We were both really looking forward to this holiday and the chance to relax and escape to some winter sun. I am pleased to say that both the ship and the destinations did not disappoint and this was a fantastic holiday.
I have provided some detail of what we did on each of the ports and would urge anyone to get off an explore on every island - do your own thing.
The highlights for us were the picturesque Wilemstad, the spice market and Grand Anse beach on Grenada, the local bar and resturant converted from a shipping container in the middle of nowwhere in Barbados where we entertained the locals when trying the hot sauce (yes, it is !. We loved the atmosphere in Marigot and the people and beauty of Dominica.
Just the right size to relax with plenty of space to sit and ample storage.
The bigger bathroom was appreciated with plenty of room in the shower over the bath vs the usual small upright showers.
The balcony is quite spacious - plenty of room to sunbathe for 2 or enjoy room service. The balcony sticks out from the ship and this does mean you are overlooked, but this did not btoher us at all and meant that we were not troubled by any cigarette smoke as it all blew past us, and gave us more sun than on higher decks.
We shared a taxi to Eagle beach with another couple and then spent the day in the sun. Only 10mins from the port this was a pleasnt place to relax with bars and facilities dotted along the beach. The beer was expensive though - 11 USD for 2 bottles.
Beach beds seemed to be in short supply as there were 3 cruise ships in port that day, so we roughed it on the sand. It was quite windy - normal for the island I understand, and the sea was quite rough and not suitable for anyone but a confident swimmer but I certainly enjoyed the waves.
We jumped on a bus back to Oranjestad and wandered to the Seaport Village Mall.
We grabbed a local taxi just outside the port as we wanted to head up to Fort Charlotte and the Botantical gardens. We were shown around the fort by one of the colourful local guides, Charles and the views from the hilltop fort across to the other islands and inland were great. There were several small fires visible in the wooded hillsides around Kingstown and Charles told is this was to indicate where cannabis was being grown - not sure how true this was, but Charles was pretty relaxed! Our took around 30mins.
The Botantical Gardens were back on the outskirts of Kingstown and were enjoyable for any gardening enthusiats out there - I took a lot of photos! The best feature for me was the cannonball tree with its huge round seeds and alien looking flowers. There are quite a few locals at the gates asking if you want a tour but they are polite and if you want to be left alone to do your own thing they will not hassle you.
We walked back into town and back to the cruise terminal. The town itself had a lot of character and was quite a contrast to the Americanised ports on Aruba and Curcaco.
We caught a water taxi to Grand Anse beach from the cruise terminal - quite an exhilerating ride, and don't expect to stay dry! It felt like most of the ship was on the beach but we still had a great day. The further you walk from the water taxi dock the quieter it gets, so if you want someting more peaceful keep walking. We took up the offer of one of the beach boys for 2 beds and a brolly for $20 nearby and then settled down with a bucket of beer to watch the world go by and were kept amused by the endlessly optimisitc water sports sales guys who seemd quite prepared to ask anyone of any age if they wanted to have a ride on what looked like a huge infaltable armchair towed behind a speedboat! I settled for a gentle swim every 1/2 hour or so. Further along the beach was a small craft and spice market where you could get the spices so famous on the island. I got 3 "spice necklaces" as gifts for friends and the smell was lovely.
When the water taxi dropped us back in St Georges we had a brief look around but felt there wasn't much to see. Damage from hurricane Ivan was till evident.We bumped into another couple on the way back to the ship who had been to the spice market in town and from their report we would recommend you give this a wide berth if you don't like to be hassled by the sellers.
The duty free shops back at the Crise terminal seemed to offer some of the best value we found in the trip.
We shared a taxi from Philipsburg to Marigot with another couple as we had read that the French side of the island had great character and great food. The fares are all published and the cost was 8USD pp each way. The taxi we shared was a beautiful new huge American Ford and overall we felt the island to be the smartest place we had stopped off at so far with the greatest obvious wealth.
There was a large market in Marigot selling the usual brightly coloured shirts and sarongs but also many stalls with local arts and crafts of a high standard. We had a good look around before finding somewhere for lunch as there were many busy bars and restaurants filled with locals and tourists alike. We ended up at "Rosemarys" (see Trip advisor) and had fabulous goat curry, creole fish and shrimps. Give it a try if you are there.
We asked to be dropped off at the end of the boardwalk in Philipsberg when we made the return trip so we could walk along the beach and back to the cruise terminal. We were then glad to have spent the day in Marigit as we felt that Philipsberg lacked character and was tacky and touristy. - friends remarked it was like being in the Spanish costas.
First rain of the holiday! We decided to give the trips to Cane Garden Bay a miss as the other half is not a fan of heights and precipitous drops so we went for walk around Road Town on a mission to find the famous Pussers Pub. It did not disappoint! After the 1st Painkiller #2, the famous rum cocktail they serve, we felt obliged to have another.... The best rum punch on the holiday and we did try alot!
Other than this pub there was very little to see in the town itself.
The 2nd time we saw rain - and in bucket loads this time in Castries!
We took the only P&O tour on the holiday at this port - "Cruise to the Pitons" and it was well worth the money as we both escaped the rain, had a lot of fun, wonderful views and too much rum punch.... Would reocommend this to anyone.
After the 1/2 day trip we caught a watertaxi across from the cruise terminal into the town and found a local restaurant in the market selling creole food to the locals. After washing this down with local beer the other half finally succumbed to the lure of the caribbean shirt and parted with his USD! Back at the terminal we carried on with the local beer chatting to fellow cruisers and enjoying time at our last port before home. Castries had character and seemed a safe but still colourful place.