Friday, March 29, 2024

Arriving in Aruba

We arrive in Aruba and check into our hotel in Oranjestad, the capital, dropping off our luggage and heading out to see what we can find. 

Welcome to Aruba

We see (but do not take) great party buses around the city.

Party buses

We pass the National Archaeological History Musem with a horse statue reflecting the area's thriving horse and livestock trade starting in the 1500s.  Nearby is an old canoe donated by the Wayuu People of Riohacha, Columbia to the People of Aruba.


Outdoor exhibits

Down the street, we find great examples of the local archicture and the vibrant colors of the buildings in this city.

City buildings

And, some beautiful street art on the walls of the buildings.

Street art

Following a canal to the Caribbean Sea, we walk through a small park, past a statue of Princess Wilhelmina (Queen of the Netherlands from 1898 to 1948) and onto a resort on the water.

Through the park

And onto the resort

We stroll back to our hotel, past the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar, more great horse sculptures, and the occasional flamingo.

5 o'Clock Somewhere

More great decorations

Soon, the sun starts to set and we wander across the street to Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant for dinner and drinks.

Cross the street to Lucy's on the harbor

As the sun sets in Aruba

In the morning, we wake up for more exploration of this island.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

A Surprise Visit to St. Kitts

We wake up in the morning as the anchor drops just off Little Bay, Montserrat, in the British West Indies.  Montserrat has an active volcano that is one of the most studied in the world, causing two-thirds of the islands population to flee between 1995 and 2000 and still continuing to affect the island (the old airport was covered by volcanic flows in 2010).  But, as we peer out at the island, the captain announces that the seas are too rough for us to go ashore safely and we pull up the anchor and head to St. Kitts, where there is room at the pier.

Montserrat in the distance, heavy sea swells

Approaching St. Kitts, pulling up to the pier next to a big ship

When we arrive, St. Kitts is celebrating with a big party in the streets of Bassaterre, which was founded in 1627 and has been a center of trade for the eastern Caribbean, becoming capital of the island in 1727 when the British took control from the French.

We wander, enjoy the bands, and take pictures of the festivities.  The streets are lined with stalls selling food and beverages and the side streets have bands playing great Caribbean music.

 Party in Bassaterre

The large crowds (and inebriated people) are somewhat intimidating and only a few of us venture down the packed streets.  We stand out, but people don't pay any attention to us, they just go on enjoying their day.

Another relaxing day in paradise.

Friday, March 22, 2024


The tender to Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barth, St. Barths or St. Barts, a department of France) weaves between huge yachts and the ship's second officer, who is going ashore with us, tells us that three of the largest are owned by a rich Russian and are full of his various family members.  Just after that, a jet ski whizzes by by the tender, driven by a young woman, followed closely by a speedboat with three men in bulletproof vests standing and watching closely.  The second officer turns to us and says, "bodyguards."

The harbor is full of yachts

 Next to the terminal are more yachts and the main street

 The Church at the port

We first walk through the town (only a few blocks), along the harbor, then cut over to Shell Beach, a short walk from the harbor and covered with millions of shells.  We should have brought our swim suits, the beach, water, and bay are so inviting, complete with beach walkers, swimmers, sunbathers, and free wifi.

 Shell Beach

 We wander back into town and find an open bar for an afternoon beer.  As we enjoy the holiday crowd and the great bistro atmosphere (and, more free wifi), much of the rest of our ship wanders in and fills the remaining seats.

 Hanging at the bistro

As the shops open, we stick our heads into a few and find incredible French shirts (for me) and sweatshirts (for Laura and Jennifer), acquired to take home.  After shopping, we wonder what is on the other side of the island, and away we go.

We catch a taxi over the hill, pass the airport, and wander onto another great beach, just past the airport.


Airport at end of beach, great fencing!

After a stroll up and down the beach, we enter into the bar at the Eden Rock and order a bottle of champagne to enjoy as we watch the day wind down.

 Table in the bar, looking at the beach

We have a great chat with our server, who is Italian, worked in Paris for a few years, and then moved to St. Barths.  What a life!  And, I got to practice both my [limited] French and my [even more limited] Italian!

After our drink, our taxi comes back to pick us up and return us to the terminal to catch our shuttle back to the ship.  While we're waiting for the taxi, someone famous, we think from the New York Giants, picks up his car from the valet:  our star sighting for the day.

 Other end of the airport as we head up the hill toward Gustavia

Views of Gustavia and the harbor as we descend

 Setting sun in St. Barths harbor

And, as the sun sets, we move on toward out next stop. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Isla Culegra, Puerto Rico

Isla Culebra, known as "Snake Island" is a municipality of Puerto Rico, located approximately seventeen miles east of the main island and twelve miles west of St. Thomas, with a population around 1,800 people, beautiful beaches, and a sleepy main town.

We catch a ride on the tender to town and wander several blocks to the ferry landing, where there are buses to Playa Flamenco (Flamenco Beach), rated the third most beautiful in the world by TripAdvisor in 2014.   The beach has shallow turquoise water, white sand, calm swimming areas, and diving sites, stretching for a mile along a horseshoe-shaped bay.

 Heading along the coast of Puerto Rico

 Walking through town to the ferry pier (bus stop)

 Arriving at the beach 15 minutes later

We spend a few hours at the beach, walking the length of the white sand that feels so wonderful on our feet, exploring an abandoned Sherman tanks left by the US Army after training exercises just before WWII, and, of course, swimming and sitting in the sun.

Walking the beach

Checking out the abandoned tanks

As it gets toward noon and the crowd picks up (still not many people), we catch the shuttle back into town and find a spot for a fish and chips, beer, and a view.

 Lunch on the bay

What a great, relaxing day!