Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Silver Serenade Reissue

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 9, 2018

I’m excited to announce the reissue of Silver Serenade. This science fiction romance was originally published by The Wild Rose Press. My newly revised edition has been updated with added bonus materials.

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A beautiful assassin and a desperate fugitive join forces to catch a terrorist and prevent a war between worlds.

Starship pilot Jace Vernon is forced to flee his home world after being framed for murder. He seeks justice, but a lovely S.I.N. agent gets in his way. Not only does she distract him with her silvery hair and violet eyes, but she counters his every move in the quest to clear his name. As he attempts to sway her to his cause, he doesn’t count on the personal consequences of success.

Rookie assassin Silver Malloy refuses to abort her deadly mission even if it means killing the one man Jace needs alive to prove his innocence. The leader of Tyrone’s Marauders murdered her family and ended her career. She’s dedicated her life to getting revenge, and now she finally has the chance. She won’t let a wanted criminal get in her path. But as Jace’s charms melt the barriers around her heart, she finds her resolve wavering. Can she help him win his case, even if it means failing her assignment and betraying her people?

Best Book 2010 in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews

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Excerpt

The door buzzer sounded, indicating imminent departure. She swallowed, preparing for the gut-wrenching angle of ascent. At the last minute, the man in the black robe jumped from his seat and squeezed out the doors. He’d been so silent, she’d forgotten about him.

She slid over on the bench seat for more space. As the tram tilted into the air and zoomed toward the rooftops, something fell to the floor.

“Oh no, that guy forgot his package.” Silver moved to retrieve it, but she halted at Jace’s sudden intake of breath. She knew at once what he was thinking even before she felt the impact of his fear.

“Stop this thing,” she shouted. The sky tilted outside the windows as they careened to a new heading.

She credited Frok for quick thinking. He leapt up and yanked an overhead pulley. The sudden stop made them crash into each other.

“Quick, open the doors,” Jace urged.

With Frok’s assistance, he forced them wide enough to squeeze through while the tram hovered above a tall building.

“What’s wrong?” Kira asked, glancing at Silver for guidance.

“Bomb.” She couldn’t get another word past her dry throat. Nor could she explain to their newfound friends how she and Jace knew without a doubt they’d been set up. That Elusian had been waiting for them outside the Institute.

Jace stood aside to let the others pass. “We have to jump. Aim for that roof. We should be able to make it. Hurry.”

Silver tapped her utility belt. “I have a tensile line. Let me—” Her words died on her tongue as Jace snatched her and tossed her out the open door.

View the Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/QcX_OfHZg-c

“Get ready for an epic adventure, as vast as the universe in which it is set! With a touching love story, a great blend of humor, action and passion, and a great cast of characters, this is a book that won’t let you go until the very last page.” The Romance Reviews

Silver Serenade is an exciting, action-packed space adventure with more attention-grabbing twists and turns than a West Virginia highway. I loved it.” Two Lips Reviews

Silver Serenade

Silver Serenade by Nancy J. Cohen
Published by Orange Grove Press

Digital ISBN: 9780997003895
ASIN: B078JVBPMS
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc. www.gobookcoverdesign.com
Layout by www.formatting4U.com

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GIVEAWAYS

Glam Up for the New Year! January 9 – 29
Glam up for the new year with a crystal pendant from Effy. To celebrate the reissue of Silver Serenade, I have FIVE to give away. ENTER NOW. Color of stone may differ from what is shown in this picture. U.S. Residents only due to postal constraints.

Effy Necklace

Booklovers Bench, January 1 – 18
Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.

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Fumigation Follies

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 5, 2018

Termites are an ever-present threat in warm, humid South Florida. Living in our house since 1980, we’d only twice had termite issues. They were the dry wood variety and could be spot-treated in our attic and on the patio below the counter extending from the kitchen.

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Years passed while our annual inspections turned out negative. That is, until two summers ago. “I see dead wings, and that concerns me,” said our exterminator. He showed me the evidence outside on our patio. I could barely make out the wings on the screened soffits below the roof. He suggested fumigation at that time, but we procrastinated since we didn’t see any other sign of them elsewhere. The following year, he said the same thing. Our warranty had expired, and his company wouldn’t renew it until we had our house tented. I took a look. The wings seemed a lot more than the previous year. And I’d spotted a suspicious collection of sawdust below one kitchen cabinet. It was time.

We got two estimates, and chose the company known in our neighborhood that was $100 less. They also claimed to use their own labor force rather than outsourcing the workers. This was important considering we’d be opening our house to strangers. We signed the agreement and set the date. The only time available in the coming months was between Christmas and New Year’s.

After we came back from our cruise on Dec. 10, we began the extensive preparations. Our first concern was food. You could only leave behind canned goods or sealed items in bottles or jars. Ditto for liquor. Any open bottles had to go. We could either remove these items from the premises or double bag them in special plastic bags following very specific instructions. Medications also had to be treated this way, and anything else that might be ingested. I added our toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash as well. Supposedly the poison gas would dissipate on its own, so dishes and flatware and paper plates were okay. So was bottled water.

Fumigation

Meanwhile, we began eating down everything consumable in the house until we were forced to dine out. We felt deprived by not being able to go food shopping, one of our daily excursions.

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I booked a hotel room with a full-size refrigerator so we could move our food over starting the night before. We also had to open all the wooden drawers and cabinets in the house. Then we had to open all the windows and finally turn over our house key.

It was strange to be displaced. I can’t imagine how disaster survivors must feel when their house is destroyed. It’s disorienting to say the least. Our hotel room wasn’t the most pleasant environment to spend time so we sought places to go and things to do to occupy our time. We counted the minutes until we could return. Drives past our house revealed the sad sight below.

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At last it was over and we went home at the prescribed time. We left the windows open for the rest of the day when we came back. Thank goodness for the cooler weather.

My eyes burned intensely at some times. The poison gas is odorless and colorless, so they add a warning agent. I suppose it was this chemical that affected me. Now it’s gone and things are back to normal. It was harder putting items away than packing them. On the bright side, our refrigerator and pantry got a good cleaning out. And we’d never appreciated visiting our favorite grocery stores more. Publix, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, and Lucky’s—Here we come! It didn’t take us long to restock. First night’s dinner? Baked chicken thighs with mushrooms and green onions, fresh asparagus, and couscous. Next day, I made my vegetable bean soup. Hurray for home cooking.

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GUEST POST

Check out my guest post today on “Choosing a Writers Conference” at Just the Facts, Ma’am

 

Posted in Research, That's Life | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Writing Goals for 2018

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 2, 2018

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions for your writing career? I divide mine into creative and business goals and also decide what I need to learn next. At the end of the year, I review my accomplishments and see what has to be carried over to the next term. Here are my objectives for 2018. Any additions or suggestions? What are your goals for the new year?

Goals

CREATIVE GOALS

Reissue revised ebook edition of Silver Serenade
Publish revised Author’s Edition of Died Blonde
Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition
Produce Body Wave Audiobook
Finish and Launch Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries

If there’s time left, start on these projects:
Plot Bad Hair Day mystery novella
Revise
Keeper of the Rings
Revise
Dead Roots
Continue backlist title reissues and audiobooks

BUSINESS GOALS

Prepare PowerPoint lectures and handouts for upcoming events
Enter Hair Brained in writing contests
Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media

LEARNING GOALS

Learn how to do Facebook Ads
Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, New Release, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Thank You for Following

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 31, 2017

I want to offer a big Thank You to my blog followers for sticking with me through the years. You have my special gratitude if you’ve left comments, liked a post, tweeted one or shared it on Facebook. I’m especially touched when you come up to me at a conference and mention that you appreciate my blog. I send these messages out into cyberspace without knowing if anyone reads them. So it’s most gratifying to get any kind of feedback.

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As a gift to you in return, I’d like to offer you the chance to win a $15 Fandango gift card, so you can see one of the latest movies. All you have to do is comment below and your name will be entered. The drawing will take place in two days.

In your comment, let me know, if you wish, what you like about this blog, what you dislike, or what kinds of articles you’d like to see more of in the future.

Meanwhile, have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

All the best always,

Nancy

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Writing Goals Reviewed

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 30, 2017

Writing Goals Reviewed

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to review the goals you’d set for this year. How many did you accomplish? Which ones will wait until next year? What unexpected accomplishments did you have?

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Here are the creative and business goals for my writing career that I set last January. I hold myself accountable to you. Let’s see where we stand before setting resolutions for 2018.

CREATIVE GOALS

Finish and Launch Hair Brained (DONE)
Write Trimmed to Death (FIRST DRAFT DONE)
Publish Audiobook editions for Murder by Manicure and Body Wave (ONE DONE)
Publish Author’s Edition of Highlights to Heaven (DONE)
Reissue trade paperback editions of Died Blonde and Dead Roots (NOT DONE)
Expand Writing the Cozy Mystery for a second edition (ONGOING)

BUSINESS GOALS

Implement Launch Campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal (DONE)
Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media (DONE)
Set autoresponder for newsletter signups (DONE)

LEARNING GOALS

Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors (NOT DONE)
Learn how to use BookFunnel (DONE)
Learn how to publish a book with IngramSpark (DONE)

EXTRA ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Put together a free Book Sampler for newsletter subscribers (DONE)


How did you do with your goals?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Curacao

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 29, 2017

We took Shore Excursion CUR – 100 from the Royal Princess in Curaçao. Beautiful aqua water greeted us at the pier. On land, we met dry terrain with cactus, a civilized city with houses that looked like places in Florida, columned municipal buildings, a cathedral, and a swing bridge into town.

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From the pier, you could walk to the right toward the Renaissance Hotel and follow the signs to cross the bridge into town. It’s a twenty minute walk, but it will seem much longer if you are carrying heavy packages. If I heard our tour guide correctly, the main industries are oil refining, salt, tourism, and producing Curaçao liqueur.

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Our drive took us first to the Curaçao Museum in a colonial-style building dating back to the 1800s. The rooms held paintings and antique furniture with windows wide open and no air-conditioning. An airplane cockpit rests in a secured outbuilding. The shady grounds are pleasant to stroll while waiting to get back on the tour bus.

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Next we toured Hato Caves, an above-ground cave. We had to climb a steep set of 49 steps to get there. Once inside, you had to duck and hold onto a hand rail to reach the various caverns. The usual views of stalactites, stalagmites, and calcite columns are present. Total blackness yawns from areas that are unlit, while bats hover overhead.

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Outside, we caught an iguana on the grounds. A snack bar and restrooms are available. The natives like iguana stew, the “poor-man’s chicken.”

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We visited the Chobolobo factory where they make the famous branded Curaçao Liqueur. It’s said the soil of the island changed the sweet Valencia orange brought by the Spaniards into a bitter fruit. But the peel contained an oil with a pleasing fragrance. The famous Blue liqueur comes from the peel of this fruit.

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Inside a building, the distilling process is explained in a museum-like setting. Their famous liqueur comes in an orange-shaped bottle. If it’s in another container, the product isn’t theirs. It comes in classic original orange flavor plus chocolate, coffee, rum raisin, and tamarind. An enticing gift shop offers a wide selection of liqueurs and other souvenirs.

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We crossed the Queen Juliana Bridge with vistas of the port city on our way back to the ship. At the port were a decent number of native huts selling souvenirs, hats, Curaçao liqueur, magnets, spoon rests, dresses and shirts, and Delft figurines. Waves crash onto the rocky breakfront by the pier where you can also enjoy tropical drinks at a bar.

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Our tour was well worthwhile, although we did not make a photo stop at the salt flats as listed in the tour description. Nonetheless, we need to make a return visit to go into Willemstad and roam the city streets. A brief glimpse wasn’t enough.

View All Photos Here

This concludes my review of our Royal Princess cruise and the ports of call. I hope you’ve enjoyed my descriptions. Happy Sailing to you in the New Year!

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Bonaire

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 28, 2017

Our Shore Excursion from Royal Princess was BON-105. It took us on a drive along the coast with gorgeous sparkling ocean to the left in aqua to navy hues. We passed a group of divers as one beautiful sea vista after another exposed itself to us.

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Cactus in many varieties dotted the dry soil on this island. Tall trees were sparse, but plenty of bushy vegetation grew along the roadside. To the right rose a rocky cliff with caves. Eventually, we curved around and ended up on the other side of this cliff. Donkeys roamed free on an open plain.

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At Goto Lake, we spotted native flamingos wading for food in the water. Having seen many of this species at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida, I was impressed to view them in the wild.

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In Rincon, the oldest settlement, it looked like any other Caribbean village with colorfully painted houses. We’d been driving nearly an hour and hastened to the single restroom at our stop. There wasn’t any toilet paper but there were paper towels. We were given a taste of cactus liquor that tasted minty. Snacks were available for purchase here at the Rose Inn courtyard. The stop seemed to benefit the tour guide more than us. We stood around waiting for her to finish her cold drink so we could head back to the bus.

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We were supposed to stop at a cultural park next, but this visit never materialized. Instead, we drove past the port and beyond to reach the salt flats on the other side of the island. A brown pond stretched into the distance. At the roadside, salt crystals bubbled and burped by the highway. A mountain of salt rose ahead as the guide explained the salt-making process.

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If I’ve gotten this explanation right, salt water is brought into the pond on the far side. This water is allowed to evaporate under the sun until it reaches a certain level of salinity. Then more water is added and the process repeated until it’s so concentrated that the salt begins to crystalize. We passed a freighter that might have been taking on salt, this island’s main export. It was fascinating to see the huge mound of salt and the crystals bubbling from the pond.

Then we stopped at a beach made from coral to view a cluster of slave huts. Slaves had to walk from there all the way to Rincon to go to church and receive provisions. It took them the entire day. With the low ceilings and cramped space in the huts, I don’t know how anyone could live there.

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This tour was too long. The drive to Rincon, while scenic, needs more stops. Rincon itself was unimpressive. We didn’t see the cultural center mentioned on the excursion listing unless the itinerary had changed. If you don’t mind a long drive to see most of the island, this tour will work for you. Otherwise, I’d suggest a shorter trip to see the scenic ocean vistas while heading to the salt flats. Then go shopping in town, a short walk away from the port. This tour took 3 hours.

See All Photos Here

Coming Next: Curacao

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Grenada

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 27, 2017

We took Shore Excursion GD-330 on our Royal Princess cruise port stop at Grenada to Spices of Grenada and the Westerhall Rum Distillery. This time we had an air-conditioned van, which is better than a bus because you have fewer people to wait on to get in and out. We passed buildings painted in colorful hues of lime, coral, lavender, and sand.

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Right away, we got the impression of a more upscale island. We drove through crowded port city streets to our first stop, De La Grenada Industries. Here they package spices grown on this fertile mountainous island. Inside the single building is a view of the machinery. There’s a tasting area where we had a sip of rum punch that was very good. The gift shop has a decent selection of packaged spices, nutmeg liqueur, and rum punch bottles.

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We drove on through lush tropical hillsides to Laura’s Herb and Spice Garden for a tour in the rain of a botanical garden. The knowledgeable guide told us about the medicinal values for all the plants grown there. As the downpour got heavier, our hosts provided umbrellas. We donned our ponchos that we’d brought along. I learned that onion boiled with sugar makes syrup that can be used as an emetic. This might come in handy for a story if it works. The outdoor path is made from nutmeg shells. Inside the lone building, there wasn’t much to buy at the small sales counter except for some spice packets or vanilla extract bottles.

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Our drive took us through more mountain rainforests. We passed goats, cows, and graveyards that had white above-ground tombs. Houses appeared to be concrete. Roofs looked like tile but were sheeting of some sort.

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At the Westerhall Rum Distillery, it was raining too hard for a tour. They took us to the tasting hut where we got straight rum samples while standing outside under cover. I wasn’t sorry to miss the tour. We’d seen better on St. Croix, and had better tastings too with mixed rum drinks. Here you could see rusted wheels and other implements littering the grounds. There didn’t appear to be any shop.

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We sloshed back into the van for a drive through a wealthy gated community to view the impressive homes overlooking scenic views. Finally, we were dropped off back at the ship. This tour took about 4 hours.

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One of the best places for shopping is Esplanade Mall right at the pier. I bypassed the jewelry stores to browse the spices, coffee, shirts, hats and souvenirs. It’s a great place to buy gifts for people back home and spices to use in your own cooking.

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See More Photos Here

Coming Next: Bonaire

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Martinique

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 26, 2017

Martinique

On the fourth day of our cruise on Royal Princess, we visited Martinique. This mountainous volcanic island boasts lush tropical vegetation and spectacular views through the rainforest. We docked at Fort-de-France, a big port town with narrow streets. From here, we boarded an air-conditioned bus for Shore Excursion FDF-100 to St. Pierre and the Depaz Rum Distillery. Our first stop was Sacré-Coeur de la Balata, a historic church on a hilltop. This was built in 1925. We drove up a curvy road with scenic vistas to the church.

 

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Next we went through the dense rainforest toward the Depaz Distillery, where rum has been made since 1651. The views along the road were spectacular. At the plantation, we trudged up a grassy hill to admire the owner’s mansion. We toured the distillery past machinery and rooms with barrels for the aging process.

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Rain fell as was appropriate for the rainforest. Sugar cane plants stretched into the distance.

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The gift shop looked interesting, but we didn’t have enough time to browse. Wares included packaged spices, bottles of rum, and souvenirs. We got tiny tastes of one sweet coconut rum drink that I liked. Another tasted like straight dark rum that burned my throat.

We hurried back to the bus for a drive to St. Pierre. At the foot of Mount Pelee, this village was destroyed in a massive 1902 eruption that killed 30,000 residents. The only survivor was one man in a stone prison. The town has narrow streets and ruins all around that had formerly been buildings made from rock. At the museum, we took a quick glance at the artifacts dug out of ash, a damaged bell from a cathedral, and photos of the town before and after the disaster. The air-conditioning was off, making it very hot inside. No photos were allowed. This museum is on the site of an old gun battery and has scenic views.

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Outside, we climbed some stone steps to the ruins of a theater. We spied the jail down below on the side near the mountain. All was gone except for some stone walls and a domed stone prison where the single man survived.

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I got hot and sweaty in the heat. We had periodic rain but not so much on this drier side of the island. We noted netting against the cliffs on this side to prevent rockslides onto the roads. We could also see cannon ball holes left in the rock walls facing the water.

This tour took 4-1/2 hours. A native market outside the pier held nothing interesting. The best shop was at the rum distillery. My advice for anyone going here would be to see the house and skip the distillery tour. Go straight to the shop. You could buy snacks there too and restrooms are available. Bring an umbrella. 

See all trip photos here.

Coming next: Grenada

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Royal Princess – Ports of Call

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 22, 2017

Princess Cays

Our first port call on the Royal Princess cruise was at Princess Cays for a beach barbecue. I always enjoy the serenity of this beach day. We took a tender to get there, which is an adventure in itself.

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Once ashore, we scrambled to find a spot in the shade. Getting a rum punch became our first order of business. After finishing this drink, I trudged through the sand to stick my feet in the water. The temperature was cool but not cold. I could have gotten used to it, but I had no desire to wade in among the seaweed and get all wet. We have lovely beaches in Fort Lauderdale and our own pool at home. The barbecue offered an array of delectable items. I got a burger with accompaniments and chowed down in the covered picnic area.

 

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Then we baked in the heat a bit more before deciding to pack it up and leave. We stopped in the few Bahamian shops on the way back to the tender. If you’re looking for a souvenir, you can find something here. The shops are not as plentiful as on the RCCL beach stops, though. It was a pleasant day on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

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St. Thomas

A rainbow greeted us as we approached the island of St. Thomas. The day promised rain, so we fortuitously brought our umbrellas that we’d packed when we went ashore.

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As the ship docked by Havensight Mall, we took a taxi into town for $4.00 each. Here we roamed the main streets, glad to see most of the shops open for business after Hurricane Irma. Some places were still shuttered, perhaps with water damage or without power. But most shops were open and welcomed visitors, and I bought some items that caught my eye. It began to rain off and on, and water quickly pooled in the saturated streets.

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We’d been here numerous times before, so we had no need to do a sightseeing tour or go farther afield. We went back to the ship for lunch, and then strolled around Havensight Mall. You’ll get a greater selection of goods in town, but this shopping center has representative shops for most of those places. You can find plenty of souvenirs, liquor, or jewelry items here as well. After a satisfying day, the ship sailed away to music from the steel-drum band.

See More Photos

Coming Next: Martinique

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