Caribbean Cruise 2014:
Day 4 - Dominican Republic


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Caribbean Cruise 2014: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - Half Moon Cay] [Day 3 - Turks & Caicos] [Day 4 - Dominican Republic] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Bonaire] [Day 7 - Curaçao] [Day 8 - Aruba] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Ft. Lauderdale]

Monday, March 3, 2014: Our morning started with a lovely sail in through Bahía de Samaná.

Humpback whales come to these waters from January to March to give birth and raise their babies, and we started seeing whale spouts, whale splashes, ...
... and actual whales right away.
We had been warned about a chance of rain, but a few clouds across the bay were all we ended up with.
We spent time out on deck after breakfast watching the scenery and whales.
Here's a fairly new resort, one of several we saw in the developing country.
Here are Cayo Farola, the tiny island to the front left, and Cayo Levantado, one of the major attractions, ...
... due to its beautiful white sand beach that wraps around nearly half of the island.
Here's another resort.
There's Samaná waiting for us. We anchored here.
We saw another whale breach fairly close to the town.
When we returned to our cabin, we found several whale watching boats silently stalking the water right in front of us, ...
... so we waited on our balcony with them, and got to see a whale up close, ...
... complete with a nice fluke display as it dove under the water.
We headed to the Mainstage lounge to start our shore excursion, ...
... and took a tender with our group into town.
Colorful dancers greeted us.
Orchy was there too.
After a brief wait, we boarded our catamaran from the same dock where the tenders arrive.
It took a while to sail our way back out toward Cayo Levantado. We sailed around the side of the island that we hadn't seen from the ship, ...
... all the way back around to Cayo Farola.
We enjoyed the view from our comfortable shaded seating inside the catamaran.
Here's the rocky back side of Cayo Farola, ...
... and here's the calm side between the two islands, ...
... which is where we dropped anchor to snorkel.
And we're off!
We were surrounded by thousands of tiny fish and floating over a grassy and sandy bottom.
A sand dollar! It was the first time we had ever spotted one in the wild, but it was at least 15 feet down, so we didn't get a closer look.
We headed toward the island and here is what we saw.
The coral was very colorful, especially this blue patch in the lower left.
There were plenty of long-spined urchins to admire and avoid.
We think the fish on the left is a bluehead juvenile changing to initial phase and the one on the right is a bluehead initial phase changing to adult coloring.
The edge of Cayo Farola is very rocky, providing a very interesting rock wall to view underneath.
Here are some sergeant major damselfish enjoying the nooks and crannies along the wall.
There were lots of sea stars to see. This one might be a comet star.
Here is the first of many cushion sea stars.
Watch.
Enjoy.
Marvel at how adorable they are when they cling to old pipes.
Here's a sea urchin exoskeleton.
We found a queen conch graveyard.
Trumpetfish are fascinating.
This boulder brain coral was huge.
Here's a foureye butterflyfish ...
... and here's a bluehead with his sergeant major friends.
After about 40 minutes, we headed back to the boat, got a couple of drinks called Rum Fish (consisting of Sprite and rum), ...
... and we were off.
We got a closer look at Cayo Leventado ...
... as we headed toward a separate beach on the mainland for our next stop: Cayenas del Mar Beach Club.
The beach club had a small open-air cafe overlooking the water.
We ordered fried calamari (left) and arepitas de yuca, which are nests of fried yucca filled with Domincan-style stewed seafood.
The beach club had this adorable shell-covered shower.
Here's a view of the beach, ...
... and a look at the cafe.
A couple of turkey buzzards flew overhead.
A little over an hour later, we got back on the boat. From the dock, we could see the Noordam, but we had to head back to town first.
A few more cups of rum punch, ...
... a little dancing among the crew and guests, ...
.. and a little scenery ...
... made the trip back into town go quickly.
Soon, we were back in the Samaná harbor, ...
... back on the tender, ...
... and walking up the stairs from Deck A.
Sail out took us past Cayo Levantado ...
... and Cayo Farola one last time.
We got to enjoy the sunset since we had 7:30 reservations at the Pinnacle Grill for dinner.
Once we arrived, there was a long wait to be seated, ...
... even though all of the tables around the atrium were set and empty.
Once seated, we enjoyed a nice corner booth, starting with a basket of bread, ...
... and an amuse bouche. This was a mushroom cappucino made with portobello, shiitake, and cap mushrooms and topped with truffle foam.
For an appetizer, Debbie had a very ordinary shrimp cocktail, ...
... and Tom had miniature crab cakes.
Tom ordered cedar-planked halibut with shrimp scampi, ...
... and Debbie ordered a 10 oz. filet. We share sides of sauteed mushrooms and whipped potatoes.
Debbie had been disappointed to see that her favorite Pinnacle Grill dessert was not listed on the menu that was on public display, so imagine her happiness to find that it actually was on the top secret restaurant version of the menu: Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska.
Made with Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia and a thin outer layer of cake, it is pure heaven. Tom enjoyed his chocolate souffle.

Truffles were also served. All in all, it was a pleasant experience, but not one that we would seek out if it hadn't been included for free with the cost of our cruise.

Day 5 >


Caribbean Cruise 2014: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - Half Moon Cay] [Day 3 - Turks & Caicos] [Day 4 - Dominican Republic] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Bonaire] [Day 7 - Curaçao] [Day 8 - Aruba] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Ft. Lauderdale]

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