My Seven Day Caribbean Cruise Aboard the Norwegian Star

Untitled (1 of 1)-9My crews on the Norwegian Star was my sixth cruise in the past three years.  This was my first cruise with Norwegian Cruise lines.   I had previously cruised with Holland America three times and Royal Caribbean two times.  I was pleasantly surprised with Norwegian as a company and the Norwegian Star cruise ship which has been renovated recently.  I thought the entertainment was excellent, the food was good, and there was a big variety of excursions offered at the ports we stopped at and the prices were reasonable.  I think this is a great Cruise line for families with children which I will discuss later on.

Here is the stage where many of the bands played and shows took place:
Untitled (1 of 1)-9I don't typically enjoy watching shows or listening to the entertainment on cruise ships but I thought the talent on this one was superb.

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There were many activities for the children throughout the cruise and they seemed to be enjoying themselves everywhere I looked!  I actually made it to the gym each night (miracles never cease) which was next door to the children's playroom.  I would hear and see all of the activities that were provided for the kids.  I truly think they provided excellent activities for the children aboard the ship since I saw so much participation and they all seemed to be having fun.
Untitled (1 of 1)-9  I love the illuminated stained glass ceiling in the lobby.  They were lit up at certain times of the day and were just stunning in my opinion!
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Here is a photo of two Norwegian Cruise ships.  The Norwegian Star is the smaller one and holds around 2400 people.  The larger ship is one of their newer ones and holds around 3400 people.  I've never been on one of the very large ships but would like to try it sometime.
Cruise-ships-1330422_960_720Here is the pool area on the top deck.  The children and adults seemed to be enjoying this area during much of the cruise.  As you can see there are some pretty big slides in the pool.  There aren't a lot of people in this photo as I took it as soon as I boarded the ship.  You can see some of the buildings in Tampa Bay since we hadn't left the port yet.
Cruise-ship-1326079_960_720I splurged on a balcony room which I did not regret.  I loved that there was a coffee pot in my room.  I enjoyed watching the sunsets from my own balcony.
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Cruise-ship-1326079_960_720Have you cruised with Norwegian?  If so, would you recommend it to others as I would?  I am actually considering a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Norwegian Jade this summer.

Thank you very much for visiting my little blog.  I love hearing from my readers even if it's only two correct my grammar and/or spelling which is not my forte.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I hope you have a wonderful week!

~Michelle

 

 

 


My Visit and Snorkeling Excursion in Cozumel Mexico

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I decided on a short excursion during our last stop in Cozumel Mexico while on the the seven day Caribbean cruise I was on aboard the Norwegian Star.  I chose to do an easy shore side snorkel adventure because I am not an experienced snorkeler.  This excursion only cost $35 for an adults and $25 for children 13 and under.  It only lasted two hours which was fine because I wanted to explore Cozumel a little bit and buy some last minute souvenirs. 

I realize the truck that was "stranded" on the beach has nothing to do with snorkeling, but I thought it was quite picturesque and interesting.  I've shown it to people since I arrived home and I think it's their favorite photo of my cruise.  It is a 1932 Ford.  I have no idea if it still runs are not!

One of the main reasons I did not want a long excursion in Cozumel was because I was reading a book that I had borrowed from the ship's library and still had 250 pages left to read.  I included a picture of the book below as I thought it was excellent.  This was the first novel I have read by Nora Roberts that I enjoyed.


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Here are a couple of sailboats that I saw.  It was a perfect day to be out on the water!


Truck-1332564_960_720Here isn't on edited photo of how clear and blue the water was in Cozumel:
Truck-1332564_960_720Here is a photo of our group snorkeling just off the coast:
Truck-1332564_960_720I thought this pirate ship was very cute and interesting:
Truck-1332564_960_720Here is a photo of some of the coral reef we had to walk on.  I love snorkeling but I must admit I am afraid of walking in swimming around the coral reef as it's very sharp!

Untitled (1 of 1)-210Like all of the other places we visited on this cruise Cozumel's was really beautiful as well!
Untitled (1 of 1)-210Here is a photo of a ship that was parked at the port with some ominous looking storm clouds above it:
Untitled (1 of 1)-210Here is a photo of two of Norwegian ships.  Mine is the smaller one and hold around 2400 guests.  The larger newer ship can't hold up to 3400 people!
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  As you can see Cozumel is pretty built-up and commercialized similar to Cancun:Untitled (1 of 1)-24Here is the 500 page book I was reading.  I did end up finishing it and would recommend it.  I bought two more books by Nora Roberts as soon as I arrived home.
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 Thank you so much for stopping by my little blog.  Please leave any questions or comments as I love to hear from my readers.  Even if you have some suggestions on my spelling or grammar I will appreciate that too.  Remember you can find a lot of my photos to use for free on Pixabay - my profile is here.  I hope you all are enjoying the weekend and have a wonderful week!

~Michelle


Salsa Preparation and Dancing on Costa Maya's Beach

Untitled (1 of 1)-10On my seven day cruise aboard the Norwegian Star we stopped four times.  The first stop was in Roatan Honduras which I wrote about here.  The second in Belize which I posted about here and the third was in Costa Maya Mexico

The excursion that I chose in Costa Maya was so much fun!  Around lunch time we were driven out to a hotel on the beach.  We were met by a group of chefs and salsa dancers who taught us how to make homemade guacamole and salsa.  The avocados were so good.  Unfortunately the ones that I we grow in Florida don't taste the same.  After we made our dips we were served homemade tortilla chips to eat with the dip. After we ate and drank we were taught how to salsa dance.

The price for this excursion was $89 a person for an adult $65 for a child aged 13 and under.  I liked all of the excursions I went on during this cruise, but I laughed the most during this one as the group that taught us how to dance and prepare food had a great sense of humor and seemed really concerned about us enjoying ourselves.  The price includes two  alcoholic or nonalcoholic drinks. 

I wish I had gotten some better pictures but it was slightly dark in the room we were in and we were busy at our table following directions and preparing the dips.  I tried to get some photos of the salsa dancers but they move very quickly!  Costa Maya is a very fast growing area and seemed more commercialized then Belize but is not as built up as Cancun

Custom Maya is a nice place to visit if you want to see the Cancun area but want to be away from the hotel zone and still experience some of the Mexican culture.  Some friends that recently visited the hotel zone in Cancun say they wish that they had stayed out in the Costa Maya area.  There is a lot to do including Xcaret which I wrote about visiting in February 2016 here and here.

Here are my attempts at capturing the salsa dancers:
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Untitled (1 of 1)-10Here is our chef, Alejandro, who did was a very good teacher who made learning fun!  We mainly used a wooden mortar and pestle to prepare the dips.
Untitled (1 of 1)-10Not a great picture but here are the ingredients they gave us to prepare the guacamole and salsa dip.

Untitled (1 of 1)-10Although visiting Cancun sometimes felt like being in Orlando I tried to remember that minimum-wage is only five dollars a day.   These people work very hard.  I tried to tip a little bit here and there as they really do depend on them to get by.  I was very impressed by the talent and performance by these acrobats.

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Untitled (1 of 1)-10We were greeted by these guys in their amazing costumes that created a great photo opportunity!
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Untitled (1 of 1)-10Thank you for stopping by.  I love hearing your questions and or comments.  Even if all you want to do is correct my spelling or grammar I will appreciate that ;).   I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

~Michelle

 

 

 


My Earth Day Post: How Becoming a Vegetarian Can Help Our Planet

Retaurant-411940_960_720I took the above photo while I was in Oia on Santorini island in Greece eating a meatless dinner.

First of all I want to say I am not trying to talk down to people who eat meat or convince everyone who reads this to become a vegetarian tomorrow.  Maybe a few people will start thinking about becoming a vegetarian one day or eat less meat such as trying "Meatless Mondays".

I became a vegetarian while I was in college in the early 1990's, but I still ate tuna fish occasionally.  I was a nutrition major and most of the students in my classes were vegetarians as well.   I became a vegetarian at that time mainly for health reasons.  I have since given up eating all fish and am a vegan (eat NO animal products) 90% of the time when I am at home and a lact0-ovo (eats some dairy and eggs) vegetarian when I am traveling. 

It is really tough to avoid all dairy products and eggs when you are traveling.  For example, when I visit a breakfast buffet, I don't know if some of the bread's or casseroles served are made with eggs or dairy products.  I will not eat meat under any circumstances at this point in my life and that includes fish. I do miss eating sushi, but still can eat some of the cucumber rolls.  I have blood work done every year and my iron levels are actually a little on the high side from eating so many green leafy vegetables like broccoli.  I am a vegetarian for many reasons including health, but mostly for not eating animals as I feel they are not treated right.

Being a vegetarian is also advantageous to the environment for the following reasons.     

*Contaminating the air:  Factory farms produce methane and carbon dioxide, and other polluting gases.  It is estimated that two thirds of man-made ammonia is generated by raising livestock and is a major contributor to acid rain.

*Deforestation:  Raising animals that will later be used to feed humans meat has contributed to the loss of forests as a lot of land is needed.

*Making us prone to disease - high cholesterol, E-coli, and Salmonella to name a few.

*Spoiling the oceans:  Sewage, nitrogen compounds and fertilizer cause algal blooms that take up a lot of oxygen in the air.

*Using up too much water:  Raising animals for meat uses up 70% of the water that could be used for drinking or for crops.

 

I've known many people who are interested in becoming vegetarians and go from eating meat or fish every day to trying to become a vegan overnight. I've known some people who have stocked their refrigerators with hundreds of dollars of produce in hopes of becoming a vegan.  It's usually just too much of a change for many of them.  Often these people just give up and feel like they failed.  The people who I've known that become a vegetarian successfully do it in stages.  They usually give up meat a few days out of the week then later eliminate fish and have been able to sustain their vegetarian diets. 

I've had a lot of people tell me that it's not healthy for me to be a vegetarian.  I tell them that there are many ways for people to get enough protein in their diet.  Eating, nuts, hummus, tofu and other soy products are ways of getting protein in our diet without consuming meat.  Being a vegetarian can also taste good.  The two photos below are up some desserts I ordered when I was in Thailand a couple of years ago.

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Here are a couple of photos of the breakfast buffet at the hotel I stayed at in Barcelona a few months ago:
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Retaurant-411940_960_720I do still eat ice cream occasionally.  There is ice cream made with soy milk which really isn't bad in my opinion.
Retaurant-411940_960_720There are produce markets in most places around the world like the one below in Venice:
Retaurant-411940_960_720I made the following treats for my husband on Valentine's Day this year.  I made a fruit tray and a dip made from coconut products:
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I can still have coffee with soy milk as well!
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  Thank you so much for visiting.   I'd love to hear I'd love to hear if you are a vegetarian or have thought of becoming one.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

~Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Visiting The Bacab Eco Park in Belize

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Our second stop on my Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian star was the Belize city port.  In order to get from the ship to shore you must take a smaller boat.  Belize is a fast growing area.  It is still not as commercialized as the Cancun area but according to the locals is growing very quickly.           

 One of the good things about this seven day cruise was we stopped four days out of the seven.  This was a good thing for me because  I was able to get off the boat instead of dealing with too many days at sea.  I don't like being at sea for long periods of time.  I was also able to visit a café or restaurant at the ports and use the internet.  I typically spend a fair amount on using the ship's internet which can be a lot or a little slow.  I have been on a few cruises where the internet was very costly and did not work very well.  This was especially true of my trip to Antarctica but that is to be expected as we are very far from land at some points for a very long periods of time.             

Before I went on my excursion to the Bacab Eco Jungle Park, I visited a restaurant called "The Wet Lizard".  I talked to the server about how fast the area is growing.  She said they expect that soon cruise ships will be able to pull right up to the coast.  When that happens people visiting via a cruise ship will not have to take a small boat from the ship, but will be able to just walk down a pier. 

I feel I made a good choice in visiting the Bacab Eco Jungle Park.  This excursion cost $55 USD andfor children 13 and under the price is only $35USD. The price if I had gone kayaking would have gone up to $109 for an adult and $65 dollars for a child 13 or younger.  If one chose to go horseback riding the price would be $119 USD for an adult and $89 for a child 13 or under.  The price included a lunch consisting of rice, beans, potato salad, and chicken and fruit punch.  The lunch was really good but I didn't eat the chicken because I am a vegetarian.  There was canoeing and horseback riding available at the park which I chose not to do.     

 If I were to return I would choose to do the kayaking even though I saw a baby crocodile in the water.  I love all animals but horses have always scared me a little bit - only because of their size so I have never gone horseback riding.  The park was a very nice, peaceful and pretty place to spend a few hours. 

Our tour guide was very informative on the 20 minute drive from the airport to the park about the culture and the people of Belize.  In Belize the people believe that it takes a village to raise a child so if a parent's friend or neighbor sees their child misbehave they are allowed to step in and say or do something.  So a child who is misbehaving may get in trouble with a neighbor and then again with their parent later when the neighbor reports back to the child's parent. 

Children in Belize are required to attend school until they are 14 years old.  Parents who do not make their children go to school face six months in prison.  The students wear uniforms and the girls skirts must come 3 inches below their knees.  I enjoyed getting to see what Belize  was like beyond port.  I saw some of the locals' houses, businesses and schools as well,  It was fun for me, as a former teacher, to see the children walking home from school and they're cute uniforms.

The kids seemed to enjoy the very large pool, waterfalls and slide;
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Belize-1327514_960_720the kids seemed to love sitting in the cave behind the waterfall!

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the kayakers:
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I love all animals but have always been a little fearful of horses because they are so large.  I thought this mother and baby were absolutely adorable though.  They let me walk up quite close to them to take a photo.
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The Bacab Eco Park had a nature walk.  A lot of natural medicines are grown in this area.
Belize-1327514_960_720There were hear mix for people to relax and I will admit that I spent sometime here :)
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This sign is one of the first things you see when you visit Belize via cruise ship:
Belize-1327514_960_720This little boy is standing in front of a local restaurant
Belize-1327514_960_720I thought the kids looked so polished and neat in their school uniforms
Belize-1327514_960_720The locals houses we're all very colorful and many had a lot is beautiful flowers surrounding them
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I will leave you with the sunset that I sigh as we were cruising away from Belize on our way to Costa Maya, Mexico
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Overall, I found the Bacab Eco Park to be a wonderful destination for all people including families, older, younger as there were activities for all to enjoy.  Thank you so much for visiting my little piece of the internet please know that I treasure your comments and will happily answer any questions.  I hope you all are having a wonderful week. 

~Michelle 

 

 


Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls ~ If You Must

 

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One of my main goals for 2016 was to take some photos of my cats that I am proud of.  I wrote about it on this post.  I will be honest with you, it's it's not been as easy as I thought it would be.  Cats move very quickly and some of mine our seemingly camera shy.  The above photo of my oldest named Chanel (a Himalayan Persian rescue cat) is especially camera shy so I was happy to get this shot of her.

The title of this post " Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls" was taken from the movie "The Titanic" .  This movie came out in 1997.  It's hard for me to believe it is almost a twenty-year-old movie as people still watch it a lot nowadays.

As you can see Fleur LOVES the camera.  She seems to like posing in front of flowers.  She was found in a flower bed when she was only a few weeks old almost 9 years ago.  We took her in as a foster cat around that time.  I think after nine years she will be with us for good ;)

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 Here is another of my "foster" cats named Peanut.  He will be 10 years old this fall.  I'm grateful that he is not very camera shy either!

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And here is peanut again while I am practicing with a new Focus type lens that I've been having a tough time learning to use:

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Here are some of my very camera shy kitties.  The black one is named Princess and is about nine years old.  The Siamese looking one is named Sasha who just turned six.  The Tortoiseshell cat is named Piney.  Piney is FIV positive and about  four years old.  She is kept healthy with a fairly new drug the few people know about called T-cyte.  Many people ask me if it is expensive.  It costs us about $60 dollars each time she gets a shot which is about twice a year.  

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 Here is peaches sporting her lion cut.  She is normally very fluffy so we get her groomed during the summer because it's so hot here in Florida.  Peaches is also FIV positive. We took her in more than two years ago when she was found nursing seven two week old kittens next to a dumpster.  We took her to the vet the next day and learned she was F I V positive.  Only two of the kittens tested FIV positive, but after six doses of T-cyte when they were very young they became negative.  T-cyte truly is a miracle drug in my opinion.

We don't know peaches exact age.  All of our cats are rescues so we don't know most of their exact birthdays.  The only one we know for sure is our oldest who is pictured at the top she was born in her foster home on May 29, 2004.


Cat-1212646_960_720Lastly I will leave you photos of Elizabeth and Jasmine.  They are sisters who are approximately 10 years old.  Elizabeth, pictured first, looks like she got into my eyeliner.  They were the first foster cats that we took in.  They were very lucky to survive as they were found in a barn in the middle of the winter in Ohio.  Their mother had been stepped on by a horse.  Luckily they are happy and healthy cats now. 

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I think Jasmine tries to make me feel guilty when I'm packing to go out of town :)

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Thank you so much for stopping by to see my first kids.  I will continue to work on their portraits throughout 2016 and beyond.  I would love to hear your comments and advice on taking pictures of pets.  As always you can use my photo for free using my Pixabay account here.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

~Michelle