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Friday, 24 December 2010

The Ryndam – Christmas Edition

Hello again! Today, I’ve got some pictures from inside the Ryndam showing off some of the Christmas decorations we have up. Enjoy!

Instead of water, the fountain in the atrium is now full of presents!

Above: The Atrium Fountain

There was a special carol-singing session a few days ago where the entertainers on the ship lined up along the stairways and sang carols. You can see fake snow being thrown in this picture:

Above: Passengers of the Ryndam enjoy the carols

At the foot of the fountain there is a huge Christmas tree, which actually toppled over during rough seas a couple of weeks ago. It’s now been made more secure!

Above: The Christmas tree

Alongside the tree, a whole host of gingerbread houses surround the fountain (which are actually made of plywood but decorated with real sweets).

Above: Gingerbread Houses

I thought I’d finish this post with a picture not strictly related to Christmas but pretty magical all the same. It’s a shot of the Ryndam at night – taken last week in Cozumel, Mexico. The picture is one of my first attempts at ‘HDR’ (High Dynamic Range) photography where multiple shots at different exposures are combined into one photo. I hope you like it!

Above: The Ryndam at Night

Thanks so much for checking out my blog. From the sunny Caribbean, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I’ll be back soon with more posts!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Grand Cayman – Cayman Islands

Welcome back! In today’s post I’ll show you around Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman.

Above: Georgetown

Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands, the other two being Little Cayman and Cayman Brac which are located 90 miles northeast.

Above: Georgetown street

The island is just 22 miles long and 8 miles wide at its widest point with the highest ‘summit’ 60 feet above sea level. There are mountains in the region, but they are all submerged – the limestone outcrops of Cayman Ridge extend from Cuba’s Sierra Maestra range to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize.

Ships through anchor
Above: Ships through an anchor

Limestone is porous so there are no rivers or streams. This gives coastal waters a deep indigo hue. Living coral reef surrounds all three islands and local conditions are ideal for swimming, snorkelling and fishing.

Above: A local fisherman

When we were last in Grand Cayman, there were five ships offshore which is the most I’ve seen out here. I managed to fit them all into one picture!

Five Ships
Above: Five ships

Because the coastline is too shallow for the big ships to actually dock we have to ‘tender’ – i.e. use smaller boats to reach the land. In Grand Cayman we use some of the lifeboats from the ship which you can see here:

Above: Ryndam lifeboat

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Georgetown. Apologies for some of the arty photos – I’m getting to grips with Photoshop at the moment so expect some more in the future! My next blog will be a Christmas special from aboard the ship. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Ocho Rios – Jamaica

Welcome back – sorry it’s been a while. In today’s blog I’ll be showing you around the resort area of Ocho Rios – Jamaica, including an on-ride video of the Jamaican Bobsled attraction!

Above: The view from the Ryndam

A place of rivers and waterfalls, Ocho Rios has long been a favoured retreat with tourists. During the past few decades, Ocho Rios has developed from a small, unassuming town into a bustling modern resort. Coastline was dredged and landscaped to create beachfront property and shopping centres were also added as well as a deepwater pier for cruise ships.

Above: Jetties and beachfront properties

One of the most famous natural attractions is the Dunn’s River Falls, a cascading series of waterfalls that travels from the mountains to the sea. On our first visit here (20th October), a crew trip was organised to the Falls and we scaled the waterfall.

Above: Dunn’s River Falls (main photo not mine)

Other attractions include locations used in the Bond film, ‘Live and Let Die’ as well as dolphin encounters and of course, Bob Marley’s house. A new attraction, created in 2008 is Mystic Mountain, an expansive multi-million-dollar tourism attraction which features a fast Jamaican Bobsled ride through the jungle, a chairlift journey over the treetops, a zip-line course, an island culture and heritage centre, as well as mountaintop dining and shopping venues. During our latest trip to Ocho Rios on 1st December, Tom (Neptune bass player) and I visited Mystic Mountain to ride the bobsled.

Above: Ocho Rios resort area, as seen from the Mystic Mountain.

To reach the Mystic Mountain resort, you have to take a 15 minute chair lift ride up the mountain. With only a bar keeping you on the chair, it’s not for those who are scared of heights!

Above: The chair lift station at the top of the Mystic Mountain resort

The bobsled ride itself was pretty fun. You control the speed of the descent with a brake but the staff tell you not to brake until the very end (so I didn’t).

Above: Me on the Bobsled Car (apologies for the slightly blurred shot)

I thought I’d have a go at capturing some video footage of the ride which turned out quite well. The recording is quite bumpy which couldn’t really be helped, and sadly I couldn’t upload the file in HD with my slow internet connection. But I hope you enjoy it anyway!

Stay tuned for my next blog entry which will be exploring Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Week One Locations

Welcome back! Today I’ll show you two of the locations we visited in the first week of my cruise – the Bahamas and Grand Turk (we were diverted from our normal route that week to avoid a hurricane). Unfortunately, I was unable to get off at the other location we visited that week – Half Moon Cay (Holland America’s private island) – as I was on IPM (In Port Manning) that day.

The first location we visited was Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas which is located on the island of New Providence. The island is 21 miles long and seven miles wide with an area of about 80 square miles.

Above: One of the main squares in the city of Nassau

Below, you can see the Ryndam, docked behind a Carnival cruise ship. In the background is the Atlantis Hotel, located on Paradise Island. This photo was taken just east of the famous Fish Fry village.

Above: Cruise ships docked

The second location we visited was Grand Turk, part of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The first photo I posted from the Caribbean was taken from the beach here. This island is a good example of the way in which many of the ports (such as Mahagony Bay and Costa Maya) are set up: there is an enclosed tourist area which you walk into from the ship, containing shops, restaurants and pools. Many cruise passengers never leave this area but beyond it, locations tend to be rougher and reveal a more authentic view of local life.

Above: The cruise ship entrance to Grand Turk

Below is another shot of the tourist area. You can see how clean and well-kept everything is.

Above: Grand Turk tourist area

In my next blog post, we’ll be travelling to the Jamaican port of Ocho Rios where I’ll be posting some video footage of a ‘bobsled’ ride and a look at the famous Dunns River Falls. Speak soon!