Caribbean Wrap-Up

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The next stop after Antigua was Grand Turk.  Grand Turk is the capital island of the Turks and Caicos, (population 5,000). It is here that Christopher Columbus first made landfall on his initial voyage to the New World in 1492. Almost 500 years later, US astronaut John Glenn “discovered” Grand Turk himself, after he became the first American man to orbit the earth and splashed down a mile off shore.

The Carnival Corporation has developed a cruise terminal here that is a destination all it’s own.  There are retail shops, a beautiful huge pool, a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville, and of course there is a beach all set up with many chairs.  And the water! It just keeps getting prettier and prettier on each island.

untitled-19It’s not as crowded as it looks. I’m the last person that likes to be around many people at one time but have to say taking a cruise with 3,000 people and probably 1,000 crew members is really not bad at all. The ship is so big that once on it, there is plenty of space and it’s easy to be alone somewhere. Ask my daughter. She lamented the fact that each night that she went “bar hopping” there was no one to socialize with except the bartenders. Fortunately, she met a woman her age from the Ukraine towards the end of the cruise and they did things together.

Next stop was Half Moon Cay, an island in the Bahamas that Holland America bought in 1997 for 6 million dollars. The 2,400-acre island serves as a private retreat for passengers  of Carnival, Princess Cruises, and Holland America. This was the only island where we had to take a boat to the shore. Normally the cruise ships use their lifeboats that hold about 150 people each. But Half Moon Cay has some much larger open air boats permanently located there to transfer passengers and therefore the process goes much quicker.

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Carnival Corporation invested $15 million to spruce up Half Moon Cay, but just two percent of it has been developed. Located less than 100 miles southeast of Nassau, the island houses its passenger facilities on less than 50 acres; much of the remaining land serves as a preserve for migratory birds.  Physically, the island boasts a 2.5-mile-long crescent-shaped beach — the source of the name Half Moon Cay.

untitled-24Crew members from our ship ferried our lunch to shore and set up buffet lines. There were covered picnic tables for everyone that are each surrounded by tall hedges.

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Actually the hedges surround everything and when it was time for me to head back to the ship I had no idea what direction I was going. Here again, it was possible to be all alone because I didn’t see a soul until I wandered into the shopping area. From there, I knew where I was.

untitled-36Bartenders from the ship set up several bars in the area including in this ship that was built by a whiskey company but I can’t remember their name.

untitled-31My daughter Lauren  decided to see a little sun but she was so slathered in sunscreen that she came back to Colorado as white as she left.

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Back to the cold. But not for long.

Antigua

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This particular cruise is what is called a “Journeys” cruise. What this means is that in every port local entertainers perform either on the pier or inside the ship. Local chefs also come on board and give cooking demonstrations and every lunch and dinner has a sampling of Caribbean dishes specific to the island we are docked at. 

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Antigua has a touristy shopping area right off the ship as do the other ports. I was immediately waylaid by a lady who thought I needed one braid on the side of my hair to keep it out of my face. $2 and just a few minutes was all she needed. I told her we would be back later.

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This is Karen and her taxi. She approached Lauren and I wanting to sell us a little tour. It was time to see something other than port areas and off we went.

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We passed by two herds of goats and they were being herded by dogs – with not a person anywhere. Karen said this is typical.

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Antigua has a new sports stadium for cricket that the people are very proud of. There’s an opposite side just like this one. 

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Other than this old church in St. Johns that is being renovated, we saw typical neighborhoods, the airport, a long ago shut down sugar factory, and houses along the beach.  We did see a modern looking medical college too.

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Beach house

Karen was a smart lady and very interesting to talk to. We learned there is no university in Antigua so the students who receive a scholarship go to Cuba. The Antigua government pays a small portion but Cuba covers the rest without asking for anything in return. There is very little unemployment in Antigua other than “the people too lazy to work”. Antigua is technically not in the Caribbean but in the Atlantic Ocean.  When the tourist season is over Karen goes to New York and works as a chef. Gas is $5 a gallon because it has to be shipped in.

Karen, as well as another local that I talked to wanted to know what we thought of Trump and what is wrong with all those people who like him.  When a music store owner asked me that I told him we might move to Antigua if Trump got elected. He said good and that he would take care of me because he wanted me to be his mother-in-law, meaning he had eyes for Lauren.

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After the tour was over the corn row lady was waiting for me. She took Lauren and I to a rooftop where another woman from the cruise was getting a full head braided. There were no mirrors and so I couldn’t see what she was doing but it seemed like she was parting my hair in a different direction than I thought it should be for just one braid on the side. Pretty soon it was obvious she was doing more than one braid and I asked to see a mirror. Egads! She had done 4 braids going backwards on my head and since they started in the middle it would look very strange without having a few more. She said she thought I would need 8 and I reluctantly said okay. Well she did 10 and then wanted to do the right side too which would have been 20 braids and $40. At that point I said enough and gave her the $20 and left. As soon as we got to the ship I took them out.  That is known as the corn row scam and no you can’t see the picture Lauren took.

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I cannot get over how clear and pretty the water is on most of the islands

St. Kitts and St. Maarten

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These signs are on several decks and are a big help to find my way off the ship as my seeing eye girl Lauren mostly opts to stay on board.

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Hindsight tells me I should have booked an island tour in St. Kitts as there are several that look interesting. I will have a second chance when it is time for Steve to see some of the Caribbean. This is the center of Basseterre. There is a huge shopping area for the cruisers just beyond the museum on the left side of this picture. This, the actual town was mostly devoid of people from the ship.

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This small island is home to Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. Our ship docked in St. Maarten, a very pretty place. I took this water taxi to Philipsburg, the capitol.

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Spectacular color which I have not made one single enhancement or adjustment to. It is straight out of the camera. Not too many people took advantage of the beach chairs that locals rent out for approximately $10, but they were pretty to look at as every section was a different color.

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This nice long walkway covers the length of the city along the beach. As you might expect, being Dutch, the city was very clean.

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Pretty little church. Children inside were being taught hymns to a subtle Caribbean drum beat in the background.

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The Wind Surf, docked next to our ship, is the largest cruise sail ship in the world

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There were many high dollar yachts in port as well as three cruise ships. Next stop for us is Antigua.

San Juan to St. Thomas

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 The Skyride cable car is just a block or two from where our ship docked in St. Thomas. There is a bar and restaurant on top where the views can be enjoyed. Lauren introduced me to a drink there called a Bushwacker that tastes like a milkshake…..so good! But I found out why it is called Bushwacker. 

Carnival Cruises now has an internet package rather than paying by the minute. Unfortunately the internet is so weak and slow that it took at least 10 minutes to upload the picture above. But, it is better than the nothing I had on previous cruises.

Our ship, the Carnival Triumph is the one in the picture. It’s half again as large as any we have been on before. In the past, we lucked out and always had one of the Spirit class sister ships so after five cruises I had finally learned my way around. I will never learn my way on this ship. For one thing, I have a terrible sense of direction inside of buildings. I still cannot figure out Aft from Port from Broadside to Starboard. None of it makes sense. A commenter on my last post asked if I needed a GPS. I never thought of that but it would be a very good idea. Carnival could make money by renting them out for the cruise.

The sea has been so smooth that I can hardly tell we are moving. Lauren however is not faring so well. She has been sick twice but that is always after she has been bar hopping late at night so that may have something to do with it.  These ships have at least 10 bars on them and it seems Lauren is about the only person in them each night.  There are no young people on this ship which is very, very unusual.  We did see one young handsome man the first night out, who it appeared was traveling with his father.  He was eyeing Lauren pretty good but their paths have not crossed again. She has had a stalker though who follows her everywhere, sits down nearby, and just stares. Lauren is about to throw him overboard.

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This blurry photo is of Madiana from Bali who is our sweet cabin steward. Carnival Cruises has 24 ships and my math reckons they employ over 1600 cabin stewards. Why is this significant? Because Madiana was the steward for Steve and I on our last cruise and it was on a different ship over a year ago to Hawaii. Madiana has a wife and 3 children in Bali and sees them every 6 months between contracts. 

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Our cabin with balcony. This ship is older than the Carnival ships we have been on before and not nearly as glitzy with the decor. But the beds are comfortable, it’s clean, and the food is way too good as usual. 

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We were docked beside the Carnival ship Liberty in two ports so far. Ours is on the left.

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A ship of two tails. ? A tale of two ships? Whatever. 

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Plenty of deck stairs and several swimming pools and hot tubs. I don’ know how many pools. Am not sure if I’m seeing the same one over and over.

We have been to three ports since St. Thomas and I took many pictures as I got off the ship each time.   I wanted you to see a bit of the ship first. Oh, the above picture was taken in St. Kitts, my least favorite port so far.

Also, I didn’t bring my good Nikon because my pack mule stayed in Colorado so my pictures are all taken with my little Lumix making for some blown out skies.