The Psychology of Quality and More
Caribbean Photos 2016
These are my favourite few photos. If you just want a quick peek, here's a slideshow of them.
Friday 22 Jan : Miami
Stayed with Hel+James before leaving UK so free parking and easy train to Gatwick. Flew Norwegian in a Dreamliner, though they charge for food/drink. But the seat screen died so we got fed free. Met Martin and Jill from Devon on shuttle to Best Western, then found it was the wrong Best Western. For M&J too so shared taxi. Heads down at 11pm local time, which is 5hrs behind the UK. Yawn.
Woke too early so breakfasted before meeting up with Mike and Cyndi. Mike's brother Steve (and wife Terry) got stuck in the snow up North in Richmond, Virginia, where the airport closed. So they hired a car and drove 1000 miles to get here, including through 300 miles of white out. Their state had over 1000 snow-related road accidents yesterday and its amazing they got here. That pioneer spirit is still alive!
Then taxi to ship, where Mike's diamond membership smoothed an early boarding experience. Glory's a big boat with 2800 passengers, but with size comes all kinds of amenities. Of course they want to sell you stuff andw the persuasive language can irksone, but mostly It's entertaining. My favourite today is 'value-infused guarantee'.
Lovely sunset Miamiscape on the way out, then usual confusion at first dinner as the six of us who asked to sit together get put on different tables. Mike chewed the maitre's ear and all will be resolved tomorrow.
Saturday 23 Jan
Sea day. Lots of lazing, reading and doing nothing.
Sunday 24 Jan : Half Moon Cay
Half Moon Cay is a strip of sand owned by the cruise line. Early sunrise photos then chill until we catch the tender. Just a strolling day, walking white sands by an azure sea with lunch onshore. Watched amazing kite surfers leap way into the air, then
Then back for the big match. Mike's from Denver and the Broncos were playing New England in the playoffs. Very tight game and Denver won, getting them to the Superbowl. Late to dinner and so to bed.
Monday 25 Jan
At sea. Warm and pleasant day. Mostly wrote and read. Formal dinner so we went down in matching Hawaiian shirts, to the horror, amusement and confusion of other diners.
Tuesday 26 Jan : Grand Turk
Grand Turk. Woke up docked. Rain as we disembarked, but cleared up along the way on a tour around the not-very-big and rather flat island. It's a bit decayed, following the collapse of the salt industry and the abandonment of the US military base. These days it's still a UK protectorate but not much seems to go on there. We visited the old lighthouse and Cockburn Town, then pottered the beach by the cruise terminal, ending up in a shanty beach bar, quaffing the local beer and feeding a snack to a couple of cute stray dogs.
Wednesday 27 Jan
Fun day at sea. We knew because the blurb said so. Photographed skies, read, wrote, walked, laundered and ate. Then went to a stage hypnosis show. Interesting. The guy was good, though the Ericksonian influence was clear.
Thursday 28 Jan : Antigua
Antigua. Most of the day out on a boat. Loitered off Long Island, home and holiday destination for the uber-rich. Mega-houses and pristine everything. Saw a sea turtle. Then to Hell's Gate, hole in rock at edge of lagoon with raging Atlantic beyond. Went to beach on Bird Island for swimming (nearly trod on sea urchin), lunch and hike up slippery hill for nice view, lizards and strange birds. Finally out to coral reef for snorkelling. Then back to town, accompanied by the sound of multiple rum punches being glugged.
Went for potter around. Beyond shiny tourist bit, it's rather dilapidated (though still photogenic). It's another place where military have just left and the economy is wobbly. Then back for dinner, including alligator (chewy) and curry (bland).
Friday 29 Jan : Martinique
Watched flying fish playing in ship's wake as we steam into Martinique. Proudly French, as only the French can do, and with a friendly, multiracial population. More mountainous again, with little flat land, loads of trees and fewer beaches.
The six of us hired a taxi for the day and went on an island tour including: to a mini version of Sacre Coeur (complete with nativity including giant cocker spaniel), stopping at a roadside shack with humming birds, through a rainforest, past the volcano that killed 30,000 in 1905, touring a rum agricole factory with nice tasting, pausing for assorted flowers and fruit, stopping at various viewpoints, and going to a splendid beach bar for a real local lunch (I had marlin) and beer.
Afterwards strolled Fort de France. More developed than other places so far, though with a strange surfeit of shoe shops. Back for dinner then watched Avengers Age of Ultron on big outdoor screen by pool.
Saturday 30 Jan : St Lucia
St Lucia. Another island tour booked by Mike. Going with him and family makes travel a bit more expensive, but adds so much more interest.
Quick potter around market in Castries before tour of SW of island. Very tropical with palms, bananas and lots of rainforest over very steep terrain. Which makes for many photo stops. Visited 'The only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean', still smoking and stinking of sulphur. Local town Sulfriere literally means 'sulphur in the air'. Lunch in genuine local hillside restaurant with all kinds of Caribbean veg and fruit. Then back, via bumpy roads. Our driver, Hugo, said he is a PhD -- a Pothole Dodger.
In evening did 'Chef's table' tour of enormous galley (catering for 5000 Inc staff) followed by possibly the best meal of our lives. 11 courses of delicious, exquisite constructions. Mega-yum.
Sunday 31 Jan : St Kitts
St Kitts. Woke up early and watched the frigate birds soaring without ever seeming to flap their wings. Apparently they never land, feeding by scaring other birds into dropping food.
Being Sunday, snorkel trip to Nevis was off, so took minibus tour of main island. Interesting history but by now depressingly common: former UK colony, decline of agricultural industry (here, it's sugar cane), rise in tourism, lots of poverty and people living in shacks. Lots of churches, too. Maybe promises for the next world compensates for a lack in this one. Still, people are friendly and industrious sellers.
Had lovely local fish lunch in rustic beach caff and headed back to usual dockside tourist retail bonanza and ship.
Monday 1 Feb : St Thomas
St Thomas. A much more developed island with lots of big houses and generally more western feel. Why? Because it's American. Steve and Terry have a timeshare here, so we all head off there in rental car, getting lost and circumnavigating the island in the process. Pleasant 'Margaritaville' resort, manicured to within an inch of its life. Even the private beach is raked daily.
Went to store to get drink. Drank drink. Took photos. Went snorkelling. Took more photos, including of lotsa iguanas. Tried to photo diving pelican but it was too quick. Darn. Lunched at Duffy's Love Shack.
Last evening on ship. Waiters danced on tables again. The cruise company is determined you are going to have Fun. Tearful goodbyes and promises to visit.
Tuesday 2 Feb : San Juan, Puerto Rico
Disembark (though they called it 'debark'). Find taxi to hotel, then back into old San Juan. Hot, so slow strolling with plenty of coffee and beer/mojito stops. Pleasant, Mediterranean feel to the place. Even got big forty thing on promontory (much free) with seaside cemetery for those who can afford the marble statuary. Delicious local dish mofungo (one vegan, one chicken) for dinner.
Wednesday 3 Feb
Time for last minute dash around before evening flight. Strolled around seaside walk outside walls, watching iguanas, lizards and snorkelers. Another beer at the Poet's cafe. Photographed gaily painted houses in upper old town. Final coffee in Berlin cafe then off to airport and dozy flight home. .....
Arrived ok. 10'C should be fine but it feels cold! Excitement on luggage carousel as bags jammed in exit as loads more arrived and spilled off into big pile. Of course ours was at the bottom of the carnage. Then train back to Guildford cancelled. No worries, got there OK and Hel picked us up. Then drive from her place home to Geraint and poochies!
And the big