Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Anniversary! - 01 Mar 2014

In the femptosecond between Midnight of the 28th and the 1st of March Robin and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary (normally 29 Feb). Our gift to each other would be a Caribbean cruise to the isles of St Maarten, St Thomas, and the Bahamas aboard the new Norwegian Getaway. So, when we arrived in Miami shortly after 10 am this morning it felt like a wonderful gift. 80 degrees and sunny! Yep, warm.

As we walked to pick up our luggage the loudspeaker announced, "Welcome passengers of Delta 1829 from Detroit. Please claim your luggage at carousel 5!". We proceeded to carousel 5 and noticed that our flight was not listed there, but at carousel 4. So, our crowd shuffled over to 4. The announcement came on again, so the crowd shuffled over to 5. A man's voice then came over the loudspeaker informing us to to go to 4, so once again, the crowd shuffled over to 4. This was then proceeded by the original announcement directing us back to 5. Ah, Miami!

After getting our luggage (carousel 4) we proceeded to the NCL reception area, where we were soon picked up and whisked away to the Port of Miami where the Getaway was docked. Massive ship! We checked in, headed to our cabin, met Sam (our cabin host), then wandered up to the Garden Cafe for a light lunch. The ship is modern and beautiful! Wood-grained everything, buffet stations that are broken up by specialty, and computer stations on each floor that allow guests to find their way, make reservations, and check restaurant seating availability. Robin was thrilled to see this as it was a suggestion she had made to NCL years ago on a previous cruise. Apparently, they listened. Our cabin is small, but lovely, with a small balcony on the Port side where I could sit and look out over the river and all of Downtown Miami. Robin had gotten me an Anniversary Gift that included dinner for two, a dozen roses, a box of chocolates, and a bottle of Champagne. She is so awesome!

We sipped champagne on the balcony while I photographed fly-by Laughing Gulls and Turkey Vultures, and watched as numerous boaters and jet skiers attempted to ride up the river, where they were stopped by Dade Co. Sherrifs in patrol boats and turned back. I suspected that they were all drug runners trying to smuggle their goods in their underpants...

With thousands of guest wandering aimlessly looking for their cabins and the ship's offerings, I then took the stairs down to Deck 8, where I could walk outside and photograph some of the resident bird life. Laughing Gulls still bedecked in winter plumage were everywhere, as were numerous Ring-billed Gulls, Turkey Vultures and occasional Brown Pelican.

Flocks of Fish Crows (best ID'd by their "Anh-Anh" call) soared by and allowed me to test my flight shot capabilities with the 300/2.8 VRII and TC17E II. So far I've been extremely happy w/ the quality of hand-held images taken w/ this combo.

When we finally disembarked at 4 pm I was able to photograph a Great Blue Heron and flocks of shorebirds that were mainly Black-bellied Plovers, possible 1 or 2 American Golden Plover, and Ruddy Turnstones. My last bird of the day would be a Royal Tern just beyond the shoreline drop off of the Atlantic Ocean.

Robin and I then had a wonderful dinner at Le Bistro Restaurant. The duck confit was out of this world! We then retuned to the cabin and watched Tim Allen's Tool Time reruns. The swaying ship put us to sleep by 9 pm...

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