400
Shipyard: Ansaldo Sestri Ponente 


Premier Cruise Lines / Starship Atlantic (1993):
GRT: 35,143 
Length: 672 ft
Beam: 90 ft
Speed: 19 knots 
Registry: N/A 
Passengers: 1062
Crew: 535
Shipyard: CNIM


Christmas cruise on Holland American Lines Eurodam 2016



Over the Christmas holiday, we spent two relaxing weeks cruising around the Caribbean on the MS Eurodam.

On board we ate some amazing food.

The staff was awesome.

Holland American Line’s private island provided a nice beach day.

On Turks and Caicos, we hung out at the Margaritaville pool.

In San Juan, we tasted the original Piña Colada at Restaurant Barrachina, walked around Old San Juan, and sampled some local chocolate at Casa Corte.

From Ft. Lauderdale, we took a tour to the Florida Everglades.

We made fishy friends in Grand Cayman.

We explored Cozumel on a rail buggy adventure tour.

We wandered around Key West…visiting Mel Fisher’s Museum, ate Maine lobster rolls at DJ’s Clam Shack (which was featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), meandered through the Key West Cemetery, and did a mini pub crawled – stopping into Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s Saloon.

After the cruise we spent a few days exploring and eating our way around south Florida and the Upper Keys.


We finally made it to the Coral Castle.

Had an awesome fish sandwich at Robbie’s Marina.

We spent a few hours exploring the displays at The History of Diving Museum.


We spent a morning exploring the Fruit and Spice Park.


We had great pub grub at the M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

We visited two wonderful breweries; Islamorada Beer Company and Florida Keys Brewing Company.

The best meal of the trip just might have been at The Fish House (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

And ended the vacation with a beautiful sunset.


Another great Sail Windjammer vacation

We just got back from a weeks sailing thru the Grenadines with the Parrish Heads in Paradise & Limin’ Place on board the S/V Mandalay.  Here are just a few photos (more coming soon)…enjoy!

We made a few new friends.

A lot more friends….

Jimmy Parrish and Limin’ Place entertained us all week!

For the most part the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful.

Snorkeling did not disappoint either.

Sail Windjammer is not known for gourmet cuisine, but we didn’t exactly starve either.

One particular “snacks & swizzles” was made 10x better when some passengers bought a few local fresh fish to share!

It was a great week to be aboard the S/V Mandalay!

If you are searching for something to read…

May I suggest:

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof
The author and her perpetually hungry husband ditched their Toronto careers to sail around the Caribbean ingesting as much of the island cultures as possible. Each chapter tells of a new adventure ashore, the cuisine discovered while visiting farms and processing sites (like the Grenadian chocolate factory), and learning to make the exotic local dishes. At the end of each chapter a local recipe is shared. 71 stories and recipes! Everything from stewed goat to callaloo.

The author combines two wonderful things: tourism and tasty food!

Available on Amazon – click here.

The countdown begins….

We have begun preparations for our next Windjammer adventure….

Back in 2006, we were late to the party. Both the WJBC sailing days and the movie night onboard the S/V Mandalay. That night we had gone ashore for a lobster dinner at Foxy’s. Approaching the ship via the launch, we could see an old sail being used as a movie screen and the movie was Captain Ron.   

Thus began a tradition for us. Each year as we plan our migration to the Caribbean, El Caribe, we prepare for “the land of voodoo, hoodoo, and all kinda weird $#!&” by sitting back, drinking a cold one, and watching that movie. Last weekend we checked this off our list…the countdown continues.

Sail Windjammer – S/V Mandalay photos

Still working on the full online album, but here are some of my favorites so far.

Happily Every After (Every Now and Then)

To quote a Jimmy Buffett song “Some never find it, Some only pretend… I just want to live happily every after every now and then”.  The moment I stepped foot onto Windjammer Sailing Advertures’ S/V Mandalay’s deck I had that “happily ever after” feeling!

The crew has a contagious smile.  They are truly having the time of their lives welcoming long time Jammers home and showing those new to Windjammer what the Caribbean really should be.  In the 2-weeks I spent on board, Captain Sly and the crew did their best to ensure that each passenger had the best vacation ever.

Old Windjammer traditions of captains story time, dancing on the decks to island music, crab races, sea hunt and raising of the sails to Amazing Grace were honored.  We rode in the widows net (in a safety harness) while under sail back to Grenada.  Sly held several star gazing classes. I finally saw the Southern Cross and now can easily identify it (Thank you Sly).  A very special Mandalay pirate flag was raised, and we even fired the canon on the Diamant. We visited Bequia, Tobago Cays, Carriacou, Chatham Bay & Clifton on Union Island, Palm Island, Happy Island, Sandy Island and Mayreau.  Sea life was abundant.  The turtles did not disappoint, as we visited them on Bequia at the sanctuary, swam with them in the Tobabo Cays, and also, the purser, Ciara arranged a special tour for us to see Leatherbacks nesting & hatching on Grenada (very awesome)!  We saw lots of stingrays and even had a special appearance by a large eagle ray while swimming with the turtles at Tobago Cays.  There were lots of tangs, parrot fish, trumpet fish, puffers, squid, a few eels and even a juvenile shark was sighted.  The Grenadines gave us perfect robins egg blue sky and calm seas both weeks.

I don’t remember seeing the Mandalay in better condition.  We had the King cabin with its huge bed and a shower sized for a normal home.  Every cabin that we took a peek at, looked to be very comfortable.  Every morning Captain Sly asked if there were any problems with the cabins; any issues raised were addressed and corrected… duct tape is no longer needed to adjust the temperature in your room like in the old days!

Philbert and Ren did their best to see that we all gained weight during our vacations.  I can’t think of one meal that I did not thoroughly enjoy.  I even threatened that if I win the lottery I’m coming after those two for my personal chefs!  One passenger had a wish to assist in the galley and it was granted.  His comments were “it is clean back there” and about what an amazing job they do difficult conditions… the ship was under sail and while he was sliding all around as he worked, Philbert and Ren were steady and a rock.

I can’t tell you enough how much the crew makes the trip.  I’m not sure that I can name all 20 of the crew… I know I will miss someone and everyone of them worked so hard to make our trip, but here it goes.  Captain Sly doing his job (which is to look good, just ask him).  Blaze making sure that Sly didn’t get us lost.  Ciara organizing all the paperwork and great tours.  Grandpa (Marlon) and Rocky serving our meals and making towel animals for our cabins.  Rocky had a birthday that we all celebrated, too.  Mashup and Conrad served up creative drinks and potent rum swizzles.  Philbert and Ren making such awesome food.  Quinty and Spice kept us safe as they shuttled us to and from shore in the launch.  The deck hands and engineers that we didn‘t see as much but appreciate all their hard work keeping the Mandalay in such fine shape:  Brian, Squall, Yellow, Chippy, Blair, Lennox, Browne, and Joseph.  Joseph, also, had a birthday that we all celebrated.  Squall made a new rope anklet for me.  Thanks everyone for the best 2-weeks!

For those reading this; two things…

1) We took many photos and will post as soon as we can.

2) I would like to echo Jimmy Buffett’s advice:

Take it from me ‘cuz I’ve found , If you leave it then somebody else is bound, To find that treasure, that moment of pleasure, When yours, it could have been“.

Go find the Mandalay and “that moment of pleasure”. Don’t let it become a “could have been”.

Carnival Cruise photos are finally posted

Here is a teaser photo:

If you want to see what that photo is all about and find out what other awesome things we did while hopping around the Caribbean, check out our Carnival Cruise photos:

%d bloggers like this: