KTLO's 2014 cruise is now just a beautiful memory of sunlit days, starlit nights and smooth seas aboard Royal Caribbean's sleek Serenade of the Seas. It was great fun with a great group of cruisers! Scott and Betty Lumbert of Mountain Home Charter and Tours arranged everything for us and accompanied two motor coaches full of great folks from the Twin Lakes Area. We spent the night in New Orleans, and many of our group sampled the cuisine and nightlife of one of America's most unique cities before boarding the ship the next morning.
Our first port was the funky, fascinating city of Key West; the Conch Republic. There were so many things to see and do! President Harry Truman's "Little White House"; the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the 6-toed cats still roam the grounds; Sloppy Joe's, Hemingway's favorite hangout; the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, with its treasures salvaged from 17th century shipwrecks; the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens; and, of course, Mallory Square's shops and restaurants. There were beaches and water sports, too, with snorkeling, parasailing, windsurfing, diving, and kayaking. And no visit to Key West is complete without a stop at the southernmost point in the United States or a visit to Kermit's for their famous key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate. Yummmm!
We next visited vibrant, busy Nassau, Bahamas where some of our group went on beach and boating adventures, had dolphin encounters, visited Ardastra Gardens to see the marching pink flamingos, peacocks and honey bears; tried their luck in the Atlantis casino (and won a jackpot!); visited the 18th century Ft. Charlotte; or saw Government House, where King Edward VIII was exiled after his marriage to Wallis Simpson. Others shopped along Bay Street or at the Straw Market and some just sat and watched everything while enjoying conch fritters and Bahama Mamas.
Our last port was Coco Cay, with its private beaches, shopping and activities exclusively for Royal Caribbean passengers. Some of us explored the coral reefs, coconut palm groves, nature trails and the sunken replica of Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge. Others rode Wave Runners, tried parasailing, went scuba diving, or rode glass bottom boats for an up-close view of the island's marine life. Some just napped in a shaded lounger after enjoying the tasty island barbeque.
While aboard the ship we soaked up the warm sunshine by the pools or hot tubs, participated in game shows or dance classes, played Trivia or Bingo (two of our cruisers split a jackpot!), had massages or beauty treatments in the spa, took in lectures on art history or napkin artistry, or tried our luck in the casino, where some among us won "High Roller" T-shirts! There were Broadway-style production shows, an amazing aerial show in the 9-story atrium, comedy shows, piano bars, karaoke, movies, champagne art auctions, billiards, a library, and poker and slot tournaments. And there was food! Food in the elegant main dining room served by attentive waiters, the Windjammer buffet, traditional Italian at Giovanni's Table, Asian-inspired cuisine at Izumi, an exclusive multi-course dinner and wine pairing at The Chef's Table and coffee and snacks at Café Latte-Tudes. There was Rita's Cantina for great Mexican food and drinks, the Park Café, Brasserie 30, and Chops Grille, where one could find "the best steak on the high seas", and pizza and ice cream always available. And if that weren't enough, there was round-the-clock room service. To work off all that food there was a fully equipped gym, jogging track, volleyball, mini-golf, shuffleboard, Yoga classes and a myriad of other fitness activities.
It was a week of exciting adventures, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, fun in the sun, good food and great company; a wonderful collection of experiences to please everyone. We'll be doing it again in February 2015 when we cruise the Western Caribbean to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Call Mtn. Home Charter and Tours at 508-5331 or 800-844-3214 for all the details. We hope you'll join us!