Pacific Princess Cruise Review by paulfpb: Down the Amazon and Turn Left
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Down the Amazon and Turn Left
Firstly I would like to say, when reading reviews of Cruise Ships. If the writer of the review has had a awful time before even getting on board, it seems usual to assume the review of the cruise will reflect the writers disssatisfaction for the time on board. Our booking is made separately from Princess and our arrival to the port of embarkation is 1 or 2 days earlier. Therefore we don't encounter the problems that many passengers felt.
Pacific Princess, Amazon Cruise Friday March 13, 2009
Today we board the Pacific Princess, the main reason for this vacation. We had arrived in Manaus on a TAM Airlines flight last night at 12.05am, and caught a cab to the Novotel Hotel in Manaus.
We had a buffet breakfast, and there was a big choice of dishes on offer, one of which was Piranha soup. Paul was glad he tasted it. It had a fishy flavor but was not anything out of the ordinary.
Catching a cab to the port of Manaus, porters were waiting to More take our luggage via overhead pedestrian bridge for a $3 tip. Checking was easy and walked along the wharf to board the Pacific Princess. We arrived in our stateroom, 7014, and looked around and checked out our balcony, which had a great view of the Amazon River. We then did a small tour of the ship to get our bearings, as the Pacific Princess is a much smaller ship compared to the last two ships we have cruised on.
The dining room is on deck 5, and we decided to have lunch before going into Manaus to see the famed Opera House. After a delicious lunch, we walked into town amongst the market stalls and easily found our way to this grand building. When we arrived, there were preparations for what we found out later to be a visit that night by Prince Charles and Camilla who were in Manaus on a state visit. A rubber baron built the Opera House, during the rubber boom of the late 1800's. This ended in 1910 after seeds from a rubber plant were smuggled by an employee to Malaysia.
It was built from by artisans from Europe using all European materials. It is similar to any European Opera house of that era, and very ornate. It was most definitely the jewel in the crown of not only Manaus, but of all Brazil. There were brass plaques showing commemorating performers who had appeared there including Caruso, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.
We walked back to the ship, passing stalls selling everything from bras, halter-tops and panties to remote controls and chargers. Noisier than the stalls in Buenos Aires, there was a colourful lively atmosphere.
Back on the ship, we relaxed in the cabin and did some more exploring on deck, before we got ready for the second dinner sitting, at 8.15pm. Tonight turned out to be open seating, so we won't actually find out who our future dinner companions will be until tomorrow night. We met a nice couple from Bakersfield, California, who had taken the forward cruise from Ft Lauderdale and were now taking the ship back again. We also met a nice couple from Zurich who were very friendly.
After a delicious dinner, we went to the Cabaret lounge to watch a folkloric show performed by locals with some spectacular costumes, many with amazing feather head dresses. We were back to our cabin by midnight, and looking forward to tomorrow.
Pacific Princes, Amazon Cruise Saturday March 14, 2009
After an early wake up call, we got ourselves ready for breakfast in the Panorama restaurant, and we had booked a day tour and needed to meet by 8.45am.
We were taken by riverboat from the other side of the wharf from where the ship was docked, for a cruise along the Rio Negro River to where the river meets with the Rio Solimoes, and forms the Amazon River. The amazing point at which the rivers come together is know as the 'Meeting of the Waters' and is where the strange phenomenon of the waters not mixing due to their different temperatures, composition, flow rates and acidity levels, forming a kind of barrier against each other all the way to the river floor until almost 40 kilometres down stream. The contrast in colour of the two is most evident, with the dark black water of the Rio Negro, and the murky brown water of the Rio Solimoes, which contains far more sediment and floating plants.
Our next stop was Terranova Island, in the middle of the river, to visit a typical village, and have a close up look at the hardy people who here. We were greeted by the villagers, and walked around the small village with our guide who pointed out how latex is obtained from the rubber trees, and how the people make Manioc, a grain that is the staple of their diet. We also had the opportunity to hold a Sloth, a slow moving creature who lives in the trees of the jungle. It was so cute, almost like ET, but with soft fur and it was very cuddly!
After we looked at some of the hand made souvenirs made by the locals, we continued back to the boat and made our way up river to a floating village where we were transferred to small canoes, to access the small tributaries of the river, known as Igarapes. Once there we entered the flooded forest, where dense vegetation made and eerie feel, and where the sound of the forest birds and animals was very loud. We saw lots of birds, some monkeys, a small Alligator, known as a Cayman, and a small Anaconda, which was around 6 feet long already and can be know to grown to around 40 feet long!
After the canoe ride, we returned to the floating village and had a buffet lunch of rice, various meats plus salads and fruits. We even tried some of the Manioc, but unfortunately it was like eating sand with no flavour at all! It was organized according to our tour, but some passengers did not eat lunch even though they were reassured about its safety. It's a shame how small minded people can be.
After lunch we walked along a raised timber walkway through the forest, to a stagnant pond known as Lake January. Here there were many giant lily pads called Reina Victoria Lilies, which grow up to 2 metres in diameter. There were also many other water plants, and it was all very green. After photo opportunities we walked back and boarded our ferry back to our ship. Onboard the ferry, our tour guides Daniel and Max shared the commentary and unlike other guides we have had, they both knew when to stop talking and at times made us all laugh.
We decided to have one last look at the town before we sailed, and adjoining the terminal there were a few open air bars where many locals were drinking. Quite a few were single men and women, and many men we standing on the raised walkway and cruising the provocatively clothed girls, many who had pants on so tight we wondered how they managed to get dressed! At several tables men were drinking beer from a tall glass cylinders(1m) with a tap at the bottom. These cylinders were around 15cm in diameter, and held about 3litres of beer
We mentioned earlier that the people in Sao Paulo were well dressed, but Manaus is completely different. Many women of all ages dress provocatively and the clothes they wear are cheap and slutty.
Onboard and almost ready to sail, we went to the mandatory safety drill and then up on deck for the 'Sail Away' party. Unfortunately many of the passengers are elderly and it was a bit of a non event, though there were plenty of passengers on deck. We went back to our room and changed for dinner.
Tonight we found out who are fellow dining companions would be. Pauline and John are from San Jose, California. John looked and spoke like Humphrey Bogart. Our other two dining companions failed to show up, so we presume they may come tomorrow night or just were taking one of the other dining options. Dinner was delicious. Paul enjoyed a Creole Prawn and seafood stew topped with puff pastry, and Jeff had Alaskan Salmon. Conversation was a little strained, as there were only 4 of us. Across from our table was a table for two, but they clearly did not wish to converse.
After dinner we went to the Cabaret Lounge, and tonight's singer was a typical RSL performer. After listening to a few of his medley's we went to the internet cafe, and then turned in for the night.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Jeff decided to sleep in this morning, so Paul at breakfast solo. Afterwards Paul went to one of the most sought after but unpopular places on board, the laundry! On this ship there is only one and its on the same deck as our cabin. As the voyage goes on, no doubt its popularity will increase.
Meeting up later we wandered around and struck up conversations with fellow passengers, many Americans say to us when the realise we are Australian is " Oh we love your country" and "Australia must be the only country that likes us Americans". We are taking it as a compliment. After lunch at the Buffet with very good quality food and excellent presentation, we prepared to go ashore.
Today's port of call is Boca De Valeria. It is described as a remote village on the Amazon on the edge of the rainforest. The ship's daily news describes it as a remote contrast to Brazils cities, and we can agree with that.
We took a tender to a small floating pontoon on the muddy banks of the village. All the children were lining up out their with their hands out, wanting any trinket or money that anyone would give them. Lots of passengers had bought lollies, crayons and other items, which they loved, but it was akin to begging and exploitation in many ways. One passenger had a box of packets of potato chips, and was mobbed by all the children. Although we understood why Princess wanted to give us this glimpse of Amazon village life, we felt that the village we had visited yesterday was more realistic, and did not have the same level of people intent on selling themselves out like a circus for the sake of a tourists dollar.
When we returned to the ship, we went to our cabin to freshen up after the heat and humidity, and then went to Trivia, one of our favourite shipboard pastimes. Today's questions were fairly difficult, but our group won, and were all rewarded with Princess baggage tags. The other four people in our group had all done the forward cruise from Ft Lauderdale, and said this was the first time they had won, hence we were very welcome to join them anytime!
After Trivia, we had a walk and a snack on deck and playing shuffleboard, then relaxed in the cabin before dinner. Having a gin 7 Tonic in the Pacific lounge which is on deck 9 at the bow of the ship, we were offered Tapas with our drinks. The resident band is called Magnitude they are African Americans and the female lead singer works the room, even when there are very few there. The first night we saw the band the drummer sang "Song Song Blue" It was terrible, Jeff said either of us could sing better than that.
We made our way to the dining room and this time sat next to Pauline and John, our mystery dining companions were not there again. Pauline said a quite a few passengers had requested to dine at the first sitting. In the table of 2 next to us was a English couple who now and then conversed. John also had relaxed was more open.
We ordered the Cold Shrimp cocktail Paul had Porcini Mushroom Broth while Jeff had Zucchini and Pear soup for the main course we both had Scallops, The shrimp cocktail was disappointing as they looked and possibly were the small watery shrimps that come out of a can. Both soups were lovely and the main course very enjoyable, Paul had Apple Pie and I had Chocolate Mousse on a Bed of Rice Crispies shaped in to a Heart.
During dinner on of the head waiters came to introduce himself to us, Jeff asked about the chefs table, interestingly he told us that the Head Chef of all the Princess Cruises is on board. He will be presiding over that table that night so Jeff made a booking.
Off to the Cabaret Lounge, tonight was the first production show of the cruise called Shake Rattle and Roll. It was a Troupe of 4 males and 4 girls, doing songs of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Connie Frances, Lesley Gore, The Beatles and finishing with Elvis. It was a good show, all Princess dancers and singers do the same shows so if there are transfers no routines need to be learnt. This was slightly evident with the Lead Singer, last cruises lead singer was very plastic in his smiling and moves, at least last nights was realistic.
We met the assistant cruise director she is a Kiwi seems good fun, typically rugby came up and we laughed about our rivalries. She agreed no Kiwi could ever support South Africa even when playing Australia (Lincoln take note)
Monday, March 16, 2009 Santarem
Today is our last Port of Call in the state of Amazonas, in the city of Sanatrem. The Pacific Princess docked at 7am and would sail at 4.30pm. At Breakfast there were heavy showers, which is typical in the Amazon, and it was such a downpour it was like looking at a waterfall. After breakfast we checked the Internet then went to morning Trivia. Our group which consists of 3 Canadians and an American won, and got a Princess luggage tag each.
We left the ship and caught a cab to the centre of Santarem, only 2 kilometres away. The road was full of potholes, which seems to be the norm here. The usual market stalls were here, though there were more hammocks on offer, but as we wandered around but didn't see anything that interested us. We decided to have lunch before returning to the ship, but unfortunately the food was quite oily which was a shame.
After lunch we asked directions to the Post Office, and using sign language we were pointed in what we hoped was the right direction. After several more stops for directions, we found the Post Office right where we first got out of the cab! When we walked in there were about 30 people sitting down with numbered tickets, so we took one for ourselves, later realizing we would be here for hours we went to the information booth and got stamps immediately.
Back to the ship in a taxi that was falling apart, dodging motorcycle taxis all the way. It really reminded us that this was truly third world. There were a few stalls at the port, and we spent our last Reals on some trinkets. Santarem for us was very much what we had expected, a small town, significant in its area as a staging point for expeditions to the Amazonian Jungle, but nothing else, with little of touristic interest.
Back on board, we relaxed in our Stateroom with a few Gin and Tonics, and later Paul went to trivia but had no luck. At 7.30 we went to the Pacific Lounge for cocktails before dinner. At dinner Jeffrey ordered the Chorizo en Croute to start, and Paul the Calamari Ceviche. For the main course Jeffrey had the Argentinean Beef Asado, and Paul had the Suckling Pig. Meals were delicious and well presented. We now can assume our mystery dinner companions will not appear. After dinner we played the slots and we won $50.00, so decided it was time to head off to bed.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Our first sea day of the cruise, and the weather was so mild we ordered breakfast on our Balcony. It was relaxing to gaze at the jungle as we made our way downstream toward the rivers mouth, over the Equator, and on to the Atlantic Ocean later this afternoon. Morning trivia saw our team score 18 out of a possible 20, and we won more luggage tags. Yippee!
We had lunch in the dining room today. We both started with a wonderful Onion Tart for appetizer, and Paul had Macaroni with a Ragout of Lamb, then for the main course we both had Beer battered Halibut with chips and a side salad in a Blue Cheese dressing. Dessert for Jeffrey was Nougat Ice Cream and Paul a Hazelnut Layered Meringue.
When sailing across the Equator there is a ceremony where King Neptune presides over the Polliwogs (first timers) wishing to become Shell Backs. Eight of them were singled out as criminals to be bought before King Neptune. It was all very weird, reminiscent of the 50s when so many people traveled by ship all over the world. After their crimes were read out over silly things, the royal court (passengers) yelled guilty or not guilty. Guilty was always the cry, and cruise staff in fancy dress threw spaghetti over the prisoners. Then as the prisoners were facing the crowd whipped was thrown over them, it was so stupid, but apparently a tradition on the seas. Paul had crossed the Equator when first coming to Australia so was already a recipient.
The rest of the Polliwogs came in front of the King and were doused with freezing water, it was a fun event and as always more people got to know each other. After an afternoon snooze on deck, we went to bingo, and our luck was still with us, as Paul won $50 in the second game and Jeff won the third game and shared $75 with another player. We lucked out in afternoon trivia though. Some are so passionate about playing the game that they forget to have fun.
We lazed about on deck before the Formal night tonight. All passengers were invited to the Captains Cocktail Party, but we decided not to go as we were invited to the Captains Circle Cocktail Evening later this week. The ships photographers were busy doing formal photographs, and everyones mood upbeat tonight.
We had a pre dinner Vodka and Cranberry, then off to the Dining room. Paul ordered the Louisiana Crayfish as a starter, then Lobster Bisque, and for the main course Beef Tournedos. Jeff decided on the Smoked Duck Breast, Lobster Bisque and then Cornish Game Hen. We chose a St Michelle Washington Riesling. We both had Hazelnut soufflE, and as always, it was wonderful.
We went to the Cabaret Lounge for tonight's show "Dance" featuring Riverdance, Broadway Style, ballroom and a very camp send up of Sara Lee and her products with great costumes. The show was good fun, and a perfect way to finish the evening.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Another day at sea, how relaxing it is! We have set into a pattern of morning trivia before we decide on other activities. This mornings game was close, but alas did not win the prized luggage tags!
There was a culinary cooking demonstration by Princess Cruises Head Chef Antonio Marzi, preparing a meal that he said would only take 20 minutes. That would be ok, if you had everything prepared beforehand. He prepared a fresh Pesto Pasta, Ratatouille with Sea Scallops and a Chocolate and Walnut Ice-Cream. It all looked wonderful, and the main course had a delicious aroma. The Cabaret Lounge was full to watch him, and afterwards he was signing his cookbook, and many lined up to purchase it. As with any cruise there is some selling that takes place, but we just turn off if we are not interested.
After lunch on deck there was a lecture on French Guyana, about the history and current social situation, and its ties to France. Mel, from Canada, gave an informative and entertaining lecture, and everyone gained some knowledge about the French territory.
At 3pm we attended a wine tasting in the Dining Room. The wines offered today included a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, La Crema Pinot Noir, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon then finally a Chilean Errazuris Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines were well explained, and it was another chance to meet fellow passengers.
Another round of trivia was next, and our 16 out of 20 answers were not enough, as there was a 4 way tie on 17. One lady from South Carolina, with a very Southern accent, told us she once won 42 luggage tags on a 5 week cruise!
After relaxing on deck and watching the sunset over a few G&T's, we went to the Lotus Spa, to relax in the Steam room before dinner. Tonight Paul ordered Smoked Duck breast, Wonton Soup, Surf and Turf, and for dessert a layered Chocolate, Cream and Meringue cake. Jeff chose a Turkish lamb parcel, Wonton Soup, Surf and Turf, and New York style Cheesecake for dessert.
After dinner we were walking to the Cabaret lounge, when we were roped in to yet another round of trivia, but Larry and John from New York. Tonight rather than being just about general knowledge, it focused on Entertainment. We managed to win with the boys knowledge of theatre and TV really helping us out. And, you guessed it, more Luggage tags to add to our collection!
Thursday, March 18, 2009
Today our port of call is Isle Royale, part of the three Salvation Islands in the country of French Guyana. Isle Royale is most famous for being a part of the French Penal Colony better known for its most famous sister, Devils Island. Adjacent to these two is Isle St Joseph. All three would be no more than 8-10km in area. Devils Island was made famous in the book and movie, Papillion.
After a light breakfast, we caught took one of the ships tenders ashore. All three islands have a picture postcard appearance; just what a tropical island should look like. Isle Royale was the main penal settlement, with Devils Island being only for the most incorrigible prisoners. It is now uninhabited, and not accessible to the public for some reason, but we couldn't really discover why.
Many of the buildings have deteriorated over time, because of the tropical climate, but still serve as a reminder to France's inhuman penal system. Eventually France only closed this colony due to international pressure.
The weather was perfect, sunny with a light sea breeze. As with any tropical location, humidity plays a factor, and many passengers could not handle the stickiness, especially residents of the dryer states of the US. We walked along pathways that were obviously built by convicts. It was spectacular to walk around buildings that could tell so many stories, the church with its murals and the decaying condemned prisoners block.
Walking to main building on top of the island, once the administration house that serves now as a hotel, we were able to look across a small channel to see the beautiful Devils Island; and in the gardens all around were roosters, monkeys and iguanas. After having a beer and taking in this view, we found a steep path that took us to the Wardens swimming pool, which was on the shore nearest to Devils Island. We felt we could easily stay on the island all day. Unfortunately the last tender was leaving at 1pm, so after walking along the scenic pathway that encircled the island, we arrive back at the small pier.
Back onboard, we enjoyed an alfresco lunch. Afterwards we had a siesta in the cabin, and prepared ourselves for one of the highlights of the cruise, the Chefs Table Dinner, hosted by Chef Alfredo Marzi, the Executive chef of Princess Cruises who is currently onboard the ship.
This gourmet event is the first to be held on the Pacific Princess. Chef Marzi was onboard to supervise tonights Inaugural Chefs Table dinner. At 7pm we were invited to meet at the Purser's office where we met Maitre D' Renzo, and after a brief introduction, we were escorted to the ships kitchen.
In an area were vegetables were normally prepared, a magnificent table was set up. There, Chef Marzi greeted us with French Champagne, and after more introductions, served us with a Blue Crab Margarita with Avocado and Mango appetizer. Next a Tartare of Sterling Beef with Condiments was served, each dish with an individual explanation. Both of these were so delicious all the while Chef Marzi was chatting, while the most important waiters and Maitre D Renzo fussed around us. Next gourmet delight was a Mini Quiche of Fontina Cheese with Shave Black Truffles. While any these could have constituted enough to eat, along came Red Bliss Potatoes with CrÃ¨me Freche and Sevruga Caviar. Many of the diners were taking photos and we all were enthralled by the food.
Soon it was time for us to leave the kitchen and make our way to the Steakhouse on Deck 10 for the rest of our dinner. The table was set beautifully with flowers and candelabra. Chef Marzi again spoke to us and we were served the next course, Gratinated Gnocchi, still bubbling from the oven.
Next to us was seated a very charming couple from Montreal, who were chatty and interesting throughout the meal. They had even eaten at one of our favourite restaurants in Paris, called Flora. We however could not say the same for the couple seated on our other side, and obnoxious couple from Seattle who had an opinion about everything.
Next we were served a Raspberry sorbet, which had Grey Goose Vodka poured over it as it was placed on the table. Delicious, and a great palate cleanser.
Our main course was carried to the table by Chef Marzi, and the ships Executive Chef, Josef Stumner. It was a huge platter of Veal Shanks and Sterling Prime Rib of Beef, and was carved tableside and served with tiny vegetables and a pan Jus. It really was magnificent. The Ships photographer came by and took photos us with Chef Marzi in between, and then a group photo.
Feeling that we could not eat another thing, the next dish to come was a potted Stilton, with a Port Wine Reduction Sauce. It had sharp taste and a delicious creamy texture, and was served with Walnut bread.
Dessert was a Brazilian Pineapple Delight. Mascarpone was wrapped in a crepe, and served on a slice of grilled pineapple, and plated on spun sugar. It was complimented with the Late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, which we tasted at yesterdays wine tasting. Chef Marzi sat down and had dessert with us, and spoke about his 38 years with Princess Cruises. At the end of the meal, he presented all the ladies with a single Rose, and then gave us a signed copy of his book, and copies of the photographs taking during the night. A truly magnificent end to the evening, and after we said our goodbyes, we strolled back to our cabin for a well earned rest.
Friday March 20, 2009
A day at sea, and time to relax before our next port, Tobago. After breakfast, we visited the Internet Cafe, and then went to our usual Morning Trivia. Our team now is following a usual pattern and coming second. Lunchtime was a Mexican Buffet, we arrived earlier at the buffet this time and we were almost pushed out of the way by some of the passengers who must have skipped breakfast!
Last night our waiter in the dining room, Nestor, had told us about the Maitre D' wine tasting at 2pm today, and we had decided attend. The wines this time were the high end of the ships wine list, and subsequently, the cost for attending was USD$25.00. We were lucky this time to be at a table for 2, and whilst each wine was poured and being discussed, we were served with canapEs, which was a nice touch. While the wines were very enjoyable, including Veuve Cliquot Champagne and an Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon from California, we had just as much fun at yesterdays tasting.
Afternoon trivia was like sharks at a feeding frenzy, getting somewhere to sit, all for a luggage tag. Later Checking our emails and having drinks in our stateroom, blogging and to dinner then bed. It was just good to take it easy and relax.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Today we arrived in Tobago, and Jeff had organized for us to fly to Trinidad, so he could indulge his hobby of flying on different and exotic airlines. We would take a Caribbean Airlines Dash 8-300, on a 25 minute flight to Port of Spain, and the schedule would give us time to be back to enjoy Tobago after just a few hours. We took a taxi from the wharf to Tobago Airport, where we quickly checked-in and received our boarding passes for both the forward and return flights. Once we cleared security in the tiny airport, Jeff decided to take some photos of the Dash 8 arriving, when a Policeman came and asked Jeff to come with him. Apparently it's illegal in Tobago Airport to take photos of planes, even though there were no warning signs anywhere advising you of this. He took Jeff into a small room and interrogated him about what he was doing and where he was going, and why he was taking photos of the airport. He then insisted on seeing all of the photos, and making Jeff delete them from his camera. What a start to the day! Anyway, shortly after that, it was time to board the flight, and the friendly and professional Flight Attendant had little to do on the 25 minute flight except her safety demonstration.
After arrival in Port of Spain, we asked the security staff if they would mind if we took some aircraft photos from the carpark, and they answered, "OK Mon, but make it quick" so we made the best of it, and then went to the boarding gate for our return flight. Another quick flight, and we were back in Tobago. Jeff was happy and Paul was keen to get to the beach that had been suggested to us, Pigeon Point beach, only 5 minutes form the airport.
The beach was lovely, and nice strip of soft golden sand, with lovely turquoise water. Along the beach were two nice casual restaurants and a bar, where we noticed the 3l cylinders of beer we could not resist it was so cold and delicious , afterwards we enjoyed a lovely swim and some lunch, its was so relaxing. Afterwards we took a taxi back to the ship docked in the capital, Scarborough, and enjoyed the scenery of Tobago, very sleepy on a Saturday afternoon.
We played Trivia, and then relaxed on deck. Tonight was Italian, but as we were at the Chefs Table last night and had missed out on Escargot, the Maitre D' had arranged for us to have them served tonight. They were wonderful, swimming in a lovely Garlic butter.
Some more Trivia after dinner, then off to bed. It had been a busy day, and we needed some sleep.
Sunday March 22, 2009
Today we were in St Lucia, part of the West Indies. After waking up late, we enjoyed breakfast; we noticed another ship in port the Sea Princess. Then we walked around town before bartering with a taxi driver to take us on a sightseeing tour. We drove from the small city centre of Castries, up a steep hill to a lookout where we took some photos, then on past Banana plantations to another lookout, this time overlooking the very pretty Marigot Bay, on sale was Banana wine and we purchased some to try later. We drove through 3 fishing villages Anse La Raye, Canaries and Anse Chastenet before arriving at the lookout with wonderful views of Soufriere Bay and the Pitons. Words or pictures cannot describe this magnificent view.
We drove through Soufriere to the sulphur springs, which is known as the worlds only drive-in Volcano, and we knew we where getting closer by the smell. We paid our entrance fee to the National Park our driver dropped us off. A guide met us and took us on a small tour of the bubbling sulphur springs, steam was rising from some others were grey or black. Nearby we noticed a running stream, putting our hands in the water it was quite hot. After a few photo opportunities we started our way back to Castires. We walked past several bars were a local shouted to us "We are going to beat you mon" referring to the one day cricket match between West Indies and England, Paul said "you're not going to beat us, we're cheering for you we are from Australia" We were then ushered into the bar as compatriots.
Back on board we had a lazy afternoon before trivia, and then we settled on our balcony as we left port. Over afternoon drinks, we made our way out to sea, and both ships sounded their horns to say goodbye. It was so loud it would have been heard all over Castries. The setting sun cast a golden blanket over the ocean in front of us.
Dinner tonight was a Caribbean theme, as always our waiters Nestor and Rey made sure we had everything and more. After dinner trivia was starting and only half our group were there, so another couple joined us, we were tied for 1st place and after several tiebreakers we won the elusive luggage tags.
Monday, March 23, 2009
We disembarked, and wandered through the small market on the wharf. Then we caught a shuttle bus into Roseau, winding through the tiny streets before arriving in the centre of town. We made our way to a local cafe, which had free WiFi where we could update our blog and check emails. Roseau was a scruffy town, but it had a raffish charm about it. Many of the buildings were run down or in a state of disrepair, but it added to the character. The locals were friendly, and didn't really bother us or tout, they just went about their business. There was another cruise ship in port, the Celebrity Summit, so there were many people about.
After our wander about town, we relaxed by the seaside before catching a taxi back to the ship for lunch. Afterwards we had planned to go to a beach, but in the end we just decided to relax and take a swim on board.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Today we arrived in St Barthelemy, a French island in the Carribean. Only 12km long, it's relatively small in comparison other islands. The ship anchored in a bay, and we caught a tender to shore. It's very different to the other ports we had visted before. There is lot of money here, evident from the luxury small cruise ships and yachts, and the boats everywhere. Once ashore we walked past Bvlgari, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and in the Lauren boutique we noticed clothing exclusive to this store. Catching a cab to the Airport to pick up our car, we saw how narrow and twisting the roads were. Driving around St Barth was scary and we really had to concentrate. Drivinf on the right didn't help either. The vegitation is semi arid, with lots of cactus and small shrubs, and after driving the harrowing roads, we needed to rest and have a drink.
We found a lovely beach, St Jean, with a restaurant called La Plage. The floor was in sand, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch accompanied by a Fench rose and many wealthy patrons. We were tempted, but unfortunately did not drink, a Jeraboam of Vintage Champagne for 9000 Euros!
Back to Gustavia, the main town, we purchased some of the Rose we had for Lunch, and a bottle of Roderer Cristal Champagne that jeff wanted to try, and took a last look at the boutiques. We caught our tender back to the Princess for a winning game of trivia, with our collection of Luggage tags still growing, not to mention the jealous looks from the other teams. Also, we found out Australia is not considered the biggest island anymore, its not even on the list. So much for what we learned at school, go to factmonster.com.
Tonight we organized to have dinner with our trivia team, which gave us an opportunity to find out more about each other. Winning a Luggage Tag is hard work. After dinner, we headed for the Pacific Lounge for a game of Jeopardy together. Victory was in our grasp, but we bet all our money on the last question and lost it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Our last two days at sea, and after breakfast and relaxing on deck, we caught up with the team, which John called The Hi-Lo's. This morning prize was some very prized key rings, which we won by answering 19 out of 20 questions, beating the next team by 5. The key rings were South Pacific cruises so a rival team member wanted to swap an Alaskan one with Paul, talk about coveted!
When we were in St Lucia, we found a bottle of Banana Wine. We had promised to share it with a lovely Swiss Couple we had met early in the cruise, Sam and Bernadette. We met them at the pool, and opened the wine, which turned out to be absolutely vile! Luckily we had a back up, and Paul produced a bottle of Rose we purchased in St Barth. We laughed about the Banana wine, and gave it to the ships paint crew to strip paint!
Bingo is only played on sea days, so we bought our tickets, and Jeff won the 2nd game and $50.00, but for the final game we needed one number, but John from the trivia team won it, so we did not mind at all. Tonight's dinner was a Caribbean theme, with a main course themed after each place we had visited. Our wine tonight was a Washington DC Riesling which we really enjoyed.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Today is the last day of the cruise, and we spent much of the day saying our goodbyes to our shipboard friends as we came across them. We played and won the morning Trivia game, but lost in a tie in the afternoon game. We had planned to play Bingo in the afternoon, but as the jackpot was won this morning so we decided to skip it.
Lunch on deck, and packing in the afternoon. After our dinner we went to play a game called Majority Rules, we had played it on the last cruise. There is no wrong answer, all you have to guess is what the other teams will answer. Our team split into two, and the prize was a coffee mug. There was a tie and after 3 tie breakers it was still tied. The amazing thing was that it was between our teams, so we won the six mugs, and the last game of the cruise.
It was possible we wouldn't see our friends again, so we kissed and hugged Jane, Cecile, John & Pat, as we would not see them tomorrow. It was quite sad!
This was a great cruise, The Amazon, Isle Royale, Dominica, St Lucia and St Barth. The shipboard friends were great and too many to mention, but we both want to thank you all.
See you on the next Cruise!
Jeff and Paul Less
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