Last Updated: 19-MAR-2016

Day 07, DEC 16, Bridgetown, Barbados

We have been here many times.. So it's short cheap trips to check out various beaches. Generally I have not been impressed with where we have visited beach wise here. The Atlantic coast is scenic but rocky and the Caribbean side is developed and the beaches are generally narrow. But, the beer is cheap and cold so what not to like.

Got up to check out the Southern Cross again. It was easy as we were traveling east so took this from my balcony. Now at 12N so its an easy target.

Since it was Sunday morning, the walk through Bridgetown was quiet.

We walked to Brownes beach a bit south of town. The beach was OK, a bit too much industry in the area, but it was fun to watch the locals on the beach. A vendor kept trying to sell us a snorkel trip to swim with sea turtles. I may have considered but the weather was partly cloudy so the visibility would have been affected. There was a pirate ship that anchored not far from the beach. We figured the turtles were there but it would have been crowded. I like snorkeling with the sea turtles when I am the sole human!

A HOT walk back thru town. In the low 90's with high humidity. Every cruise you have a place where you remember summer ! This was the place !

Various port views

Beautiful sunset over the historic sugar mill elevators. We always seem to see good sunset here.

Tonight's towel critter

Day 08, DEC 17, Fort-de-france, Martinique

This was our first visit here. I wanted to see the volcano and the ship sponsored tour was excellent as it covered the gardens and the town near the slopes of the active volcano. I was not impressed with the island as it was France in the Caribbean. We saw strikes, and had to listen to the tour guide spouting how they got rid of the wealthy and how everyone was the same regardless if you wanted to work or not. The cruise port had no interesting shops and the one liquor store we went into was much more than we pay at home. But, in the end we saw what we wanted and will be very happy if we never come back here again.

Mary catches the sunrise

Welcome to Martinique - Our first visit here.

French frigate Ventose (F733) - The Ventose is a light monitoring frigate ("fregate de surveillance") of the French Marine Nationale. She is the fourth ship of her class, and the first French vessel named after Ventose, the 5th month of the Republican Calendar. She was used in the French response to Hurricane Katrina. The Ventose took part in the recovery operation for the Air France Flight 447 which crashed some 960 kilometres off the northeast coast of Brazil on 1 June 2009.

French frigate Germinal (F735) - The Germinal is a light monitoring frigate ("frégate de surveillance") of the French Marine Nationale. She is the sixth and last ship of her class, and the first French vessel named after Germinal, the 7th month of the Republican Calendar. Her main mission is monitoring traffic in the Northern Sea and respond to ecological emergiencies. In April of 2012, Germinal was in New Orleans, LA for the Navy Week celebrations commemorating the War of 1812. Docked at the Esplanade Avenue wharf near two US Navy vessels, she was open for public tours.

Various views of Fort de France, Martinique

Starting our tour. Mary is cleaning the window.

Our first stop was at Balata Church - Eglise de Balata is a small replica of the church Sacre-Coeur in Paris. This one was built in 1926 This area had an excellent view of Fort de France, Martinique.

One of Martinique's most famous sights, the Balata Gardens, shows why this is "the Isle of Flowers." This private botanical garden just outside Fort-de-France is home to a staggering number of begonias, bromeliads, bamboo and about 300 different types of palm trees. Created in 1982 by horticulturist Jean-Philippe Thoze on his grandparents' property, the gardens are a true work of art. A beautiful arrangement of plants is not the only thing on display here: birds, attracted by the flowers, flutter about near the gardens' entrance.

Here, you can literally walk through the trees thanks to bridges suspended 50 feet in the air among mighty mahoganies, giving you an elevated view of the beautifully lush gardens.

Hummingbirds on feeder

Garden views

You can literally walk through the trees thanks to bridges suspended 50 feet in the air among mighty mahoganies, giving you an elevated view of the beautifully lush gardens.

On our way to the next location - Saint-Pierre

Coffee in a front yard

?? Forgot

First look at the volcano from the SE side

Christmas decorations

Saint-Pierre is a town founded in 1635 by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc. Before the total destruction of Saint-Pierre in 1902 by a volcanic eruption, it was the most important city of Martinique culturally and economically, being known as "the Paris of the Caribbean". While Fort-de-France was the official administrative capital, Saint-Pierre was the cultural capital of Martinique. After the disaster, Fort-de-France grew in economic importance.

The Great Hurricane of 1780 produced a storm-surge of 25 feet (7.6 m) which "inundated the city, destroying all houses" and killed 9,000 people. The town was destroyed again on 8 May 1902, when the volcano Mount Pelee erupted, killing over 30,000 people, the entire population of the town as well as people from neighboring villages who had taken refuge in the supposedly safe city, except a prisoner, who later toured the world with the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Various town views

We checked out the Franck A Perret Museum which has some artifacts that you were not allowed to photograph.

Mount Pelee - At 4,583 ft its an active volcano at the northern end of the island in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. Its volcanic cone is composed of layers of volcanic ash and hardened lava. Pelee is one of the most active volcanoes in the West Indies and it is likely to erupt again. Currently, Mount Pelee is under continuous watch by geophysicists and volcanologists.

Around the ruins

The town has a very European feel. They are rebuilding while leaving the ruins or incorporating them in the new buildings.

Amazed that a 300+ year old cannons on the beach rotting away with trash. Here it would be in a museum.

We were lucky to see the top of the volcano Mount Pelee, usually hidden in clouds.

We stopped south of town for one last look at Saint-Pierre and Mount Pelee. I was getting the feeling that it was about to erupt at any second !

Views on the way back. The island's power plants, solar power facility and small towns along the way.

We went past Place de la Savane in Fort de France with the famous headless statue of Empress Josephine. The statue of Empress Josephine was beheaded in 1991, and a few years later spattered with red paint. Josephine is disliked because it is believed that she convinced Napoleon to reinstate slavery in all the French colonies, which he did in 1802.

Fort Saint Louis - is a fortress on a peninsula at Fort-de-France, Martinique. Today the Fort is both a naval base and an Historic Monument. There are daily tours of the fort, though the portion that is still a naval base is off-limits.

One of the many strikes that occurred here.

Various harbor / city views

The Jacques Cartier (L9033) is one of five BATRAL ("Light ferry ship") vessels operated by the French Navy. The BATRAL vessels are able to ferry over 400 tons of materiel, in the hangar and on the deck. Loading and unloading can be done from a harbour or from a beach. Two flat-bottom vessels allow unloading 50 men and light vehicles each. The accommodations are designed for a Guepard-type intervention unit (5 officers, 15 petty officers and 118 men), or for typical company-sized armoured units. A helicopter landing deck allows landing for light helicopters, and transfer from and to heavy helicopters. Jacques Cartier was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce from 28 November 1999 to 12 January 2000

Fort Saint Louis / City views

We are now cruising up the west coast of Martinique

The power plant area

Saint-Pierre and Mount Pelee from the ship

Dominica 40 miles to the north

Saint Lucia 60 miles to the south

Sunset Time

Tonight's towel critter

Day 09, DEC 18, Frederiksted (st. Croix), USVI

It had to happen. So far this cruise had been the best weather day after day that we have had... So, if it had to happen this was a good place. We had a short day here arriving at 8am and departing at 3pm. We have been here before.

The ship with the clouds.

Blue sky..

Chitons on the rocks near the ship. Chitons are small to large marine molluscs.

Various views

Back on the ship. Tomorrow is a full day at sea

After we got away from the islands it got sunny. Passing St. Thomas

Looking on the bridge

Another cruise ship ahead.

Sunset - The eastern end of Culebra - watching the sunset

St. Thomas, USVI - interesting sunlight patterns

Tonight's towel critter

Day 10, DEC 19, At sea

We have our own section.. Try that on the other younger demographic cruise lines !

This ship needs paint !

Enjoying the balcony

The depth, position and map in the lobby.

Sunset and nobody to enjoy it.

Formal night - the jackets

The best towel critter so far

Day 11, DEC 20, Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Little San Salvador Island, also known as Half Moon Cay, is one of about 700 islands that make up the archipelago of The Bahamas. It is located roughly halfway between Eleuthera and Cat Island. It is a private island, owned by Holland America Line, which uses it as a port of call for the cruise ships it operates in the region. Prior to being owned by Carnival Corp, Little San Salvador was the private island of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Little San Salvador Island is located about 100 miles southeast of Nassau. Holland America Line purchased the island in December, 1996 for a price of $6 million USD. It has since developed 50 acres of the 2,400-acre island, with the stated goal of maintaining as much habitat as possible for wildlife. The island is also a significant nesting area for waterfowl. The island does not have deep water docking, requiring the use of tenders for cruise ship passengers to disembark and embark.

Activities offered on the island include swimming, sunning, scuba diving, jet-skiing, cycling, and snorkeling. Deep-sea fishing, parasailing, glass-bottom boat rides, and nature walks also are available. A variety of water toys are available for rent, including Hobie catamarans, Sunfish sailboats, windsurfing sailboards, and kayaks. There are volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoes, shuffleboard, a fitness trail with exercise stations, horseback riding, and nature trails for hiking.


Various beach views - Getting cooler.. But an excellent last day of the cruise The UV level was very high

Heading back to the ship - various views

The undeveloped north end of the island

Surprised at the hills

The north / west end of the island - Salt damage from storms can be seen in the vegetation

Great weather and fighting the crowds

Sunset time with no clouds

Funny the bell was not clean yesterday

The atrium area decorated for Christmas

The discount NO TAX booze selection

The main dining room

Day 12, DEC 21, Drive Home

We got off the ship and we decided to go for it. Drove nonstop 1,124 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Glen Rock PA and we got home around 1:20 am.

Georgia at 12:58

South Carolina at 15:03

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