How did we end up here? We've lived in Northern Illinois for 24 years. Way too long for this vegetarian! Thankfully, we're only a Metra ride away from Chicago.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Caribbean Love

This was our fifth trip to the Caribbean and I'm still in love with the islands, the sea, and the locals who call this beautiful part of the world home.
Our ship for this trip was Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. We left from Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades. Unfortunately there was a shooting at the airport the day we left so our ship delayed it's sailing for six hours to try to accommodate crew and passengers stuck on the tarmac at the airport.

After a day at sea we arrived at the first of seven in a row ports of call. Beautiful Tortola in the BVI. I rented a car and proceeded to drive us all around the island. We stopped at Stoutt's Lookout Bar for a painkiller for the husband and one heck of a view of Cane Garden Bay. 

The owner was super friendly and helped me navigate to Smuggler's Cove. The road to this beach resembles a "walking path" and I will never attempt to drive here again. We had the beach to ourselves and some good snorkeling right off shore.

Next stop was Bomba Surfside Shack. I stayed just long enough to enjoy a Carib beer but that was too long for my travel companions. They did not enjoy the atmosphere of this bar.

Next stop was the Callwood Rum distillery where I sampled their rum and brought a bottle home.

We wanted to check out a beach on the other side of the island so I drove to Long Bay Beach on Beef Island. Beautiful scenery and very few tourists around.

I returned the rental car and went over to Pusser's Pub for a drink of their famous painkiller drink before hopping aboard our ship.

The next day we were in Roseau, Dominica. We booked a tour with a local company called Nature Isle Explorers. Our guides for the day made me want to come back and spend more time on this beautiful undeveloped island. Stick me in a place with no major hotel chain or casino any day and I'll be happy. We started our day snorkeling on Champagne Reef. The reef was full of sea creatures including eels and the bubbles coming from the geothermal vents made you feel like you were snorkeling through a glass of champagne.  

 Then we drove up into the mountains to the Titou Gorge, part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This cave-like natural gorge is a wonder and became famous for its role in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2. The water was freezing cold but it was beautiful.

Our last stop for the day was a hike to Trafalgar Falls.
Dominica was a beautiful island and I'd love to go back and do some whale watching and scuba.

The next day we were in Castries, St Lucia. We booked a two tank dive with Scuba Steve. They picked us up at the ship dock. Both dives were on different sites south in the Marine Reserve in Soufriere by the Pitons.
Visibility was awesome and both dive masters on our boat made us feel comfortable during our first two ocean dives.

Back at the dock we had a rum punch and a Piton beer.

Our ship cruised past the Pitons before heading to our next port of call.

The next day we were in Barbados for another 2 tank scuba dive with Ecodive Barbados. Visibility wasn't the best but we were able to see a Hawksbill sea turtle hanging out at the reef we were visiting.

Underwater selfie!

Back on shore I had another local beer to celebrate dives #3 and #4.

The full moon this night was magical.

The next day we were in Fort-de-France, Martinique. We toured the Cathedrale Saint Louis.

We walked to Le Grand Marché Couvert, or Covered Market and picked up some fresh bananas and delicious baked goods.

 We spent the rest of this day walking all around downtown.

And checking out the beach closest to town.

Our next stop-Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.
We took a water taxi into town.

We found the original Guavaberry Liquor and Rum shop where we had a tasting.

Then we hopped in a taxi and headed to Maho beach to watch the planes fly right over our heads.

So much fun!

Our next stop was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We booked a two tank scuba through Holland America for dives #5 and #6. The crew at Underwater Safaris were great. Visibility wasn't the best but I saw my first reef shark on my first dive here. There were three of them checking us divers out. Yep, I felt like a small fish in their tank! 

We had a nice relaxing sea day for our next day and enjoyed our second gala night.

Our final day was spent on beautiful Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Crystal clear water and white sand beach.

Our ship made all the scheduled ports of call this trip and we had perfect weather for our 12 days of sailing. 


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