A Caribbean Cruise and nothing to do with Racing (14th March 2024)

A Caribbean Cruise and nothing to do with Racing.

Just a week after returning from my racing tour in Florida, I was back in the Sunshine State again,  on a completely different kind of trip.

FLASHBACK 10 years ago to the 1st of March the  2014.

I was in Austin, Texas, being the proud father of the bride, at my daughter Carla’s  wedding to Alejandro Loayza. (or Alex as we call him)

To celebrate their 10th anniversary and my recent 70th Birthday , they had planned something special.

Here’s a day by day account.

Thursday the 29th of February.

I left home in Cornwall , Ontario just after lunch, and crossed in to the USA at my local border point , just a couple of miles from my house.

By 5-00 pm I was checking into the Super 8 Hotel in Syracuse NY (Liverpool) . I had one nights accommodation booked with their Park & Fly deal.

Friday the 1st of March.

At 8-30 am , their shuttle driver arrived to take me to the nearby Hancock International Airport (Syracuse) .

I was catching the midday Allegiant Airlines direct flight to Ft Lauderdale , Florida. I was there a bit early , but that’s the way I like to do things.

We departed  about 40 minutes late and arrived in Florida just before 4-00 pm.

Carla was there to meet me in her AUDI wagon. She’d been down there with Alex and my grandkids Benji and Sophia for the past couple of weeks.

They were staying at Doris’s place (Alex’s mum)  , so my base for the next couple of nights would be at the nearby La  Quinta Inn at nearby Coral Springs.

As mentioned, this was their wedding anniversary, so we all went out to the Brazilian Chima Steak House in downtown Ft Lauderdale.

Saturday the 2nd of March.

This was a lazy kind day where we took an early morning trip to a massive local Flea Market. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for the next part of this double celebration adventure.

Let me Digress.

When it comes to vacations , going on a cruise has never been a ‘bucket list’ thing for me. I have never fancied the idea of being stuck on a boat for more time than necessary .

Over the years, I’ve used many ships (car ferries)  in order to cross the North Sea from England to mainland Europe, but that was for a reason ,  to get from to A to B .

To actually go sailing around in the sunshine was never my idea of a holiday .

For a long time now, Carla has been bugging me to go on a cruise, so when she offered me the gift of a celebratory family holiday, how could I refuse.

Sunday 3rd of March .

Early in the morning the six of us, plus our luggage squeezed into the AUDI, bound for the Port of Miami.

It’s about a 30 minute drive from Doris’s area of Ft Lauderdale.

Along with around 6000 other holiday makers we were there to board the ‘Carnival Celebration’ for a 6 day cruise of the Caribbean , that would be stopping off at the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten.

The rest of the family have done this thing before , but the boarding process was a brand new experience for me .

Once on board we did a bit of exploring , before we were able to move to our cabins.

It soon became obvious how massive the ship was , and the amount of things  for peoples enjoyment.

My cabin was on deck 11, out of the 17 that were available on the elevators.

The ship sailed out of Miami at around 4-30 pm and I was up on one of the upper decks to watch.

Monday the 4th of March.

This was programmed as a ‘fun day’ at sea.

It was a day to explore the on board attractions , and for passengers to be officially welcomed by Cruise Director , Louie , who just happened to be ‘Brit’ from Brighton , England.

He did a great job. (During the cruise , I was able to have a good chat with him and found him to be a real nice guy’

Tuesday the 5th of March

When I woke in the morning, I looked out and found we’d docked at Amber Cove , in the Dominican Republic.

We disembarked at about 8-00 am  and were given a set time to be back on board.

We had plenty of time for a taxi ride to nearby Puerto Plato

After this we returned to Amber Cove, where the grand kids could play in the pool and I could sample the local beer.

Once back on board there was plenty to do in the evening .

There were numerous  shows ,bars and kids clubs for the children .

For those that liked to throw their money away (ha ha) , there was always the casino.

There were all sorts of places to eat, that catered  for all tastes. Most of them  were all included in the price of the cruise ticket.

You could eat steak every night if you so desired.

Wednesday the 6th of March.

I was awake early enough to watch the ship pull into San Juan , Puerto Rico.

Once docked , we were allowed to get off,  and were given a set time to be back on board.

They don’t wait for stragglers.

The ship docked , very close to the town and it was only a short walk to check things out.

Of course,  Puerto Rico is a ‘territory’ of the USA and some of the first American businesses we saw were  Starbucks and Walgreens.


While strolling around the streets looking in the souvenir shops we spotted this place.

I think they sold ice creams, but we didn’t want to risk taking the kids in there.


While the others were happy feeding the pigeons , I sought refuge in this bar, and sampled another local brew.

We then took a slow walk back to the ship.

It was another night of eating,  drinking and having fun.

One of my favorite haunts was the piano bar , where a Canadian guy by the name of Keith would sing peoples requests.

Thursday the 7th of March

Another day and another country.

Overnight the ship had sailed to Sint Maarten.

This was a place I was looking forward to , and wasn’t disappointed .

Once again we needed taxi’s to get to the places we wanted to go.

Our first one dropped us off in the market square close to the Great Bay Beach .

To my surprise , one of the first things I saw , was my own bank. The Royal Bank of Canada.

I used their ATM to top up my cash flow.

From there we took the short walk to the beach.

We were soon approached by a likable guy called Lenny ,  a real character and a fast talking salesman.

He had a beach chair rental business and we decided to take him up on his offer.

It reminded me a lot of the holidays in Spain I had when I was a kid .

We spent a lovely morning relaxing on the beach , before making an exit for our next taxi ride.

One of the tourist attractions of Sint Maarten is the Maho Beach .

We hadn’t got long , as we had to be back on board the ship , but the taxi driver got us there quickly, then waited around while we took our pictures, before driving us back to the port.

The beach  lies at the end of the Airport runway, and people flock there to get pictures of the planes flying  above their heads.

Once back at the port , we took this picture before departing .

The ship sailed out soon after the 4-30 pm deadline, and I went up on one of the top decks to watch.

Friday/Saturday the 8th and 9th of March.

The final two days of the cruise were spent sailing back towards Miami, sun bathing and enjoying the on-board food and entertainment.

At one of the family game shows, we were winners.

Sunday the 10th of March

When we woke in the morning , the ship had already docked in Miami.

With carefully planning, we managed to get off the ship early (7-45 am) .

It was going to be a long day for some of us. Carla , Alex and the kids had the long 13 hour drive back to North Carolina. It was school the next day.

Once the AUDI was retrieved from the parking lot, we all drove back to Doris’s place in Ft Lauderdale.

Then they ,  continued their long drive.

My flight back to Syracuse wasn’t due until the next day, so I stayed for an extra night.

Monday the 11th of March

Doris dropped me off at the airport for my mid day Allegiant flight.

Bye Bye Ft Lauderdale


Everything was running on time and we landed in Syracuse about 6-00 pm.

After phoning for my shuttle, I was soon back at my car in the SUPER 8 parking lot.

I made a quick stop at Walmart in Central Square for groceries and was crossing back in to Canada at the 1000 Islands border at 9-00 pm.

Another stop for Tim Hortons at the Mallorytown services and I was at my place in Cornwall, by 10-45 pm .

What a great holiday, it certainly changed my ideas of ‘cruising’ for a holiday. I’d definitely do it again .


I said at the start of this BLOG,  it was about the cruise and nothing to do with racing. Well , that’s not entirely correct , there is a slight connection. 

Sint Maarten , is part of the Dutch kingdom, and in 1990 , Carla and I were in the Netherlands watching some racing at it’s namesake. The ACON stock car track at Sint Maarten.