Cartagena, Colombia

After two days at sea, we docked in Cartagena, Colombia. We were required to bring a government issued photo ID and our vaccination cards, or photos of them, ashore with us, as well as being asked to wear masks at all times.

We had an excursion planned that was a horse and carriage tour of the old city and fortress. The sun was out and it was toasty and humid! Fortunately the excursions were mostly in the morning so we could get back to the ship before it hit the hottest of the day.

Our excursion was a short one at just 3 hours. We exited the ship and met our bus. Once everyone was there we were on our way with a drive through town to the old Fortress. We only had 10 minutes here, which was not enough time to explore. It was really only enough time to walk down past the ticket booth and back to the bus. It might not have taken so long, but the people selling their goods were everywhere. Selling hats, small leather purses, fans, jewelry, maracas, waters etc. Just know there are many and they can be quite pushy. There were also ladies dressed in colorful outfits trying to get you to take photos – for a price of course.

After the short view of the fortress, we were headed near the old city to meet our horse/carriage. They were lined along one of the narrow streets. The old city streets are too narrow for the buses which is why this tour uses the carriages. They load you four to a carriage so it’s full and off you go on the bumpy streets to the old city. They wound back and forth from street to street, a line of horse drawn carriages we went. All along the route we encountered more locals trying to sell you goods. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this really took away from the ability to enjoy the tour as they were even reaching over the carriages to try to get you to buy. However I think the part that bothered me the most were the ladies. I get it, they’re just trying to make money, but there were a couple of ladies that would approach you with a stool in hand, and begin trying to rub your arm or leg (not with lotion, just rub you).

Once the tour was over, the carriages stopped in the square and we were pointed in the direction of a jewelry store which was air conditioned and had a restroom. After that we had a few minutes to shop if we wanted before we followed our guide on a walk to the bus meeting area and it was back to the ship we went.

I can’t help but think it might have been nice to also see some of the newer side of Cartagena, pictured in the first couple of images as well to see how things have changed.

Back at the cruise port, they drop you on a different side than they picked us up. It caused us to walk through a zoo of sorts. There were lots of parrots, a few monkeys and other animals. We only walked straight through back to the ship and saw a few, rather than walking the whole place. There also appeared to be a restaurant and gift shop for those who wanted to stop.

Sea Day and a Specialty Restaurant

Our first sea day was also the first formal night on our cruise. When cruising with my husband, we tend to only do one formal night so we chose a different dining option for this first formal night. The Emerald Princess has a specialty restaurant on deck 7 forward, in between the Piazza and the Theatre, called The Salty Dog Gastropub. It shares space with the Wheelhouse Bar. This specialty restaurant has a cover charge of $18 per person. Here is a look at the current menu.

On the 3rd image, you can see the cover charge and under that, as it states, anyone dining chooses TWO gourmet plates. It continues stating the appetizer of Ernesto’s Dip Sticks are complimentary – again this is for each person. And under the desserts section, it shows Select one. This is a great way to taste multiple items.

The appetizer arrived and each plate had a small glass. Each glass contained two tall bread sticks. The bread was not too crispy, it had some tenderness to it. And each plate had a second small jar, containing the beer-cheddar fondue for dipping. I’m not a huge fan of beer, but the fondue had a good flavor. The texture was not my favorite, but melted real cheese is seldom smooth from my experience. And the flaked smoked salt on the bread sticks was nice.

Now for the main dish. We decided we would each choose our two items, and we would share them. That gave us the chance to try four separate mains! I chose the lobster mac & cheese for my first, and the beef short rib poutine for my second main dish. My husband went for The “Ernesto” burger, and the spicy stout beef short ribs.

I’ll start with mine first. The lobster mac & cheese was delightful. Lovely cheesiness, with chunks of lobster throughout. As one who is not usually a fan of mac ‘n cheese, I could eat this everyday! The beef short rib poutine was ok for flavor, but the pieces of meat were very small and there wasn’t much to share. The potato frites, however, were SO good – crisp and flavorful!

My husband’s serving of spicy stout beef short ribs were tasty, and bigger chunks of beef, as if it had been nicely sliced off the bone. Now, the Ernesto …. funny story … I had never read thoroughly the entire description, and my husband skimmed through it before ordering. Now this ended up being the last thing I tried. He ate his half up with no issues, but on about my third bite — my mouth was lit on fire! As I sat there, mouth on fire, eyes just dripping with tears, our waitress arrived and was very concerned for me. I explained about the heat, of which my husband said he had none (although he does like spicy foods and spicy isn’t often spicy to him), which is when the waitress explained there is KIMCHI and JALAPENO on the burger. The only thing we can figure is that I got a giant chunk of both ….and I am a spicy food whimp! Now naturally this was our own error in not paying closer attention to all of the ingredients, but I did suffer in silence for about 10 minutes before the tears subsided lol. So now that I’ve admitted my embarrassing moment, let’s move on 😉 .

One of my favorite subjects when on holiday is …. Dessert! We rarely eat dessert at home, so when we travel, yes indeed, we enjoy our desserts! Of the four choices, husband chose the Strawberries & Cream, and I chose the Coffee & Doughnuts. Unlike our main dishes, we ended up not sharing so I cannot attest to what his tasted like, but it was pretty. The doughnuts were little balls of dough coated in cinnamon/sugar. The coffee was the mousse log, then there were dabs of what tasted like lemon, whipped cream, caramel which added to the goodness.

Overall it was a nice adventure in food and we were glad we paid the surcharge to try it!

Nassau, Bahamas

Although we left port a couple of hours late, Nassau is only about 300 miles from Florida, so it wasn’t an issue.

When we arrived, you could still see a little holiday. There were a total of four ships in port this day. Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, Celebrity (not sure which ship), and Allure of the Seas. Emerald was docked closest to the street. You can see there is construction going on.

In the photo on the right, if you fancy Harley Davidson and like to pickup a shirt or two when traveling, the light blue building to the left side of the photo is the local Harley apparel store. Down the road, you’ll find signs for many souvenir/shirt shops etc and at the far right, with the green awning, is Senor Frogs.

It was noted in the daily newsletter, the Patter, announced over the speakers etc that we needed to take a government issued photo ID as well as proof of vaccination ashore. When coming back to the ship, we were instructed to show our ID and medallion.

We had booked an excursion to the beach on Blue Lagoon. There were several excursions to the island, and once there, we also learned there were several excursions from the other ships as well. It’s broken up into different beach areas so you were not necessarily mingling with folks from the other ships. We took a boat over, which took about 45 minutes. It is an open air boat, with partial covering, and they pack you in pretty tight. Once there, they have folks who can direct you to the right beach area.

There was a family beach section, and an adult only section. We were booked in the adult only section. As we walked over to it, there was a gift shop, restrooms, showers for rinsing the sand off, and an activities hut where you could rent snorkel equipment, paddle boards, dolphin, sea lions and other activities.

Blue Lagoon is the right name, just look at this water!

This is where the dolphin encounter excursions take place and the sea lion excursion is just past this.

This is the Princess family beach area – there is a jungle gym of sorts in the water that you can see.

And this is the adult only section, on the other side of the rope.

Not alot of fish to see in our little area. There were some blue fish and a couple of yellow/black striped just outside of the roped area that I spotted from the pier. And then these little guys.

One advantage to having booked the VIP adult only area is that it included lunch which was rice/beans, chicken, steak/onions, fried fish, corn on the cob, salad and cookies. You also had access to unlimited water, lemonade, fruit punch and Bahama mamas (until they ran out of mix, then made something else).

It was just a half day excursion, but it was nice that Princess excursions went over in the morning, before it got too hot. Folks from the Allure of the Seas showed up just before mid-day and would be there for the afternoon. So this small area of beach was a little crowded for about an hour or so, but it wasn’t bad.

Then it was back to the ship to enjoy the rest of the day onboard.