View Full Version : Travel with me......

04-06-2009, 02:14 PM
I missed a lot this week while I was on my cruise. It was a great time on the Westerdam of the Holland-America cruise line. We first traveled to the Grand Turk Islands, Grand Cayman Islands, and then over to Cozumel. It was an excellent trip and the weather was phenomenal.

I apologize for the many dust spots that will be in the images. Im glad my new camera is weather sealed, otherwise it would have been destroyed. Showing these images, I will not be removing the spots and they will all remain completely unedited to save some time. Since I will try and post most of them in this thread, let me know if a particular photo really intrigues you and I will remove the spots and repost the image in another thread. For those of you in Canada who are still dealing with some cool weather, I hope this will warm you up......

We started our trip out of the Detroit Airport at 3 a.m. That is where the images will begin...

I couldnt help but stare out the window and look at the airport staff prepare the plane for departure. The reflections of the people in the window were a great addition to the story...

The take-off was smooth and Detroit was clearly visible from my window. Once the sun came up, I was on the opposite side of the sun to get a great shot of the clouds through the window. It was a great prelude for the rest of the trip...Goodbye home....

04-06-2009, 02:35 PM
We landed in NYC at the Laguardia Airport, one of the busiest aiports in the country. Unfortunately, we got stuck in the worst terminal in the whole place. There were more people in Detroit than NYC. The terminal was poorly maintained and built. There was nothing too exciting until the department of homeland security decided to have a meeting next to where we were waiting. Afterwards, we all fell asleep during our 4 hour layover. When we woke up, the terminal picked up and our flight to Ft. Lauderdale was completely filled.

04-06-2009, 03:17 PM
Throughout my travels, Ive noticed one thing, the landscape the wildlife it contains is a great indicator of the climate. Always looking for an adventure, we arrived at our hotel in Florida. Way off the main drag and many miles away from downtown, there was no time to get into the city for a few pictures. There were no parks around either. On our way to the hotel, there was a fire on the highway. With a closer inspection, it turned out to be a new Ferrari, I wish I new the story of this.

Walking up to the hotel room, the ground started moving beneath my feet. Having not been in Florida since my early teen years, I knew what it was. These lizards are EVERYWHERE! They are crawling on the walls, trees, and sidewalks. You only notice the movement at first and can only make them out if you stop and really concentrate on trying to figure out what it is. Lizards need plenty of sun and heat to survive, and there is more than enough in Florida. They made great subjects during the last hours of sunlight before we stepped onto the boat. That night, I thought I would get a picture of the highway and signs above as a location indicator..

04-06-2009, 05:33 PM
What a great trip JJ - Lucky bum:)

There's quite a variety of subject matter in which is fun play, and my faves are the last 2 shots in post 3.

04-06-2009, 05:37 PM
Thanks Marko. If you follow along, they will get MUCH better I promise. I think posting these images in this format will still allow for some surprise in what you will see when you open the thread.

04-06-2009, 05:54 PM
Lol, I like the security guards on break. :)

Mad Aussie
04-07-2009, 01:45 AM
Cool lizards

04-07-2009, 02:03 PM
When we first arrived into the port, cameras were not allowed to be used for security reasons. There were several boats leaving the port that day all headed for similar destinations. It was as much fun watching the people watch the ships leave as it was to see the ships themselves.

04-07-2009, 02:16 PM
Every night I walked around the boat to take pictures. It was nice to stand alone 10 stories high above the ocean. Without any trees or buildings to block the wind, the open ocean has an extremely stead breeze at times. Combine that with the speed of the boat while standing 10 stories off the water cruising at 20knots, it is enough to hold you up while leaning into the wind. Even with a tripod, the wind and movement of the boat made getting quality night shots from the top deck difficult and sometimes impossible.

Mad Aussie
04-07-2009, 02:34 PM
I'm enjoying this and the commentary

04-07-2009, 04:26 PM
Here is where the vacation really began. To me, when traveling, the culture of the destinations is what I am most interested in. Unfortunately, when on a cruise, the culture is lacking due to the changes that tourism has brought to the areas. The first destination was the Grand Turk Islands. They are owned exclusively by the Holland-America cruise line. It is a completely empty island except for what Holland-America has brought there. When you wake up in the morning, the ship is already there and just waiting for you to wake up. There is not a port so they use small tenders to unload people from the cruise ships onto the island. This day, both the Westerdam and the Zuiderdam were there at the same island. There was not much to do on the island except enjoy the beach and weather. Again, the people became the most interesting subject. Its amazing how a deserted beach, can be completely full and almost look like New York when they unload their passengers. When you arrive on an island like that, the last thing you expect to see is chickens, but they were EVERYWHERE! It was a shame really, and there were other areas of the island that were being cut down so they could built huts and other ares for people to eat lunch on the island. So much for trying to enjoy what the WORLD has to offer instead of what the cruise line feels will make them more money. Either way, the island was nice and scenic, nothing like that around these parts. When we left the island, looking back, the beach was completely deserted once everyone was on the two boats.

PS - This is also when the images start getting dirty. The white sand is almost infinitely small and gets into everything as it blows around in the air.

04-07-2009, 04:31 PM
A couple more from the Grand Turk and then the night shots the night we left the island

Mad Aussie
04-08-2009, 01:40 AM
In post #11 photos 2 and 5 are excellent.

Another cool lizard in post #12 but the 4th shot is the coolest there :)

04-08-2009, 08:45 AM
Thanks for following along MA. Im glad you are enjoying this.

04-08-2009, 10:56 AM
Good stuff so far JJ...looks like a nice trip :)
I remember those lizards in Cozumel...they were everywhere, even in our hotel room on the wall....cute little guys! That too and along with tons of iguanas also....thank goodness they weren't in the hotel room! :eek:

04-08-2009, 11:35 AM
Lots of cool shots! I am quite partial to the beach and trees one.

04-08-2009, 02:40 PM
I made a mistake in the last post. Those were not Grand Turk. They were some private island. THESE are Grand Turk. One of the best places in the world to go snorkeling and scuba diving, it is a under the rule of the UK. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike ripped through and ruined the reefs around the island and it has not been the same. It was a beautiful place, and we took a taxi to get into the inner part of the island. It was very cool and the culture was very apparent and not tourist based. I asked the driver to take me to his favorite place to get a drink. It was some little bar right on the water on a beach a long ways away from the ships. I sat down and was the only one there with him. There was a couple locals in the water playing but that was it. Wanting to enjoy the culture, I asked what his favorite drink was and it was something they brewed right there on the island. It was so good. Perhaps one of the best drinks Ive had to date.

04-08-2009, 02:45 PM
The view from the bar was awesome(the first picture here). Afterwards, we had to head back and stayed close to the ships until it was time to head back out to sea. It was nice but nothing like the interior of the island. Much more "touristy" and how most of the people spent their week on the boat.

04-08-2009, 03:20 PM
After we left the island, the night came close and I wandered around the boat taking pictures again.....

Mad Aussie
04-08-2009, 03:50 PM
Those Grand Turks look like lumps of sand with some palm trees and a couple of pools dropped on them. Best viewed with your back to them by the looks. Nice water around them.

Love the shot down the side of the ship at night showing the lifeboats (?) and water spray.

04-08-2009, 04:09 PM
Those Grand Turks look like lumps of sand with some palm trees and a couple of pools dropped on them. Best viewed with your back to them by the looks. Nice water around them.

Love the shot down the side of the ship at night showing the lifeboats (?) and water spray.

Pretty much. There wasn't really much going on at these islands. Their major export used to be sea salt back in the 70's, but once that stopped the island pretty much fell apart. All of the ponds where the salt was harvested are now filled with dirt brown stagnant water. After the hurricane went through, the rest of the island was pretty ruined as well. Before the hurricane I guess it wasn't too bad, but afterwards the cruise lines had a huge interest in rebuilding the island in order to save their destination. Without it, it would be one less place they could take people on this route. A shame if you ask me. I personally like seeing these cultures without the influence of tourism. Make the experience much more real.

And yes, those are lifeboats and the spray from the boat at night.

04-08-2009, 04:45 PM
When we got to the Grand Cayman, the big deal there is the Stingray City. So....we went to stingray city. It was pretty cool. Yes, there are a lot of tourists there, but it was well worth it. Haven't had an experience quite like that before. They stingrays feel like a giant sheet of rubber and their eyes are very extraordinary. This is why I feel glad about buying a weather sealed camera. Those seals are the reason my camera is still functioning. I took it into the water which was about stomach high. The guides said it was 7 years of good luck to kiss one of these beauties, I was making out with them :p Hopefully it works. Anyways, I had to give the rents the camera for my keepsake, then had to kiss it several more times for ma mere et ma pere. :goodvibes

Some were small, those were the males. The large ones were females weighing in at up to 200 pounds in rare occasions. The largest one in this group kept following me around and she weighed about 150 pounds. I must have had something in the water she liked.......

04-08-2009, 04:50 PM
Back in the city, it was back to reality. I was just a tourist. It was a nice town though. This is a big tourist destination and also the destination for some major hollywood stars and corporation owners. Evident by the size of some of the houses.

Mad Aussie
04-09-2009, 01:55 AM
The largest one in this group kept following me around and she weighed about 150 pounds. I must have had something in the water she liked.......
Your wallet! Easy guess seeing as 'she' was female :rolleyes:

04-09-2009, 09:34 AM
Your wallet! Easy guess seeing as 'she' was female :rolleyes:

I really dont think that relationship would have worked out....

04-09-2009, 09:47 AM
That is a pretty neat experience with the stingrays. My heart wouldn't stop pounding..all I could think about was that animal guy, forgive me forgot his name, that passed away from a stingray attack. Although the ones I was with didn't have one still couldn't stop thinking of the guy and his family.

Great vacation!!! YAY to sun and beaches and margaritas!!!!

04-09-2009, 10:18 AM
I could think about was that animal guy, forgive me forgot his name, that passed away from a stingray attack.

Steve Irwin.. They are neat but scary!!

04-09-2009, 12:40 PM
This was my favorite place of the whole trip. I will definitely be making a trip back sometime in my life. With Corona's at only 1 a bottle, and Cubans easily available(illegal here in the states), there is an extremely visible culture and is not affected much by tourism if you venture inland far enough. It is part of mainland Mexico and is also a part of the big crime problem they are having. We first went to a national park where there is snorkeling, large iguanas, and swimming with dolphins available. I went snorkeling first and then searched out some of their iguanas.

These are just some of the pictures of the iguanas, and this was the largest one. There are many many more but I thought these would be the best to post.

Also, for those interested, these were all taken

Iso 100
1/1000(f32)(120mm) -1/320(F45)(300mm)

04-09-2009, 12:47 PM
What park was it?

04-09-2009, 12:57 PM
Now the city part of Cozumel is still a little tourist oriented, but we walked to the edge of this area. I had to find some places in this cruise that were minimally affected by tourism. This was a great place for it since it was part of mainland Mexico. The colors of Cozumel are awesome. Some stores had dirt floors, water was heated by solar energy. Black plastic containers on the house held the water and it was then heated by the sun. Its a great way to conserve energy and maximize efficiency. It was the last stop in the cruise and a great one at that.

These are not good pictures by any sense. I have much better ones of the city but want to show the colors more than anything.

04-09-2009, 12:58 PM
Chankanaab Park. Here is a link to the place. Great place to visit if you are ever down there.


04-09-2009, 01:17 PM
If you go to inland to Mexico, Playa del Carmen, that is where I stayed. I could see the island you were on. If you go to Mexico, you gotta try Xel-Ha! It's on the same basis as Chankanaab Park..sooo much fun!

Mad Aussie
04-09-2009, 03:29 PM
Love the 1st two Iguana shots.

We live just down the road from Steve Irwin's 'Australia Zoo' ... haven't been there for many years though. I will definitely get there as soon as I can ... been waiting for the weather to cool a bit.

We have loads of stingrays in our bays along our coastline here. They are a pain to fishermen and scare the poo out of you if you are walking along the mudflats and they suddenly bolt off when you get within a few steps of them.

Gotta love the Mexicans paintwork in those houses ... so colourful.

04-09-2009, 05:51 PM
I just love the way you've structured this thread JJ - just excellent and fun to read. I'm also liking the pix mixed in with the commentary....and I love the iguana pix!

04-09-2009, 08:06 PM
Thanks Marko. I thought instead of just posting a couple pictures from the trip, it would be better for everyone to get a taste of the trip as a whole. It is sometimes hard to understand or get a good feel of a vacation or an experience in a couple images. Not only that, by showing the experience in chronological order the viewer can really follow along and "feel" like they've been there with the author.
I have often thought of writing an autobiography journaling my progression as a photographer but it just seems to be too much work at this point. Im sure there are a thousands of other photographers who have done the same thing as well. In the area of fine arts, it is not my goal to simply be able to perform the "art" but to find a way to push the limits of it and create new branches such as music has(Jazz, rock and roll, hip hop, etc). It seems photography can be challenged in the same ways, it is my personal goal to figure out which ways this can be done.

04-09-2009, 10:45 PM
Gosh...doesn't look like Cozumel has changed much since I was there 15 years ago in '94! I loved that little Island and the town of San Miguel is just awesome!
We took the high speed ferry a couple of times to Playa del Carmen to go cave snorkelling and to go to Chichen Itza pyramid but i could have simply stayed and snorkelled the entire time!
Can't wait to go back there...hopefully w/in the next 2 years....:fingerscr
I still think about that place often...best margaritias I've ever had too! ......sigh :rolleyes:

04-10-2009, 12:33 AM
What would a day be without a sunrise? What would a vacation be with a sunset?

My dads birthday was on the last day of the cruise. The morning was pleasant, and signaled for the perfect day of weather. During the afternoon, it was sparse clouds, and the perfect ones(not heavy cover, but it does offer shade sometimes, I think they're cumulus clouds).The entire day that day was at sea and there was not really a special way to give him a present. After all, the cruise itself was his present. He walked around the boat with my mom while I was out saying farewell to the people I met. We reconnected in the evening and it made out to be the best way to capture his birtday, in front of the sunset. It has yet to get printed out but will be on his desk by next weeks end.

The End!:goodvibes

04-10-2009, 12:48 AM
Very cool!

Mad Aussie
04-10-2009, 01:30 AM
thanks JJ ... enjoyed that little cruise :)