Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa, Florida

Just as I finished editing a friend's article on "The freeze of 2010," which details her experience living aboard her boat in East Tennessee, another winter storm (snow, ice, freezing rain) is sweeping across that region. I feel for them. Boats are not insulated like houses, so it can get mighty cold. Friends who live on their houseboat in Spring City were iced in for more than a week. They reported that a 52-foot steel boat sunk in their marina!

In Tampa, our forecast is for a high of uppers 60s, a 70 percent chance of rain and Southwest winds of 10-15 mph. Not great weather conditions for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival today, but the storms will not prevent the pirates from invading Tampa. The annual Gasparilla is one of Tampa's biggest party, not unlike Mardi Gras, complete with a parade, floats, entertainment, beads, and party-goers.

Here's a video clip of the festival from two years ago. Enjoy!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to avoid gaining weight while on a cruise

On my very first cruise back in the early 90s, the cruise director jokingly said "You get on the ship as passengers, you get off the ship as cargo." When you are pampered for a week with fabulous food such as these (pictures follow), how can you resist the temptation to stuff yourself?

For those people who love to cruise but are concerned about weight gain, this is no joking matter. It is difficult to avoid gaining weight while on a cruise, but with a little discipline, you can do it. The key word is discipline. The discipline to exercise and to eat healthier. Here are my tips:

There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your daily activities on a ship. They include:
  • Walking. Whenever possible, avoid the elevators (the wait is too long anyway) and walk up or down the steps to your cabin and other locations.
  • Swimming. With thousands of passengers on board, you may be turned off by the crowd at the pool. Go during the time when most people are at lunch or on shore excursions.
  • Going to the gym. Take advantage of all the equipment most cruise ships have in their gym.
  • Dancing. Every evening, before or after dinner, there is music playing somewhere, offering opportunities for some dancing. Join in and have some fun!
  • Excursions. Do something exciting on your shore excursions -go hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, anything that will keep your adrenaline pumping.
  • Other activities. There is always something going on that everyone can participate, from a fitness class to ping-pong tournaments to rock climbing.
  • Meals. Instead of going to the buffet line, eat at the ship’s restaurants. Most are opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you dine at the restaurant, you tend to relax and eat slow. The portion size is controlled, so you don't overeat (that is, as long as you don't order two of everything!)
  • Food selection. Make a conscious decision to choose healthier options like oatmeal, cereal, salad, fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits. Cut down on carbs like bread, pastries like croissant, danish and donuts.
  • Alcohol. Limit your alcohol intake
Don't feel guilty and get all stressed out if you indulge or miss a workout. Relax, you are on vacation after all! Think positive and get moving.
Exercising and eating healthier and in moderation are both good habits that will serve you well in the long run.
What are your tips for not gaining weight while on a cruise?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cruising Miami

Since Jan 4, artic cold air blasted the eastern U.S., threatening the south with freezing temperatures that lasted almost a week. On Saturday, Jan 9, a strong cold front moved into Florida, bringing sleet and ice over east-central part of the state (Orlando and Daytona Beach included). Snow flurries were spotted as far south as Miami.

We count our blessings for taking our cruise to the Western Caribbean the week before Christmas. When our ship left the port of Miami, I found myself staring at a familiar anchorage. It was where we had dropped the hook the first time we cruised into this exciting city. There is no doubt Miami is an excellent cruising ground, and a fascinating port-of-call. I am sure you will agree.
Palm Island anchorage
Watching a cruise ship depart Port of Miami
Looking at South Beach from the cruise ship

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