Saturday, April 14, 2018

Going to Guatemala on Holland America's Rotterdam

Happy weekend my dear friends.  I've been away on a short spring break vacation with my family.  I actually returned home last Monday but I thought it was time to update my blog.

On April 1st we sailed out of Tampa, Florida on Holland America's Rotterdam.  It was our first time sailing on Holland America and I must say, it's going to be one of my favorites.

Leaving the port in Tampa, I loved seeing these iconic homes along the shore all dressed up in their pastel colors.  

Our first port stop was Key West, Florida.  It had almost been 20 years since I'd been to Key West.  Last time I went there it was extremely hot, humid and uncomfortable in the heat of an August summer.  This time the weather was quite agreeable but I must say, the quaint town has been damaged by being a cruise port.  I saw the typical cruise shops you will find in any port city.  Loud music and lots of people.  We did take the conch train ride and ventured a little ways outside the main center.  I loved this home that is still wearing it's natural wood color.  It's now a home decor shop over 100 years old.

On the same street was this cafe/coffee shop dating from 1909.  It's amazing that it still is standing and still doing business.

At this same place, this sign was posted on the fence.  Imagine that  President Truman was here in 1946. I'm sure Key West was a charming seaside city back then.

Next up was Roatan, Honduras.  I'd been to Roatan before but never to Mahogony Bay. It was a private beach area for the cruise lines.  The beach was beautiful but crowded with 3 ships in port!

One place I'd never been before was Guatemala and I am in love with this country!  Such natural beauty.  We took a proper tour and drove over an hour through the lush, green countryside.  Our port was in San Tomas de Castilla which is an industrial port city.  But, once outside, it was beautiful.

Our destination was the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara which is on the Dulce River. 

The fortress dates from the early 17th century.  This property was added to the  UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. 

The canons are still mounted and aimed at the intruders which came via the Dulce River.

This is the inner courtyard of the fortress.

Upon entering the fortress, is was surrounded by a moat.  It was soon time to get back on board the bus and head back to the ship.  It was a most interesting ride back as we went through a little town where the people where making tamales, selling and buying fruits and vegetables and also selling ready made meals for the workers.  Our tour guide had light brown hair and blue eyes; his grandparents were Belgian and English!  He told us it was the Germans who developed the coffee industry in Guatemala and still today there are a large group of Guatemalans with German ancestry.  It was very quite interesting.  My dear son-in-law was born in Guatemala of Guatemalan and Spanish ancestry.  

We stopped at a port in Mexico where I had never been before; Costa Maya.  Here is a replica of a Mayan monument in the city square.  It's a small beach town with a thriving tourist industry.

We ventured off to a private beach club, Maya Chan, owned by Americans from San Diego, CA.  It was really quite lovely and excellent hospitality from our gracious hosts.  They had all kinds of nonmotorized watercraft at our disposal, and all inclusive food and drink.  The only glitch is that this part of the ocean has an abundance of sea grass but it was wonderful being out in the water and enjoying this beautiful, tranquil setting.

Many times I read where people say they will never take a cruise.  My family started cruising 20 years ago and we go at least once a year.  It makes it so much easier as a family since you know where you are going to sleep each night, you can eat whatever your heart desires at anytime, and there are so many activities to do. My little grandson who is 8, just completed his 12 cruise and my granddaughter who is 2 just finished her 4th!  It's a pleasant way to see the world.  As I mentioned above, I was really impressed by Holland America.  Guest Services printed out a list of the art that is onboard.  The above is in the center atrium of the ship.

This is a very poor photo I took of a 17th century Italian desk with all these little compartments.  The parquet design was amazing.

And, this is a lovely marble design in floor of one of the lounges on board.

There was a lovely mix of passengers on board; old, not too old, young and a few youngsters.  Just the right mix.  And I enjoyed the ambiance of the ship.  It was a lovely trip except for our flights.  We had chosen the discount airline Spirit Air and it turned out to be a disaster.  Long story short, our flight home was postponed, we spent an extra night in Tampa and arrived back home on Monday instead of Sunday!  But, all is well and everyone is back to their routine.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  My Saturday was spent at a Norwegian heritage fair where I made waffles!

My best wishes to you,



  1. Wow, what wonderful pictures of a lovely holiday. Thank you so much for sharing :D x

  2. It looks like you and your family had a fabulous cruise and such wonderful ports of call! I've never been on a cruise but would really enjoy giving it a try. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  3. What a lovely break you've had, and what interesting pictures! Thank you so much for sharing another part of the world that I would never have seen! :) xx

  4. Your trip looks wonderful, dear Pat. Love all the photos - especially the pastel homes along the shore. Guatemala seems like a beautiful, historic place. I've never taken a cruise, but it does seem the perfect way to travel as a family. Glad to see that Key West is back in business after being so devastated in the hurricane. xx Karen

  5. What a fantastic holiday Pat, thankyou for sharing.
    Marlene xx

  6. I have been on three cruises with my family and loved them all. This one sounds very interesting and I must keep it in mind. I didn't know that there was a cruise that stopped in Key West and Guatemala. I loved your picture tour. Thanks for Holland America recommendation. We have used Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

  7. Wow, Pat! Looks like you had a wonderful time.
    Thank you for sharing the tour with us as it’s a part of the world I am not likely to see!
    Thank you also for your comment on my blog, nice that you came by!
    Hugs, Barbara xx

  8. That looks so interesting, especially the fortress. I love cruising for the glimpses into other ways of life. Not used Holland America (though friends who have were impressed) as I avoid flying if possible and that cruise line doesn't sail from the UK.

  9. OOh, Pat, what a wonderful holiday! That puts Devon really in the shade, ha ha!
    Margaret P

  10. What a fabulous trip, you took some wonderful photos. I've never been on a cruise but it's something I'd like to do one day.

  11. Pat,
    Looks like you had a fantastic holiday. I've always wanted to go on a cruise ship holiday. One day I might get there. I've also love Mexico too, such an interesting place.

  12. What a fascinating post Pat, I loved hearing about your cruise. Our neighbours regularly go on cruises and love the atmosphere aboard ship. Maybe it’s time we gave it a go. Have a great weekend. B x

  13. Hi Pat, thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog. Yes, you are right, it is bobbin lace on the photo. My mother used to do bobbin lace as one of her neighbours in the same apartment building was a lacemaking teacher. So she took lessons, and really enjoyed making beautiful things. Now she is going blind, she has given me all her stuff. When I lived in the UK I found a teacher and took lessons too. Now I am living in Spain, I haven't found a teacher yet, but I still make little things occasionally. (like an ornament for the Christmas tree).
    I was so pleased you sailed on the Rotterdam. It used to be the flag ship of the Holland-America line. When I was young we used to travel on those ships to go to Southampton in England. The ship would be half empty, as a lot of passengers headed for the USA would come onto the ship in Southampton. They would sell tickets for the empty cabins for the short hop to England. We as a family have done it three times and it made an enormous impression on me as a girl. I loved it. We would actually sail from Rotterdam, which is my home town. Great memories.
    It was fab to read (and see pictures) about your cruise. I have never been on a cruise. We are individual travellers. I would hate to arrive at a tourist destination together with thousands of other people. I prefer to go off the beaten track. Having said that, Guatamala sounds really nice.

  14. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful vacation, Pat! I've never cruised, but have sometimes thought an Alaskan cruise would be fun. But I tend to want to head to cooler climes when the weather heats up - so I imagine that is my motivation for even entertaining that idea. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. It fuels the desire to get away and expand my horizons.


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