Eating dinner in Communist Cuba

Conde de Villanueva was a lovely restaurant in the beautiful Hotel del Habano... even if they were out of several dishes.
Conde de Villanueva was a lovely restaurant in the beautiful Hotel del Habano… even if they were out of several dishes.

Sometimes, travel is meant to be an adventure. One day in 2006, for example, I went back to my apartment in Mexico City and told my wife we were moving to Abuja, Nigeria. Good times! In December 2016, I went on a bar crawl in Jakarta that involved a place which had been bombed by terrorists. It was bombed because, well, it was a bar. I got lost once in Japan, and I spent 11 days in Nicaragua once before I had learned enough Spanish. Anyway, I considered myself a seasoned traveler. That caused me to become arrogant, and being arrogant meant I quit listening. When I went to Cuba in July 2018, that meant that I didn’t listen to what restaurants were telling me about their menu. One of those places was the Conde de Villanueva in the Hotel del Habano. Continue reading “Eating dinner in Communist Cuba”

San Juan Embarkation Port and pre-cruise stay

So, overall, San Juan embarkation is smooth and it is an excellent port to embark from.  After landing, we went and picked up our luggage, and, as we flew first class, we got it fairly quickly.  We then headed for the taxi line.  Uber is not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, so this was the only option.  But, it was set up very well.  A uniformed women took our destination when we reached the front of the fast moving line, told us our fare, and directed us to our taxi.  A taxi ride from the airport to Old San Juan, the best place to stay when leaving for a cruise as the pier is right there, takes about 30 minutes.  The streets can be quite narrow at times, so be prepared to stop a lot.  But, the scenery of the old forts and buildings makes for a pleasant drive. Continue reading “San Juan Embarkation Port and pre-cruise stay”

Carnival Fascination Penthouse Suite Southern Caribbean Cruise Experience – Planning the Cruise

Mr. and Mrs. John Brawley Tophat in United first class on their flight to San Juan.
Mr. and Mrs. John Brawley Tophat in United first class on their flight to San Juan.

Hello all.  Mrs. Tophat and I just got back from an excellent Carnival Fascination Penthouse Suite cruise adventure to the Southern Caribbean.  Over the next few weeks we are going to share with you our entire cruise experience.  We sailed on May 20th from San Juan to St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Marteen.  This cruise was about the ports of call.  We are gold cruisers with Carnival, having sailed with them many times out of New Orleans and Miami, so we were familiar with the Carnival experience.  We booked this cruise online via Carnival about a month before the sail date, so we had few options of cabins, and thus we ended up booking an extended grand suite on deck 6.  But, a few weeks before we sailed, the upgrade fairy called and offered us a Owners Penthouse Suite on deck 12. Continue reading “Carnival Fascination Penthouse Suite Southern Caribbean Cruise Experience – Planning the Cruise”

Rony’s Tours Roatan, Honduras

Where we waited for Rony's Tours in Roatan, Honduras.
Where we waited for Rony’s Tours in Roatan, Honduras.

We were on the June 25, 2017 sailing of the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas out of Galveston. One of the reasons we booked this trip was so we could stop in Roatan, Honduras. We were there two years ago and booked a trip to Maya Key, and we had a great time. This time, however, we wanted to get a little bit more adventurous and see the island itself. We contracted with Rony’s Tours Roatan to do ziplining and snuba diving in Gumbalimba Park. I will review the activities themselves separately, but for now wanted to comment on the service and experience with the tour company. Continue reading “Rony’s Tours Roatan, Honduras”

Maya Chan Beach Costa Maya, Mexico

Maya Chan Beach in Costa Maya, Mexico.
Something cold and delicious to drink at Maya Chan Beach in Costa Maya, Mexico. It was probably a piña colada, but I’m not gonna lie. The open bar was fantastic, and I may have tried more than one thing.

If you have ever dreamed of the perfect day at the beach, you really need to check out Maya Chan Beach in Mexico. Marketed at folks arriving in Costa Maya on cruise excursions, this place offers an almost perfect day at the beach. The price is much lower than anything I have traditionally paid for shore excursions. This review comes from our June 29, 2017 arrival on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas. I will start with the problems on this trip before discussing the incredibly rich experience we had, and I have also posted a video review on YouTube. On balance, however, know this: On my next cruise I will specifically look for an itinerary calling at Costa Maya just so I can go to this place. Continue reading “Maya Chan Beach Costa Maya, Mexico”