Miss Bee’s Bolivar Buzz

Shannon WilliamsBy Shannon Williams
January has always been one of my favorite times of year to travel, and my favorite place to go in January is the Caribbean. I have been going there in January since 1987, which is also when I took my first cruise. As far back as I can recall, I have wanted the gift of travel for my birthday. In high school, I had friends who lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and you could get tickets to fly from West Texas to the Dallas area for $19 each way! My parents had taught me how to travel, so did not have a problem with me traveling on my own in High School. My friends would get tickets to concerts or some event and then I would ask for airplane tickets as a Christmas or Birthday gift and off I would go.

I have family on the West Coast and did not grow up seeing them very often or even really getting to know them. One of my first cousins died of cancer when he was in his 20’s. I remember going to the funeral in San Francisco and thinking that I never really knew him, so right there and then I decided I would get to know my West Coast Family (both of my parents had siblings living in the San Francisco area), so that is where most of my cousins were.

My favorite Aunt also has a January Birthday, so I would often travel out to the West Coast so we could celebrate our birthdays together.

So, traveling to see the ocean or to be on the ocean in January is something I have done for a long time and have no plans of stopping. I went a little earlier this year, as I had some business dates I needed to work around. So, after all the Christmas decorations were down, the baking was finished and I was totally exhausted, I got on a cruise ship out of Galveston to follow my yearly tradition.

Going out of Galveston this time of year has some downfalls in that you don’t hit warm weather till you are far enough out in the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t mind that as I am usually so tired from the holiday and trying to get ready to go on the trip, a good sea day gives me a chance to rest at the start of the trip, so I can enjoy the rest of the trip.

My first cruise was a honeymoon cruise aboard the Fantome, in January of 1987. The Fantome was (she sunk in 1996), part of the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and a tall sailing ship. It was the grandest adventure, we went to a bunch of Caribbean islands, some little and some big. Since the ship was not a big Cruise liner, we could get into small ports such as St. Bart’s, Nevis and St. Kitts along with your standard Bahamas stop. We slept in bunk beds when we did not sleep out on the deck. We were able to jump off the boat to go swimming and each night would have food native to where we were visiting. It was a great way to see this part of the world for the first time. Right then and there I knew that this was going to be something I wanted to do a lot of.

One of my next trips was on the Big Red Boat, which is what was around before Disney had cruise ships. We took my son for his fifth birthday. He had been to Texas beaches since he was a newborn, but when he saw that clear blue water of the Caribbean, he too fell in Love. One of my all-time favorite memories is having Bugs Bunny come and put him to bed one evening. They said their prayers and brushed their teeth, of course we paid a price and somewhere I have pictures!

For the next several years, I was so lucky to get to travel with my parents 2 to 3 times a year. They had started going on cruises with a group of retired military officers who liked to play golf and loved the whole process of cruising. We did a couple of transatlantic crossings, the Panama Canal, Alaska and of course trips to the Caribbean! The memories from those trips are so very near and dear to me. We sailed on several different cruise line, but most of them catered to an older crowd. That was fine with me, as I was a single working mom and loved the time to read and slow down.

This last trip I took was on Princess, which I had gone on before a few times. I was thrilled that they are sailing out of Galveston now. I try not to go anywhere that I could not get home in a hurry if something happened to Mom, so these days I usually go out of Galveston, but have done the California coast and gone on several out of Florida to guess where, LOL!

I so enjoyed, not having to decide about where to eat, how to get there or where to park, I just had to decide what I wanted to eat. We (I went with a neighborhood friend) enjoyed reading and going at a slow pace. We had a great beach day in Roatan and did a little shopping in Mexico.

So, I have been on some very simple ships, some very fancy ships and most everything in between and I have loved them all. I try not to be critical of much when I am on a ship, as it is so nice to be waited on and most of the time every staff is just trying to do their best. Weather and mechanical troubles are always going to be a part of cruising. But so are people watching, going to new places, learning about the world outside of your little world and FOOD! We had some great Food, but my favorite this time was served at the beach the day we spent in Roatan Honduras. They grilled red snapper, chicken, and shrimp and each with their own sauce which was heavenly. Then we had black beans and rice which just hit the spot.

My retirement plans include being on Ships as much as my budget will allow, LOL. I have included pictures of my first cruise ship and the most recent. If you have not tried a cruise, you should give it a try, it is a great way to travel. Bon Voyage.

[SW: Jan-23-2024]

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