The Islands

The Caribbean Princess made three stops on the cruise.

It wasn't all hard work at the classes and dances. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the Caribbean Princess stopped off at beautiful islands and allowed the leaden-legged Lindy Hoppers to try and walk on dry land again. Boy, was that funny.

St Thomas - Home of Magens Bay

First stop was the US Virgin Island of St. Thomas, 981 nautical miles south east of Fort Lauderdale. Captain Guiseppe Romano rang 'standby below' at 5.45am as the Caribbean Princess approached the Charlotte Amalie harbour. By 6.50am everything was secure and not long afterwards, we were allowed to have our first taste of dry land in three days.

ST Thomas
View from the top: The island of St Thomas

Right next to the docked ship was a whole host of buildings - all shops. Here you could buy all manner of watches, jewelry, cameras, cosmetics, as well as the inevitable t-shirts, hats and other tourist memorabilia. 

But most people come here for one thing: the beaches. In particular, Magens Bay, voted one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. Crystal clear blue waters lap the edges of the fine sandy beach, shaded by palm trees. Ah, bliss! And well worth the $3 dollar admission charge.

A lizard
Local wildlife on St. Thomas

St. Maarten/St. Martin - Half Dutch, Half French

The second island on the cruise was an odd mixture of cultures. The ship docked at Philipsburg, the port in the Dutch part, but you could hire a car or get a cab to the French part. This had the better beaches, and unsurprisingly, food. It even had it's own New Orleans quarter.

It's not a big island; you could drive around it in 45 minutes. The roads are single carriageway, and it's quite hilly. In particular, if you want to get the best view of the island, the tallest point is in the centre, Paradise Peak. The drive tends towards the vertical at times, but it's a great view at the top. From there, the only way is down.

Princess Cays - A Day of Sun, Sea and Sand

Princess Cays is part of Eluethera Island. The cruise line has bought a bit with a beach on it, and set up lots of water sports activities for passengers to do. How very thoughtful of them.

The ship doesn't actually moor up at the island, so you have to get there and back by transfer boat.  If you miss the last boat back, you'd have to stay for another wee until the ship came by again. How terrible

Transfer to the ship
Transfer boat to the Caribbean Princess

 Once ashore, you could choose from a list that included scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing or just lie on a lounger and soak up the sun. As usual, ample supplies of food were available for the marauding thousands. And of course, there were a few shopping opportunities.

We were allowed pretty much a full day ashore, before returning on board to spruce up and get ready for Oscars Night.

July 2004 Andrew Winton.

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