Monthly Archives: January 2015

Southern Caribbean, Part III: St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten, and Old San Juan

Written on the Carnival Valor
Sailing between St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Maarten
Evening, December 19, 2014

Today was an interesting day of firsts! I saw my first squid, played my first games of blackjack (I know!) and roulette, and visited my first Taiwanese restaurant in the Caribbean (!!!!!). St. Kitts is a beautiful long island with rolling green hills and crags that look very much like what we saw of Edinburgh and Scotland, on Holyrood Hill. It’s gorgeous, and not very settled. The island is long and to the south is a smaller island called Nevis, and together they make up the island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. I definitely thought it was one of the more beautiful places that we’ve seen on this trip. St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis are both up there, I think.

The rolling green hills of St. Kitts and the capital city of Basseterre.

This morning, we met up with a large group of people for a Catamaran Fan-ta-sea and Nevis Beach excursion (this entire name was made up by Carnival, NOT me). We walked off the ship and to the very nearby pier where we got on a large catamaran run by a few fun guys. Every time I see people who work in this industry, I think about Rob at Spicythai Backpacker Hostel in Chiang Mai, and how every day is like Groundhog Day. How many times did he lead a group up the mountain to the temple? Honestly. I think what really made me think about it was hearing Bob Marley being played on our way out. I think about how many times they must’ve heard this song by now – hell, I’ve heard it five or six times already on this cruise – and I just wince.

Our party catamaran.

Continue reading Southern Caribbean, Part III: St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten, and Old San Juan

South Caribbean, Part II: Barbados and St. Lucia.

Written on the Carnival Valor
Sailing from Barbados to St. Lucia, the Caribbean
Evening, December 17, 2014

Tonight, I’m writing from my seat on the balcony. It’s dark out here. I turned out the light, but it’s still lit by the window and room behind me.  I wanted to come out here to enjoy the balcony because it’s very soothing. The sky tonight is a little cloudy, so only a few stars are out here in the velvety warm blackness. We are sailing north once again, having reached our southernmost point, Barbados, today. So being on the port side, our view is simply of the empty expanse of the dark Caribbean sea at night. It is a darkness so complete that it seems like it’s possible to just step off the boat and become enveloped in it.

Carlisle Bay, Barbados.

This morning, we woke up early (or so it felt to me) before 8 am to explore Barbados. The shore excursions that Carnival were offering for snorkeling all seemed to be at this one location that cost too much (like $100) for too little (just an hour of snorkeling and swimming). We also figured out that it was possible to simply swim to the snorkeling location from the beach, as was recommended in the reviews, so that’s what we did. We took a group taxi to Carlisle Bay with other people from the ship, and walked past the resort place they initially dropped us off at to the public access part of the beach. And the beach was really gorgeous. Mama came to really admire it because the sand is so silky white, and the water crystal clear. Unfortunately, the sun was already strong in the morning. We applied sunscreen and headed out for two spots where we had identified boats dropping off other snorkelers barely 100 yards from the shore: one with sea turtles and the other with boatwrecks. Both were great! We saw five turtles on our first trip out, and it was amazing how close they came. We figured out that some of the shore operators drop pieces of bread in the ocean for the turtles to come near, and the turtles know these shenanigans pretty well. Some were fairly small, but one was really pretty giant, more than 50 pounds for sure. They came incredibly close to us, and it felt like I could actually reach out and touch one at one point. We also came to the shipwrecks, which took longer to swim out to. They were about 40-50 feet down in the water, and while not very big (there were three ships about 150-200 feet in length), they were interestingly overgrown with a fair bit of coral and there were lots of fish swimming around there. We even saw a guide dive in one door and out another in one wreck. It was impressive, even if it wasn’t huge, and attracted some pretty gorgeous looking fauna.

Schools of fish surrounding the shipwrecks.

Continue reading South Caribbean, Part II: Barbados and St. Lucia.