Spring trip, Part 1: Tampa & Key West

A few weeks ago, we returned from our spring vacation trip to Florida and a week-long Caribbean cruise. We’ve been on a number of Caribbean cruises before, but this itinerary had a few ports that we hadn’t been to.

Tampa, Florida

Before our cruise, we spent three days in Tampa at the Renaissance Hotel, next to International Plaza. To call International Plaza a “mall” would almost be a disservice. Not only were their stores a shopaholic’s dream (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Dillard’s, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Ballard Design, Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, etc) but their restaurants were an epicurean delight. While dining outdoors on the patio, the sky looked like the painted ceilings at the Venetian in Vegas, with soft blue and puffy white clouds. On our second night, we ate at an Italian restaurant called BRIO Tuscan Grille and my husband is still talking about the pork chops he had there.

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Pork Chops and lasagna

We’d been to Tampa several times before, so we spent our time driving around St. Pete’s, Clearwater, and enjoyed the hotel and International Plaza.

Bon Voyage!

On Friday, we boarded our cruise ship. It was our first time staying in a Pinnacle Suite on Holland America (we usually stay in a Neptune Suite), so we had no idea what to expect when we boarded the ship. After checking in, we were escorted on board and shown to our suite. It was gorgeous! I was most excited about having a jetted spa on our balcony. I’ll post more pictures under the travel topic above.

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Pinnacle Suite balcony spa

We got settled in our room, walked around the ship, had lunch, and a drink (or two) before departing Tampa.

Key West, Florida

The next morning, we arrived in Key West. It was the cruise stop we were the most excited about! Next to Key West, there were tiny islands accessible only by boat. I snapped these pictures as we were arriving.

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Oh, it was so gorgeous there! The weather was just perfect. We went into town and decided to take the Conch Train on a tour of the island. After that, we had lunch at a Cuban restaurant, did a little shopping, then returned to the ship. I wish I’d taken more pictures of Key West!

Roatan and the rest of our trip will be on my next installment.

Thanks for reading! Post comments and questions below…