Universal Studios and Eastern Caribbean Cruise
June 14, 2013 through June 22, 2013

This was a wonderful Summer Cruise that started off with one day at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.  This year, the Maldonado family: Ed, Mattia and Charlie joined us along with Benji Romero.  We rented a 14 passenger van and drove to Florida over night on Thursday afternoon the 13th arriving the next morning in Orlando where we checked into our hotel and spent the day at Universal Studios.  The ship was the Carnival Dream where we had three cabins all with balcony views.

Like previous cruises, we all bought souvenirs where Mattia bought a beautiful wedding diamond ring, Keith got two more Lamborghini watches, Derek got a Movado and Fossil watches, Megan got a Swarovski red heart crystal necklace and we picked up a Mulco Nuit watch at St Thomas Island for Taylor Montz who couldn't go on the cruise this year.

On the cruise we celebrated three birthdays, Ed - June 13th, Johnna - June 21st and Benji - June 25th.

Universal Studios - Friday, June 14

The weather was in the low 80s and the park was not very crowded.  We purchased "speed pass" tickets that made our wait practically nothing on most rides.

1 Maldonado family at entrance to Universal Studios
2 Montz family along with Benji
3 Maldonados in front of "Men In Black" ride.
4 Montz family and Benji in front of "Men in Black" ride.
5 Ed, Megan and Keith waiting as others rode rollercoaster.
6 Derek, Mattia, Benji and Charlie returning from the rollercoaster ride.  Mattia lost an ear ring on the ride.
7 Charlie, Ed, Keith on second row from top.  Johnna, Megan, Derek and Benji on 3rd row from top on Mummy ride.

Drive to Port Canaveral - Saturday, June 15

We were about an hour drive from Port Canaveral and decided to show the Maldonado family the Gaylord Hotel which has a beautiful huge atrium before driving to the Port.  We had stayed at the Hotel a few years before and it is worth a look because of the ball park stadium size interior filled with plants and several fresh and sea water fish habitats with one containing baby alligators.  Once at the port, parking and boarding was easy.  Sailing out of the port, we saw lots of stingrays and one sea turtle in the water.  In the distance we could see the Canaveral Space Rocket Launch Center.

1 Montz group in front of one of the many walkways in the Gaylord Hotel.
2 Megan, Derek, Benji and Charlie on deck at the Port.
3 Keith and Johnna on deck at back of the boat.
4 First dinner on ship.

Nassau, Bahamas - Sunday, June 16

Unlike prior cruses, we chose to buy a guided tour excursion off of the ship because of the limited time we had on the island.  (We usually arrange our own tours by renting car(s) and or booking off the ship.)  The guided tour lead us around the historic town with swimming at a beautiful beach at the end.  We are sure that a lot of people chose to go to Atlantis Water Park but we were more interested in seeing the island and not a water park. 

1 On gangway leaving for shore excursion.
2 Christopher Columbus statue in downtown Nassau in front of Government House
3 Mattia, Ed, Charlie, Derek, Megan and Benji at the beach.
4 Keith and Derek on the same beach, near a canal.
5 Keith in town in front of the "Happy 40th Independence" display.
6 Back on ship looking towards town.  Norwegian Sky docked next to us.
7 Leaving with view of docks and Atlantis Resort in far left and Nassau on right.
8 Second Dinner.  First of two formal nights.

Day at Sea - Monday, June 17

1 Third dinner on Ship

St Thomas and St Johns - Tuesday, June 18

The Ship anchored in St. Thomas which is near many other islands as part of the Virgin Islands.  We decided to take a taxi ride to downtown St Thomas and then take a taxi trip to the ferry to visit St John.  Mattia had heard from other cruisers that this was a better place to visit with beautiful beaches.  Having visited St John, it is definitely a great destination with gorgeous beaches with less tourist traffic.  Our taxi driver, on St. John, recommended the free beach of Cinnamon, which is where we ended up going.

1 Empty 2 story concrete house at entrance to the port which was intriguing.
2 Looking from boat onto the city.
3 Downtown St Thomas's shop corridor.
4 At Urman Victor Fredericks Marine Terminal to ride on ferry to St Johns.
5 Everyone inside the air conditioned first floor before going up on top to catch a better view on the trip.
6 Exiting the harbor with a view of St Johns straight ahead in the far distance.
7 Approaching St John.
8 The dock at St John.
9 Eating lunch next to the boat docks before going on to Cinnamon beach.
10 Cinnamon Beach.  We only had a short time there and had the beach entirely to ourselves.  The picture does not do it justice but the water and sand was the best on the trip.
11 Ed about to get into the water.  Charlie in the water.
12 View a little bit more to the right at Cinnamon Beach.
13 Another view of Cinnamon Beach to the left as cloud cover moved across the sky.
14 Whole group at the Captain's Dinner
15 Keith and Megan at Captain's Dinner.

St Maarten (Dutch) and St Martin (French) - Wednesday, June 18

At St Maarten, we decided to to to Kakao Beach which is along Orient Bay on the French side of the island.  Kakao Beach was right in the middle of a two mile bay which we all walked from one side to the other.  On the far right of the bay was a line of surf breaks with beautiful waves breaking.  Along the whole beach front were numerous small restaurants and a few shops.  On the far right side was also a small area for clothing optional people, a nude beach, which was public and marked.  The weather was a little bit overcast with cloud cover where there was a very brief rain.

1 Exiting the ship in the morning.
2 Our group at the Port taxi destination pick up.
3 Downtown St Maarten
4 Border crossing between St Maarten and St Martin which is only a marker.
5 Ed, Charlie, Mattia, Derek and Benji on the beach.
6 Keith, Megan and Johnna
7 Looking left from our beach chairs.
8 Looking right from our beach chairs.  In the far horizon of the water you can see the breaking surf side of the bay
9 Ed, Keith, Megan, Johnna and Charlie entering the nude beach as we walked to far right to see the breaking surf area.
10 Ed and Charlie at the surf break side of the bay.
11 Johnna, Keith and Megan at the surf break side of the bay.
12 Looking back to the whole bay from the surf break side of the bay.
13 Charlie, Mattia and Ed at the far left side of the bay.
14 Megan and Keith at the far left side of the bay.
15 Ed, Charlie, Mattia, Derek, Benji, Megan and Keith eating lunch at Kakao Bar Beach Restaurant.
16 Keith on way back to the ship after staying behind to shop.
17 Dinner that night.  Ed and Charlie napped.

Day at Sea - Thursday, June 18

Nice relaxing day, enjoying the pool, whirl pool, entertainment on board and movies.  The day was broken up by a serious crew member accident on board which required life flight to pick him up.  All we know was the crew member sustained life threatening burns from a water heating tank repair.  The ship was diverted six hours to meet a coast guard helicopter and sea plane to pick up the crew member for flight to Miami, Florida.  When the helicopter picked up the crew member and closed the doors of the helicopter, everyone on the decks applauded where it gave a great sense of pride to see the American Coast Guard do what they do best.

1 Coast Guard helicopter and Coast Guard Sea Rescue Plane off of the port side of our ship.
2 Dinner that evening.  Johnna's turn to take a nap.
3 Celebrating Ed's birthday, at dinner, which was a few days earlier.  Our fun Maitre d' giving him a hug. It looked Ed was about to give her a kiss.  : )

Day at Sea - Friday, June 19

1 Dinner at our last night on ship.  (blurry)
2 Celebrating Benji and Johnna's birthday at dinner.