Category Archives: Carribean/Bahamas/Bermuda

SistaVoyage Vs The Caribbean Sea

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If you knew of a person who had 2 sets of private swim lessons PLUS a group swim lesson recently , wouldn’t you assume that person knew how to effectively swim? Probably so, right? Well, tell me what is MY problem, lol!  Apart from showering, brushing my teeth and taking baths, the water and I are not the best of friends. At the age of 25, I took my first set of private lessons (4 total) where I discovered if you give me a noodle and some fins, I could swim without stopping. On the flip side ,take away the noodle and the fins and it would be a DISASTUH.

The second set of lesson results (again 4 total) were a sad repeat of the first.  I was ready to practice my strokes, but I ended up nearly stroking due to the choking of water I seemed to always swallow. The only maneuver I could show off outside of the class was me pushing myself from the wall and swimming UNDER water. I couldn’t bring my head up for air to save my life!  While I didn’t give up, I left large quantities of la agua alone for a while. Then one day I got bold…kinda.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, it was just this year so it wasn’t much to remember, ha ha.

On Good Friday 2013 in Roatan, Honduras, me and two other ladies who were staying at the Roatan Backpacker’s Hostel decided to take a stroll to West End. We kept walking and walking and before we knew it, we were on West Bay Beach, where all of the action was happening. We noticed several people (mainly children and teens) jumping off of this wooden deck into the sea. ‘I want to jump in, but I can’t swim well,’ I announced to the ladies.  What did I do that for? ‘Well, I am going to dive in and I will help you out if you jump. I used to be a life guard,’ ‘J’ said to me.  I felt a mixture of nervous energy and curiosity throughout my body. She noticed my hesitance and started to mildly taunt me while mixing in a little encouragement. Nice.

So, did I suck up my sea fear or did I shrink back in it?  Well, I did a little bit of both, lol. See what actually happened in this short video clip below.

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Why I Will Never Cruise with Carnival Again

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They say ‘never say never.’ I say ‘whatever!’

Before the fires, fumes, and filth issues covered in the media, I said a loud and resounding ‘HELL NO’ to sailing with Carnival in the future after my friend’s wedding cruise in 2010.

I remember it like it was 2 hours ago:

There I was awakened in the middle of the night sailing the ocean blue on Carnival Liberty to the dreaded queasy feeling. I sat on the edge of the bed in total denial of what was about to happen next.

Each end of my body was confused. It didn’t know whether to insert my head in the toilet or place my butt on it. Between my butt cramping and my throat retching, I wondered if day 3 was a prediction of the next 4 days on the ship. This wasn’t seasickness, my friends. It was what I labeled ‘the 2 hour Norwalk virus.’

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Thankfully, I was ‘pill prepared’ for the trip.  I ended up feeling better after I chomped down on several Pepto-Bismol and swallowed 2 old Compazine (anti-nausea) pills. Things were going well until I developed strep throat that progressed into a never ending sinus infection. Terrible, just terrible. The Carnival Demons just wouldn’t let me live!!!

Despite this, I got to witness my bride-friend commit her life to her love; however, in hindsight, I should’ve taken a clue from her best friend who left the ship AFTER the reception. She was smart.

Sista Asks: Have you ever had a bad cruise experience? What happened?


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I Let My Hair Down When It Comes to Eating…

in other countries.

watermarkburgerking*I hope you all understand what I am going to say.*

Places I wouldn’t dare eat at here in the U.S. are somewhat a non-issue when I am overseas.

Living in America has spoiled me in that I have a variety of restaurant options to choose from at any time. The ‘hole in the wall’ establishments and the food trucks here in the U.S. don’t receive my support. Looks good? Yeah. Smells good? Hecka Yeah? Tempting? Nah. I like a certain aesthetic appeal in where I choose to dine, plus, it gives me the peace of mind that my food’s possibly being handled and prepared appropriately.

When I am in another country, that standard’s laid to rest, mainly because the food’s fresher and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER! On top of this, I know that some other countries don’t have the strict regulations that we are supposed to have in the U.S. due to politics and funding. Yay to eating overseas!!!

Street Food in San Pedro, Belize

 

Banana and Nutella Crepe in Paris, France from a Food Truck
Banana and Nutella Crepe in Paris, France from a Food Truck
Quesadilla in Honduras

 

Chicken baleada in Honduras
Chicken baleada in Honduras

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My Second Smooth Jazz Cruise Experience 2012 WAS AWESOME!!!

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I was uncertain about sailing again on the smooth jazz cruise after my 2011 trip, primarily because…I really didn’t care for the Holland America cruise line…at all. (Backtrack here to read why). Now don’t get me wrong, I am not singling out Holland America, because you couldn’t pay me to go on another Carnival cruise either and this was before they made headlines in the news. The only cruise line I’ve had a positive, memorable experience on was  Royal Caribbean (I’ll get to this story in the future, too, ha ha).

When the 2012 cruise line choice (Holland America again), ports of call (same as 2011, except St Barths instead of St. John)  and the artist announcements were made for the sailing in 2012, I was like ummmm…no.  As much as I loved the music and meeting my favorite artists, I couldn’t justify going again…until curiosity killed the cat (and my wallet).

I decided to just casually browse the website one day and to my amazement, they removed some artists (that I didn’t want to see) and ADDED THREE that I absolutely had to see- Peter White, Brian Culbertson and Euge Groove. Unfortunately, the ports of call and the cruise line didn’t change, but these three added artists made up for it tremendously. What’s even more special is I interviewed one and had my own personal serenade from another!!!

Peter White
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Brian Culbertson
MeandBrian

Brian Culbertson and me, agai
Brian Culbertson and me, agai

I wasn’t able to get a ‘snap snap’ with Euge Groove around the ship, but that’s okay. Two out of three certainly isn’t bad. :)
In addition to taking pictures with my two favorite smooth jazz artists, I was lucky enough to interview one and have a wonderful song played to me by another. Check out the videos below!!!

Some of my other favorite smooth jazz/ neo soul artists that were on the cruise I was able to harass (j/k) for pictures included:

Eric Darius and me
Eric Darius and me
Rahsaan Patterson and me
Rahsaan Patterson and me

 

Brian Simpson, Music Director of the Smooth Jazz Cruise
Brian Simpson, Music Director of the Smooth Jazz Cruise

 

Marcus and me
Marcus and me

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Smooth Jazz Cruisin’ It- The First Experience in 2011

 

voyagestatsIf you’ve ever booked a cruise or any other trip online, you’re usually able to access the website, select your options, pay the cost, and instantly receive a confirmation.  Imagine my shock when I tried to do just this to book my first, 2011 smooth jazz cruise. I honestly thought I was overlooking something, some page, some direction, SOMETHING, but I wasn’t. At that time, in order to sail on this wonderful cruise, you had to send emails and/or call the cruise coordinators.

What kinda back alleys mess is this? I thought, lol. I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole trip was some sort of scam; however, my excitement to finally interact with some of my favorite smooth jazz musicians and hear real, live, unadulterated tunes trumped the doubting thoughts that were plaguing me.

I did it. I sure did- I booked the cruise and thankfully, it wasn’t a scam, ha ha. The coordinators were so pleasant, cooperative and knowledgeable while communicating via both email and via phone with me. With the deposit paid, flight booked, and the final payment confirmed, I was about get my smooth groove on!  *In my best country, southern voice* Come on, give me your hand chile (child), as I share my views, pictures and videos of this fantastic voyage witcha.

Maybe I Should’ve Flown Into Miami Instead…
and paid the expensive cab fare to Ft. Lauderdale.

DSC02353I’ve stated this ad naseum on my blog already, *here and here*  but if you somehow missed it- I HATE Fort Lauderdale’s airport. I flew to it because 1.) it was my first time flying there 2.) that’s where the ship was docked and 3.) being that flights have a time mind of their own, I didn’t want to risk missing my boarding time. Anyway, you and I are hand in hand still and you are waiting to see what I want to show you, right? Right! Cool.

Outta there and Onto the Ship!

Obligatory Cruise Room Pose!
Obligatory Cruise Room Pose!

All Cleared, Waiting to Set Sail

cruiseWalking Around the Ship, and Guess Who I Saw?
http://www.marcusmiller.com/

Me and Marcus Miller, Awesome Bassist
Me and Marcus Miller, Awesome Bassist

The performance of the first night belonged to Gerald Albright and Johnathan Butler.

Johnathan Butler and I

Johnathan Butler performing
Johnathan Butler performing

Played A Little Bingo the Next Day, and Guess Who I Saw?
while I didn’t win any of the games, I still got my picture snap on!

This day was designated for everyone to wear their smooth jazz cruise shirts and have a little fun on the deck.

Gerald Albright and I
Gerald Albright and I

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On Semi Dry Land (Bahamas (Nassau and Half Moon Cay), St. Thomas and Tortola)

The Bahamas. Nice island, but if you’re like me, you have been on plenty of cruises where the first stop is no other than Nassau. I didn’t get off of the ship to venture around due to the aforementioned plus in 2010, I took my mother there for her 50th birthday. I was Nassau’ed out.; however, Exhuma and Eleutra are on my bucket list, but I digress. Performers that night were the LEGENDS- David Sanborn and George Duke!

David Sanborn, a smooth jazz legend!
David Sanborn, a smooth jazz legend!

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http://www.davidsanborn.com/

http://www.georgeduke.com/

Unlike with Nassau, I looked forward to visiting St. Thomas because my girl (hey DreaDay!) resided there at the time and we were able to connect. Boney James was the musician of that night and he flew into the island for his performance later that evening; therefore, the ship stayed in St. Thomas from 8am until 12 midnight! Boney James has that kinda power, lol. Jeff Golub (super great guitarist) was in concert with Boney James that night, too.

St. Thomas
While everyone ranted and raved about Coki Beach, I found more peace and pleasure at Emerald Beach!
cruise5cruise4DreaDay introduced me to Fraco’s. It was the first time I had a snow cone with condensed milk. Still trying to figure out if I really liked it or not.
cruise25Veggie Food!
DreaDay dragged me (just kidding) to her favorite vegan restaurant on the island, Natural Livitiy Kulcha and Juice Bar. Although I am not a fan of tofu-ish types of meats, it was MUCH better than the food served on the ship!
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Jeff Golub and I before his performance

Jeff Golub and I before his performance

While the food was tasteless on the cruise, the 7 (or 8…or 9) strawberry dacquiri’s I gulped were SCRUMPTIOUS!

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Jeff Golub Performing
Jeff Golub Performing
Boney James performing
Boney James performing

http://www.jeffgolub.com/
http://www.boneyjames.com/

Tortola (British Virgin Islands)
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Performing That Night, Nick Colionne and Brian Simpson
http://nickcolionne.com/
http://www.bsimpsonmusic.com/

Nick Colionne
Nick Colionne

 

Brian Simpson
Brian Simpson

Still A’ Cruisin’
How could I forget to mention one crucial piece of information about why I love the smooth jazz cruise! I consider myself a true smooth jazz fan and when some unaware person tells me they enjoy this genre, but can only mention one artist which is Kenny G, I cringe. The same way I cringe when there’s a ‘smooth jazz fest’ but most of the artists are known for performing rhythm and blues. On this cruise, however, 95% of the musicians have dedicated their lives to jazz, so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment when Brian McKnight came was a featured guest performer, plus he’s known to belt out mellow tunes on jazz albums. (Run on, I know :) )

 

Brian McKnight
Brian McKnight

OH- MY- WORD!!! I have to give this performer a gold star. Now, please don’t get me wrong (especially if there are smooth jazz artists reading this entry), everyone on the cruise was wonderful, but this guy below TOOK THE SHOW! I’ve always loved Richard Elliot, but seeing him perform live was absolutely phenomenal. Readers, if you are ever in an area and he’s in concert, you must see him!

Richard Elliott and I
Richard Elliott and I
Richard Elliott put on THE BEST performances!
Richard Elliott put on THE BEST performances!
Richard Elliot
Richard Elliot

www.richardelliot.com

For the final stop, the ship was supposed to cruise back to the Bahamas to visit a private island, Half Moon Cay, but thanks to the wonderful wind (YAY! NOT) it didn’t happen. Instead, we circled around and around on the ocean where it was more stable. I was really looking forward to visiting this place then, but I got my chance the next year :) That night in the main auditorium, Mr. Marcus Miller and Miss Candy Dulfer delighted our ears to some smooth melodies.

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www.candydulfer.nl

Many times, the artists would congregate surprisingly on stage or in smaller venues on the cruise and perform as duets, trios, or multiples!

Norman Brown, Patches Stewart, Tom Braxton and Rick Braun performing
Norman Brown, Patches Stewart, Tom Braxton and Rick Braun performing

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Grooving!
Grooving!

blogsmooth7My Time Spent in St. Thomas and Tortola

Do you want to see more video footage of this cruise? I gotcha below :)

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*Sings* ‘Nothing but Smooth Sailing, Tonight… (Preview)

anything that you want from me, it’s my delight tonight.’ –The Isley Brothers

The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2012

I love smooth jazz. No wait, let me rephrase that… I LUBS me some smooth jazz. I caught an ear whiff of it when I was about 6 years old via Paul Hardcastle’s Rainforest. That song resonated with everyone that heard and it definitely got people moving or at least their heads a’bobbing.

My next run in with smooth jazz was via George Duke’s ‘No Rhyme, No Reason’ when I was 15 years old. The music in that song was/is so mellow that it instantly relaxes you. Let’s just ignore the lyrics being about a married man caught up in an love affair, lol. Listening to the musical composition in this song made me yearn for more of what they call ‘smooth jazz.’

Fast forward a bit to college. I found a local radio station that played this genre of music all day and all night and I had it on all day…and all night. Whether I was studying, sleeping, eating, whatever, if I heard a song that peaked my interest, I made sure I found out the artist and the song title. I was a loyal member of BMG/Columbia music (remember them?) and I would order as many cd’s I could, through payment arrangements of course. My first smooth jazz album? Boney James’s ‘Sweet Thing.’

How does the aforementioned relate to traveling, you say? Keep reading, Impatient One.

Whenever I am not looking for something, that’s when I find it (can anyone else relate?) and that’s what happened when I was searching the internet for smooth jazz radio stations. I came across www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com from a simple browse and I couldn’t believe it. You mean to tell me, I can cruise, meet new, good people, visit other countries AND hear AND mingle with most of my favorite musical artists IN PERSON on a ship? That was it, I was sold and so far, I’ve been on two of these wonderful cruises. Here are just a few pictures to get your brain to a’wondering, ‘what did Sista Voyage exactly do on the cruise? Where did she go? What artists did she meet? Did she go alone here, too? (The answer to the latter is a big YES!!!)

Boney James performing
Me and Gerald Albright
Brian Simpson (piano), Johnathan Butler (guitar), and Richard Elliott (sax)
Me and Richard Elliot
Norman Brown performing
Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson and Euge Groove performing
Me and Candy Dulfer

Did the pictures cause you to want to know more specifics about my voyage? Of course they did, so be on the look out for my detailed entries of this wonderful cruise in this month of December 2012 to January 2013! I will hold nothing back, I promise :)

Oh and while you wait for the entries, go ahead and enjoy one of my video uploads of the cruise.

 

 

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