13/11/16. We are almost there. The bags are packed. The bikes are back together. We dock in Fort Lauderdale early tomorrow morning and we have to be off the ship by 10.00 am.
It has been a wonderful two weeks of luxury. We are not looking forward to getting back in our little tent and cooking one pot meals after a large, comfortable bed, en suite loo and humongous amounts of food! But our waistlines will be better for the exercise!
The ports of call on the islands have been an interesting and varied selection. On St Maarten we went round the island (including the French half) by a series of three local buses. Christine was delighted when, on a “wifi visit” to McDonald’s, she was given change in euro coins from four different countries including, amazingly, Finland.
St Kitts was lovely. We wandered round the town of Basseterre and loved it. The buildings were interesting and there seemed to be a sense of civic pride with several people working on keeping a park tidy and weeding around the base of trees in the main square. The cricket ground, which does sometimes host test matches, was very picturesque and well kept.
We didn’t get to see much of St Thomas (US Virgin Isles) as we didn’t complete Immigration checks on board until 2.30 – there were 6 officials to process 3,600 passengers and 1,200 crew all of whom had to be checked even if they were not going ashore. When we did get off the ship we were surprised to discover that they drive on the left even though most vehicles are left hand drive. The town was largely devoted to jewellery shops because there are larger duty free allowances from the islands when entering the US but we did hear that there were nice beaches a short taxi ride away.
The next stop was San Juan in Puerto Rico. We were not expecting much but were blown away by the old town which was full of narrow streets with lovely buildings from the Spanish colonial period (it only transferred to the US after the Spanish-American war of 1898). There were also two large forts and the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. It is definitely worth a visit.
The last stop was at a resort owned by the cruise line on Haiti. It felt a bit “Disney” and not the “real” Haiti but was a pleasant enough place to go for a swim and a snooze on the beach. We arrived later than planned as two hours out of San Juan on the previous evening we turned round and went back to Puerto Rico because of a medical emergency for one of the passengers. The captain tried to get a US Coastguard helicopter to take the person off but apparently the wind was too strong, although to us, experienced mariners as we are (!), it didn’t appear so.