December 06, 2016

At Sea, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua

Another typical day in the Caribbean. The skies are mostly sunny with a few scattered clouds, temperature 84, with a 10 knot breeze out of the West almost directly on our stern as we head East to Barbados. The waves are slight and don't rock our ship at all.

The card room and the library are packed nearly all day and evening, another indication of the more reserved crowd on board. Today the entire Sky lounge has been taken over by Park West in their never ending quest to sell overpriced art. Only a handful of seats were left available for guests that enjoy the view and solitude of this venue.

I arrive in the main theater for the shore excursion presentation a few minutes early just as the shopping talk was concluding. There were only about 30 passengers in attendance, and surprisingly about 25 shopping gifts were handed out. They included 24 hours of free internet, a diamond pendant, and $100 gift certificates in the spa. One lucky gal won 3 prizes.

I listened to the shore excursion presentation and pretty much decided I have already done the best of what there is that I have any interest in. The key words are "interest in" as going to a beach does nothing for me.

The glass blowing artists have another presentation this afternoon. Their skills have reached a higher level than the artists I remember from previous cruises on Celebrity. They make 6 to 10 pieces every day. A few will be raffled off, while the best ones will be auctioned at the end of the cruise with the proceeds going to the Corning Glass Museum and the World Wildlife Fund. The inability to carry the work home precludes many passengers from bidding. Tax laws and the resultant complications prevent any of the work from being priced or sold.

We arrive in Bridgetown, Barbados and are cleared by 8:00 AM. The skies are mostly sunny and the temperature is 85 with a light breeze. I probably sound like a broken record, but another gorgeous day in the Caribbean. We do not need to be back on board until 11:30 PM, but almost everything is closed because it is Sunday. The shops tied in tightly with the cruise industry, like Diamonds International, are the only ones open. Even KFC and Burger King are closed.

On previous times here I have taken scenic tours and visited Harrison Cave, actually good tours but it hasn't been enough years ago that I have forgotten and wish to do them again. I decide to take a taxi tour. There are 5 of us in a van that could sandwich in 13, but I wouldn't want to be one of them. The other 4 people are off the Aida Diva, a German cruise line. One of them, I will call him the leader, speaks fairly good English, the others about as much English as I speak German, which is none.

We weren't even off the dock when the leader starts telling the driver to move along more quickly, they are running out of time. Eventually I learned they didn't need to be back on the ship for 10 ½ hours. What was his hurry?

I do need to diverge for a minute. A dear friend of mine has been suffering from a rather common medical condition for quite some time. I could rationalize some of my world travels as an quest to find some relief for him as conventional western medicine hasn't been 100% successful. That excuse for travel really wouldn't be truthful, but it sounds good. That said, when I learn of something different in a foreign land I sometimes wonder if that would be a treatment that would help him.

This time I have no doubt, so Robert, when you read this immediately book a flight or cruise to Barbados and ride around in the back seat of a 12 passenger van for 4 hours. I will guarantee your kidney stones will pass.

Yes, the cab ride was very rough. Especially with the leader constantly telling the driver to hurry up and the driver choosing to take some farm paths through the sugar cane fields instead of the longer route on the main roads, not that the main roads are much smoother.

Some of the views are spectacular. Sugar cane is still a viable crop here and is used mostly to feed the rum stills and a few tourists that are in the right cabs. There are signs everywhere indicating the roads are private, but our cabby doesn't care and even stops to cut some sugarcane for his passengers. He also bought some bananas to feed the monkeys, another practice discouraged by many signs.

Several weeks ago the island experienced three days of torrential rains. Many areas were flooded and the driver showed us video he took with his phone of cars being washed away by the three feet of water gushing thru the streets. I am sure glad I wasn't caught in those rains.

At one point we passed a construction site where a water main had broken and was spraying a geyser of water 20 feet in the air. It was explained that no one worked on Sunday so it would be at least Monday morning before anyone even looked at the situation and probably a day or two more before the water would be shut off for repairs. In the meantime parts of the road were being eroded away.

The Aida Diva and the Tui Discovery leave port before us. It is a short cruise to our next port, Castries, St Lucia. We should arrive about 7 AM. The Aida Diva will also be in St Lucia.

In the morning the weather is the same, another great day in the Caribbean. I keep saying Caribbean, but depending on which side of any of these islands you are on, the sea could be the Atlantic ocean as these islands are the boundary between the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

I wander off the ship for a few hours, taking the water taxi to the downtown shopping area. St Lucia is poor and the infrastructure is in very poor condition, having deteriorated from previous years. At one time there were traffic control signals, but by their appearance I would guess they haven't worked in decades.

Tonight there is an officers party for elite and above loyalty members. Drinks are the same as available on other nights for the frequent cruisers. The captain and all the officers are introduced, and the ships band provides entertainment for about 30 minutes.

Again the show is one I have never seen before, a young husband and wife ventriloquist team. They entertain mostly on ships, and will have had 74 engagements on cruise ships by years end.

On Tuesday, Dec 6th we arrive in St Johns, Antigua. The weather is the same, maybe a little warmer but just as humid. Two other ships are also here, The Saga Pearl II, which I have never heard of, and The Adventure of The Seas. I have never been on the Adventure, and she currently sails out of San Juan. That said, I do have a good friends, Kelly and Ann that on board. Had I thought ahead of time, I would have made arrangements to have a beer with them, but I didn't so that will have to wait until another time.

Antigua appears to be doing much better economically than our other ports since Curacao. I walk the downtown and then return to the ship before lunch time.

As I had threatened earlier, I have been eating in the buffet at night instead of the dining room. The staff noticed and the head waiter called my cabin acknowledging my absence and to check if there was anything he could do. Very thoughtful, and a gesture never made on any other ship.

An observation I have made over the past 10 days or so is that I am one of a very few passengers that doesn't have a drink package. Celebrity has been promoting free drink packages with some of its fares, and obviously that has worked very well. Personally I can't drink $50 or $70 worth of drinks every day, and I clearly understand that one pays for everything that is "free".

My yellow roses are totally wilted, but the red rose still looks fresh. I wonder if the cabin steward will throw them out? Speaking of cabin stewards, he is not among the best I have encountered. Some days he forgets to leave a bath mat, other days it is washcloths, and yesterday I had no bath towels. So far with the exception of the first night he has remembered the two little pieces of dark chocolate. I don't know if it is just him, or the ship has a shortage of linens. Take your pick.

We will leave port tonight at 5:00 headed to Basseterre, St Kits. Tonight is another production show with the singers and dancers. By going to the buffet I can eat early and still attend the 7:00 PM show.