Somewhere at Sea
The third port of call on our cruise was to the island of Barbados.
Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It covers an area of 166 square miles with a population of around 284,000 people. The island is east of most of the islands of the Lesser Antilles and is considered an Atlantic Island, rather than a Caribbean Island.
Our tour for this port included a snorkel stop to view turtles, snorkeling over an old shipwreck, and a bit of beach time. Our boat for this excursion was the Thriller 5. The picture below shows the boat with the passengers holding their arms in the air like on a roller coaster. While we did speed along, the “captain” didn’t do anything too wild, as the purpose of this trip was snorkeling and beach time, not going on a thrill ride.
We sailed quickly up the coast to a spot where turtles are often spotted. But after waiting a few minutes without seeing any turtles, the “captain” asked if it was all right for him to move to another location, where we may have a better chance of seeing them. Sure enough, at the next location we spotted a number of green turtles enjoying a day in the water. We quickly entered the water and were treated to some great views as turtles cruised along under the water, surfacing occasionally to breath (nobody provided them with a snorkel). We didn’t take the picture below but it shows just what we experienced.
After watching the turtles for a while, we re-boarded the boat and moved a short distance for a swim over an old ship wreck. A few slices of bread thrown into the water by the crew brought a large number of beautiful fish within our view.
Once the snorkeling was over the crew brought out some liquid refreshment (rum punch) and we headed for shore to enjoy a brief visit to a local beach. Once anchored, the “captain” informed us that no one was allowed off the boat with a half filled glass of the rum punch, only those with full glass were allowed ashore!
We really enjoyed this outing. The snorkeling was great and the beach was beautiful. The crew was very entertaining and left no doubt that, while they would happily answer any questions about the island, this was intended to be a “fun” outing. And they were very generous with the rum punch (rum is very cheap on the island) as it helped to loosen up wallets of most of the passengers, which was reflected in the amount of $$ in the tip jar located next to the dock!
After another night at sea, we next stopped on the island of St. Lucia, where we docked at Castries, capital of this island nation. St. Lucia is an island of 238 square miles and has a population of 174,000. As we entered the harbor we passed by the main (only) runway of the George S. Charles Airport.
It is probably not a good idea to land just short of this airport!
Our excursion for the day was a tour of the coast on a catamaran sailboat, with a stop for some more snorkeling.
The sea was a bit rough so we didn’t do any “sailing” but used the motor to make our way south along the shore.
We toured some of the small bays along the shoreline, where the smoother water allowed us to walk around the front deck without getting sprayed.
In one of the bays we passed by Doolittle’s Restaurant, where many scenes were filmed for the movie Dr. Doolittle.
On the return trip the sea became a bit more turbulent, so most of us stayed in the cabin enjoying more rum punch. The couple pictured below chose to stay up on one of the trampolines and enjoy the ride! Pam got their email address and we will be sending them some of the pictures of their “experience.”
Returning to the shore we decided we needed some “therapy” after a long day on and in the water. A local brew provided just what was needed (check out the name of the establishment)!
Once back aboard ship we enjoyed a beautiful view of part of the town with the Caribbean in the background.
Our final stop of the cruise was St. Maartan, a small island divided between France and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and it was windy and rainy upon our arrival. In fact, Ronnie (Captain Borg) came on the PA as we approached the island, and informed us that they would try to dock but the strong winds may prevent it. Once inside the harbor they were able to dock successfully and we were permitted to go ashore. Our excursion, a boat tour and beach time, wasn’t scheduled until just after noon, so we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast in one of the dining areas. Upon returning to our room to prepare for our excursion we found a note on our door informing us that the tour was cancelled due to the high winds. Since it was so late in the morning we were too late to schedule another excursion, so we decided to just tour the city of Philipsburg. But as we departed the ship and headed along the dock the skies opened up and it began to pour. With no shelter in front of us we turned around and headed back to the ship, getting soaked before reaching the ramp. It seemed that a visit to the island wasn’t going to happen, so we spent the afternoon relaxing on the ship.
That afternoon we departed the island as usual at 5:00 and headed for Miami. Our scheduled route took us out into the Atlantic but because of the high winds, we re-routed back to the west of the islands, which provided some protection from the weather. Oh boy, two more days at sea!
Since this was our first cruise, we have no experience that we can use to base an evaluation of the quality of our experience. But while we found that cruising is not something we really enjoy, Norwegian Cruise Line did an excellent job. Every member of the crew we encountered, from the young man vacuuming the stairway to the Captain, was extremely helpful and pleasant. The food was very good and the service was beyond excellent. Our cabin steward, Eduardo, was very efficient and each evening left a cleverly folded towel on the bed or hanging from the mirror. Below are a few examples.
After spending a couple of days back in the Miami area enjoying the hospitality of Howard and Linda’s friend Linda, we are off to Big Cypress Preserve, just west of Everglades National Park, for a few days. Then we move to Ft. Myers for a little over a month.
More on that later . . .