I have been to tropical places. I’ve admired the lush forests and gazed at the blue waters. But nothing could have prepared me for the for sights and sounds above the treetops in St. Lucia. The second port of call on our Caribbean Christmas cruise was this incredible island, bursting with vibrant plant life and more hues of green than I have ever seen.

 

We docked at St. Lucia, the second largest of the Lesser Antilles’ Windward Islands, at about 8 a.m. When we opened the curtain to our veranda, we had a spectacular view of the island, surrounded with blue green waters and sailboats passing by. I knew it was going to be a good day.

The view from our veranda in St. Lucia.

For this stop, we had already booked a Celebrity Cruise excursion for an aerial tram where we’d glide above the rainforest on an open-air gondola. We picked this excursion because it was labeled “mild” for activity and we suspected because of my health, I may need a lighter day by this point in the trip. We took a van from the port to a rainforest reserve where we marveled at the lush flora and fauna.

We boarded the open-air gondola, sitting two to a seat, and began our more than half an hour journey to top of the rainforest.

My mom and our daughter, Meghan, on the aerial tram to the top of the rain forest.

Our tour guide was fantastic. She shared a brief history of the island, explaining St. Lucia was originally occupied by the Carib Indians and then had both French and British settlers. St. Lucia changed hands 14 times before it became a British Crown Colony by the Treaty of Paris in 1814 and remained under British control until 1967 when it became an independent state in association with Great Britain. In 1979, it was granted full sovereignty and became a full-fledged member of the British Commonwealth.

On our way to the top, our guide also pointed out the wide variety of plants and trees in the rainforest, including stunning views of gommier trees and the remarkable strangler fig. Here’s a short video clip so you can see and hear and what we experienced.

We saw giant ferns and the magnificent Heliconia (bird of paradise). While our guide was thorough and answered our questions, she also spent long periods of time in silence so we could hear the sounds of the rain forest. It was incredible.

The giant ferns were absolutely amazing.

Although it was a bit overcast that day, the view from above the tree tops was breathtaking.

The view of the Caribbean sea from above the tree tops.

We enjoyed the tram ride down the mountain, looking for hummingbirds and identifying the various trees and plants. None of us wanted the ride to end. At the bottom, we walked down a slight hill and the guide told us our tour also included a 15-minute hike in the rainforest. Our daughter, Meghan, who like seeing nature but not being in it, had her doubts about the hike and opted to stay behind.  My mom, Steve and I agreed to take the short hike to take a quick peek at floor of the rainforest.

Our excursion labeled “mild” suddenly turned into “moderate” and five minutes later could have easily been considered “strenuous.” We climbed up dozens of tall, uneven steps in the forest, grabbing onto trees (and each other) to get from one level to the next. Our guide continued to talk about the trees around us, but I don’t remember hearing what she said or looking at any of them because my eyes were fixated on my feet and the hazardous ground below.

The floor of the rain forest. Not exactly the type of terrain I’d consider “mild.”

Fifteen minutes in to our so-called 15-minute hike, we were all dying and looking for nearest escape. There was none.

I didn’t have time to take many pictures on our hike, but I did stop briefly to get a shot of this unique tree/root/rock.

You could barely hear the guide speak over the wheezing sounds of the tourists but we hiked on. Finally, we began to descend but then I realized the steps down were going to be even more difficult than the ones we’d just climbed. I told my quads to get get ready — today was apparently going to be leg day.

It wasn’t easy, but I made it. We all did.

We made it!

When we reached the bottom of hill, Meghan rejoined the group. She asked about the difficulty of the hike and of course, I lied and told her it was a breeze and she should have come. I guess the shortness of my breath and the sweat running down my back gave it away and she just smiled and said, “I told you so.”

Fortunately, we were greeted at the visitor’s center with a glass of cold and refreshing rum punch and then headed back to the ship. Next stop — St. Maarten.

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  • We've been having the best time in the Florida Keys visiting Steve's mom and dad this week. Today, it was cold for Floridians, but we loved the sunshine (and were thankful for awesome neighbors who were likely shoveling the snow from our driveway back home).⁣
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We are so thankful for a flexible schedule and opportunities like this one to share time with family. Life seems to pass us by so quickly the older we get and we're fortunate to be able to travel and share experiences with the people we love most. ⁣
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Feeling especially blessed tonight, in the beautiful Florida Keys.
  • We enjoyed a delicious dinner tonight at Hideaway Cafe on Grassy Key with Steve's mom and dad. We went early at 5 p.m. for the sunset dinner menu which has smaller portions and the most beautiful views of the sunset. ⁣
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The food was fresh and made-to-order and served by gracious and professional staff who made us feel right at home. ⁣
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Hideaway is a great restaurant choice for dinner if you're in the Florida Keys. Get a reservation ahead of time, as it fills up quickly, even at 5 p.m.
  • Need some inspiration for staying healthy while traveling? Good news! We are taking over the @noom Instagram stories this afternoon and hope you’ll all follow along as we share tips on how to make healthy living choices while on a cruise ship. We’ll take you inside the beautiful @celebritycruises Edge and show you how we stayed on track with our Noom goals while still enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation. Be sure to follow @noom! Our takeover has just begun. 😁
  • The Rooftop Garden is a unique space on the top deck of the @celebrityedge. There’s no water slide on this ship, no go-carts, and the’s no rock wall for climbing. Instead the Rooftop Garden provides a “living urban playscape inspired by childhood playgrounds and designed to waken the inner child in all of us,” according to the Celebrity Cruises website. There are live plants, comfortable outdoor seating, and unique art installations that set the space apart from anything else at sea. @cruisecelebrity
  • Blu is a restaurant on the Celebrity Edge that is dedicated to guests in Aqua Class.  It serves “clean, crisp flavors and inventive cuisine” in a gorgeous blue venue. To give you an example of the types of entrees served, for dinner tonight Blu is offering seared duck breast with wilted chard, farro risotto, and black cherry jus; a cracked pepper corn-crusted tuna salad, watercress, and dijon vinaigrette; and pumpkin gnocchi with sautéed arugula, sundries tomatoes, marinated artichokes, goat cheese and basil pesto. What would you order?
  • Yes, cruise ships are huge, but if you do a little exploring, you’ll find that the designers have included many small spots perfect for intimate conversation and watching the world go by. We found this nook in Eden, on deck 5 of the Celebrity Edge, near the stern.
  • Last Sunday we began the second half of our very first back-to-back cruise on the Celebrity Edge. We’ve had the best cruise vacation and have enjoyed every single minute of our vacation. The Edge  been an ideal place to relax, recharge, and prepare for a new year. We’ve also used this time to try new things and focus on a healthy lifestyle. Thank you all for coming along on our journey and sharing your sweet comments with us along the way. We are grateful for each of you.
  • We just love these guys!! These two characters were the bartenders on the Retreat Sundeck for our cruise aboard the Celebrity Edge. Johannes and Vince created a light, fun atmosphere and made you want to go to the pool every day. Their personalities helped make the Retreat a welcoming place with professional service. We shouldn’t be surprised, though. We found similar cheerfulness in crew around every corner of the Edge, under the command of @captainkatemccue.

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