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Review: Carnival Valor sailing of September 29, 2013 (part five)

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Carnival Valor sailing of September 29, 2013


Continued from part four.

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On Thursday our port of call was St. Lucia. We selected the "Top 10 of St. Lucia, Soufriere, Pitons and More!" tour offered by Carnival. This tour is about 6 hours long, yet we felt rushed at every stop. Because St. Lucia is very mountainous, the roads go up and down and around a lot of switchback loops to get anywhere. There are very few straight roads anywhere on the island. The tour provided a brief drive through the capital and Derek Walcott Square, a public plaza named for one of St. Lucia's two Nobel Laureates.

One of the stops was at an old military area on the grounds of what is now Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. There is an excellent view of the island from the top of the hill and near the statute that is there. The next stop was the Eudovic's Art Studio. Local sculptors were working making very nice carvings from wood blocks. While interesting, this was more of a chance for you to spend money on things you don't need. Along the way toward the "drive-in volcano" there were a couple of photo opportunities. At one place there was a great view of the Pitons, the twin peaks that are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another picture stop was overlooking Marigot Bay.

At the volcano, the bus parks and you can walk right down close to the smoldering pit. The smell of sulfur is very strong. Many hundreds of years ago, the volcano erupted very violently, blowing out part of the side of the mountain, which is what allows the road to enter the actual crater. That the pit is still venting steam is a good sign that there won't be another eruption anytime soon, as the release of the steam relieves the pressure building up. If the steam stops, that is when they will worry, as the pressure could build up to another violent eruption.

The final stop was garden with lots of different flowers. It was spritzing rain and the tour was apparently behind schedule, so we didn't stay very long. According to the description of the tour provided by Carnival, "At Roseau Valley Banana Plantation - the largest banana plantation in St. Lucia, you will be given insight into the cultivation and production of this crop as well as savor the taste of our fresh sweet ripe bananas." What they don't tell you is that you don't actually stop at the plantation. The bus just rolls right on past while the guide talks about banana production and passes around a bag of bananas for people to sample. I think Carnival really misrepresents this part of the tour.

While we enjoyed the day, I do not recommend this tour. There must be other tours that provide a better experience.

The next day we stopped at St. Kitts, which is covered in part six.