November 29, 2017

Day 6 - Castries, St Lucia

This morning the skies are mostly sunny with a light breeze and temperatures in the mid 80's. Just what one expects in the Caribbean.

Navigating into port in St Lucia is very unique. Because of the location of the channel in relation to the flight path of the local airport, the ship is required to get clearance from the local air traffic control tower before preceding into or out of port. There may be other ports like this in the world, but certainly not very many.

We get our clearance and we arrive nearly an hour early this morning, and the ship is cleared for disembarkation before 8:00 AM. The captain has avoided any delay caused by plane traffic.

With the majority of passengers disembarking the ship for early tours, I go to the Solarium for breakfast. There is only one other passenger there. It is OK with me if passengers never discover the Solarium.

The main dock in Castries is being expanded to handle Quantum Class ships next spring, so we are docked across the bay at a pier that is used mostly for cargo containers. The buildings are old and run down, many with large holes in the metal roofs. Crews are busy all day moving containers in and out of the port by truck. I imagine as soon as we leave, a container ship will take our place.

On the pier, the peddlers of tours, taxis, and merchandise are much more aggressive than I remember on previous visits. I have become hardened to it and politely say "no thank you" and then ignore the repeated requests. There is supposed to be a water taxi to the shopping area on the main pier, but it is nowhere to be found.

An hour or so of wandering the shops and I head back to the ship empty handed except for a few images on my camera.

There is the much smaller Star Breeze owned by Windstar Cruises docked at the main pier. When I say smaller, she carries 208 passengers and has a crew of 164. Her total power is less than that in the Serenade's bow thrusters. But with a crew to passenger ratio of almost 1 to 1, the service should be more attentive.

I have occasionally pondered such travel but can't justify the expense that can approach $1,000 per day on some itineraries. I'll stick to the 1000 passenger and up cruise ships.

At 6:00 I head to the Windjammer for dinner. Other than the first night I haven't been in the dining room for dinner. After dinner I stop in the Diamond Lounge, there is actually a few seats available, but I elect not to stay. Instead I go to the Centrum to listen to Anna on the piano.

The entertainment tonight is Nick Lewin, a combination comedian and magician. I would rate him as OK. The show moves very slowly but he has intertwined some of the usual slight of hand magic with dry humor. About two thirds of the way through the show he falls off the front of the stage. No it was not part of his act. Fortunately he proclaims to be unhurt but I imagine he will be pretty sore tomorrow.

Leaving St Lucia we head nearly directly east to Bridgetown, Barbados, our most easterly port. The seas remain slight, there is no motion to the ship, and our speed is about 9 knots. Our expected arrival time is 7:00 AM.