Jamaica – Caribbean Island Paradise

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Before Columbus first visited the picturesque island in 1494, the tropical, coral reef island was colonized by the Taino tribes.

Enslaved and ravaged by the Spanish, later plagued by European diseases, the Tainos were all but extinct by the 1600’s.

In 1655 the English concurred the island through military force from the Spanish, soon building Port Royal. Port Royal quickly became a base for pirate and pirateer operations such as Captain Henry Morgon.

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Jamaican Pirates

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Sugar cane fields

Over time, due to militaries interventions, piracy was slowly eliminated, and in the 1800’s sugar cane replaced piracy as the dominate income for the English island. Enslaved Africans by the thousands were shipped to Jamaica to provide the labor force needed to produce sugar from sugar cane.

 

Due to the large population of African – Jamaicans, outnumbering natural natives 2 to 1, uprisings were due to follow. During the 18th century, over a dozen uprisings were credited to them; including Tacky’s Revolt in 1760. Also skirmishes with the Maroons resulting in the First Maroon War of the 1730’s and the Second Maroon War of the 1790’s.

Jamaica became politically independent in 1962, after WWII.

The birth of Jamaica’s motion picture industry was in 1972 with the release of The Harder They Come. Since then, numerous movies have been made on the popular vacation destination island.

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Filmed in Portland Jamaica

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Exporting bananas and tourism continue to be the primary sources of income for this Caribbean island today, with tourism now accounting for more than 60% of the annual GDP, at over a million tourists yearly.

Popular attractions of Jamaica include:

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Montego Bay

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Ocho Rios

 

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Pool view at Sandals Negril beach

 

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Kingston

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Bob Marley Statue Kingston Jamaica

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Falmouth Jamaica

 

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Dunn’s River Falls

 

Popular Resorts

sandals

 

Cruise Ship Industry

Disney Fantasy

Disney Cruise Line

NCL to Bermuda

Norwegian Cruise Line

 

 

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Carnival Triumph

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Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

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Whether one chooses a tropical island vacation on Jamaica with a relaxing beach visit or a brief visit via one of several cruise ships, this mountainous, coral reef island is as beautiful as it is relaxing. The motto, no worries, says it all. This is an island paradise that once there, I didn’t want to leave.

May good fortune guide your travels,

J.A. Ireland

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The Virgin Islands; Picturesque Tropical Beauty and Inviting

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Dear cruisers,

There’s nothing like a family vacation. After months of hard work we’ve all earned one.

St. Thomas USVI

St. Thomas USVI

We as a family often times choose to cruise on our vacations due to the advantages. No cooking, no cleaning, the shows, the decks, the ocean,  the food, etc. You get my point.

On this vacation we sailed to St. Thomas USVI from Port Canaveral, Florida on the Disney Magic. We sailed on a  7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise.

St. Maarten, St. Barth, British Virgin Islands

St. Maarten, St. Barth, British Virgin Islands

We enjoyed a shore tour at St. Maarten; the beauty of this Caribbean island is enchanting.  We saw much of the tropical island from motor coach; the scenery was memorable.

The Virgin Islands were beautiful and breathtaking as we sailed through the open waters. There were small islands on both sides of the ship as we cruised by.

St. Thomas is a very beautiful but busy seaport; one of the more popular we’d ever been to. It’s easy to see why St. Thomas and St. Maartin are such popular cruise destinations; their beauty is beyond imagination.

Nautilus Semi Submarine

Nautilus VI Semi-Submersible Submarine

Coral World Ocean Park

Coral World Ocean Park home for  Native Iguana Lizards

For our shore excursion on St. Thomas, we decided to plan something special. We went to Coral World Ocean Park near Coki Beach.  Coral World is the one of the top tourist attractions in St. Thomas. We had a blast; It’s a family friendly marine and ocean park.

In addition to Coral World, we rode in the Nautilus VI; a semi-submersible submarine. The crew aboard the Nautilus took us on a sightseeing tour out to the coral reefs. Once there, we entered the Nautilus VI submarine, we saw the interior seating area was a large tube with individual seats and windows for viewing.

The submarine part stretched about 10 feet under the water;  this is where we entered the under sea world. The abundance of undersea life was incredible. We saw several live conch shells lying on the ocean floor as we slowly motored by.

 We Saw Hundreds of Fish From the Nautilus VI

We Saw Hundreds of Fish From the Nautilus VI

Sailing through the tropical waters, we found the coral reef colors to be spectacular as we viewed them from our underwater lookout windows in the Nautilus VI. The sea was teaming with marine life. We saw hundreds of colorful tropical fish, turtles, living sea shells, as well as living sea vegetation.

One of the crew from the Nautilus put on diving gear and began feeding the tropical fish in the waters outside our viewing window; that was fun to watch. There were so many fish we couldn’t see the diver at some points. Our time in the sub lasted about 45 minutes. It was a fun adventure into the under sea world.

As we arrived back at the dock, we were greeted by several different sized, free-roaming, iguana lizards. They were sunning themselves on the docks and walkways. We passed by the giant lizards and continued back to Coral World.

"Hi! Glad to Meet Ya Dude!"

“Hi! Glad to Meet Ya Dude!”

Coral World Ocean Park is a beautiful marine park with many interesting exhibits to walk through.  We saw giant sea turtles the size of automobile tires in their ocean side exhibits. We hand fed and touched stingrays.

There’s also a shark tank and a large observation pier spanning far out into the sea. We wandered around the entire park; It was an enjoyable afternoon in the tropics.

I wish we could have spent more time in St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands; The area is so beautiful. We would have loved to take a day to visit the beautiful island of St. John but time didn’t allow; perhaps another cruise someday? Another 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise would definitely be nice. St. John will be a must see next time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my article of our cruise to St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands USVI on the Disney Magic. Thanks for stopping by.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

Grilled Italian Rosemary Pork Chops

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Hi friends,

Here’s a pork chop recipe that’s so easy and so delicious. Did you know, lean pork is more healthy than beef?

My ingredients:

One pound fresh lean pork chops without bone/ six pieces

Kraft Fat Free Italian dressing

Fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Garlic powder

Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat grill to 350 degrees.

Remove pork chops from deli wrap and wash with cold tap water. Place on the heated grill.Grilled Italian Rosemary Pork Chops Season first with Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing; then with freshly chopped rosemary, garlic powder, and fresh ground pepper.

Grill until the bottom side of chops are stripped—then turn. Apply the same spices again and grill until the chops are stripped on bottom and cooked in the middle.

This recipe is so easy and delicious. It’s great for summer.

Thanks for stopping by.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland.

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Greek Pasta Salad

 

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Almond Cranberry Asparagus Single Serving

 

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Greek Pasta Salad Single Serving

 

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Almond Cranberry Asparagus

Disney Fantasy; Broadway Worthy Stage Productions

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Hi friends,

tacular”

Cast From Disney Fantasy’s Aladdin

I’ll never forget being transported to the Disney Cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida. The rent-a-car mini-van driver was dropping off a van full of us excited cruisers to the cruise terminal. There was Carnival and Disney.

The driver asked for a show of hands who’s going to Carnival. Then he asked for the hands for the ones who were going to the floating day care center. We were shocked but remained quiet. We whispered quietly, “Obviously he’s never been on a Disney cruise.” How sad.  He doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Disney's Aladden

A Musical Number

We  enjoyed our 7-night Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy. We enjoyed an array of comedy, variety shows, and Broadway-style stage performances held nightly in the  Walt Disney Theatre.  Three of these evenings were the stage performances of Believe, Disney’s Aladdin, and Wishes.

We attended Disney’s Aladdin first; we enjoyed this show so much we saw both the matinee and evening performances.

Aladdin is a stage presentation of the classic Disney animation movie Aladdin.  We enjoyed the talents of all the characters; Aladdin, the Genie, Jafar, Princess Jasmine, and the Magic Carpet; the backdrops, costumes, and stagings were stunning.

Aladdin and Genie

Aladdin and Genie

Aladdin was our favorite of the three performances.  In my opinion, the comical scenes between the Genie and Aladdin were hilarious to watch.  The Magic Carpet, in all his acrobatic glory, stole the show.  These stage productions are always one of our highlights of a Disney Cruise.

The Jungle Book Scene from Disney Wishes

The Jungle Book Scene from Disney Wishes

The other two stage shows, Disney Wishes and Believe, were montages of many different scenes of classic Disney animation movies, including Mary Poppins, the Lion King, The Jungle Book, Lilo and Stitch, Cinderella, and others.

We also enjoyed the scenes from Tangled, I Have A Dream-included in the show Wishes; another of my favorites.

Every night is show time at Walt Disney Theatre, an elegant, 1,340-seat palace onboard the Disney Dream that is equipped with advanced theatrical technology and state-of-the-art sound, lighting, staging and set design. Premiering on the Disney Dream and headlining the musical repertoire is DisneyÕs Believe, an original stage spectacular that combines a heartfelt story about a father and daughter with a captivating musical score, a comical and insightful performance by Genie from DisneyÕs ÒAladdinÓ and appearances from more than 20 of DisneyÕs most beloved characters. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

Genie and the Dad who Believed!

If you like Broadway musicals and cruising, I recommend Disney Cruises for their production shows, included in each amazing cruise experience.

The ending of the show Believe tugged at our heart  strings.  The main character, an average Dad, realized he believed in magic.  He was not too old.  He could share this joy with his daughter.

Mickey Mouse on Disney Fantasy

Mickey Mouse on Disney Fantasy

Mickey Mouse pranced onto the stage to thunderous applause; Pure Disney Magic. “All it takes is faith and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust,” and you too can Believe.

Broadway musicals are one of a host of great things that Disney Cruise Line offers on board each and every ship.

If you love Disney and you love to cruise, try tying them together in a Disney Cruise; we have.

May good fortune guide your path,

J.A. Ireland

Low Fat Cheddar Cheese Pizza

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Today I’m cooking another type of pizza that my family loves. I’m using low fat ingredients so it’s a healthy choice when my family wants pizza.

Ingredients:

One roll white bread dough—bought frozen then thawed the night before

One pound extra lean ground hamburger—96-4%

4.5 oz. sliced turkey pepperoni

8 oz. mini portabella mushrooms

One large bell pepper

One can black olives

One large onion

One bag, two cups cheddar cheese—low fat, low sodium

One cup parmesan cheese—low sodium, low fat

Small 14 oz. Jar of low sodium pizza sauce

Prep work:

Cook the hamburger. Then drain the grease and place the meat in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the grease; let sit.

Next chop the mushrooms, olives, onion, and peppers. Put everything including hamburger into separate bowls. Discard grease soaked paper towel. Place all items in the fridge until later.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray your pizza pan with non- stick; I prefer either canola or extra-virgin olive oil non- stick for heart healthy cooking.

Dough Ready To Roll

Dough Ready To Roll

Making the pizza crust. I use my counter top. I sprinkle the counter lightly with flour and unwrap the dough. It should look like a large, white mushroom ball.

Put the dough on the flour then flip it over. Begin rolling. Roll enough to fit your pan—don’t excessively roll. Dough stretches easily in the pan. Do this quickly. Carefully remove the dough from the counter; it peels off. Lay in the prepared pan with the edges sticking over the rim of your oven pan. If the dough isn’t quite big enough, that’s ok. Gently rub from the middle to the outside edges. It stretches easily on the non-stick sprayed oven pan. Complete this process quickly as well; don’t play with it.

Tuck the excess dough inside the rims. If there’s a tear in the dough—don’t worry. Use some of the excess dough on the walls and fill in the tear(s); pinch it off and rub it in the holes.

Prick small holes in the crust with a fork so it doesn’t bubble while baking; make many prick holes. But, don’t destroy your work; just vent it well. Sprinkle on the spices, basil, garlic, Italian Seasoning, oregano, parsley, pepper. Whatever spices you like.

Pizza Crust Ready To Bake

Pizza Crust Seasoned And Ready To Bake

This is what my pizza crust looks like before baking.

Bake the crust for 6 minutes at 400 degrees on the top rack. Remove from the oven.

Make The Pizza:

I start with ½ bag, one cup, of cheddar cheese on the crust ( spread evenly)

¾ of the jar of pizza sauce (save the rest for dipping sauce)

hamburger

onions

bell peppers

black olives

portabella mushrooms

The remaining ½ bag, one cup, of cheddar cheese followed by the parmesan cheese

Lastly; turkey pepperoni on top.

It’s ready to bake. I bake my pizza for 8 minutes then remove from the oven.

My Cheddar Cheese Pizza Ready to Serve

My Cheddar Cheese Pizza Ready to Serve

I cut it, and bake for 20 more minutes. The total baking time is about 30 minutes—until the top edges are golden brown. Also my pizzas are typically ¾ of an inch thick when ready for cooking—and full of natural juices. Portabella mushrooms are a trade-off; they add tremendous flavor along with a lot of extra juice. If you don’t want the liquid—maybe skip portabellas.

Here’s a picture of my low fat cheddar cheese pizza. It’s full of flavor and my family gobbled it down. Also check out my Maxx Zeqster blog at: https://detectivemaxxzeqsterscreepycrawlyamazingadventures.wordpress.com/

Thanks for stopping by. J. A. Ireland.

Herb Baked Whole Chicken

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Here’s a chicken recipe you’re sure to like for a special meal.

Ingredients:

One fully thawed 6 to 8 lb. whole chicken

The herbs; garlic, paprika, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, crushed parsley, thyme.

Two tablespoons of canola oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Wash and dry; then spray a large, deep oven baking pan with extra-virgin olive oil non-stick spray. Remove chicken from the grocery store shrink wrap. Cut off any excess skin, fat, and remove the internal organs—plus neck. Rinse the chicken very well with cold tap water and pat dry. Place in the prepared baking pan. Apply two tablespoons of canola oil to the top of chicken and rub well. Next apply the seasonings and any others you prefer.

Herb Baked Whole Chicken

Herb Baked Whole Chicken

Bake on a higher rack for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cut the skin only, no deeper, at the leg quarters to vent from the torso; this allows for faster cooking and a juicier chicken.  Bake for 30 more minutes and check. The juices should run clear; no blood. Here’s a picture of what my Herb Baked Whole Chicken looks like on the cutting board—ready to carve.

My family loves this meal especially on Sundays; we have it often. A hint; when carving, leave a little meat on the bone for what I call Carcass soup. Two to three chicken carcass’ makes a delicious pot of chicken soup. Just keep the remains in your freezer until its soup day. Yummy!

Thanks for stopping by. J. A. Ireland.

New York City; The Big Apple

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Travel Fans,

New York City and Lady Liberty

New York City and Lady Liberty

I still remember circling New York City, while in a holding pattern before landing at LaGuardia airport. I was so excited when I saw Lady Liberty from the air. We’d never been to NYC before. The excitement I felt was in indescribable.  It was like nothing we’d ever seen—anywhere. Soon, we landed and began our long anticipated adventure.

New York City

Downtown New York City

Riding in a New York City cab was wild; there’s no other way to describe it. I’ve never been in a car when the driver did a U-turn in the middle of heavy traffic—crazy! From the airport, we grabbed the cab that proved to be an exciting and rather heart pounding adventure. During the driving into the city, we zipped past tunnels, overpasses, and underpasses. When we were stalled in traffic, our “cabbie” made a 180 degree maneuver and drove us down another side street to get to our destination. “Oh yes he did!” I think he was yelled at, honked at, and “got flipped off” at least 100 times on our journey. Overall it was a noisy and thrilling ride. I’ll just say, “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” We booked a moderately priced hotel in midtown Manhattan, the Holiday Inn Midtown. It was located very close to the Manhattan cruise port for the next morning’s embarkment. It was the taxi drivers job to get us there from La Guardia.

English: Broadway show billboards at the corne...

Seeing The Sights Of Times Square

Our hotel was located on 57th St, close to Broadway, Columbus Circle, Times Square, and the south side of Central Park. Our evening plans were to do some exploring, walk down Broadway to Times Square, and eat some original New York Style pizza.

Broadway -NYC

Broadway -NYC

This was a fun, very memorable evening. We found New Yorkers to be very friendly and helpful; some were quick with directions. We looked like we needed help finding places, thus our maps.

We felt quite safe walking around this area in the evening, even though my family stood out like complete nutty tourists. We happily marched down Broadway, wearing our matching “I love New York T-Shirts”; we looked like a chorus line. Under the circumstances, this was a very unwise thing to do, as tourist books suggested that you try not to stand out while in New York. Oops!

We concluded our evening by swimming in the roof top pool of our hotel with all of the towering New York skyscrapers surrounding us. It’s a fantastic memory that will last a lifetime.

New York City  Sky line

New York City Sky Line

The morning of our cruise, we opened our curtains to the New York City skyline, a bustling city below us, and looked out over the Hudson River, trying to spot our cruise ship. We were just a short cab ride to the Manhattan Cruise port where we boarded the Carnival ship.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

After the muster (safety) drill and the ship set sail, we stood on the deck, watching the Manhattan Skyline pass by. We sailed past lower Manhattan, Wall Street, and Battery Park. We couldn’t imagine what life’s like for the eight and a half million people who live and work here in NYC.

We sailed into New York Harbor, filled with many ships, past Ellis Island. We spent some time talking about the more than 12 million immigrants who first stepped out on land there. They all arrived in hopes of finding a new life, in a new country.

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Isl...

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island

Finally, we sailed past Liberty Island and gazed upon the wonder; the Statue of Liberty. A gift from the people of France; she bears a torch and tablet inscribing the date of the Declaration of Independence signing.  She’s an icon of freedom of the United States; a welcome signal to immigrants arriving into this land. This brought tears to my eyes. It really was something I’ll never forget.

New York City was everything, and more that we imagined; crowded, noisy, somewhat grimy, Broadway, tourists, great Pizza, and very emotional moments. A place will just draw me in. After a visit to this incredible city, I’ll say, “I love New York.”

We had a wonderful visit to a fantastic city on a very memorable Carnival Cruise line trip. We sailed from New York City up the east coast to Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John’s New Brunswick, Canada on a 5-day cruise on the Carnival Triumph.

On my next article I’ll write more about this amazing vacation up the eastern coast line of America on Carnival Cruise Line.

Thanks for stopping by. J. A. Ireland.