A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

March 27 - MANAUS, BRAZIL (Day 1)

semi-overcast 91 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We've sailed 1000 miles up the Amazon river. It flows through the region of Amazonia, which is about two thirds the size of the continental United States.

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Some smaller moths hitchhiked over-night.

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On the outskirts of the large city of Manaus is Jardim Botanico Adolpho Ducke. We had a guided tour in this primary growth rainforest.

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A small example of the huge Vittoria Regia water lilies which grow in profusion around the river

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The ghost of me and really big Amazonian fish

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And snakes - kept here for research and education

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A "small" Anaconda

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Baskets native people use to catch some of the 2,000 species of Amazonian fish.

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The highlight of the forest is a 42-meter observation tower.

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We are above the canopy!

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The city rises in the distance, with the river beyond.

Posted by Swenigale 15:05 Archived in Brazil

March 28 - MANAUS, BRAZIL (Day 2)

sunny 91 °F

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We are tied up at a floating dock within view of the bridge over the Rio Negre.

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Early morning greeting

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Riverboats of all sizes offer excursions. We boarded the red one for a four hour adventure.

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First - a stop at a floating gas station

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We zoomed toward January Lake to get close to the "Wedding of the Waters" where the black Negre and the brown Amazon rivers flow side by side without mixing for six kilometers or more! Differences of speed, water temperature and density are the cause.

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It just makes sense to live in a floating house because of the extreme flooding for six months of the year (the rainy season)!

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The Amazon is the home of the world's largest fish with scales - at least that's what I think I heard!

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Houses on stilts work too. Some years the water is even higher than it is now!

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A walk from our boat into the jungle

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In the floating restaurant our lunch is being prepared.

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We switched to a smaller boat to take us back to Serenity in time for the afternoon departure.

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How awesome is this! Sitting on the bow of a small boat and threading our way through narrow channels near the Amazon River! Wow! Of course, after seeing the way those big fish eat, I decided to keep my feet out of the water!

Posted by Swenigale 13:35 Archived in Brazil

March 29 - BOCA DE VALERIA, BRAZIL

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The water level is higher than when we were here four years ago. There is very little "beach front" in the small village of 75 people. Water is good for boats, though - so off we go!

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Off to see birds.....

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....water lilies,

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And kids being brought to school by a bus boat.

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A good way to make a buck

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Brilliant

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Pulling into shore

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River folk come from miles around when ships arrive.

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Here we have a chance to see a baby sloth up close, but I'm sure it can't be good for the animal.

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Simple dwellings

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Good bye, Boca de Valeria. No pink dolphins to see this time. :( Perhaps tomorrow.

Posted by Swenigale 14:35 Archived in Brazil

March 30 - SANTARÉM, BRAZIL

semi-overcast 92 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Another intricate design on one of God’s amazing creatures

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As soon as we docked today, at our final port on the Amazon, we went straight to the fish market on the river because we just had to see some pink dolphins!

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We were not disappointed!

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Free food!

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We came to the Amazon to see the river, the people, the flooded rainforest and some of the flora and fauna. In an out-of-the-way and difficult to reach place called ZooFit, run by the university at Santarém, we saw many more animals. They have all been seized from illegal ownership by the government and brought to ZooFit. A beautiful puma is content.

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Hästa gets into the act with the Spider monkeys.

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Just hangin’ around

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Here’s a nosey guy – the Coatimundi.

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Who doesn’t like parrots?

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What a big nose you have, Tapir!

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Speaking of noses – Collared Peccary can destroy a farmer’s crops with their snuffling and rooting.

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These young Manatee were brought here as babies, their mothers having been killed for food.

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Our young guide is a biologist - we were the only visitors this morning. ZooFit is carved out of the rainforest and red mud. We are so glad we took a chance (we read about it on Trip Advisor) – we found a gem!! (And we have SO many more pictures!!!)

Posted by Swenigale 13:55 Archived in Brazil

April 2 - DEVIL'S ISLAND, ILES DU SALUT, FRENCH GUIANA

semi-overcast 84 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Hästa revisits Devil’s Island – c’est incroiable! (how’s my French?)

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In spite of the rolling seas, the Serenity’s tenders managed to ferry guests safely to and from this former French penal colony.

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For almost 100 years these lush tropical islands (just ten miles off the coast of mainland French Guiana) were places of hellish imprisonment for over 80,000 men.

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I think we took this guy’s photo two years ago, too! In the same place!

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The Agouties run around willy-nilly. They are somewhat cuter than rats, non?

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We are on Île Royale – the island in the distance is Devil’s Island – where political prisoners were held.

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Today’s island beauty is in stark contrast to the ugly cruelty the prisoners endured.

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Back to nature – I wouldn’t want to climb this tree!

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Yikes!!

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Monkeys – always the stars of the show!

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A final view to Devil’s Island. And now back to ship for our Sunday Service at 4:30pm.

Posted by Swenigale 10:25 Archived in French Guiana

April 4 - GRENADA, WEST INDIES

semi-overcast 84 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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As we continue north from the Equator our next stop is the "Island of Spice", Grenada. Our guide stopped multiple times to show us fragrant spices growing by the sides of the road. This is the fruit of the nutmeg tree (they look like apricots). Inside, the seed is the nutmeg and a red covering makes the spice mace.

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Our priority today: a stop at one of the island's beautiful waterfalls.

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And a swim in the cold clear water!

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Even though this is still the dry season, Granada remains lush and flowering.

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The mountainous island roads wind up, down and around - yes, this is a 2-way street!

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Volcanic origins are evidenced by black sand beaches and fertile soil.

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Papaya grow really big here!

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Distant mountains, rainforests, beaches- Granada is beautiful!

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We've driven up almost 1,900 feet and arrived at the Grand Etang Forest Reserve.

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The Crater Lake at Grand Etang.

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We followed a path to a viewpoint...

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..and a view to the hazy sea

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Posted by Swenigale 18:05 Archived in Grenada

April 5 & 6 - BARBADOS, WEST INDIES

sunny 86 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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“Azure Reflections” begins with two full days in beautiful Barbados. This is the final segment of the 2017 world cruise.

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The beautiful water, white sandy beaches and cooling trade winds make this island a real paradise.

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Lovely Paynes Bay, one of Hästa’s favorite places

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See the dot? That’s me!

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These boats look odd – but they are a good way to get to snorkeling spots.

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On our 2nd morning we walked from the port into Bridgetown and to Carlisle Bay.

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Admiral Nelson

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Independence Square, commemorating the date in 1966 when Barbados became an independent state and commonwealth realm (Queen Elizabeth II is head of state).

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After the long walk we decided a snorkeling boat would be a good choice to get out to see the sunken ships.

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New coral is forming on the shipwrecks that are sunk here and sea life is abundant.

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At our 2nd stop (nearer shore) we saw green sea turtles – and a “jet man”!

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Excellent choice!

Posted by Swenigale 12:55 Archived in Barbados

April 7 - ST. LUCIA/CASTRIES, WEST INDIES

sunny 85 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Smoothly sailing into the harbor

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So excited! A tour of the island by helicopter!

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Marigot Bay, where movie scenes have been filmed over the years.

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Our pilot was from Austria and gave us excellent commentary as he expertly flew over banana plantations…….

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…rugged mountain rainforests

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…And right up and over the Pitons, St. Lucia’s landmark twin peaks.

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Petit Piton and Gros Piton (a ½ mile high) are volcanic cones. Close by is Mt. Soufriere, St. Lucia’s steaming volcano.

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We flew along the rugged Atlantic coast, where the winds are so strong that nothing has been built there.

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Wow! Almost skimming the water!

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We saw exclusive resorts and fishing villages and just incredible beauty.

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And came back to earth within sight of our beautiful ship.

Posted by Swenigale 12:45 Archived in Saint Lucia

April 8 - MARTINIQUE/FORT-DE-FRANCE, FRENCH WEST INDIES

semi-overcast 84 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Sunrise over Martinique

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The local pilot climbs aboard the Serenity

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This impressive church is now made of steel – burned down too many times when built and rebuilt of wood.

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We docked in the business part of the island (which we had explored on a previous visit) so we took a ferry to the beaches across the bay.

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Water aerobics

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I loved being surrounded by people speaking French. Martinique is not a colony, it is a département of France.

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Walking in Creole Town

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The ferry pier

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We watched a pelican doing some successful fishing as we waited for a ferry to bring us back to Fort-de-France.

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Posted by Swenigale 14:45 Archived in Martinique

April 9 - ST. BARTS/GUSTAVIA, FRENCH WEST INDIES

semi-overcast 86 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Palm Sunday 9am service in St. Bartholomew's Anglican Episcopal Church (with history dating back to the 1850's)

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We made it in time for most of the service after taking the ship's first tender to shore.

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The safe harbor is attractive to luxury yachters.

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Stairs to one of the four forts built during the Swedish period. Yup, Sweden owned St. Bart's for almost 100 years starting in 1784.

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Great location for the City Hall!

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World War I memorial

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A modern sundial

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Hitching a ride

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Gustavia is small, with a population of 2,300 people of French, British and Swedish descent.

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More "art" - it's a pogo stick!

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St. Bart's was the first and only Swedish colony in the West Indies. Swedish street names are preserved, though no one uses them.

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Shell Beach - within walking distance from the tender pier

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The Swedish bell tower (now a clock tower) is the oldest building in town.

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A look out the window of the tender as we return to our ship to lead the afternoon Palm Sunday service.

Posted by Swenigale 12:05 Archived in Saint Barthélemy

April 11 - SAMANÁ, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

sunny 84 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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A beautiful welcome to picturesque Samaná

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Though the city is home to 100,000, most residents are scattered up and down the lush hillsides surrounding Samaná Bay.

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A local guide took us on a tour, stopping at a farm to show us many of the Dominican Republic’s abundant crops.

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One of the varieties of cocoa

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Baby plantains

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These bananas have a few months to go before ripeness.

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Ever see coffee plant flowers?

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Coffee beans ripening

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Tiny orchards

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Our guide is proud of his country – he said his people are always happy.

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Mules are essential, as are motorbikes!

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It’s easy to see why our famous Dominican baseball players on USA teams love their beautiful country.

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Situated on a peninsula, Samaná’s tropical climate, mountains, beaches and swaying palm trees create a paradise. St. Peter’s Evangelical Church, pictured here, is the oldest building. It was shipped, disassembled, from England in 1881. It was hugely important to the African-American community of freedmen who lived here.

Posted by Swenigale 14:15 Archived in Dominican Republic

April 12 - TURKS & CAICOS/GRAND TURK, UK

sunny 82 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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World Cruise 2017 winds down among idyllic Caribbean islands.

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A cactus that grows here resembles a Turkish fez - thus the island was named Grand Turk. It's one of the thirty islands that make up Turks and Caicos Islands.

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This cruise ship facility was improved by Carnival. Serenity (on the left) sits side by side with Carnival Pride.

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Enjoy!

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Posted by Swenigale 10:15 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands

April 14 - KEY WEST, FLORIDA, USA

sunny 80 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The iconic Customs House welcomed us back to the United States of the final day in port of the world cruise.

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This chicken crossed the road to feed her chicks.

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Key West is the southernmost town in the continental USA. The lighthouse was built in 1847.

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The Key West home of author Ernest Hemingway

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Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park has a sprawling beach of sand and pebbles, a picnic area and nature trails.

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Fort Taylor, America’s southernmost Civil War fortress

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Hästa defends the fort

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The last night of the world cruise was Good Friday, not a day of celebration. The Crystal “balloon drop” signals the end and beginning of each world cruise.

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This amazing voyage brought us through the Panama Canal, to the deserts of Peru and the icefields of Chile, to the tip of Antarctica and the lush rainforests of the Amazon. It truly was spectacular! God’s wonderful world. Ed and I will continue sailing on the Serenity for the next 18 days and we will also continue the blog!

Posted by Swenigale 12:55 Archived in USA

April 15-16 - MIAMI & KEY WEST, FLORIDA, USA

sunny 82 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The World Cruise ended in Miami on Saturday morning and as most of our friends began their journeys home, 900 excited new guests joined us. There was also a massive turnover of staff and crew, everyone anticipating the 18 day "Accent on Mesoamerica". We will transit the Panama Canal on our way to California to the music of the Tommy Dorsey big band.

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On Easter Sunday we arrived, again, in Key West. After a beautiful Sunrise service in Palm Court, with sunshine breaking through just at the right moment, Ed and I both hustled to our escort assignments. Ed loved his tour to Harry Truman's Little White House. However, pictures were not allowed inside so, while it was very interesting, we have no photos to share.

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I was happy to escort a tour to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. The most dramatic species in the 13,000-square foot pavilion is the spectacular Blue Morpho.

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They were flying everywhere, flashing their blue wings, but when they alight they fold up the blue, and this is what you see.

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Pupae from butterfly farms are flown in every week and they are raised and released here to live out their brief colorful lives.

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I kept trying, but flashes of blue are all I could capture. I actually had glimpses of them in the wild on the Amazon River!

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A beautiful tropical bird matches the Blue Morpho.

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My tour then visited the Key West Aquarium. Created in 1935, it is the oldest attraction in Key West.

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The aquarium houses hundreds of local aquatic animals. Here I fed fish bits and shrimp to barracuda, grouper and tarpon!

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A moray eel, being blind, has a tough time finding food.

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So, he buddies up to Hunter the Loggerhead at feeding time!

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Last, but not least, I found Nemo!

After our tours, Ed and I returned to the ship to prepare for the afternoon Easter Communion service. We pray you all had a blessed Easter!

Posted by Swenigale 14:15 Archived in USA

April 19 - CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

semi-overcast 88 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Welcome back to Cartagena! We've been to the city six times since 2011 (hard to believe!). This morning we walked to the nearby Aviary and Parrot Emporium. Please enjoy!

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Posted by Swenigale 12:05 Archived in Colombia

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