International Travel Examiner had the pleasure of taking the Pacific Princess cruise ship to the Caribbean islands of Tortola, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Bart's. Before the cruise departed, Examiner headed to Miami, Florida to Coopertown Airboat rides for lunch and a boat ride. We sampled the alligator tail and the frog legs and both were tasty. After the meal, Examiner jumped into an airboat with a tour guide. The guide took us out for a real adventure searching for alligators. Alligators and exotic birds were spotted at the Everglades.
Examiner spent two days at sea on our way to the Caribbean on the Pacific Princess cruise ship. It is considered a small cruise ship and it holds 680 passengers. The Pacific Princess was modeled after the ship on the 'Love Boat' TV show and the televisions in the staterooms and the gym were showing vintage episodes of the television show. The Pacific Princess featured nice restaurants for formal dinners, a spa and a casino. Most of the passengers were staying on-board for an upcoming world cruise.
Tortola was the first port of call on the Pacific Princess' 10-day tour. It is the largest of the British Virgin Islands. The ship docked on a Sunday, so initially few shops were open. Our time was spent taking a walking tour of Road Town. A local bakery offered baked goods similar to an empanada. Beautiful flowers lined the landscape and wild chickens roamed the city streets. Ferry rides were available to Virgin Gorda, about an hour away for scenic views.
Saint John's, Antigua had one of the most breathtaking beaches we saw on the cruise. The water was turquoise and birds sat on the rocks, hunting for fish. The cab drivers competed for business, but our cab driver Charles was honest and very helpful. When we told him a beach was too crowded, he took us to a more private beach next to a hotel in Runaway Bay. The hotel had a nice bar and restaurant which served the most delicious grilled lobster with green mashed plantains.
Pacific Princess docked in Castries, St. Lucia the next day and we embarked on an excursion. A catamaran picked us up in Port Castries and took us on a fun boat ride to Soufriere. At the dock in Soufriere, a tour bus picked us up and took us to see The Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage site and to Sulphur Springs, a drive through bubbling volcano. The tour guide said that in St. Lucia, over 180 inches of rain fall each year. After the volcano tour, the group headed to the Morne Coubaril Estate plantation for a tour and lunch. Examiner saw how cocoa beans and sugar cane are processed using old fashioned methods. We sampled Ground Provision, a side dish consisting of root vegetables and plantains. The tour guide stated that so many mangoes grow in St. Lucia that the majority go to waste.
In Basseterre, St. Kitts, many stores and restaurants lined the port area. The people in St. Kitts were friendly and we had a drink at the locals' bar, about a half mile down from the ship dock near the beach. Twist restaurant featured a tempting Indian dinner menu and was right next to the ship dock. Our friend loved the Butter Chicken and the fried rice was so good. The one thing missing in Basseterre would be an ecology action group. The nearby beach was littered with trash and there was no one in sight to clean it up.
Examiner stopped for a visit to St. Bart's before we headed back to Florida. St. Barthelemy is a hangout for the rich and famous where the native tongue is French. Million dollar yachts are visible from the tender boat ride to the shore in Gustavia. A short walk away, Shell Beach is an enjoyable place to swim and look for sea shells and coral.