March marks our one year anniversary, and I am currently swept with nostalgia for the unforgettable experience we had exchanging vows on the Crown Princess, and celebrating in Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic. Before we sail again on the Norwegian Dawn to celebrate our anniversary, I am reflecting on all of the fun we have had traveling over the past year, beginning with this cruise on Crown Princess in March, 2017.
It was a great pleasure to board a vessel as beautiful and well-cared for as the Crown Princess for such an important occasion. What better place than the “Love Boat” to exchange vows?! I couldn’t think of any then, and I still can’t think of any now. Our first sea day was a thrilling experience, one you don’t experience on a cruise every day, as I experienced being walked down the aisle by the Cruise Director, and as we were exchanging vows before the Captain. I felt an intimate connection with the ship and crew as we shared this cherished event together.
After the ceremony it was time to be whisked around the whole ship posing for photographs with one of the ship’s photographers, cursing my high-heeled shoes every step of the way! Of course, documenting the memories of this important day made it all worth while. After a romantic dinner at Crown Grill, bliss-inducing couples’ massage at the spa, and being spoiled by the soothing sight and sound of the water on deck under the moonlight, it was time to become well-rested for two days of exciting excursions!
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic was the first stop. A chance to brush up on my Spanish, become immersed in the brilliantly colored pastel colonial architecture in Puerto Plata, and be surrounded by the friendly atmosphere provided by the equally colorful locals, was a welcome adventure. I was dazzled by the whimsical rainbow of bright color on the buildings of the main square. These buildings were very well-preserved and a joy to behold. It was clear that the people of Puerto Plata took great pride in their cultural heritage and history, and rightfully so.
After marveling at the historic architecture, we visited a cigar-crafting business which created endless varieties of flavored cigars (something the Dominicans are famous for) and a rum factory that produced rum of several different, interesting varieties as well (tip: the mango flavored rum was some of the best rum I have ever sampled!)
I was enthralled by the views of the beach and town from the cigar factory, and the views of the lush, tropical vegetation from the rum factory. It was difficult to pull myself away long enough to observe the presentations!
To conclude our excursion, we were treated to a rum tasting and live music and dancing by the locals, a stimulation of multiple senses that provided a fitting end to a fun day docked at Amber Cove.
The next stop was Grand Turk, of Turks & Caicos. Never have I seen such crystal clear waters and powdery sand beaches as I witnessed at Grand Turk. This is an ideal port whether you prefer to take excursions or just explore the port, with beautiful public beaches easily walk-able from the ship, live music, and plenty of delightful shopping. With not one but two excursions planned, we had a full day ahead. We got an early start, spending 45 minutes on this stunning beach, and then headed for our first excursion: an exhilarating horseback ride and swim!
It would be an understatement to call this a thrilling experience. We first took a regular horseback ride along the beach, riding extremely tame and friendly horses, enjoying idyllic views of the ocean and sand so magnificent I could not even have imagined them. But the moment we were all waiting for was the horseback swim – and it did not disappoint! It was a thrill ride, yet one that felt controlled and safe at the same time. I enjoyed this excursion so much that I am repeating it in a couple of months when I return to Grand Turk.
After returning late from the first excursion and rushing back to the ship to change, it was off to tour the cultural highlights of the island by bus, and yet another rum tasting!
We explored the architecture around town, signature lighthouse, and island museum to learn more about the history. As we meandered from place to place, waves crashed along the beach that provided an extraordinary back yard to most of these attractions, and wild horses and donkeys displayed their carefree spirit playfully wandering the island. I reflected on our own carefree and adventurous spirits that have us exploring, and I am treasuring the opportunity to spend another year of sharing the joys of travel with my husband and best friend, as well as the new friends I will continue to meet along the way!
Once back on the ship, we enjoyed a tour of the Bridge and more delights in the spa on the second sea day before a (regrettable) disembarkation, and, (not regrettable!) plan to cruise again as often as possible in the coming year!