Chloe Luka Photography has moved from Ohio to Indiana, and has also moved to a new blog and website! You can find us by following this link: http://www.chloelukaphotography.com/.
Thank you so much for continuing to follow along with our journey! We look forward to hearing from you soon :)
SO excited to share this post with you! Tim and I had the chance to take a Southern Caribbean cruise a few weeks ago, and it was all kinds of amazing. We went with Royal Caribbean, and chose our ship based on the destinations we would get to see. Our ship took us to 5 different islands: St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Dominica, and Barbados, and we had one day at sea. We flew out of Puerto Rico, and had perfect weather the whole time! We did NOT miss the snow storms that hit Ohio while we were gone ;) This trip came at a perfect time for us (we actually booked it pretty last minute – yay for buy one, get one half off deals!), but it was such a time of rejuvenation and restoration, along with some big, fat doses of Vitamin D, that we were in desperate need of ;)
The island of St. Thomas was absolutely stunning. One of our favorite ones of the entire week! We tried to do a lot of research before-hand through TripAdvisor so that we could avoid the crowds and the high costs of the ships excursions, and it paid off! We took a taxi ride to Magen’s Bay (which does cost a small fee to enter), but was totally worth it. Calm waters, white sand, and a fairly uncrowded beach, compared to the others that we passed.
On our way back from Magen’s Bay, we made a short stop at Udder Delite – the MOST AMAZING milkshake place ever. Our good friends had been there the year before and recommended it to us, and we are so glad we made the stop! It’s a fairly small place, but I promise you it’s worth every penny :) It was a great end to our beach day!
The next day we were docked at St. Kitts. Can we talk about how gorgeous the water is??! I really didn’t edit this pictures a lot to preserve the colors of the Caribbean. So breathtaking!
And that was about all we saw of St. Kitts! We didn’t want to pay a lot of money to get to another beach, and it was super windy that day, so we decided to stay on the ship, after we walked around town.
The next day we docked at St. Maarten. It’s known for its duty-free shopping, and SO MANY tourists. We were advised that it was worth it to take a taxi to a more remote beach, so we did just that! We took a taxi to Mullet Bay, which is just past Maho Beach (one of the most popular beaches). Maho is located right next to an airport, so planes literally fly right over people to land and take off – it’s pretty crazy!! But we didn’t feel like being blown over and having sand whipped in our faces, so we chose Mullet, which was definitely more calm and relaxing ;) If you find yourself in St. Maarten, you definitely need to check out Maho though, even if it’s from a cab (which is what we did). It’s a crazy experience! Mullet Bay was beautiful, but it filled up fast. Make sure to get there early and save your seat in the front row! Another thing to note – the tide is STRONG. What you can’t tell from this picture is that the sand drops off into the ocean, and becomes deep fast. I wanted to wade in to get my feet wet, and the current took my feet out from under me and pulled me in three times in a row! Needless to say, I lost my sunglasses, inhaled a LOT of sea water, and put on a great show for people on the beach ;) Lesson learned! Tim loved the waves, but I stayed on the sand for the majority of our time ;)
Also, most beaches you visit will have you pay for chair rentals. To avoid this, I brought my floatie with me! It doubled as a chair to read in, and a bed to float on in the ocean ;) And it was only $5 at Wal-Mart! Totally worth it! :)
Our next stop was the island of Dominica (not Dominican Republic, as I originally thought..haha) This was Tim’s favorite island, and it was absolutely stunning. Over 50% of the island is preserved national rain forest, and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed here! To fully take advantage of all the sites of the island, we booked a 6 hour excursion through Trip Advisor. Best decision ever. We went with Nautre Isle Explorer Day Tours (Jewel Tour), and Marvin was our tour guide. He was awesome!!! We learned so much about the history of the island through him, since he was born and raised there. We had a fairly small group of people that went with us, and one of the guys we met was kind enough to send us some of the pictures he took during the day. Most of these were taken on his phone, and they are SO good!!! So, David, if you’re reading this – THANK YOU! You’re the best :)
The first stop on the tour was Champagne Reef. The island is actually an active volcano, so our guide took us to a small bay to snorkel where you could see how Champagne Reef gets its name. The water temperature over the vents found throughout the reef can reach 90 degrees, making the sea floor warm to the touch, and the constant bubbling of gasses from the bottom of the sea floor rising up makes it look like you are snorkeling through a sea of champagne! (Of course, this is what Tim told me, since snorkeling and I don’t mix too well ;)
After we stopped at an overlook of the city, we went to our next destination: Titou Gorge (where scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed!). The picture below shows where Tim jumped from to get into the Gorge. (I, of course swam in ;) Marvin led our group through the river cavern that you see below. It was freezing cold, but so gorgeous.
After we swam for a while, we came too a small waterfall: (image taken from Google – our cameras didn’t work so well for this part ;)
Marvin had us all climb UP the waterfall, and then jump back off of it into the river! Probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. While the waterfall looks small, it was very powerful, and the current was strong! But I’m proud to say we both did it!!! After that the current brings you back to the entrance of the Gorge.
Right below the falls were hot spring pools that we got to relax in for the end of the tour. It’s crazy to me that we could go from ice-cold water in the Gorge to warm volcanic mineral water, after just a short drive. It was a great, relaxing way to end our excursion!
Our last island was Barbados, which was my personal favorite. It’s a British island, so everyone we met sounded like my mum, with their accents ;) We booked a lunch catamaran cruise with Cool Runnings, and loved our experience with them! There were a lot of people on the catamaran, but it was fairly large, and I had the top deck all to myself to sun bathe ;) We made three stops: the first was to snorkel with sea turtles, which Tim loved! Here’s a picture he got with the GoPro:
I grabbed a few GoPro shots on our last night to try to capture some of the ship’s architecture. We were on the Jewel of the Seas, and it was gorgeous! Here is a look at the main centrum, where they had bands play each night – the last night was jazz! Our favorite!
And a view of where we spent a lot of our time…the main dining room ;) Our server knew us so well that on the last night he brought us out 2 desserts each, without us even asking! I guess he knew that we were fatties and had every intention of taking advantage of the ‘all-inclusive’ food service ;) Hope you enjoyed a sneak peek into our time away, and that maybe it encouraged you to check out a cruise sometime soon! We loved it!
One of my most favorite days of the whole year! The eve of CHRISTMAS! Enough said. :)
Tim and I exchanged our gifts and had our own mini Christmas celebration before we had to be at the church for Christmas Eve service practice. Tim woke up early to make a Christmas Eve breakfast feast of french toast, eggs and bacon! YUM. And then we exchanged presents :) I get a little carried away with wrapping Christmas presents (I was trained at a young age) so of course I made Tim take a picture to show off all my hard work ;) One of my most favorite gifts that Tim got me. For those of you that are ‘Friends’ fans, you will get the significance ;)
After that, we headed over to our friends, Chris and Lindsay’s house to visit their new baby girl! We had been praying for her for many months, and she is truly God’s precious gift to them. He even worked it out that they were able to adopt her in just TWO months. How amazing is that?! I gave you her story in a nutshell, but you have to read Lindsay’s blog to fully understand just how much God did to bring little Ellie to them. As a warning – you will need some tissues! Our God is SO good, and Ellie’s story is a true testament to that. Of course I had to bring my camera along to grab a few snapshots of this little miracle. She is only a few days old in these pictures!! Such a sweetie already :) After our visit with little Miss Ellie, we got ready for the Christmas Eve service at church. Tim always does such a great job of picking music and designing the service. This year was no exception. I am truly thankful for any opportunity to sing alongside him and worship our God together. Christmas Eve services have always been special to me, and I get overwhelmed thinking about how my Savior came down to earth as a baby – maybe even one as small as Ellie! – and set God’s plan of redemption and restoration into motion. He loved us so much that He made a way for us to be with Him forever. He made a way to save us from our sin, and to have a relationship with Him! It makes me even more excited for the day that we will get to be with Him in heaven forever.
Come, thou long expected Jesus. Come!