|Wild rooster in the Cayman Islands|
I travelled with Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean and it was a_m_a_z_i_n_g. Apparently, this is as top of the line as you can get when you talk about cruise vacations. The ship I sailed on was the Celebrity Solstice, a 15 story tall ship, with 4,000 souls on board.
You can breathe easy as a vegetarian on the ships, as they had a 20 hour a day, all you can eat buffet that had a well garnished salad bar which included an assortment of various fresh vegetables, and more importantly - beans, as proteins are very important.
But you aren't confined to the buffet. As in any cruise, the evening dinner is meant to be a formal affair, where you have to drop your beach attire for more formal wear. On two evenings, I even got to play dress up and got all dolled up for the camera. The menu at the Grand Epernay (the formal dining room with assigned seating) had at least 3 vegetarian options on the daily menu, on top of having at least 3 more vegetarian starters and entrees on the table d'hote.
Another thing that I particularly loved from the ship was the pool deck. There was an outdoor grill that served - wait for it - veggie burgers on demand!!! =)
Since I didn't want to get sick when we got to the islands, I opted out from eating anywhere off the ship. However, the islands themselves were gorgeous. We stopped over at the Grand Cayman Islands for the day, where I saw wild chickens roaming around in packs with little chicks. The colorful rooster pictured above is one of the impressive wild birds on the island. I was far less impressed by the turtle farm, which I had mistakenly thought was a turtle sanctuary. No, no, you could eat turtle soup. It was rather depressing to see all the turtles in tanks, waiting to be slaughtered and eaten.
Our next destination was Labadee, Haiti... Which was spectacular, and not anything I had thought Haiti would look like with the earthquake. The cholera outbreak happened just a few weeks after our visit. Again, this probably wasn't a fair view of the island, as we were on a private resort. To think that this place was a prime tourist destination for Quebecois in the eighties. You could see bellowing clouds of smoke, rising from the forest. According to our guide, they are cutting down trees to make charcoal. If you look at aerial maps of the island, you can see the effects of clear cutting.
Montego Bay, Jamaica was not as nice as I had hoped, although the Blue Mountains were quite majestic, the garbage strewed across the road and the sheer number of unfinished homes was a sad reminder of the poverty and high unemployment rates.
Our last stop was Nassau, Bahamas. It was beautiful. Full stop. I want to go back.