Introducing the Scoundrel to Spain, Sir Francis Drake!

Much like our trip to the Caribbean early next year, the history of the Caribbean is not only told on land but on the high seas as well. Piracy is not only the theme of our adventure, but it was a way of life for hundreds of years as men and women fought the law, and other law breakers, for the ability to live their lives the way they wanted as well as to line their pockets with an appropriate amount of coins. Every Monday we are going to take a look at the legendary Pirates of the high seas and highlight some great stories! Today I am highlighting one legendary man, who led many successful campaigns within the Caribbean as well as all over the world.

Sir Francis Drake is a man of contention between the English and the Spanish. To his people in England he was a national hero, and why wouldn’t he be? He led several attacks against their enemies and was a capable ship captain. Not only that, but he became the first Englishman to lead an expedition that circumnavigated the globe successfully. In a strange note about the man’s mannerisms it is said that before he had a supposed mutineer, Thomas Doughty, beheaded he granted the man’s request for communion and while they were eating they both laughed like old friends and kept good cheer despite the circumstances. Drake’s greatest early success is undoubtedly the raid he perpetrated at Panama in 1573. It was hard fought, and involved the Spanish dogging their steps, but eventually they made out with several tons of treasure to bring back home. Drake, having been sent ahead and looking quite a mess, played a joke on his men who were awaiting him off island by appearing disappointed before pulling out a necklace of Spanish gold and giving them the good news.

As much as such successes made him a hero to England, it equally made him a villain to the Spanish people. He led successful attacks on Vigo and Santiago before selling across the Atlantic and sacking Santo Domingo and capturing Cartagena de Indias, which is present day Colombia. To top it off, he raided the Spanish fort of San Augustin in Florida. So angered was the Spanish King Philip II he ordered the invasion of England. Drake, not nearly having finished with the Spanish yet, launched a pre-emptive strike and ‘singed the beard of the King of Spain’ in 1587 by going into Cadiz and Corunna, two of Spain’s most important ports, and took the harbors. Afterwards he patrolled the Iberian coasts and disrupted the Spanish supply line in a major way. Due to the nature of these attacks the Spanish invasion force was delayed by nearly a year. When the Spanish Armada finally made its attempt to invade England Drake, a vice admiral at the time, won many battles for the English and contributed mightily to the defense of his homeland.

All good things must come to an end though, and so Drake’s success against the Spanish would as well. In his fifties he failed to conquer the port of Las Palmas, and led a disastrous campaign against Spanish America where he suffered numerous defeats. In his final conflict he led an unsuccessful attack on San Juan, Puerto Rico, eventually losing the famous ‘Battle of San Juan.’ He survived the encounter, but died weeks later of dysentery while anchored near Panama. With his dying breaths he asked to be dressed in his full armor and to be buried at sea. His wishes were respected and he was buried in a lead coffin near Portobelo, where explorers still search for the infamous coffin to this day. A hero to some, a villain to others, Sir Francis Drake left an indelible mark on history.

Have you decided the pirate’s life is for you? Fantastic! We are proud to be hosting the Black Pearl Ball, which is our welcome aboard Masquerade party! You have to do Sir Francis Drake proud of course, you can’t be looking like a scoundrel now can you? For some good ideas for pirate outfits as well as accessories, go here. And for all of the details about our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean, go here.

An excellent culinary experience in San Juan!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries. Today’s treats come from San Juan, where local ingredients are turned into something special!

Marmalade is a truly thrilling experience that any person who enjoys food should treat themselves to while in the city. Not to be mistaken for a wholly casual experience, sandals and shorts aren’t part of the dress code but the ambiance more than makes up for having to get dressed up. Customers note that the service is fantastic with friendly and knowledgeable staff. It was a consistent trend that the bar tenders here know their drinks and create absolutely delicious concoctions to be enjoyed! Speaking of drinks, this restaurant has won six awards of excellence when it comes to wine pairings, so you can expect very high quality wine that suits the food you are eating here.


There is a special pride here about how they go about their business. On an island where over ninety percent of the food is imported for consumption, they aggressively pursue and support small producers and local farmers who share their ideals for organic and sustainable means of producing and eating food. They have plenty of vegan options but what is the true common denominator in all of their food is the commitment to excellence and the explosive flavors they pack into every dish. For fish lovers they have the Queen Red Snapper, which is poached in a Thai style curry and coconut broth and then served over a bed of jasmine rice and spiced shrimp-sesame dumplings. Customers rave that the flavors mix beautifully and create a marvelous seafood experience. The Heritage Berkshire Pork Cheeks are another delicious item, served with barbequed black bean puree, garlicky greens roasted peanut and lime emulsion, and a Californian peach-pablano marmalade. The mixture of flavors are talked about as quite the delight!


No fine dining experience is complete without some delicious dessert, of course. One of the featured item is the Millionaires Ice Cream, which is churned with fresh French summer truffles on the inside and served with honeycomb & hazelnuts along with shaved truffles on the outside. It is a truly amazing ice cream experience that customers keep coming back for time and time again! For something truly organic one only needs to look towards the Blueberry-Lavender “No-No” cake. No gluten, no eggs, no dairy, no nuts, no refined sugar of any kind, no GMO’s… everything organic! Needless to say it also tastes absolutely fantastic and is one of the most ordered items off of the dessert menu! They also have a peanut brittle ice cream that wasn’t talked about much but that I personally would love to try, as a lover of peanut brittle!

Marmalade is an interesting and creative restaurant that is clearly striving to bring something amazing to the people of San Juan. Their commitment to excellence oozes off all of their decisions, and their welcoming staff proceeds what is world class food. You should stop in whenever you are in town, and you can get in town as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean! For all of the information for this amazing cruise, go here.

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Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. October 2 – 9, 2015Sailing London, Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona


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