PART TWO: WELCOME ASHORE WITH SILVERSEA
BY JANET STEINBERG
In Part One of my last post, CHILLING IS FULFILLING, I showed you how I cruised for the unmitigated pleasure of just cruising…never leaving Silversea’s Silver Spirit for an entire week and loving every minute of it. Now, in PART TWO, allow me to show you the other side of the coin…how I previously enjoyed Silver Spirit’s shore excursions in all the same ports when I took her same cruise, with an identical itinerary, sometime in the past.
|SILVER SPIRIT DOCKED ON MY FIRST CARIBBEAN CRUISE ABOARD SILVER SPIRIT|
KEY WEST, FLORIDA: This was Silver Spirit’s first port of call. Located closer to Havana than Miami, Key West is an around-the-clock happening. To get an overall view of the city I opted for Silver Spirit’s City View Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off tour that gave me an overview of what I would like do for the rest of our day in port.
SILVERSEA’S HOP-0N HOP-OFF CITY VIEW TROLLEY TOUR IS THE WAY TO START YOUR DAY IN KEY WEST
After completing the entire trolley loop, I headed to President Harry Truman’s Little White House that is a fascinating public museum as well as a retreat and place of government business by our nation's leaders.
|PRESIDENT TRUMAN’S LITTLE WHITE HOUSE IN KEY WEST|
Next I was off to the Ernest Hemingway House, the Florida home of the author of a myriad of classic books such as “The Sun Also Rises”. In addition to fascinating Hemingway memorabilia, a living memorial to the late author has also been preserved at his Spanish-colonial mansion. Approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats, descendants of the nearly 50 cats who lived there with "Papa", still call 907 Whitehead Street home.
No day in Key West would be complete without downing few at Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s favorite honkytonk saloon. Sloppy Joe's is much more than mere saloon. It is a symbolic personifications of Key West itself.
|HEMINGWAY’S HANGOUT IN KEY WEST|
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE: Following a day at sea, the Silver Spirit brought us to Belize, the only English-speaking country in Central America. Belize is nestled between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast of Central America and is one of the few remaining unspoiled places on earth. Formerly known as British Honduras, the colony’s name was changed to Belize in 1973 in anticipation of its independence. On September 21, 1981 independence finally came to Belize
|BELIZE IS ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING UNSPOILED PLACES ON EARTH|
On my first Silver Spirit cruise, I opted for a tour of Belize City, home of the country’s commercial center and the largest concentration of Belizeans. Belize City’s many sights of interest included the Museum of Belize that was built in 1857 as “her Majesty’s Prison”; Baron Bliss Lighthouse, built in honor of the benefactor who left Belize $2-million; St. John’s Cathedral, constructed in 1812 from red bricks originally used as English ship ballast; and the Swing Bridge that has connected the downtown area since Colonial days and is one of the few manually operated bridges still in use in the world.
|THE SIGN OVER THE DOOR OF THE DRUGSTORE PICTURED ABOVE|
BE laid back…BE unleashed…BE-LIZE!
SANTO TOMAS, GUATEMALA: From Belize, Silver Spirit sailed us to Santo Tomas, Guatemala where we opted for the Amatique Bay Resort tour that allowed us to chill out completely in one of Central America’s finest resorts. Departing the pier via a panga boat (a modest-sized, open, outboard-powered, boat) we sailed to the five-star Amatique Bay mega-resort. The Amatique Bay Resort features a botanical garden surrounded by Mayan archaeological sites, exotic landscaping, and a wide array of lush flora and fauna.
|AMATIQUE BAY RESORT|
Upon arrival, we could do as we pleased…sunbathe or swim at the pool with wet bar and water slides…explore the private beach, butterfly and turtle gardens…visit the Jade Museum…shop for souvenirs…or join in an invigorating game of beach volleyball or soccer (if we were a few, few, few, years younger). A barbecue buffet lunch was served before we boarded the panga boat to return to the pier.
POOL AREA AT AMATIQUE BAY RESORT
COSTA MAYA, MEXICO: Next stop, Costa Maya, Mexico where I opted for a Silversea fun tour called “Salsa & Salsa Beach Break”. The tour group was transferred to a beach restaurant for a hands-on Mexican salsa cooking class. We were each given a chef’s white toque and apron to wear, and a plate of fresh ingredients. We were then taught the steps of making authentic Mexican salsa and guacamole. We then devoured our concoctions with tortilla chips and washed them down with complimentary margaritas.
|SILVERSEA PASSENGERS DON THEIR CHEF’S TOQUES TO MAKE SALSA|
Afterwards, our guide showed us how to step, sway, and get into the groove of Latin America's most famous dance…The Salsa. Following step-by step instructions, those who were ready for the dance floor did their thing.
AFTER MAKING SALSA, SILVERSEA PASSENGERS LEARN TO DANCE THE SALSA
COZUMEL, MEXICO: When the Silver Spirit docked at Cozumel, Mexico I set out on Silversea’s “Living History, Mayan Traditions and Island Overview tour”. During our visit to the Mayan Village we saw traditional thatched-roof Mayan houses, medicinal gardens, cooking techniques, and Mayan ceremonies. We also learned about the myths, histories and beliefs of the Mayan World.
|MAYAN ARTIFACTS IN THE MAYAN VILLAGE|
Following our tour of the village, we traveled across the island to the eastern shore for stunning views of the island's undeveloped coastline. Traveling past ancient black rock formations protruding from the sea, we saw beautiful white-sand beaches, tropical low-jungle vegetation and the iridescent waters of the Caribbean Sea.
COZUMEL’S UNDEVELOPED EASTERN COASTLINE
Ernest Hemingway’s words, in our first Key West port stop, exclaimed: “The Sun Also Rises”. My words, after all of Silversea's port stops, exclaimed: “The Fun Also Rises”.
JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 41 national travel-writing awards and an Independent Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Mariemont, Ohio.