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Caribbean Cruise

June 2006

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We visited three islands on this cruise: Grand Turk, Puerto Rico and St Thomas.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk was a last minute change from the planned stop at Tortolla.
This is one of a group of islands called Turks and Caicos. There are eight inhabited islands: Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Parrot Cay and Pine Cay. Last year I visited the one called Providenciales when I spent a week at Club Med. Grand Turk has even less to offer tourists save of course for water activities such as diving and white sandy beaches. The water is still as turquoise as ever.

The ship company has built a resort right next to the dock where its passengers can sunbathe on a man made beach, swim, shop, drink and do whatever else people do in such artificial places. Swimming so close to this floating city is not my idea of desert island fun.

We decided to hop on a trolley bus that took us to the prison and the lighthouse.

There is no much there...We were amused when the guide at the lighthouse suggested two treks, one was "VERYYY long"...it took us all of 10 minutes to walk it and back...the other one was a five minute walk...

We chose to wander on our own and came upon a pretty little church. We were welcomed in by a group of ladies who entertained us with gossip about the village people...it was a refreshing pause.

Some of the buildings reminded me of Bermuda with their pastel colours.

 

 

Puerto Rico

The second island, Puerto Rico, has a lot more to offer.

Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to discover the island of Puerto Rico on Nov. 19, 1493. The Spanish newcomers originally named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of St. John the Baptist, and named the capital Puerto Rico, which in Spanish means "rich port." Years later, the names were switched, the capital became San Juan and the island Puerto Rico. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León started colonizing it in 1508.
In 1521, concerned about threats from European enemies, Spain began to build massive walls around San Juan, to strengthen its three local forts, El Morro, San Cristóbal, and San Gerónimo, which combined were the stronghold elements of the island's successful defenses. Puerto Rico was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European powers for control of the region during the 16th , 17th , and 18th centuries.
As a result of the war of 1898, Spain signed an armistice relinquishing its sovereignty over its territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Philippines to the U.S.

The first thing you see as you approach the island are the walls and forts.

It is also the first thing they show you when you visit.

There is a very nice view from the top.

The next thing of interest to me was the old city, with its Spanish flavored architecture.

There are several fountains in San Juan, this is one of the more modern ones

 

St Thomas

Our third and last stop was St Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

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The capital wears the pretty name of Charlotte Amalie. This island also has an interesting history, but it has a Danish heritage rather than a Spanish one. This is obvious on the street signs and the architecture. The scenery is hilly and lush...there are lots of flowers.

The view is lovely from the hilltops.

There is one beach that is supposedly famous called Magens beach...I found it disappointing. The beach is not very deep and the water is totally still. I have been told there are nicer ones ...

This island is a popular stop for cruise ships and lives off of duty free shopping...sooo that is basically all that you find downtown: shops, shops shops, mostly jewelry, but some of the side streets are at least pretty...

 

One last word about this trip. Those short cruises never stop long enough in any given port for anyone to do a thorough visit so my comments are based on a very limited experience of each island. And one word of advice: try to avoid the ship's excursions as they are way over priced. You can get the same for much cheaper if you just walk off the ship and hail a cab off the street.

This concludes my cruise story. if you want to learn more about the ship, you can have a look at Eve's world:
http://www.flyingplates.com/blog/weblog.php