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Exclusive Invite On The Celebrity Summit Helipad!

I arranged for my passengers to receive an Exclusive Invite “Helipad Sailaway” on the Celebrity Summit as we departed from the Island of St. Kitts.  A fun time was had by all.  The sunset was spectacular and the beverages were refreshing…. Warm Caribbean Greetings to all of you!

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St. Kitts and Nevis – just beautiful!

St. Kitts and Nevis – just beautiful!  A picture perfect morning for our sail in.

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Once again the seas were smooth as the Celebrity Summit Captain sailed towards St. Kitts.  There hasn’t been any sea motion during this 12 night cruise.   At times you need to remind yourself you are at sea and not on land.

St. Kitts is a beautiful backdrop to any Caribbean adventure.   This favourite island features dormant volcanoes, golden sand beaches and gorgeous green hills.   

We are sharing this port with 2 other cruise ships passengers – a Windstar Sailing Vessel and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas.    St. Kitts will soon be welcoming more cruise ships as a new dock is currently being constructed.

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Our friend from Brazil was ready to give us a bottle of water before we departed the ship.

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Basseterre is the capital of the Federation of Saint Kitts in the West Indies.  Its regarded as one of the best of the Caribbean’s small capitals.

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There was a welcoming committee waiting for us.

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If you a shopper the port area features enough shops to keep you busy.

Another beautiful sunny 80F day!  

My passengers and I are excited about our nice BONUS prior to dinner.  I arranged for us to enjoy front row seats for the best view at sea as we watch our sail away from the ships helipad.  This exclusive invitation is typically just for suite guests AND “Travel With Bradley Passengers”!

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French Martinique and Independent Dominica

Martinique and Dominica – 

Yesterday we visited French Martinique, which is renowned for the beauty of its beaches and vegetation.  At 425 square miles it is roughly the size of Maui and is similar due to its mountainous terrain, banana plantations, pineapple fields and sugar cane.  The French have retained this island so you can readily find products from France in many of the shops.  The town of Fort De France is very attractive.  We couldn’t help but to notice the prime located McDonalds but Kentucky Fried Chicken remains the fast food giant on these islands.

 

This morning before venturing into Dominica many of my group enjoyed a private 1 hour tour of the galley.  Konstantinos Vogiatzoglou, the 31 year old Executive Chef onboard the Celebrity Summit truly entertained us.  He is by far the youngest executive chef in the fleet and he has a 97% approval rate from his staff – VERY impressive!  We were served champagne as we entered the dining room.  He assembled the head chefs from every department to meet us before taking us through the galley.  There are 236 staff in the galley and they prepare 14,000 meals a day!

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Dominica is situated between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.  Its bordered on the east by the vast and beautiful Atlantic Ocean and on the West by the calm and romantic Caribbean.  Dominica gained its independence in November 1978.  Its rugged terrain, volcanic activity, pristine coral reef and untouched rainforests make it an attractive island to tour.  Vendors set up their wares along the pier.  One of them was singing country music with a drawl!  

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Another picture perfect day.

St. Vincent – is newly opening to tourism

St Vincent and the Grenadines

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The Atlantic Ocean that surrounds St. Vincent is crystal clear.  The water sparkles with vibrant shades of greens and blue.  Its obvious why the movie producers picked this island for the filming of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

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St Vincent offers mountain peaks, waterfalls and rainforests.  The tourist roadmap that the locals handed us when we arrived on the island shows that the islands main road only goes around 80% of the island – its therefore impossible to drive all the way around.  

The population on this island is approx 110,000.  Kingston, where the Summit docked is the Capital.

Kingston has a population of 20,000.  Its a busy, lively town.  As we strolled down the Main Street we noticed arches, cobbled streets, historic churches and historic stone buildings.  There were many “Back in Time” retail shops that cater to the locals.  The largest retail shops are grocery stores.  With so many cruise passengers on the street there is a feeling of security but I don’t think anyone ventured too far.

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The first Monday of the month brings islanders to Kingston as its pay your bills day.  The vegetable and fish markets were in full swing as the vendors knew this would be a busy day.

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This is not a prosperous island.  Unemployment is 18% so there are many locals “hanging around” but the cruise ships are starting to arrive more often (4 this week) so this influx of money will hopefully help the community.

Retail wise there is little that tourists are going to want to buy on this island but eventually the vendors will catch on with what products will make tourists open their wallets.  Hopefully their government is savvy enough to start training the locals vendors that are after the tourist dollars.

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Celebrity cruises welcomes families of their workers onboard their ships.  Today a family from St Vincent boarded so they could see where their daughter works.  I could see the excitement in their eyes as they boarded the ship.  How wonderful. 

Its dress up night again.  On Celebrity this isn’t a required dress code – more of a “suggestion” so you will see passengers wearing everything from tux’s to t-shirts and ball caps….. but the majority of the passengers do dress up.  I hear from many passengers that they wish Celebrity would go back to when they had a dress code on dress up nights, with an option for those that don’t wish to dress up to dine at the lido buffet.  Most agree that seeing passengers wearing ball caps in the dining room shouldn’t be allowed at any time.  

Weather remains perfect – we couldn’t ask for anything better – temps in the low 80’s with sunny skies.  Glad to hear that those at home are enjoying a bit of relief from the recent cold winter blast.  

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Barbados of the West Indies

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Barbados is the easternmost island of the West Indies.  It combines beautiful beaches with a British charm.  The west coast of the island is lined with over 10 miles of perfect white-sand beaches and crystal clear water.  This pear shaped island is relatively small – only 166 square miles.

Bridgetown is the capital city.  Its architecture is a combination of Modern and Victorian.  I knew that the shops on Broad Street would be closed because its Sunday so made sure my passenger were aware of that.  Later in the day I ran into a number of ship passengers that went into Bridgetown in order to shop so they were disappointed that this information had not been relayed to them.  The downtown core of Bridgetown resembles a ghost town on Sundays.  Passengers were surprised that shops are closed especially when there are a couple ships in port but I expect its a law that prohibits them from opening.

Many of my gang visited Barbados beautiful local beaches today.  A couple of my passengers took scuba diving lessons and loved the experience.   The rest explored the islands on tours.

In Barbados shuttles are provided from the ship to the terminal building.  In the terminal there is a tourist kiosk, some shops and complimentary WI-FI if you are lucky enough to get connected.

With us in port was the former, Celebrity Infinity which I sailed on with groups a number of times a “few” decades ago.  Back then it was considered a state-of-the-art “large” cruise ship.  An European company renamed her the Marbella Explorer.  I  easily recognize this ship and her sister the Horizon (still has that name but not under the Celebrity flag).

I thought the ship staff did a bumper job, co-ordinated a number of excellent “Super Bowl” Parties throughout the ship.  The biggest event was held in the main theatre which was elaborately decorated for the big event.  A variety of game day appetizers were served – sliders, chicken wings, hot dogs etc..  The smaller lounges became the entertainment venues for the evening so there was plenty to do for those that were not interested in watching the game.  The international broadcast feed unfortunately did not show the game commercials.  

One of my favourite places on board to spend time on the Summit is “Cafe al Bacio”.  I visit so often the staff automatically prepares my “chai tea latte with unsweetened almond milk” as soon as they see me coming.  Its a relaxing venue and our groups included beverage package includes the speciality coffee and teas that are prepared here.

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Grenada – The Spice Isle

Grenada is known as the Spice Isle.

A couple of my passengers were anxious to visit the “Nutmeg Bar” in the port town of St. George  – it was their hangout when they were last on the island 40 years ago.  To get there they needed to walk through the Sendall Tunnel – opened in the year 1894 by the British – the tunnel is approx 350 feet long and 9 feet high – it connects the east and west side of town – both vehicles and pedestrians pass through at the same time….. A number of us walked through but a couple of my passengers said “No Way”.  My passengers reported that the “Nutmeg Bar” was pretty much the same as years ago – good things don’t need to change.

In the little town of St. George, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is the major fast food chain with 2 locations.  Pizza Hut can also be found here.

The local market vendors sold fresh produce/fruit, no-name fragrances and 2nd hand clothing.  A loud evangelist was saving everyone as he passed through the market and his 2 helpers carried a bucket for donations.  It was interesting watching them make their rounds.  The town of St. George’s, Grenada is a colourful place.

A young gentleman on board from Brazil who provides me and my group with a bottle of water before we head to shore everyday was excited because the local smoothie cafe in the mall adjacent to the cruise dock makes “avocado” smoothies.  At home in Brazil he drinks an avocado smoothie every morning so he was very anxious to purchase one today.  

I stopped at the smoothie stand so I could buy him one but they had no avocados today….  I came back to the ship and reported the news – he was so disappointed but I gave him some cash so he could buy another flavour as a treat from me and my appreciative passengers.  This stand is the busiest shop in the mall – locals and especially staff from the Summit were in line to purchase.

Many of my passengers had orders from their friends and family to bring home the local island spices.  There were many opportunities to purchase spices

without going far.  The souvenir shops in the mall charge very inflated prices for low quality products but you can buy the local spices quite reasonably.

The farther you walk down Main Street the more reasonable the local 3 hour island tours become – they start out at 25.00 per person at the cruise terminal and 15.00 was the bargain rate down the street.

The weather was one again perfect today – low 80’s, blue skies.

This evening the friendly staff at the speciality restaurant, Qsine hosted our group.  I provided our passengers with $100.00 cruise credit so they could take advantage of the speciality restaurants on board.  This restaurant has a $45. Cover Charge but since my group is so large I was able to negotiate a $30. Cover Charge for everyone.  The speciality restaurants on board are worth a $30. Cover Charge but I’d have a hard time recommending them if my passengers had to pay $45. when the food in the main dining room is excellent.

I invited Canada’s Illusionist Ryan Joyce to join us for dinner as my special guest.  My passengers appreciated having this extra time to visit with him.  Some called his arrival a “Bradley Walters Surprise”.  They teased that I needed to keep track of my watch or Ryan was bound to steal it (like he does during his shows).

Ryan and I are kindred spirits.  Our life experiences mirror one another.  We are entertainers that spend extended periods away from home, family and friends so we easily relate to one another.

Having Ryan on board was a thrill for not only me but my passengers.  We were all proud to watch an terrific Canadian entertainer on stage.  Have a safe journey home, Ryan.  Look forward to visiting with you again sometime soon.  Break a leg!

The Qsine dinner was exceptional.  The chef and staff really went out of their way to make it a very memorable evening.  Qsine offers an around the world, culinary experience – there was way too much food but nobody was complaining except to say they were VERY full.  I sat down with the Qsine maitre d’ ahead of time to select a menu for my passengers which they served family style.  

Surprisingly the maitre d at Tuscan Grill (the other onboard speciality restaurant) wasn’t too excited about welcoming our group when I approached him at the start of this cruise but the staff from Qsine certainly well exceeded my and my passengers expectations.  The Qsine restaurant experience is unlike anything you will find at home so that makes it extra special.

An entertaining juggler took to the stage this evening.

Seas remained smooth throughout the evening sail to Barbados.  

St. Lucia – Paradise of the Caribbean

St. Lucia is a very ruggedly beautiful Caribbean island – definitely lushly tropical – its what you’d think a tropical Caribbean island should look like.  There are a number of exclusive resorts located here and many of my passengers have spent time here over the years (one couple celebrated their honeymoon on this island).  

St. Lucia is the second largest of the Lesser Antilles Windward Islands. It has been blessed with a magnificent shoreline.  The island offers forested mountains, gentle valleys, banana plantations, wide beaches, tree ferns and wild orchids.

A smaller Viking cruise ship is sharing the port with us today.  A ship larger than the Summit probably would not be able to navigate this port as the harbour is quite small.  

In the gated port area there are a number of shops just for cruise passengers.

A number of my passengers explored the island.  Its most famous natural landmark is the Pitons (twin mountains) but its a bit of an adventure if you wish to see them.  The drive from the cruise port is long and the roads windy.  A few took a boat to the Piton side of the island and they encountered a section of rough seas, so as I said its an adventure when you want to see the Pitons but once you reach them its well worth the effort.

I received a wonderful comment from the Dining Room maitre d’.  He commented how  happy and friendly my passengers are.  He thought they all knew one another so when he was told that they did not meet until they arrived at Toronto airport he was very surprised.  He told me they of course have many groups sail with them and he wishes they were as “happy go lucky” as my group.   Since my passengers are so friendly he said their servers are at ease and look forward to serving them.  He also likes how my passengers wear their Travel With Bradley name tags as it makes it easier for the waiters to learn their names.

I took a front row seat in the theatre for my good friend, Ryan Joyce illusion show.  Over the years Ryan has impressed audiences with his modern, mind-blowing feats of magic which include vanishing a fire truck and levitation of a two ton SUV on stage.  Most importantly he has devoted himself to humanitarian causes by raising over two million dollars for charities.  

He dazzled my passengers who are still saying “how did he do that”?   I sat next to 2 gentleman from Germany during Ryans performance.  Since their English isn’t great they avoid some of the ship shows where lots of English is spoken (like the comedian) so they were thrilled with Ryans show as every nationality can appreciate it.  

Glimpses of beautiful, St. Maarten

The stunning Celebrity Edge was docked next to us in beautiful, St. Maarten.

We very much enjoyed our day in the port town of Philipsburg.

 

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St Maarten – still my fav….

The brand new state-of-the-art Celebrity EDGE was the first cruise ship to take its dock position in St. Maarten this morning.  Our Celebrity Summit was next and next in the line was the Oasis of the Seas and then the Carnival’s Horizon.  

The island of St. Maarten is only 37 square miles in size and is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two different nations.  It is owned by both France and the Netherlands Antilles, thanks to a treaty signed over 350 year ago.  There is no red tape or border difficulties between the two sides.  This contract of peaceful coexistence turns out to be the oldest active, undisputed treaty on our planet.  Today these two separate lives coexist in contrast but perfect harmony.

You may recall just over a year ago St.  Maarten was hit with a devastating hurricane.  The Captain and staff onboard the “Celebrity Summit” warned us about this a couple times before we arrived.

I researched ahead of time which cruise ships were going to be docked her today so I knew there would be thousands of visitors in St. Maarten.  I therefore advised my passengers to depart into the tourist town of Philipsburg early in order to avoid the crowds.

The best way to get into town is by water taxi and that runs $7.00 cash (the purchased wrist band allows you to go back and forth as many times as you wish throughout the day).  My passengers took my advise and boarded an early time water taxi.  They all thanked me when I saw them throughout the day because on their way back to the ship they saw tremendous lines of cruise passengers waiting for a water taxis to take them into town.

The tourist area of Philipsburg has rebounded nicely since the devastating hurricane.  I’m sure it was a priority to get things cleaned up in the town so they could welcoming the cruise ships again.  Most stores have reopened and many needed to be newly renovated.

Jewelry stores still dominate.  There are so many of them I have to wonder how they can all stay in business.  I priced a few watches.  I almost dropped one when the young sales person told me he’d give me a special deal – only $20,000 – instead of $24,000!  Obviously somebody is buying these pricey items or the stores wouldn’t be full of these expensive pieces of jewelry.

There is one men’s clothing store that I always visit.  The shirt I really liked was “only” $495.00.  I overheard staff calling customers worldwide advising them they just received new stock.  The owner told me a great deal of their business consists of shipping clothing to their existing clients.

Of course there are many reasonable items to buy in St. Maarten.  Most of my passengers purchased souvenirs, gifts for family and jewelry.

Some relaxed on the beautiful beach on the shore of Philipsburg.  

It was another picture perfect weather day – sunny skies – 82F.

The Celebrity EDGE was the first ship to depart around 5pm.  It lingered waiting for our ship the SUMMIT to leave the pier.  Then there was the customary horn blowing farewells.  This is the first time that both of these cruise ships have been in port together.  

Dinner in the main dining room was excellent once again.  When I was making my rounds my passengers asked me many questions about the Celebrity EDGE.  After seeing the ship many of them now wish to join my EDGE Caribbean departure next winter.

In the main theatre tonights performance was a Beatles Tribute that was enjoyed by all.

My passengers enjoy the Celebrity Summit because its a very comfortable size – in todays age its considered a smaller cruise ship.  When it was built that wasn’t the case.  On a ship this size its very easy to get your bearings and you often run into the same passenger and crew which makes it very personable.