01.03.2017 - 09.03.2017
This morning was a tender port. Here is Shane on the tender.
This is what the tenders look like.
We were back at Princess Cays today.
Princess Cays is in the Bahamas.
We decided to do something different today, we went on a dune buggy safari.
We followed our guide to the southern part of the island. We had some narrow bumpy roads to have a bit of fun.
Along the way, we learned how European settlers, known as the Eleutheran Adventurers, arrived in 1648 from Bermuda seeking religious freedom. As we explored the unspoiled beauty of south Eleuthera, we traversed a landscape of low, rounded limestone hills, sometimes rising up 100 feet, set against a backdrop of turquoise water and sapphire blue sky.
The southernmost tip of the island is home to Lighthouse Beach. Naturally it is named after the lighthouse that is there. The lighthouse is still in use but is no longer a navigational lighthouse.
The Atlantic and Caribbean waters converge here. We went out on the tip where you could see both the Atlantic on the left and Caribbean on the right.
The convergence crushes microscopic sea creatures called foraminifera. Their bright pink shells are pulverized and washed ashore resulting in a shimmering blush color. It was slightly pink but not what I expected. We got to feel the clean, powdery pink sand between our toes.
We then admired picturesque views from the top of the historic old lighthouse.
Shane found a lizard.
We had got quite hot and dusty so went back to Princess Cays and decided to head back to the ship. The sun was shining and the white beaches stood out in the distance.
We fare welled Princess Cays. (we have another stop here in a couple of weeks) so will decide what we want to do then.
We had a relaxing day at sea while we headed to St Thomas. We are really enjoying our sea days. We have headed to enrichment lectures on watches, scotch and diamonds and other precious stones and learned quite a lot. We then went to a lecture on acupuncture as there is an acupuncturist on board. Shane’s wrist has been playing up so he has decided to try something different and booked an appointment. We are also getting through quite a few e-books. Loving our balcony room.
Today we were back at St Thomas. Last time we were here we did some sightseeing but we were glad to come back again as we really wanted to do an undersea activity that they run here. BOSS, the Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter, is the most thrilling way to explore the aquatic world with no diving experience necessary…and you are the driver. We boarded a 60-foot custom-built dive yacht for a scenic cruise out to the crystal clear BOSS dive site. BOSS is designed to allow you to breathe normally while you drive underwater and explore the undersea world.
When we arrived at the dive spot we first got a lecture on how the BOSS work.
We entered the water and dove under the water to get our heads into the BOSS. It was a little unnerving to start with but you soon got used to it. They had taught us some hand signs so we had to pinch our nose and pressurise as the BOSS went lower into the sea. Professionally certified dive masters guided us along the way and pointed out the wonders of the Caribbean Sea.
There were lots of fish and reef where we dove. It really was a unique underwater experience.
Each BOSS has a float attached so they can keep an eye on where each vehicle is.
When instructed, they raised the BOSS and we got out. Here is Nicola just after exiting her BOSS.
Once we had finished we had a chance to do some snorkeling.
They then loaded the BOSS back onto the boat. Here you can see the battery. It is an ordinary car battery that runs them.
We have now been there and done that. Even bought a t-shirt to prove it.
Lying between Guadeloupe and Martinique is the island of Dominica--an unspoiled Caribbean paradise. The vibrant, rich rainforest is home to rare birds, including Sisserou and Jacquot parrots. Streams tumble down mountain slopes and thread fertile valleys on their short route to the sea. There are 365 rivers due to the high rain fall. Dominica is also home to the last Carib Indians. When Columbus made landfall on his second voyage of discovery, this fierce tribe managed to keep the explorer at bay. And while the island proved a lure for both British and French planters, Dominica somehow managed to escape the trammels of civilization. This former British possession became independent in 1978. The island is 29 miles wide and 16 miles long.
As we sailed to the pier you could see all the green high mountains.
This is Roseau from the ship.
This morning we had a scenic rainforest drive to a beautifully located Eco Village. The scenery along the way was beautiful. It was so lush everywhere you looked.
The Eco Village was our starting point for fun filled tubing. Our river adventure was a serene, yet stunning voyage in the heart of unspoiled nature.
We saw the lush flora and fauna of Concord Valley, as we thrilled to a mix of fast mini-rapids and lazy slow-flowing pools.
These dogs followed us the whole way. At one stage the little one jumped on Nicola’s tube and had a ride.
Here is Nicola heading for a big rock. She just kicked off it and continued her journey.
Our outing concluded down the boundary line (the river) at the last and only Carib Indian territory in the world.
We laughed so much during the tubing but we still got time to admire the absolutely beautiful scenery. Dominica would be one of our favourites scenery wise.
Later that afternoon we thought we would see some of the sights of Roseau. We boarded a trolley train and headed down the Bay Front Promenade. The trolley train was a bit touristy but it was a good way to get a quick viewing of the capital before the ship departed.
The trolley went through lots of back roads and we got to see lots of houses. We saw several old houses.
Then homes and buildings that had colors rivalling a box of crayons.
This is a statue of a famous slave.
We headed to the Botanical Gardens. Once considered the most beautiful in the West Indies, the gardens were established in 1891 by order of the British Crown. Stretching out over 40 acres, its wide lawn makes it a popular place for cricket games, public ceremonies and festivals. It is also the spot where they have a parrot conservation centre for the endangered Sisserou and Jaco parrots.
In August 1979 Hurricane David hit with 150 mph winds. Due to this, the parrot population has reduced to around 2000.
During the hurricane, this baobab tree came down on the school bus. Luckily no one was in it.
We then returned to the ship and departed for our next destination.
Today we arrived in Grenada. It is the Caribbean's "Isle of Spice" -- one of the world's major producers of nutmeg, mace, clove, cinnamon, and cocoa. Indeed, the fragrant aroma of spice seems to envelop the island's emerald hillsides, tropical forests, and sun-drenched beaches. Grenada is truly a feast for the senses. Americans, of course, may remember the island from the 1983 U.S. military intervention. Over two decades later, Grenada is again an ideal vacation spot. No building here may be built higher than a coconut palm. St. George's Harbor is a picture-perfect postcard of an idyllic Caribbean anchorage.
There is an old fort on the hillside as you come in to port.
We only had a half day here in Grenada, so we got off early.
We took a water taxi to Grand Anse Beach.
We swam, and relaxed on this beautiful crescent of sand amidst the palms.
We also went snorkeling. There were a few things around.
After a relaxing morning, we said farewell to Grenada.
Another shore day today in Bonaire. It is without a doubt a "diver's paradise." Its license plates even state the same.
Bonaire forms part of the ABC islands. A for Aruba, B for Bonaire and C for Curacao. The island is 24 miles long and between 3 and 7 miles wide.
But there is much more to this small Dutch country of 17,500 residents. "Bon Bini," as you will hear the friendly locals say, means "welcome to the island of Bonaire." Bonaire is located about 60 miles off the coast of Venezuela and has for years been known as a world-class diving and snorkeling destination. Because of the hot and arid weather, Bonaire has been a major producer of sea salt. You couldn’t miss the "white mountains" waiting to be shipped out. The salt flats happen to be home to another icon of Bonaire-the pink flamingo.
We sailed past Klein Bonaire. The protected waters are a marine park and there are no permanent residents or structures on the island. It is a good place for snorkeling.
As we arrived in Kralendijk the colourful town was hard to miss. This is the capital and main port of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands.
The language spoken in town is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely spoken. In Dutch Kralendijk means coral reef or coral dike.
As we arrived at the pier we had the boat named the Patricia helping with the heavy ropes.
We set foot on Bonaire and had some fun with the signs.
Having done a few water activities lately we decided to set off for a scenic drive along the serene northern coastline. En route, we passed through the capital, Kralendijk, and witnessed Bonaire's legendary blue water. The landscape had tableaus of cacti, mesquite, acacia, and divi-divi trees. They even use the cacti for fences to keep the wild goats and donkeys out.
When the spanish left, they left donkeys behind and at one stage there were more donkeys than people. They have signs warning you once you left town.
We went to Goto Lake. The scenery was so different to the last few stops we went from lush green rainforest to dry desert conditions.
It is a natural salt water lake and a feeding ground for the island's shy pink flamingos and possibly the most beautiful, serene spot on Bonaire!
On the way we stopped to see some iguanas.
Bonairians have a passion for their island, its natural resources and have a long history of marine preservation, beginning with turtle protection in 1961, prohibition of spear fishing in 1971 and preservation of coral, dead or alive, in 1975. The island proudly boasts 5 RAMSAR sites dedicated to the preservation of wetlands and waterfowl. Goto Lake is one of these sites. We travelled through Rincon Village and heard ancient tales of this village built by Spanish explorers in the 14th century, before arriving at the King's Warehouse & Cultural Park. We did a walking tour and caught a glimpse of bygone days while visiting authentic replicas of the stick, stone and wood houses of early Bonaire.
Nicola found this spotted lizard.
There was fresh made lemonade, tamarind juice, and a popular snack called, 'pastechi'. This delightfully stuffed pastry is filled with cheese, chicken or beef and is the local favorite.
We past through a Caiquetios Indian village. They occupied the island in 1000 AD. There are no longer any full blood indians remaining but they are still proud and hang this symbol on their houses.
They use a lot of solar and wind power.
The trip was capped off by a stop at Seru Largo for a spectacular panorama mountaintop view of the island and the surrounding waters.
There was also a good view of Klein Bonaire.
Later in the day we decided to take an auto rickshaw to see the sights. These vehicles were originally used as mini taxis in Thailand, where the name tuk tuk is meant to imitate the sound of the small diesel or gasoline engines. The Bonaire models are customized with an electric, emission-free and environmentally friendly motors. We saw that a flamingo pink color, probably inspired by the island's large flamingo population, is quite popular for homes, while a Dutch influenced yellow hue can be seen on most of the local monuments and government buildings.
We drove down the main street.
One of the points of interest is Fort Orange. Built in 1639 as a defense against attacks from the sea, this stately structure, with four impressive English cannons, never actually saw any action. Until 1837, the fort was used as the residence of the commander of Bonaire and occasionally doubled as a police station and home to the fire brigade. In 1868, a wooden lighthouse was built, and the new stone lighthouse that was erected to replace it in 1932 is still used today.
We had a picturesque drive along the ocean boulevard which is called the Avenue of the European Union. There were both old and new homes in candy-colored hues, spectacular ocean views and quaint fishing boats.
We docked in the island's capital, Oranjestad.
Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island's arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba's long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. They too speak Papiamento like in Bonaire.
This is their flag.
We took a drive through the island's capital, Oranjestad.
We stopped at the Casibari Rock formations, a shrub covered landscape shaped by boulders, some the size of small houses and weighing several tons. Arawak Indians would visit here in order to hear incoming thunderstorms.
Views from the top.
See the polar bear.
See the grouper.
There were several types of cactus.
The flower cactus.
The Christmas cactus.
The organ-pipe cactus.
We drove past the main cemetery. They have their graves above ground as the ground is made up of rocks and coral and is too hard to dig.
We headed to the north coast to see the sea-worn Natural Bridge that collapsed in 2005.
The Baby Natural Bridge is still intact but these day they do not want you to walk out on it, in case it collapses.
The scenery along this part of the coast was stunning.
We drove back along the coast and stopped at Eagle Beach. Apparently is listed as the third best beach in the world.
In the afternoon, we headed off on another adventure.
Revving along, our UTV ventured through the Andicuri trail and past the rugged coastline of the island's northwest corner. You may think that Aruba's only charms lie in its snow white beaches and glistening turquoise waters but the island's outback is also chock full of jagged cliffs and house sized boulders
We stopped at the charming Chapel of Alto Vista. Originally constructed in 1750 by the Caiquetio Indians and Spanish settlers, the chapel fell into ruin over the centuries. The sacred structure you see today was built 60 years ago on the chapel's original site. Outside, the charming yellow building is a welcoming landmark situated atop a hill overlooking the ocean. Inside rests an award-winning solid oak, hand carved altar.
Our next stop was the Gold Mine Ruins. Believed by the Spanish in 1499 to hold great hordes of gold, the land was soon abandoned when very little of this precious metal was found. They should have waited about 300 years. In 1824, gold was discovered near a pirate hideaway called Bushiribana. A large smelting plant was built in 1872 and for the next 10 years, it was used to extract gold until it was depleted. Today, the crumbling plant looks almost medieval in its dilapidated appearance.
Continuing on we headed to the island's northwestern tip for a look at Aruba's desert. Acres of windswept, white sand dunes studded with large boulders roll up and around the 100-year-old California Lighthouse, named for the USS California, a wooden sailing ship that sank in 1908. The lighthouse is 98-foot-tall and made of stone, the windows in it were really unusual.
From there we had good views of the town.
We were sad to say goodbye knowing that this was our last shore day on this cruise.
We had another yummy chocolate journey desert