Although we already had one week of cruising planned on the Jewel when the opportunity came up to add a second week for basically the same price we jumped at it.
However, we did have a little understandable disappointment as our initial itinerary for both weeks of sailing was changed as some of the ports are still recovering from the 2017 devastating hurricane season.
Even around San Juan trees are still down and traffic lights are without power. A walk to Old San Juan and we sense however that spirits are still high as we see families and friends out and about enjoying festivities around the city.
Our first port of call Crown Bay is new to us although we have cruised to St Thomas numerous times. We leave the port for a walk to a nearby beach but as luck would have it we are offered a ride by a storm repair utility worker from upstate New York. We do get a bit worried when he tells his co-workers he is off to do his “double tourist murder” routine.
As it turns out one of the staging areas for the utility trucks is just opposite Brewers Bay Beach. We escape from the mass-murderer and enjoy a few hours at the beach then on his recommendation have lunch at a food truck parked nearby. The salt fish pate for $4 and the fried “Johnny Cake” for $2 are both filling and delicious.
St Kitts and Nevis our next port of call is visited twice on our 14 days of sailing. Our first visit again has us at an unfamiliar port although we have sailed here before. A free shuttle ride and in less than fifteen minutes we are at the familiar Basseterre Cruise Terminal. The area is nice for walking around and we end up at St George's an interesting place.
This site was first the home of a Catholic Church, Notre Dame but was destroyed by the British who then built the now Anglican Church.
On our second visit we take a walk to what we discover is the now defunct as of ten years ago St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Manufacturing Plant. It still turns out to be a rewarding walk as we do get a treat of hearing a group of students practicing “Silent Night” on steel drums.
Antigua is also visited twice and both times it's a trip to one of Antigua's 365 beaches.
From the West Bay Terminal we take Bus 22 for US$1.50 a person to Darkwood Beach and then spend another $25 for two beach chairs and six small but cold Wadali's, Antigua Lager Beer.
At the far end of Darkwood Beach we camp out in the shade for awhile before enjoying the beautiful and crystal clear waters that are continuously crashing on shore.
On your return from the Darkwood or Turner Beach find Mystic Bakery located at the West Bay Bus Terminal.
On our second sailing after visiting Antigua our next port of call is Fort de France, Martinique. A first for us as a cruise destination. A short walk from the ship and we are on a local ferry heading for Pointe du Bout for some more beach time.
Prices are steep on Martinique but the views and being able to enjoy Pointe du Bout and the beach there made the $7 a beer worth it.
Back in Fort de France we feel like we are in Europe as we walk around the town. Sidewalk cafes and beautiful buildings like Hotel de Ville, Government House, St Louis Cathedral and Schoelcher Library give this island city a very European flavor.
Did you know that the grapefruit originated in Barbados? Or that George Washington sailed here in 1751? Just some of the fun facts we learn on our double visit to this beautiful island nation.
After lunch its a nice $10 haircut of what hair I have left.
Even though we have been to Barbados on several occasions we are still drawn to Carlisle Beach. This beach is nice walk from the cruise ship terminal and depending on your pace will take you only about 40 minutes.
The walk is easy and you will have the opportunity to stop in town and take in some of the local happenings. For an affordable local meal check out Chefette. They also have a nice hard ice cream selection. Maple Almond is delicious.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve is about 40 minutes away by car and is offered as a stop on many tours. If you want to do it on your own like we did on our second outing Courtesy Rent A Car is available right at the cruise terminal. For US$110.00 per day with everything included we set off on a road trip with our first stop at Chefette then Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
Our drive back is through sugarcane fields then across a mountainous landscape with amazing scenic views. A brief stop at Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill home of the Caribbean's largest and only working windmill then we cruise along Barbados Northeast Coastline.
We cannot leave Barbados without another swim at Carlisle Beach even if it has getting back to the Jewel as one of the last passengers to board.
The sun is setting as we leave Bridgetown for St George, Grenada the final port on both of our seven day sailings. Our first visit involves an island tour with Stanley for US$10 per person.
At Annandale Falls we are in time to see one of the “Fall Divers” in action. Although you can swim at Annandale we all take a pass. As we head to our next stop an afternoon tropical storm is brewing and although it is short lived we cut out our planned beach visit.
If you get the same opportunity make sure he has his friend Lemon Bitters along unless you want to grow some hair on your chest.
Our final visit to Grenada and again we are on a local bus this time headed to Grand Anse Beach. Loud but comfortable music is playing as we ride along making multiple stop along the way. By chance we exit the bus right next to what turns out to be a great place for lunch.
From Grill Master it is less than a ten minute walk and we are on one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. We end up away from the popular tourist spot and find beach chairs for US$5 each in the shade of a huge what I grew up knowing as an almond tree. Interestingly at this spot we are told there is free Wi-Fi available.
As we are relaxing on the beach we hear in the distance a somewhat familiar tune. A Princess cruise ship is about to leave port and I think it is under the command of Captain Stubing.
“Love, exciting and new. Come aboard. We're expecting you.”
In about 20 minutes we have a close up view of Jewel Of The Seas and our balcony cabin. In less than an hour we will be sailing North to San Juan with a “Quest” ahead and a full day at sea.