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Country Western Cruise -
port #3 - Key West, Florida USA
October 26, 2015

Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida on the North American continent, at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. The island is about 90 miles from Cuba and 160 miles from Miami. Key West is in Monroe County, Florida, United States. The city also occupies portions of nearby islands. Laid back, free-spirited, artistic, quirky, and scenic, Key West is one of the most unique places in the United States. Known for its live-and-let-live attitude, tropical climate, and seemingly continuous happy hour, this tiny island has been welcoming visitors seeking a vacation from the normal for two centuries. Size: 2 x 4 miles.

  • Date first explored: 1521,
    Ponce de Leon visits Dry Tortugas

  • Date as a U.S. territory: 1822

map of Florida showing location of Key West Karen Duquette in the Norwegian Sky Life Ring

Below: Key West as seen from the 11th deck of the Norwegian Sky cruise ship.

Key West Key West
Key West Key West

Everyone had to ride a tram or the conch tour train into town. Walking was not allowed because of military training taking place in the area.

U.S. Coast Guard Shp the conch tour train
Dr. Nancy Foster FL Keys Environmental  Complex
Begin US 1 sign - mile 0 End US 1 sign - mile 0
explore Florida sign
sign: Birthplace of Pan American World Airways plaque: One human family

The Southernmost Point Buoy is an anchored concrete buoy marking one of the extreme points of the United States. The large painted buoy is a tourist attraction established in 1983 by the city at the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street.

The wording is not accurate. Florida's official southernmost point is Ballast Key, a privately owned island south and west of Key West. Signs on that island strictly prohibit unauthorized visitors. The marker is not even the southernmost point of Key West Island. The private yard directly to the southeast of the buoy is obviously farther south. Land on the Truman Annex property just west-southwest of the buoy is the true southernmost point on the island, (approximately 900 feet farther south), but it has no marker since it is U.S. Navy property and cannot be entered by civilian tourists. The southernmost part of Key West Island accessible to civilians is the beach area of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park approximately 500 feet farther south than the marker.

The claim on the buoy stating "90 miles to Cuba" is a rounded number, since Cuba, at its closest point is 94 statute (81 nautical) miles due south.

Key West Buoy waves at the wall

The waves came crashing through the slit in the barrier wall.

waves at the wall waves crashing through the wall
waves crashing through the wall waves crashing through the wall
waves crashing through the wall waves crashing through the wall
Karen and Monica at the Key West Buoy statue
sign: History of the Southernmost Point view beyond the buoy
Havana poem on the sidewalk entrance to the Naval Air Station

history bookThe first Key West lighthouse was a 65-foot tower completed in 1825. It had 15 lamps in 15-inch reflectors. The first keeper, Michael Mabrity, died in 1832, and his widow, Barbara, became the lighthouse keeper, serving for 32 years. The Great Havana Hurricane of 1846 destroyed the lighthouse. Barbara Mabrity survived, but fourteen people who had sought refuge in the lighthouse tower died, including seven members of her family. Barbara Mabrity continued to serve as keeper of the Key West Light until the early 1860s, when she was fired at age 82 for making statements against the Union (Key West remained under Union control throughout the Civil War).

The new tower for the Key West Light was completed in 1848. It was 50 feet tall with 13 lamps in 21-inch reflectors, and stood on ground about 15 feet above sea level. In 1858 the light received a third order Fresnel lens. In 1873 the lantern was replaced (it had been damaged by a hurricane in 1866), adding three feet to the height of the tower. The growth of trees and taller buildings in Key West began to obscure the light, and in 1894 the tower was raised twenty feet, placing the light about 100 feet above sea level.

After the Coast Guard decommissioned the Key West Light in 1969, it was turned over to Monroe County, which in turn leased it to the Key West Arts and Historical Society. The society operates the lighthouse and its associated buildings as the Key West Light House and Keeper's Quarters Museum. On display at the museum is the first order Fresnel lens from the Sombrero Key lighthouse.

Karen Duquette at the Key West Lighthouse Key West Lighthouse
Key West Lighthouse Key West Lighthouse
Key West Lighthouse

Halloween decorations were everywhere because in the evening the town will be full of people wearing only body paint, but the Norwegian Sky will be long gone by then, so Karen and Monica do not get to partake in the partying. Bummer! They both love to party.

Halloween decorations Halloween decorations
Halloween decorations Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe and store
sign about the oldest schoolhouse Oldest Schoolhosue and sign
outside the Key West Aquarium statue and a street
Mallory Square sign entering Mallory Square and the market place
Menu for The Country Western Cruise on the Norwegian Sky

There are 5 other cruise options below, plus two additional links.

10-23 boarding the ship in Miami

10-24 Nassau, Bahamas

10-25 Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

10-26 Key West, Florida, USA

10-28 Grand Cayman Island

10-31 Country Western Artists

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please continue on to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesAFTER you have seen all of the 2015 cruise sites above, please continue to see how the two RV Gypsies winter in their RV in Florida.

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  If you came here from the Cruises Menu or if you want to check on other cruises, go there now.

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IF you want to see more of Key West, Florida - check out the 2014 trip to Key West, and there will be a link at the bottom of that page to come back here.