This year's group photo
The 2013 Spirit of the West group photo!
click to enlarge

2013 Spirit of the West Cruise Diary and Photos

Here's our cruise diary for 2013 - enjoy!

Below is some information on where the 2013 Spirit of the West Cruise is going. We hope you enjoy the following diary as we head to the Caribbean.

See the map below (or scroll down).
We will sail on the Emerald Princess - here's what she looks like on the outside.

Kathy in this year's tee-shirt
Kathy in last year's tee-shirt
click to enlarge

Emerald Princess Emerald Princess Emerald Princess

Below you'll find our basic itinerary and a map of where we are traveling. Go to the Itinerary below (or scroll down).

Diary, Spirit of the West Cruise, 2013

You can also see a diary on Billie and Hugh's web site at
The diary and photos on their web site will be different than the ones on this page.

The following photos will all enlarge if you click on them.

December 2012
We've started to count down ... less then a month to go! Here's a couple of photos leading up to the cruise:

Kathy at the Cowboy Christmas Concert in Kamloops December 13th (one month to go!).

We've had some beautiful days in the snow and cold ... but I don't think we'll miss them.

Jill has a bag with HoHoHo on it - she says it should say "Take me with you, PLEASE".

Santa definitely has us ready to go and in holiday mode - we just need water that's not frozen.

Harry's getting ready, too, trying out his new "Solo-Ride" for when we're away.

January 2013
Happy New Year from Meadow Springs Ranch! This is just a quick note on January 11th to say we have one more sleep! The next update will probably be from Calgary - hopefully on the 13th.

January 16th
OK, I was close .. .it's from Fort Lauderdale on the 16th. Here's some photos from the 13th, 14th, and 15th.

Ah ... relaxing in Kamloops, our first night away

Our hotel in Calgary, pretty nice but there's still snow outside.

The house that Kathy grew up in in Calgary

Kathy with her Uncle Gary and Leslie. They drove us around all day in Calgary.

Leslie, her brother Jim, and their dad Uncle Gary, at a Chinese food restaurant.

Now Harry this is a snow plow but I guess you'd need a bigger driveway

First time we've been on a plane while they de-iced it ...

In Denver Colorado we got on this brand new 787 - nice!!

In Houston we rode the monorail from one gate to the next

The court yard / atrium at the Embassy in Fort Lauderdale.

Over 40 baby alligators and we're not even in the park a mile yet.

Tons of birds and animals, thanks for the suggestion Jill & Robert.

J & R suggested we rent a car and go and walk the Anhinga Trail - we did.

It was amazing - as well as all the birds we saw over 20 alligators!

Mark takes a wide path as this guy wanted most of the trail to himself.

This Blue Heron took to flight right in front of us ... huge wing span!

Kathy & Mark, Billie & Hugh, Karen & Jim at the end of the trail.

A stop at "Robert Is Here" another suggestion from Robert and Jill.

Kathy ordering a milkshake - really good - thanks again R & J.

Harry - this ones for you - an old Oliver ... ready to plow snow :-)

January 16th
As soon as this is up-loaded we'll be heading for the Emerald Princess. We'll do another update from the ship in the next couple of days.

January 16th
We're onboard ... here's a couple of photos from getting on the ship to pulling out of Fort Lauderdale.

Hurry up and wait. Actually it's amazing how they move people so quickly!

Our first glimpse of the Emerald Princess as we pull into the dock area

A very nice surprise ... an upgrade to a ocean view room! Yipee!

Mark sets up the group slide show DVD at the welcoming reception

Fort Lauderdale as we pull away heading towards Princess Cays

January 17th
We woke up this morning just pulling up to Princess Cays ... beautiful, warm, sunny ...

On top of a look out with the Emerald Princess in the background.

Good snorkelling, lots of fishes and coral, and warm water!

Sital - Kathy said if you rode a horse she'd go snorkelling :-)

Really cool - and our Christmas camera and snorkel sets work great.

On the beach with the Emerald Princess in the background.

January 19th
We docked at St Thomas at 9:00 am where we went ashore and had a wonderful day! It started with a catamaran ride to Turtle Bay on Buck Island.

We started our day off right with many Iguanas all along the breakwater.

As soon as we hit the water we saw turtles swimming around us.

Some of our group in the water with masks, snorkels and fins.

Kathy and Mark with Hugh back at the boat (not sure who else is here).

Kathy and Billie enjoying their rum punches from the boat's crew.

January 19th
After the catamaran ride we took a taxi through town to the Sky Ride, lunch, and an awesome view!

Heading back to St Thomas on the Catamaran after a great ride.

The view of St Thomas from the top of the Sky Ride (our ship top left).

The Bailey's Bushwacker - 7 ingredients all are alcoholic. Wow!

The taxis are all pickups with the box modified for people.

Kathy's new look after shopping - new shirt, new sunglasses, new neckless.

January 20th
A fun day in Dominica with Desmond (the cab driver) who spent all day with us, guided us and really looked after us - wonderful.

Desmond found a place to tube and we followed this truck to the spot.

Then we had to put on these silly looking helmets - Jim and Karen joined us.

Tubing down the Laue River we had a great time - quiet and fun!

Bananas grown for export - blue bags protect them from birds and UV.

Something new - cocoa beans (used for making chocolate) in pods.

January 20th
After the tubing we did a lot of sightseeing and touring around Dominica.

Steam was coming from a hole in the rock by Kathy's hand.

Sulpher Springs - incredible - the water was actually boiling.

Took this photo for you Jill ... Kathy got her dog fix.

Jim took this of us by the sign on the way in to Trafalgar Falls.

The water here was warm like a bath tub - at Trafalgar Falls.

January 21st
A half a day on Grenada was very full ... we did a Princess excursion that was great. It ran a little over time and our driver was getting yelled at on the radio to hurry up as it was time to leave! (but we got back in time :-)

Our first stop was Fort Frederick where the view was terrific.

Looking down on the town of St George and our cruise ship.

Dougaldson Historic Spice Estate where we learned about the spices.

This is nutmeg (actually a fruit) which is under the red web that is mace.

Kathy is standing by one of the many drying racks at Gouyave Nutmeg Station.

January 21st
As well as the spice places we saw about one third of the island in a very well guided drive. Val showed us the different spices, fruits, and flowers of the island as well as other points of interest. Although the palm tree photo shows clouds (and it rained) 90% of the day was hot and sunny.

These are all sacks of nutmeg that bring about $800 US each.

Nutmeg growing in the trees everywhere ... right along the road sides.

Here are two Palm trees that were left after Huricane Ivan in 2004.

Kathy (with a cocoa pod) poses with local girls in Grand Etang National Park.

The very scenic stop at Annandale Falls - tons of ferns & flowers.

January 22nd
Well every year we try to get in a horseback ride somewhere along the way and today was the day for 2013 ... in Bonaire.

Rancho Washikemba is the place we went riding and it was great.

Kathy rode Blondie with a South American saddle and liked it.

We rode through the outback for 45 minutes or so to get to the Ocean.

Here (and above & below) Kathy rode Marks' horse, Poco, to swim on.

Poco is a quarter horse and Bregje (Bridgit for us) wants more.

January 22nd continued

Notice the landscape behind Mark and Poco - typical of Bonaire.

Poco, a very well trained horse, yielded to both bit and leg.

Bridgit took this of us with Poco after our nice refreshing swim.

and then she took this as we headed back to the ranch.

Kathy on Blondie at the back - not where she's used to being :-).

January 23rd
Our last stop before the final leg home to Fort Lauderdale ... and it was an awesome sunny, warm, beach day on Aruba.

Kathy with her new bikini, new contacts, and new sun glasses.

Hugh, Kathy, & Mark enjoying the wonderful salt water at Palm Beach.

Billie snapped this of us as we returned with some local beer.

This guy was pretty cool - up & down, back & forth all over!

The snorkel sets left in the cab were waiting for us back at the dock :-)!

January 24th
A day at sea ... 7:30 am swim, breakfast, relax, some homework, a meeting about next year's cruise, lunch (sushi) in the wine bar, formal night, a pool side jam, and fun (and a little more wine)!

Kathy surrounded by a sea of orange as we prepare for the group photo.

Formal night and we're ready to head for happy hour at B & H's.

Kathy trying to get an assignment done and emailed in.

All dressed up and ready for dinner - lobster & prawn night :-).

OK, we're not sure who the photographer is on this ship?

January 26th
The travel day as we leave the ship and Fort Lauderdale for the long trip home. It was a good day though with both customs and security line up moving very well. We were picked up at the airport by Kathy's friends Carol and Harold who toured us around Calgary and fed us! Their son Chuck and his girlfriend Shelly drove us around the city as well so we had a great day that went by all too quickly.

A view from the airplane as we circled Fort Lauderdale heading for home.

In Calgary Carol and Harold took us to Stampede Park where we had a great tour.

Kathy getting her horse fix with the bronz of the horses as they cross the Bow River.

The Calgary Stampede posters on display ... almost every poster covering the last 100 years.

One of the very well done murals on the side of a building in Stampede Park.

January 26th continued

Chuck stopped so we could get a view of Calgary from up above the Bow River, the Rockies behind.

He then took us to his place which is for sale and with luck it's already possibly sold.

Back at Carol & Harolds we see the branded steaks that Harold has prepared for supper.

Summer or Winter Harold BBQs on the deck ... and we enjoyed some awesome steaks.

Carol, Kathy, and Harold with the steak dinner at their place - thanks you two!!

Our Itinerary!         Top of Page

4 prior

  • January 12th - Happy New Year everyone!
    We drive to Kamloops and spend the night at the Coast Kamloops Hotel.

3 prior

  • January 13th - Early morning we head to the airport - 7:00 am flight to Calgary.
    Spend the day visiting Kathy's friend Leslie ... maybe checking out where Kathy used to live. Overnight in the Calgary Airport Delta.

2 prior

  • January 14th - 8:00 am flight to Denver, 11:30 am to Houston, 5:00 to Ft Lauderdale.
    Spend the night in the Embassy Suites.

1 prior

  • January 15th - We get an extra day in Ft Lauderdale ... laze around the Embassy Suites and start holiday mode!
    Hope to get in an Everglades Tour!

Day 1

  • January 16th - Spend the morning in Ft Lauderdale and board the Emerald Princess early afternoon.
    We set sail at 4:00 pm. At 4:30 - 5:00 we'll be at the Spirit of the West Welcome Reception in the Wheel House Bar.

Day 2

  • January 17th - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm - Princess Cays, Bahamas.
    9:00 to 10:00 pm there'll be a concert and sing-a-long under the stars beside the Outrigger Bar.

Day 3

  • January 18th - A day at sea. Swimming pool day (as if the others haven't been).

Day 4

  • January 19th - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm - St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
    This is the day of our group tour and we'll be heading to Buck Island and the National Wildlife Refuge - should be a fun day!

Day 5

  • January 20th - 9:00 am to 6:00 pm - Dominica.

Day 6

  • January 21st - 7:00am to 2:00 pm - Grenada.
    9:00 to 10:00 pm there'll be a concert and sing-a-long under the stars beside the Outrigger Bar.

Day 7

  • January 22nd - 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm - Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands
    Here we've booked a horseback ride and an afternoon with Bregje at Rancho Washikemba -

Day 8

  • January 23rd - 7:00 am to 5:00 pm - Aruba

Day 9

  • January 24th - At sea.
    9:00 to 10:00 pm there'll be a concert and sing-a-long under the stars beside the Outrigger Bar.

Day 10

  • January 25th - At sea.
    3:30 to 4:30 - "Please don't make me go home" cocktail reception in the Skywalkers Nightclub.
    Prizes will be handed out to those lucky enough to have their name drawn.

Day 11

  • January 26th - Arrive Ft Lauderdale 7:00 am.
    11:40 am to Houston, 2:21 pm to Denver, 7:40 pm to Calgary. Overnight in the Calgary Airport Delta.

Day 12

  • January 27th - A quick visit with Kathy's family friends.
    7:45 pm fly to Kamloops. Overnight in the Coast Kamloops Hotel.

Day 13

  • January 28th - Return to Meadow Springs Ranch and snow.

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Here's a route map showing all six of our stops.
The numbers on the big map refer to the day in the itinerary. Click to enlarge.

10 days in the Caribbean!
Route Map for the 2013 Caribbean Cruise
click to enlarge

2013 Spirit of the West Tee-shirt
The 2013 Spirit of the West T-shirt for Hawaii!
click to enlarge

Check out our other diary of the 2013 Spirit of the West Cruise on Hugh's web site
at: - it'll have all different photos and text in the diary.

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