A Travellerspoint blog

Antigua

We dock in the colonial town of St Johns, Antigua just before 7am. Adventure of the Seas follows us in and moors alongside us and P&O Britannia which was already here before either of us. We breakfast in the main dining room with a view out over the town. We have been here once before back in 2005 when we spent a week in Antigua. Our hotel was situated in the south east corner of the island but we took a day trip to St Johns one day. Ironically there were cruise ships in port that day and Serenade was one of them. Having seen most of the island on our previous visit we decide to just venture into St Johns today to do some sightseeing and shopping.

As we don't have a tour to meet we take our time getting ready before heading ashore. We are docked at Heritage Quay and there is an array of souvenir and gifts shops as soon as you step ashore. Plenty of jewellery and watch shops as well. We look for some souvenirs to take home and in one shop spot these colourful, lacquered wall decorations in the shape of fish and other marine animals. We bought a similar one in Curaçao last year and had been on the look out throughout this trip for these but had seen none until today. Thinking we might see them cheaper elsewhere in town we explore the rest of St John.

As we move about we are constantly harangued by taxi drivers and tour reps asking if we want a taxi here, there and everywhere. Cafe owners shout and try to entice us in with the promise of free wifi. We ignore and continue on our walkabout. We venture into the Redcliffe shopping village which is full of more quality boutique shops that sell some gorgeous arts and crafts, their air conditioned coolness a welcome escape from the high humidity in Antigua today.

Having found no other shop selling the fish we want we head back to the shop we saw them in and purchase a little turtle called Joe along with another plaque that says 'drama queen lives here', we may need to move the s from the end of lives to the end of queen I think.

Having seem most of the town we find a small bar with an elevated veranda for some local beers and a good view of the ships in port. From there we head back onboard. In retrospect we should have planned on venturing out a bit further to see some more of Antigua. We had forgotten how small St Johns was and how quickly we would get around it. Still we had plenty of space in Windjammer for lunch and a whole afternoon to relax onboard before we set sail at 4pm

We leave on time and before the other 2 ships. We sail out past some beautiful beaches, again reinforcing my thought that we should have visited one of them. We are soon back on the open seas with Antigua fading in our wake. The deserted island of Montserrat is visible to our south, destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 92 I think. We are then passing by St Kitts and Nevis on our port side as we turn and head northwards. We have two days at sea now before we dock back in Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning.

We dine in Chops Grille tonight. The meal as always is very good. My steak was a little more medium than the medium/rare I ordered but still delicious. At the end we order dessert. I simply order ice cream and Peter some cheesecake. His is delivered by three people. As they approach I can see that a candle is in the cheesecake and they have piped happy birthday in chocolate on the plate. We politely inform them that it is not his birthday, or mine for that matter. A few days ago I had a letter in the cabin wishing me a happy birthday cruise??? Some administrative error there I think.

We leave and head to vintages for a glass of wine. The aerial show is taking place in the centrum called Aquatronic and so it is very busy. As soon as it ends the crowds disperse but they start playing 70's music on the lower deck and so we head down. Peter gets involved in the conga led by one of the village people. YMCA is a Royal Caribbean mainstay when it comes to entertainment. In a party mood we head to the Vortex nightclub...which is dead. So we just enjoy a glass of wine there before heading back to the cabin.

I venture out into the balcony. Orion's belt sits high above us, Rigel and Betelgeuse, pinpricks of white and orange by turn are surrounded by a myriad of other stars. The full moon casts its milky light out over the sea, the wave tops glinting in its lunar glow. There is a soft cooling breeze as I sit on the balcony for 20 minutes or so just absorbing this unique perspective. It's beautiful and serene.

Serenade &Adventure

Serenade &Adventure


Feathered friend watches us

Feathered friend watches us


Redcliffe Quay

Redcliffe Quay


Relaxing back onboard

Relaxing back onboard

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda Comments (0)

St Lucia

Our plan was to rise earlier than normal this morning so that we can see the Pitons that are located near the southerly tip of St Lucia. These iconic twin mountains are the subject of many a holiday snap and as we are heading to Rodney Bay which is the north of the island we fear we might not see them. Alas, even though we went to bed early the ship is docked in Castries by the time we get up.

Slightly earlier tour time today and so we shower early and head to the Windjammer. I have cheesy scrambled eggs..a first. As usual we are early for our 8.15am meet time. It's almost impossible and unheard of for either of us to be late for anything. Peter and Patrick. P&P. Properly Punctual.

We meet Shanga our guide. A complete contrast from Rose in Barbados but what he lacks in experience and knowledge he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and fun. He gathers our small group of 12 and shepherds us onto our minibus. Its Independence Day here in St Lucia and a holiday so everything is closed just as it was in Barbados. Shanga advises that most people would have been out partying last last night but will spend today relaxing on the beaches. He explains the tour will be in 3 parts. Firstly the Segway Safari, then sightseeing and then to finish at Pigeon Island for the beach. At the beach there will be time for drinks and refreshments. Some lady pipes up from the back of the bus "will there be rum?" Jeez lady, it's the freakin Caribbean, what do you think?

The first part of our tour is a Segway Safari. We are slightly apprehensive as Ambrose, one of the Segway guides, talks us through how to use the Segway. It's all about balance and using your centre of gravity to operate. With the help of two other guides we are instructed how to mount, move forward, turn and dismount. Chad helps me and as soon as I mount I start rocking back and forth. He tells me to dismount and try again but to relax. It's easier the second time and I am soon travelling around the practice track with Peter.

We head out of the compound but make regular stops for Edwin, the resident botanist it seems, to explain all about the local flora. Like Ana in Grenada we hear all about the medicinal properties of plants, nuts and seeds. We leave the quiet road we are on and head into the rainforest. There is a well worn if somewhat bumpy track but its easy to traverse as our confidence on the segways increases. Going uphill and down requires some effort on my part but I manage it. After several stops. We dismount and climb to a small lake where we feed the resident fish. The guides take plenty of pictures of us all before they make some slight changes to the segways so we can go faster. We end up on the beach at Rodney Bay where we can get a drink before heading back to the compound. Very good fun.

After the sightseeing tour of the surrounding area we end up at Pigeon Island. As usual Peter and I find a bar that has two essentials. Cold beer and free wifi (wifi on Serenade is particularly bad). The bar is an old British colonial magazine storehouse (magazine as in munitions) that has been converted to a bar. It's nice and cool inside but has great views out over the rolling surf of the Caribbean Sea which is the opposite to the calm waters of Rodney bay not 200 metres distant. Half a dozen surfers are enjoying the large waves that are crashing toward the shoreline. We explore a bit more of Pigeon Island before heading back to the meeting point for the trip back to the ship.

We depart Castries on time with a couple of Margaritas for sailaway, apparently it is national or international Margarita day, not that we need an excuse. As we sail out westward before turning northward to pass by Martinique, Dominica & Guadeloupe on our way to Antigua the Pitons slide into view as we leave...result.

Serenade sails northwards as the full moon rises and bathes the Caribbean Sea in its soft glow. In the distance we can see the lights of Martinique pass by. We head to the Schooner Bar to meet the others and hear about there day which sounded fun as they took motorboats south to the Pitons and Soufriere. Dinner in the main dining room is very good again but again also pretty swift. Mine was a little fishy. Smoked Salmon Salad and Grilled Tilapia for me. Peter had the salmon and a shrimp cocktail then pork medallions. Dessert was a delicious banana and chocolate strudel for me and white chocolate cheesecake for Peter.

We have quick flutter in the casino and come out evens. We head up to the Vortex which is completely deserted, a glance down to the pool deck shows us where a lot of people are. They are watching Spectre on the big screen. We join them for the end of the movie before finishing the evening at the R Bar for a couple more drinks before bed.

Rodney Bay

Rodney Bay


Segway

Segway


Beautiful beaches

Beautiful beaches


Edwin the Rasta botanist

Edwin the Rasta botanist


Surfs up

Surfs up

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in Saint Lucia Comments (0)

Barbados

Barbados is one of those destinations that conjures all sorts of exotic images. It is a favoured winter holiday destination for many British holidaymakers seeking to escape the sharp bite of winters back home. We sail into the port at Bridgetown a little after 7am and dock alongside a sleek expensive looking private yacht called Ice. Apparently it was owned by a Russian billionaire and won super yacht of the year 2006. I can certainly see why.

We have a fairly early tour booked and so we are up and breakfasting by 7am. Our tour starts at 8.30 and so after eating we head out of the ship. There is a shuttle bus to carry people to the cruise terminal but as we have time we decide to walk the short distance along the harbour wall.

The tour process in Barbados is very slick and well organised. Sometimes it can be a bit chaotic with people trying to find their tour guide amongst a sea of people all trying to do the same. We are greeted by our tour guide Rose and the driver Andrew. Rose turns out to be one of the best tour guides we have ever had. In turns funny, informative and she and Andrew have a great banter between them. We are first driven through Bridgetown itself. As its a Sunday all shops are closed and the roads are very quiet. We drive past the condo where Rihanna and Simon Cowell own property, 1 Sandy Lane. Rihanna having recently purchased hers for roughly £15 million. Yikes.

We drive high up into the surrounding hills to a place aptly called Highlands. It is a weather station but it has fabulous views out over the east coast and the Atlantic Ocean. We enjoy some rum punch up here before boarding the bus to drive down to the east coast to a place called Bathsheba. All the while Rose is narrating the history of the island, the culture and traditions. At Bathsheba we can witness the pounding surf of the Atlantic coastline. There is a giant section of reef washed up near the beach, easily the size of a house. Families play in the surf but are careful not to venture out too far. This coastline has notorious rip currents and undertows. Most resorts are located on on the gentler west coast.

From there we climb back up into the hills to the church of St Johns. It is a very Anglican Looking church and would not look out of place amongst the English countryside. We take photos and visit the cemetery where some of the influential Bajans are buried. Back on the bus we head back to port. It was a short tour of about 3hours but we got to see parts of Barbados we would have missed had we just headed to a beach. Back on Serenade we lunch and head back to the cabin. I am tired an so I have 40 winks whilst Peter heads to the gym. We spend the late afternoon on the balcony as we sail out of Bridgetown with a couple of Margaritas. Very nice.

It's tropical night onboard tonight and so we don our best Caribbean attire and head up to the Diamond Lounge for a change. It has better views than the Concierge club but does not have its own private bar like that does. We still get our drinks and nibbles though.

We eat in the main dining room. Our waiter tonight is one of the campest we have ever met but is really good fun. I am sure he is a fan of the Carry On movies as he drops innuendos left, right and centre. We enjoy the food too. I'm always happy if there is duck on the menu. My main is Moussaka and although unlike any Moussaka I have ever tasted it was very good.

We finish around 9.20 and as there is a tropical island deck party at 9.30 we head there. There is a lot of people up on the pool deck and the atmosphere is definitely tropical. Ship staff lead people in popular line dance routines whilst we watch. At 10pm Peter says he is not feeling too good and wants to sit down. I can see he is not well and so suggest we head back to the cabin. He is reluctant to spoil the fun but I insist. An early night will probably do us both good.

He does feel better in the morning.

Highlands

Highlands


Reef rock

Reef rock


St. John's church

St. John's church


Barbados saying

Barbados saying

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in Barbados Comments (0)

Grenada

After a comfortable nights sailing we arise with Serenade still some distance from Grenada. Peter fetches coffees which we enjoy on the balcony in the early morning warmth. As we have an aft balcony cabin we are shielded somewhat from the easterly winds that the ship has experienced ever since we arrived in Aruba a few days ago. Breakfast is a leisurely affair in the main dining room. We dock at around 1pm today and our tour is scheduled for 1.45pm. We head back to the cabin to change and apply the all important sun screen. We pose for the obligatory photos as we leave the ship and we head to the rendezvous point for the tour.

Our tour is called Sunshine and Spices. We are met by our guide called Terry and board his small 10 seater mini-van. We are first driven though the capital of Grenada, St Georges. They drive on the correct side of the road here (left). St George is full of small narrow streets that Terry expertly navigates. All the time he is explaining about the area, what we can see, points of interest and what daily life for a Grenadan is like.

Our first stop is the Laura Spice & Herb Gardens. Grenada is know as the spice island and it certainly lives up to its name. We are met by our guide Ana who takes us on a tour of the garden. The garden if full of every type of spice plants and herbs you can imagine. Ana stops every few feet or so to pluck leaves from each plant for us to either smell or taste and explains the healing properties or uses for each of them. There is a mind boggling amount of information. One of the ladies in our tour gets bitten on her ankle by some ants. Ana immediately stops and plucks an aloe leaf for her to rub on the bite to soothe and stop the itching. It seems to have the desired affect. After the tour we are given the chance to purchase our very own herbs and spices.

On leaving the gardens Terry drives us to a rum distillery. We are each given hard hats to wear as we will be going into the factory itself. Our guide explains in detail the process for distilling and making rum. Inside there is a strange musty smell from the process and I am glad I do not have to work in there as the heat and humidity is intense. We try various flavoured rums on our exit, I particularly like the pomegranate flavour. They all seem to pack a punch with alcohol volumes at 69%.

We are then driven back to the coast and Grand Anse Beach. It's is one of the more famous beaches on the island, stretching for two glorious miles. We are actually dropped off at the luxurious Radisson Beach Resort where we can use the hotel facilities and get a complimentary drink from the bar which we do. We only have an hour here which is a shame. We perch on two chairs overlooking the golden sands of the beach as people swim in the gentle shallow waters. All too soon it is back on the mini bus and back to the ship after a very enjoyable tour.

As its early evening when we return we quickly shower/change and head out for some pre dinner drinks. We meet with Angie/Bill/Lorna/Ron and others in the Schooner bar before going up to deck 13 and the concierge lounge. It's fairly busy tonight and so we sit in the outside seating area and enjoy our drinks just as we leave port. We are eating in the main dining room tonight. The previous couple of times have been a little lacklustre and so we a not sure what to expect. We hope service is not as rapid as the last time.

We are sat in a different area and the waiter and assistant are very good. Service is at a more relaxed pace! Still a little quicker than we would like but better. I have a nice shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad followed by linguini pomodoro. Its one of the dishes that is on the menu every night. It's my go-to choice if I can't see anything on the menu I fancy. It's always very good. Peter has Angus beef sliders which he likes. Shame they can't do a decent burger in the Windjammer. Dessert is trifle and pecan pie with ice cream.

We exit the dining room just as the aerial show is beginning in the centrum. Its theme is Jack and the Beanstalk. I am surprised it is all over in 10 minutes as I am sure some people grabbed their seats an hour before to ensure a good spot. From there it is the casino for a flutter. We come out with more than we went it...marginally, which is always good. We are both dismayed to find that we are really tired. It's only 10.30pm. We put it down to the heat, humidity and the sea air. We succumb and retire for an early night.

Serenade in Grenada

Serenade in Grenada


Cocoa plant

Cocoa plant


Grand Anse Beach & Serenade

Grand Anse Beach & Serenade

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in Grenada Comments (0)

Bonaire

We arrived in Bonaire under the cover of darkness. From our balcony I can see that we are moored in the small harbour of the main town, Kralendijk. Pronounced kral-en-dake. Small boats bob gently upon the clear Caribbean waters, Frigate birds ride the gentle winds that blow across us and over to Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited island that sits a small boat ride away to the west.

We are only here from 7am to 2pm today and already people are leaving the ship to explore the island and the marine life that inhabit its surrounding waters. Although I enjoy snorkelling I would need a specialised mask because of my eyesight, or at least a pair I could wear over my glasses. As I don't we opt for an exploration of Kralendijk itself.

We breakfast first before heading ashore. We take some pictures of Serenade from the pier before heading into the town proper. We can tell this won't take too long as the town is very small. A small craft market has sprung up in the ships shadow. We stroll around and are amazed at the quality of some of the wares. Hand crafted jewellery, beautiful photos with frames of driftwood, hand painted palm leaves in the shape of tropical fish. There are no hard selling persistent hawkers we have come to expect on other Caribbean islands so it's a pleasant experience. From there we walk along the main street and back out onto the waterfront. We follow this for a short while. Even from here we can see a variety of marine life. Colourful parrot fish swim close to the shore as well as long pencil fish and other plainer looking fish.

We find a small bar that sits at the end of a small pier and enjoy some coffees as we watch the world go by. Locals and visitors turn up not by car but by small motor boats that they tie up at the pier and grab at table at the bar. All very chilled. It's certainly too hot and humid to do anything other than at a relaxed pace. We head back into town and venture into some gift shops, always on the lookout for a bargain or something that catches our eye. We come away empty handed but sure we will find something on the other islands we are visiting.

As its heading for midday we head back to the ship to grab an early lunch. The Windjammer is busy as usual but we find a table easily enough. Today's lunch is a salad followed by a pork curry which is very good. Once done we head to deck 5 with our books and read for an hour and also watch our fellow cruisers return from their tours.

We cast off a little after 2pm and slowly pull away from Kralendijk. We head southward at first, marvelling at the size of the salt mountains at Bonaires southern tip. From there we turn easterly at 18knots as we head toward Grenada our next port of call where we are scheduled to arrive tomorrow lunchtime.

We meet Angie, Bill, Ron & Lorna for some early drinks at the Schooner Bar before heading in to Giovannis for dinner. We have an excellent meal. We share Caprese Salad followed by a small pasta dish each. Mine is a penne with shrimp and scallops in a tomato sauce, which is very tasty. Peter's is Parpadelle with mushrooms and ham. Our main courses are fillet of Sole for me and veal tenderloins for Peter. We are jealous of each others choices but enjoy immensely. Peter follows my instructions and orders the Tiramisu for dessert. A wise choice.

We walk out of Giovannis stuffed but happy. We head back to our cabin as we intend to watch a late night movie on the big screen on the pool deck at 10.15. the Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 2. I didn't particularly enjoy part 1 but figured the finale might be better. Not to be though. I had just got settled on a lounger when a member of staff came around to advise the big screen was not working but they were screening the film on Channel 24 on our cabin TVs. Hardly the same.

Instead we head to the Vortex nightclub which is very quiet. The clientele on this sailing are more likely to enjoy a tea dance than a rave and so we finish our drinks and head back to the cabin. Serenade continues her way through the night towards Grenada.

Serenade in Kralendijk

Serenade in Kralendijk


Small shop

Small shop


Parrot fish

Parrot fish


Craft market

Craft market


Bonaire coast

Bonaire coast

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Comments (0)

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