Earth Round the World Holiday - Part One Earth

16th January - 9th February 2014

Itinerary: Miami - Cruise (Philipsburg - Charlotte Amelie - Nassau) - New Orleans - Tahiti

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17 Jan. Miami. My first visit to Miami so I took the HOHO bus round both routes. The blue route goes to Miami Beach, past the cruise terminal, where 3 ships were docked, then on the Fontainebleu Hotel and back. The red route is a city tour through Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana and downtown.

18 Jan. Miami. After sorting out a phantom item on my bill, it was time to get ready to sail. I left the hotel at just after 11:00 and was on board the Norwegian Epic by 11:45. She is a hideously ugly ship from the outside, but looks alright inside. I had my first ever balcony cabin. The room design is odd, with a wavy wall where the bed goes, the (small) sink in the cabin and the shower and toilet separate on each side of the entrance. They have smoky glass walls, ok for one person, but probably not if you were sharing with a friend.

20 Jan. At sea. I went to the Svedka Ice Bar, for a couple of drinks. Everything, including the seating and the drinks containers were made of ice. I lasted about half an hour. I saw the Blue Man show. It was good, but I'm glad I didn't pay $100 to see it in Vegas.

21 Jan. Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Another beautiful sunny day. I had a private tour round St. Maarten/St. Martin. We left the dock, where 5 other ships were docked, including the Independence of the Seas, on which I sailed in September 2011. We drove to the French side of the island and explored there, including spending some time in Marigot, the French capital. After this we went to Maho beach, which is where the planes land at the international airport. We saw a KLM jumbo and an American Airlines jet land. It was really impressive. I then strolled around Phillipsburg and found a Hard Rock Cafe, I didn't know existed, so I had a drink there and did a little shopping before heading back to the ship.

22 Jan. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. I was supposed to have a two hour island tour with a local company. In the event, another company took over the booking and the tour lasted 4 1/2 hours. We went to Charlotte Amalie and promptly had an hour's shopping! The same old stores that are on every Caribbean Island were there. We then drove around the island stopping at various places. When we left the dockside, three ships were moored, when we got higher up, we saw that the Carnival Conquest had joined us. At the other mooring, were two more ships, including the Allure of the Seas, currently the worlds largest liner. This is just another small island in the sun, but the views were stunning. I've had a towel animal every night, apart from the first night. Today was a penguin, the first I've had on any cruise. I currently have two dogs, an elephant and the penguin.

24 Jan. Nassau, Bahamas. Saw the arrival from my balcony, there were 5 other ships in port, too. We docked next to Disney Dream. I was due to meet Harvey and Janet. It was bedlam getting through the port area and I never found them. After a couple of texts, we finally met and went to the Hard Rock for lunch. After a quick stroll round town, we went to their hotel for them to dump their bags, then Harvey took back the hire car and Janet and I went to Atlantis, where Harvey caught up with us. We went in and had a quick look around, I sneaked in because the hotel is only open to guests and local residents, and of course they're locals. We had a look at the aquarium and a quick stroll round some of the grounds, before I caught the ferry back to Nassau and the ship.

25 Jan. Miami. As my flight left in the early evening, I went on an Everglades tour. We were taken to a 'safari park' and then we got on to air boats for a trip around part of the Everglades. There were plenty of birds and, eventually, we saw 5 alligators. Back on dry land, there was a short show, which was ok, but informative rather than entertaining and then I wandered around the park for a while. Most of the alligators were in pens, but there were two that just arrived one day and were only behind ropes. They could come and go at will. Then it was off to the airport to fly to New Orleans. I knew I had to pay $25 for my bag, but as I was 4 pounds over, I had to pay another $100! New Orleans was cold! 8 degrees. After checking in at the quaint hotel in the French Quarter, and dinner, I strolled around. Bourbon Street is definitely party central.

26 Jan. Nyarlins! New city, so of course it was time for a Hop On Hop Off bus tour. I saw Canal Street, Jackson Square, the Garden District, the Superdome and much more. After a lunch of a poboy, basically sloppy beef in a baguette, I strolled around the French Quarter, stopping in at the Hard Rock for a Hurricane. After a dinner of gumbo and jambalaya I hit a couple Bourbon Street bars.

27 Jan. New Orleans. They'd been predicting bad weather for tomorrow, but I didn't think it would particularly affect me. Wrong!! The weather this day was OK, warmish and a bit damp. I took a street car to the cemeteries. I only went for the ride, but when I got there, there were, maybe 5 cemeteries there. They were all full of tombs and mausoleums. They were still being used, I saw one with a date of October 2013. After that I went on a River Mississippi cruise to the Chalmette battlefield, where the Battle of New Orleans took place, and apparently the British army was routed. When I got back to the hotel I discovered that because of the expected snow and ice, Delta had cancelled all flights out of New Orleans for tomorrow. This was not good news. After over an hour on hold to Delta I discovered that I'd been moved on to the equivalent flight on 29 January. A fruitless call to Air Tahiti Nui meant that another long call to Air New Zealand followed. This was fruitless too and I was told that I needed to speak to Virgin Atlantic as they apparently issued the original tickets, despite the fact that I have 3 different reservation numbers! After about a hour with VA, I was told they couldn't book me on a flight in business class until 4 February and she wasn't able to downgrade me on the next available flight. So I rang the emergency number for my travel agent and spoke to Australia! They cancelled my flight that I wouldn't make, put a hold on an economy seat and a standby on a business class seat, then said that my travel agent would have to sort it out, and she'd call me!

28 Jan. New Orleans. It was called Winter Storm Leon. It brought chaos to all sorts of places in the South. I had a fairly fitful night, but no phone call. I eventually sent an email to my travel agents and they called me back on my mobile, to confirm that I had an economy seat on the flight to Tahiti on 30 Jan. I went out for a walk and to go to visit the aquarium. New Orleans was extremely quiet. Many places, including the aquarium, were closed, the weather was cold, wet and windy. I managed to find a restaurant open for dinner. It seemed to me that I could have flown out without any problem. One of the hotel receptionists was a fount of knowledge about New Orleans and the hotel and said that many Hollywood stars stay there, including Pitt, Jolie and Paltrow.

30 Jan. Tahiti. Flight from LA landed at 22:35 and in hotel less than a hour later. Got upgraded to lagoon view room as the receptionist thought I was Ambassador level. Hardly any storage space in room, and what there is, is in the bathroom, along with a couple of electrical sockets by the sink.

3 Feb. Tahiti. I was having breakfast when an English woman (Jeanne) asked me a question. (There are more Brits in the hotel than I expected, and conversely very few if any, Aussies). We had a chat and as I was going in to Papeete today, she came with me. 200 Francs on the public bus for 7 km, which compares very well for 1,600 francs for the 2 km taxi ride from the airport. It had rained during breakfast (which is very good, if expensive) and continued to do so on and off during the day. We saw the local market, the cathedral and strolled around the town.

5 Feb. Tahiti. In the morning I went on a 4x4 land rover safari. There were four Germans and me. We were driven through Papeete and out to Papenoo, where we drove up into a national park and into an extinct volcanic crater. It was bumpy, hot and fun. We crossed a weir at one point and got out half way across. It was cool and very slippy. We were supposed to stop for a swim at the top, but none of us particularly wanted to swim, so we didn't!

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Freedom Tower Miami Building Miami Beach Biltmore Hotel Town Hall

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Cabin Water slide Balcony View Norwegian Epic Funnel Slides

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Slide Me Ships Iguana Iguanas St Martin

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Conch Statue Plane, Maho Beach Timetable St Maarten Ships

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Court House Balcony View Independence of the Seas Pools at night St Thomas Ships

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Magen's Bay Iguana Towel penguin Pilot boat Arriving at Nassau Harvey, Janet & me

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Senate House Aquarium Atlantis lobby Atlantis Hotel Towel animals Airboat driver

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Everglades Everglades Alligator Everglades Beauregarde-Keyes House Building

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Joan of Arc Superdome Beads House Katrina memorial Jackson Square

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Room view Cemetery Gravestone New Orleans Malus-Beauregard House Live oak

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Creole Queen Hitching posts Room view Room view Market Market

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Fish Cathedral Altar Cathedral Papeete Me

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Surfer Waterfall Ford Me Tahiti Nui Crater Tahiti Nui Crater

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Orchid Tahitian show Planes at Maho Beach
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