Cruising the Caribbean

 

There are many ways to cruise the Caribbean. We had little over a week to explore some of the islands, so we chose Windstar. They disembark from Philipsburg, St. Maarten, during the first two months of the year.

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We wanted to stay away from the large cruise ships and do something special so Windstar was the perfect choice. We booked a cabin on their flag ship, Wind Surf. The ship has a capacity of 310 guest. On this particular voyage there were 265 cruisers, many of them had cruised with Windstar before. We understood why as soon as we stepped on board.

From the first encounter we knew we were in for a luxurious trip. Service was excellent, and the food was excellent. This cruise was the best cruise we had been on.

Cleaning fish on St. Kitts, serving cold beers on Barbuda (small insert above) as well as cold beers in Roseau, Dominica

The day after we left Philipsburg we arrived at Barbuda, a small British island with mile long pink beaches. Yes, the beaches have a slight tint of pink coming from the coral mixed with the sand as seen in the picture below.

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Wind Surf as seen from the same beach.

Next stop on the cruise was Roseau, the capital of Dominica. We had been here before, but had not explored the island. Dominica is known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” due to its lush rain forests and varied flora. It’s a volcanic island and hot springs and pools can be found around the island.                                                                                                           Here the ship was in port and we could easily walk into town. We spend the morning discovering the narrow streets in Roseau. The many colorfull shops and the locals going about their business made the morning go fast. That afternoon we had booked a tour going into the interior of the island to see the rain forest and hot pools for ourselves as well as where Disney filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Next on the itinerary was Pigeon Island, Saint Lucia. Here again the Wind Surf had to drop ancher in the bay  and a tender was used to transport the passengers back and forth between the ship and a small pier at the north end of the island. Pigeon Island kept the name even after the island was joined by a man made causeway with the mainland in the 1970s turning it into a peninsula. The former area of Pigeon Island was turned into a national park in 1979.

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Not to bore you with too much history, I would like, however to mention that Pigeon Island has a colorfull history dating back to 1550 when the French privateer, Jambe de Bois, used the island as a base for his raids on the Spanish Galleons passing by. Two centuries later the British constructed a fortress at the highest point to keep an eye on the French navy stationed in Martinique. Today it is a famous vacation spot and cruise destination.

Tuesday evening after sailing past the famous Pitons, Wind Surf headed due North for the French islands Iles Des Saintes.

Wind Surf Iles Des SaintesWind Surf in the bay of Marigot, Iles Des Saintes.

There are ten small island in all, forming what is known as Iles Des Saintes. Only two are inhabited with around two thousand people.  The group is part of Guadeloupe. As soon as you step off the tender you fall in love with this quaint island.

Both my wife and I looked at each other and as one said:”If we could turn the clock back thirty years, we would move here and live happily ever after”. This was a fairytale island! We spend most of the day walking around, pausing for a beer now and then. In the afternoon we decided to walk up to Fort Napoleon which was built in 1867 to defend against the British and the natives called Carib. Unfortunately the fort was closed in the afternoon. But it was still impressive to look at the masive walls.

Wind Surf left late that afternoon for Basseterre, Saint Kitts.

St. Kitts was different, somehow the British influence was very dominant. The island was “organized”, the streets were wider, with sidewalks etc. it was another beautiful island. We caught a tourist “bus” (see picture below) that took us along the coast and indland to an old sugar plantation. It was an informative tour and at the plantation, which is now in ruins, the driver offered beer, water and sodas. All included in the price of the tour, which by the way was only 20 Euros per person. I think I owed him money after the the beers we drank.

The last island we visited was St. Barths. The Swedish colony which has changed names a few times was last sold back to France in 1878. However the name of the main town was established back in 1786, or more precisely is believed to get its name between December 28, 1786 and February 9, 1787. Although no Swedish is spoken today, the legacy of the Swedish  colony which lasted from 1784 to 1878, can still be seen all over Gustavia in that all streets have Swedish names with the ‘new’ French names above.

IMG_0757Gustavia, St. Barthelemy.

Next day we were back in Philipsburg, St. maarten and had to say goodbye to Wind Surf and its incredible staff.

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All pictures taken with iPhone 6s and are not re-touched

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