On September 20, 2014 once again we sailed, heading out from Fort Lauderdale, Florida this time to the Eastern Caribbean.
The name Caribbean comes from its people the ‘Carib’ who were the last group to rule the area before the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Danish and British invaded.
Life on Board
In episode one I described the many adventures and activities that can be found onboard a Princess cruise ship, but I neglected to discuss the FOOD! There is food aplenty onboard, not only in the amount but also in the variety of cuisine which tantalizes the palate. From extreme fine dining delivering seafood, steaks and soufflé to casual meals featuring pizza, burgers and ice cream, any culinary mood can be satisfied. Fresh fruit and veggies are always at the ready to keep your meal balanced and nutritious.
Thankfully our early morning activities included a few laps around the walking track located on the Promenade Deck. Three laps equaled a little over a mile, but in the end, six laps each morning were not enough to keep me from adding additional pounds to my embarkation weight!
Eleuthera (Princess Cays)
This thin sliver of an island is only 100 miles long and two miles wide. The Arawak Indians, who migrated from South America in the 9th century, were her earliest inhabitants. After being discovered by Columbus, a British group called the ‘Eleutherian Adventurers’ settled here in 1648 to escape religious persecution. They named the island Eleuthera which is the Greek word for Freedom.
As mentioned in Episode One, our destination, Princess Cays, is owned by Princess Cruises who bought 30 acres and created a beachfront resort. We were determined to explore more of the island during this visit! With government issued photo ID in hand, which is what we lacked on out last visit, we ventured outside Princess Cays compound. Although a favorite getaway for British Royalty we could find no way to get away from the Princess Cays area. What lies outside remains a mystery and something we are determined to discover, but this will take more research and planning. Returning to the Cays we immersed ourselves in crystalline waters where we engaged in spectacular snorkeling, followed by traditional rum drinking!
St. Maarten was also settled by the Arawak Indians of South America; the Carib Indians later followed and gave this island the name Soualiga, meaning ‘Land of Salt’. The island is divided 60/40 between the French, Saint-Martin and the larger Dutch section, Sint Maarten. This spectacular tropical destination offered plenty of opportunities to explore and discover, but wait, who are you kidding? I had only one thing in mind and could not be persuaded to do anything else…Maho Beach, of course!
Princess Juliana International Airport is adjacent to the beach and arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of the runway due to the short length. The result is aircraft, on their final approach, flying over the beach at a breathtakingly low altitude! There is also danger for people, standing on the beach, being blown into the water because of the jet blast from aircraft taking off! It just doesn’t get much more exciting than that, if you ask me. Needless to say we had a BLAST!
Just take a look at these videos.
Well …only ‘Liz’ had a BLAST …Lynne had to document the mayhem.
Along with St. John, St Croix and Water Island, St. Thomas is part of the United States Virgin Islands. In the 1500’s buccaneers including Blackbeard, Bluebeard and Captain Kidd called this island, if not home, a safe pirate harbor. Despite the lure of tours to plantations, Blackbeard’s Caste and the Amber Museum Lynne and I immediately headed for Coki Beach. The snorkeling here was phenomenal! Having brought along several mini-boxes of breakfast cereal from the ship, we easy enticed schools of brilliantly colored fish to swim up close and play with us.
Not actually a part of the Caribbean, Grand Turk is the Capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is believed that the name ‘Turks’ was inspired by the Turk’s Head cactus which can be seen throughout the island. Despite the attraction of the world’s third largest barrier reef we decided to take a break from snorkeling and jumped on a local trolley for an island tour. This Island Trams tour was being promoted by a small group hyping their contribution to the ‘local economy’, in contrast to the more popular tours.
Always wanting to support ‘the local economy’ we agreed to join. This turned out to be a very distressing decision indeed! In an attempt to fill their trolley, we were made to wait an hour passed our departure time, an hour sitting on a breezeless trolley under the hot sun! An hour not only sitting still in the hot sun but, having just walked a half mile out of the cruise ship terminal, to arrive at the very hot, breezeless trolley! You might thing this doesn’t sound too bad and well, for us it was but a minor inconvenience. For the little old lady, red-faced, puffing and panting it was a disaster! Although others grumbled and complained no one was offering her help, it was up to us! This lady was clearly overheated, scared and in distress. We gave her ice water we had brought along, Lynne whipped out her travel washcloth (carried for just such situations) doused it with water for her to pat her face and wrap around her neck. Poor old dear, she was so grateful and kept insisting to her helpless friend she would NEVER accompany her on an outing again. At our first stop we traded seats with her, affording her more shade and bought her lemonade stating “you need some sugar, sweetie”. It wasn’t long after that, the color returned to her face.
It was a sad state of affairs that helping a fellow human being, what should be normal behavior, turned out to be ‘the nicest thing anyone has ever done’ for her. Lynne and I both felt blessed for the opportunity to stand up and give this simple gift of kindness. Remember ALWAYS carry water, and wear a hat in the tropics! Another good idea for all of us would have been to discover the whereabouts of the trolley before handing over our money!
Other than the pristine waters which surround Grand Turk, donkeys, flamingos, a lighthouse and a spaceship were the highlights of our tour. Donkeys are allowed to roam free all over the island, I’m guessing as an alternative to mowing the grasslands. Happy for a pat and a treat these semi wild animals added a bit of excitement to our tour, over very bumpy roads…on this very hot day.
Wishing for an early escape, we talked our trolley driver into dropping us off at Jack’s Shack, a local bar and grill with lots of island character. We ended our day cheering the brave old lady who almost didn’t make it out of paradise! This seemed fitting as we were leaving paradise ourselves, tomorrow we would be back in Ft. Lauderdale.
Cheers mateys and thanks for joining us on our Caribbean adventure!
Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.
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