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3 Princess Pacific Princess Expedition Cruise Reviews

Although we have over 110 days sailing on Princess Ships, this was our first cruise on the Pacific Princess. We waited in the terminal where we saw the ship for the first time. It really wasn't as small as I had somehow pictured. ... Read More
Although we have over 110 days sailing on Princess Ships, this was our first cruise on the Pacific Princess. We waited in the terminal where we saw the ship for the first time. It really wasn't as small as I had somehow pictured. We took a 28 day back to back cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to the Amazon River and back to Ft. Lauderdale. This cruise to the Amazon River made stops in Saint Maarten, St. Lucia, Tobago and Devil's Island before we entered the Amazon River. There were four more stops in the river, Santarem, Boca de Valeria, Parintins, and Manaus, Brazil. I won't make this a travelogue, except for the fact that the Amazon River is amazing! There were native Amazonians, monkeys, sloths, piranhas, pink fresh water dolphins and river waters that didn't mix. The ports and tours in the Caribbean were very nice even though the ship had to pass Devil's Island on the leg south due to windy conditions. When the ship returned north to Ft. Lauderdale, the water was smooth and the stop was enjoyed by all. The tours were reasonable and interesting on the Amazon. We did not encounter many mosquitoes at all (day or night) even though we had taken our malaria pills and had our Deet spray with us. The outside doors on the Panorama Buffett, however, remained closed while in the river to limit bug stowaways. On December 16th we checked in and got to our room -- an ocean view room on deck 4. The room was fairly good sized although the bed was "tired" so we had to have some foam added to the mattress. The bathroom and shower were tiny and the closets are poorly placed. There were floor to ceiling mirrors in the room to give it a much larger appearance. As this was a Christmas cruise the ship was adorned beautifully with trees, decorations and garland amid rich dark wood walls. The ship had the look of an exclusive English club at Christmas rather than the glitz of a larger ship. The ship had most of the things that you would expect...only smaller. The atrium was small and cozy, there were only two small shops, the dining room was smaller (only one set-seating dining room with early and late seating and no any-time dining rooms), the lounges were smaller, the casino was tiny, the pool was small and the buffet was much smaller. The Cruise staff did double duty with their usual duties that they customarily have during the day as well as being the dancers for the evening entertainment. The best thing was that this ship only holds 680 passengers and this cruise had only 570 (680 on the return trip) so there was always seating to be found at the shows, in the lounges, at the buffet and no backlog getting on or off the ship. Speaking of the lounges...forget the Vista, Explorer, Wheelhouse lounges and the Horizon Buffet. The main lounges were the Pacific Lounge, Cabaret Lounge, Club Bar and the Panorama Buffet. They were just as nice and the service was impeccable. Everything was there...only smaller. We tied up across the pier from the Caribbean Princess in St. Maarten and many came out on their balconies and looked down at us. I am sure they thought "Oh, look, a little ship! Isn't it cute". The ship took seas a bit rockier than some of the larger ships and one dance performance had to be postponed. The entertainment was typical but good with dancers, comedians, magicians, piano performances and more. There was no theater so all of the performances were held in the Cabaret Lounge on a bit smaller scale. Other bars had their own excellent entertainment. By the way, Bingo had fewer people so it seemed easier to win. We won four times including the snowball (shared). The food in the dining room was very good with elegant meals as well as home-style meals offered. I am not sure why anyone would want to cruise and eat meatloaf, but I am told it was good. The buffet had all of the fare that you would expect without the crowds. The coffee is typically awful! Princess has instituted a new coffee card for $29 which supercedes other cards and is only good for one cruise for regular coffee and specialty coffees can be obtained on that and the next cruise only for a punch. It's dated. **NEWS FLASH** I had heard that Princess, later this year, will institute a new policy whereas no company, like Vacations-To-Go, will be allowed to discount the price of a cruise lower than what Princess offers. We checked with Sandy, the Captain's Circle and future cruise hostess, and she said that the information is false. Princess will definitely allow discount rooms. I hope she is right. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We flew into Seattle a day early and enjoyed a lovely day there, staying at the Westin, dinner at Elliott's and a very quick embarkation process at Pier 91. The ship was as expected, almost identical to the Royal Princess on which ... Read More
We flew into Seattle a day early and enjoyed a lovely day there, staying at the Westin, dinner at Elliott's and a very quick embarkation process at Pier 91. The ship was as expected, almost identical to the Royal Princess on which we cruised for 24 days last fall. The ship is very intimate, with small but comfortable public spaces and the most friendly staff we've encountered in a while. Cabin (BD) was great. Just suggest if booking a BD, be sure you're not over the Lounge area as rehearsals and afternoon activities can be a bother............learned this on the Royal last year. Food was pretty good, not great, service was better than food, but individual requests were honored graciously. Just remember that if you want something special to request it the night before. Entertainment was somewhat repetitive for us as we'd seen at least two of the entertainers on the Royal last fall. Both were good enough to get us back for a second take. Production numbers were okay, enthusiastic, but lacking some talent on the lead male singer's numbers. Ports were interesting, with the exception of Juneau which has turned into the Caribbean of the North. We enjoyed Skagway (private tour), Seward where we spent an extra day due to weather and visited the Sea Life aquarium and did a Resurrection Bay tour (not with ship) due to weather in the Kenai peninsual which we wanted to do. In Icy Point Strait, we and another couple did a private whale watching that was the highlight of our cruise............lovely captain on small boat with humpbacks in the extreme. We also has an interesting naturalist onboard and on one evening up top, witnessed "bubble net" feeding with humpbacks. Naturalist said this is seldom witnessed from cruise ships. Last day, from Juneau to our mandatory stop in Victoria BC, was extremely rocky, causing captain to slow speed dramatically, and cancel all excursions there, but we were scheduled to arrive at 5:00 PM, so who was going to see anything anyway. We made our "courtesy" call after midnight, arrived Seattle a bit late in heavy fog. I loved the trip with excellent crew, interesting ports generally, but a lot of that was due to our booking independently. We had a wonderful bear encounter in Skagway. Can't decided if that or the whales in ISP was the highlight.......or the neon jellyfish that surrounded our boat in Seward. I was going to do comments for some of the ports, but no option for Seward or Icy Strait Point which were our two favorite ports.........no or minimal jewelry stores, lots of wildlife, lovely locals, more the real Alaska than Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Great trip.........need I say more? Not a shopper, so can't report on those activities except as previously noted. Ya buys your ticket, ya take your chances! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
In March and April 2009 we spent 14 days on the Pacific Princess sailing across the Caribbean, down the East coast of South America, and up the Amazon River for 900 miles to Manaus, Brazil. We then backtracked for an additional 14 days to ... Read More
In March and April 2009 we spent 14 days on the Pacific Princess sailing across the Caribbean, down the East coast of South America, and up the Amazon River for 900 miles to Manaus, Brazil. We then backtracked for an additional 14 days to Ft Lauderdale, Florida. We got a great rate by purchasing a round trip cruise from Ft Lauderdale. The round trip was cheaper than going one-way to Manaus, flying back to Ft Lauderdale, and staying somewhere in Florida for 14 nights (we travel all the time, so if we were not on the ship we would be staying somewhere else). We are keen bird watchers and beach glass collectors. We selected this trip as a way of getting to some remote places we had not gone birding before. At 780 passengers, the Pacific Princess is smaller than other cruise ships we have been on, but actually not much different in terms of room size and ship layout, just fewer stairs to climb. We joined the private Spa and really enjoyed the enormous therapeutic hot tub and deck area in the front of the ship - all Non-Smoking!!! Our first stop was at St. Barth's (17.893N 62.864W) on March 30. We walked over to Shell Beach (17.893S 62.849W). Shell Beach is not too big and not too small, but has heaps of shells and beach glass - mostly whites, browns, and greens, but we did find a nice yellowish piece. We met two small lads from South Africa and had a quick chat with them. They were looking for Conch shells, but when we told them about beach glass, they began picking up pieces and bringing them back to us. The water was warm and beautiful. Many cruise passengers went swimming or snorkeling here. Near Shell Beach we saw an Antillean Crested Hummingbird, some Bananaquits, a Gray Kingbird, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and several Zenaida Doves. From our balcony we could see Audubon Shearwaters, Brown Boobys, Brown Noddys, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and Royal Terns. With our spotting scope we could see five White-tailed Tropicbirds flying around a rock outcropping in the bay. NOTE: If you put the above Lat. Long. into Google Earth you can see the location I am describing. Usually, there are many pictures of the area. In Dominica on March 31 the Pacific Princess had a slight accident. While they were putting out the 4-inch lines to tie the ship to the dock, one of the lines fell into the water and somehow got caught in the propeller. Local divers spent the rest of the day cutting 120 ft of line away from the propeller. We had arranged to go bird watching with Bertrand Jno Baptiste, a.k.a. Dr Birdy, (drbirdy2@cwdom.dm). Bertrand is a supervisor in the Forestry Division and knows where to find the birds. Bertrand drove us up into the mountains to the Syndicate Nature Trail area (15.473N 61.355W). It was a nice day for birding. We saw all 4-hummingbird species on the island including the Blue-headed Hummingbird. We had good looks at a flock of Red-necked Parrots, and saw one of the much larger Imperial Parrots flying. Bertrand looked really hard to find us a Red-legged Thrush by a creek. All together, we saw 44 bird species today and heaps of interesting plants. The Pacific Princess made an unscheduled layover in Dominica tonight. On April Fools Day (April 1) we walked to the Roseau Botanical Garden (15.301S 61.381W). We enjoyed seeing all the little schoolgirls walking through the garden for PE Class with their teachers. They were all very well behaved and wearing uniforms (each class had their own hair ribbon). We took a long walk up a very steep hill to the Overlook, where the Cross you could see from the ship is located. The view from the top was gorgeous! While at the top, we noticed a yellow allamanda plant with a huge Plumeria Moth (Pseudosphinx tetrio Linnaeus) caterpillar on it. We saw 22 bird species on our unscheduled stay in Dominica including a Black-faced Grassquit, Caribbean Elaenia, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Nutmeg Mannikins, and a Scaly-breasted Thrasher. About 6pm three marine mechanic divers from Miami arrived by private jet to inspect the propeller. We could watch them from our balcony as they sat up their computer system for video taping the propeller and communicating with the diver in the water. About 9pm the Captain announced they had approval to proceed. We left about 10:30pm. We arrived in St. Lucia early on April 2. Due to the extra day in Dominica, we missed our bird guide Lyndon John (lynjohn1@yahoo.com). We went out to the tourism stand and got a private tour to a farm on Balata Rd in Castries (13.995S 60.983W); a.k.a. Lushan Country Life (www.lushancountrylife.com). Our guide at the farm could recognize most of the birds by their sound. We got good looks at a Black-whiskered Vireo, Green-throated Carib hummingbird, Lesser Antillean Saltator, and Mangrove Cuckoo. A pair of St. Lucia Pewees were perched outside a hut where they served local snacks. It ended up being a nice day as we got to see some local cultural, taste a lot of local fruits, saw 25 bird species, and added a couple of new birds to our life list. Due to the mishap in Dominica, the ship had to by-pass the island of Tobago. We arrived at Isle Royale, a.k.a. Devil's Island (5.283N 52.583W), in French Guiana about Noon on April 4. Fortunately, the ocean was calm today. Last year when we got here the Captain decided to keep on going due to rough seas (we were told that happens about half the times they try to come here). We got a tender boat to shore and walked a wet path around the lush NE end of the island. We saw some of the abandoned and dilapidated buildings that used to support the penal colony on an adjacent island. There were a surprising number of local people vacationing on the island, including teenagers, for a place with only one hotel/restaurant. We saw several South American birds including the Purple Honeycreeper, Blue-gray Tanager, McConnell's Flycatcher, Swallow-Tanager, White-necked Thrush, White-throated Kingbird, and Wing-barred Seedeater. There were heaps of Peacocks and Ring-necked Pheasants, along with many very large guinea pigs. We saw 11 bird species today. We had lots of sea and river days on this cruise. Too pass the time we joined the private Spa on deck 15 forward, so we could use the salt-water hot tub (they put in Dead Sea salt and other minerals). But, the hot tub is very hard on swimsuits. My wife wore out the two swimsuits she brought in the first 2 weeks of the trip and had to buy another swimsuit from the ship's store. The salt and chlorine in the pool seems to cause the fabric to stretch and dissolve. Only 16 people can join the Spa, but we were the only people there most of the time. The best part is that it is Smoke Free! Since it is located in the front of the ship, you get a great forward view - really helpful on the Amazon River. The Amazon River is so wide and powerful it is hard to tell where it starts and the Atlantic Ocean ends. The Captain said 100 miles from shore the water is still river water (no salt). The first thing you notice after entering the Amazon River is all the large mats of grass floating down stream. The locals say that as long as the river has big mats of grass floating down to the ocean, the river is still raising. Traveling up the Amazon on April 6 we saw 14 bird species from the ship including a King Vulture, Large-billed Tern, Lesser Kiskadee, Southern Lapwing, Wattled Jacana, and Yellow-billed Tern. The spotting scope was very handy here. We left our camera, binoculars and spotting scope on the balcony overnight covered with a towel. If you left them in the air-conditioned room they would fog-up when you took them outside. We spent 2 days getting to our first stop in Brazil. On the way we got our first (and last) Amazon Thunderstorm - a real downpour. We arrive in Santarem (pronounced San-ta-Rim) (2.414S 54.738W) on April 7. We took the shore excursion to see the Meeting of the Waters; i.e., where the Tapajos and Amazon Rivers meet. The Amazon is very muddy water and the Tapajos is dark blue. The rivers swirl around for several miles before the Amazon finally swallows up the Tapajos. You can see this sort of thing every time the ship passes one the 1100 tributaries of the Amazon - many of the tributaries are much larger that the Mississippi River. The shore trip continued to a backwater area that floods each year. The farmers here build their houses on stilts to try to stay above the water - sometimes they don't succeed. It was interesting to see gardens growing in canoes, and water buffalos foraging in flooded fields - they can eat grass with their head and most of their body submerged in water. We also stopped to fish for Piranhas with bloody meat. We didn't catch anything, but the fish got our bait twice. This area was full of locals in small canoes fishing. We saw a lot of birds on this trip including several Lesser Kiskadees (a smaller and duller version of the Great Kiskadees), a Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 3 Wattled Jacana (beautiful brown birds with yellow wings when they jump up in the air), Yellow-billed Terns, and spectacular Yellow-headed Caracaras. In the afternoon we walked to the floating fish market on the edge of the river. It is hard to believe everyone here doesn't die from eating fresh fish that has been left out in the sun and heat all day. We saw 29 bird species today including the Snail Kite, Oriole Blackbird, Orange-fronted Yellow-Finch, and Fork-tailed Flycatcher. On April 8 we heard Holler Monkeys along the riverbank; they sounded really loud and close. Later we stopped at a remote village called Boca da Valeria (2.454S 56.451W). Calling it a village is a stretch, but they did have a school and church. People come in by boat from miles around on cruise day to sell stuff and "guide" the tourists. We got an 18-year-old boy to guide us up the valley leading out of town. He didn't speak English but we made do. He did find a poison shiny green frog for us. We found several new bird species including a Rufous-breasted Hermit (hummingbird), a Forest Elaenia, and a Rusty-backed Spinetail. The river was full of large Ringed Kingfishers, and we saw one Amazon Kingfisher. We bought a necklace made out of "Cheeseburgers" (nuts) - later we realized it had a green bird feather on the end (it was probably a dyed chicken feather - anyhow, that is our story and we are sticking to it). The men of the area were giving one-hour canoe trip for $5 per person. We went out with 2 men and 2 little boys in a flat bottom boat with something that looks like a weed eater for a motor and propeller. We ended up giving the boys the stash of candy we had brought from the ship, i.e. the chocolate they give us each night. They liked it all but the dark chocolate - one boy spit it out and got a hand full of river water to wash his mouth out with. We saw many birds including an Agami Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (looks like a turkey vulture but with a yellow head), Red-crested Cardinal (called a Brazilian Cardinal in Maui and an Argentinean Cardinal in Argentina), a Rufescent Tiger-Heron, and Sharp-tailed Ibis. The highlight (or maybe the low point of the outing) was while we were paddling thru some trees and cattails we almost hit a hornet's nest head on. My wife briefly considered going overboard, but didn't. We saw 28 bird species today. On April 9 we reached Manaus (pronounced Ma- nouce), the Capital of the Amazon (3.139S 60.027W). The waterfront was densely packed with boats of all sizes. In the afternoon we took an expensive ($200 per person) shore trip down the river to the Amazon Village Resort (3.135S 60.482W). After some snacks, the resort had a staged walk thru the jungle. An older lady had a heat stroke and barely made it back to the resort. The resort had a fabulous dinner buffet - wonderful baked fish, fried cheese, chicken hearts (my wife thought they were fried too hard) and very ripe watermelon and papaya. This was the best part of the shore trip. After dark we went Cayman hunting in long canoes for a couple of hours. They caught a small Cayman, but we didn't think it was worth the time spent. We got back to the ship at Midnight. Passengers that were flying back to the U.S. on the Princess charter flight had to leave the ship at 4am on April 10 for their 6am flight. A couple we met on the cruise had arranged their own flight back to the U.S. They ended up spending all night at the airport so they could catch a 4am flight. We were really glad we had booked a round trip cruise! New embarking passengers started showing up around 8am, long before the rooms were ready. Some passengers had to stand out in the rain for a while before they could get on the ship. By afternoon, everyone was in their cabin. We wanted to wash clothes this morning, but the laundry mat didn't open at the scheduled time. After complaining to the front desk, they got someone to unlock the door. The story we got was someone wanted to conserve water since they have trouble converting the river water to drinking water here. We thought about walking into town in the afternoon, but it looked like rain, so we went to the Spa instead. There are no roads thru the Amazon - everything and everyone moves by boat. They have floating gas stations, hospitals, busses, and cattle yards. Their passenger boats don't have seats or beds; they use hammocks for sitting and sleeping, but they do provide meals. It was pretty interesting to watch from our balcony as laborers loaded and unloaded the intercity boats docked across the floating pier from our ship. We saw them carrying 150 lbs of onions on their back or 4 cases of empty beer bottles. Once we saw them take 1500 cases of empty beer bottles off of a boat that is their equivalent of our tractor-trailers. The dock here has to float because the river was already 65 ft above the normal low levels of October at the end of the Dry Season. This kind of fluctuation happens every year. They were expecting the river to keep rising for another 2 months (till June). On Saturday morning April 11 we walked to some parks in town (3.129S 60.024W) and stopped at the Opera House. There was a surprising number of birds around town including mobs of Kiskadees, Flycatchers, and Blue-gray Tanagers. At one point my wife was under attack by a Blue-tailed Emerald (hummingbird) that thought she was getting too close to her nest. Later we found the nest and actually saw the baby. We also saw a Buff-throated Saltator, Grassland Sparrow, Long-billed Gnatwren, and Yellow-browed Sparrow. We saw 33 bird species today. The town was jammed with people and vendors today (it might be that way everyday). We maneuvered by dead reckoning across town to the fish market. Sometimes we had to take detours to get around mobs of shoppers. Crossing the streets was a thrill - our strategy was to get lots of people between us and the oncoming traffic, and run when the local people couldn't contain them selves any longer and burst into the street. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. On Easter Sunday April 12 we were back to Boca da Valeria about Noon. Our Room Steward told us he collects the clothes that passengers throw away, has the ship's laundry wash them, and gives them to the local people in Boca. We donated some clothes to his pile. There were lots more local folks and kids in the village today than the first time we stopped here. We had two guides today, both young women with several children. Unfortunately, it had rained a lot and the trail up the valley was too muddy to walk. We bought some necklaces and a carved wooden bird plaque. We looked around for someone to take us on a boat trip. We picked out the best dress man. Unfortunately, he had a narrow canoe that was pretty wobbly, but there was no turning back because the boat driver didn't speak English. All he could saw was "Hello!", which he used whenever he wanted us to see a bird or Iguana. Our guide took us on a 30-minute track to his house - my wife was sure the canoe would capsize at any moment (but miraculously it didn't). At the house we were met by 2 boys (6 and 8 yrs old). I managed to get out of the front seat of the canoe, but my wife didn't fair so well - she partially fell into the river when she tried to use a board she saw by the river for support as she moved forward in the canoe. The guide got her back into the canoe and we dried off the binoculars (the binoculars were fine). The guide's wife put some salve on the scrapes on her leg. The boys were amazed by how close things looked using the binoculars. They couldn't speak English, but they motioned with their hands that the binoculars made things look closer. The family also had 2 young girls aged 2 and 4 yrs old. All the kids were well behaved; especially considering how isolated they were with no yard or TV. We saw 33 bird species today including Amazon Kingfishers, Cocoi Heron, and a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle high in a tree that the guide had to work hard to get us to see. We also saw a Black-collared Hawk, Buff-necked Ibis, Comb Ducks, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Least Grebe, Lesser Kiskadee, lots of Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, a Limpkin, Red-crested Cardinal, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Savanna Hawk, Sharp-tailed Ibis, some Short-tailed Parrots, Southern Caracara, Toco Toucan, and Yellow-rumped Cacique. Wattled Jacanas darted around the 5 ft diameter lily pad field. Back at the ship, we went to soak in the hot salty water at the Spa. On April 13 we were back in Santarem. We skipped the tours and walked into town by ourselves. The Main Street was partially flooded by rains since we were last here. It was hot and humid. We saw 31 bird species around the dock area including some Brown-chested Martins, Buff-breasted Wrens, Chestnut-capped Blackbirds, a Chimango Caracara, mobs of Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, a Tepui Wrens, a White-collared Kite, some White-ringed Flycatchers, some White-thighed Swallows, and a White-throated Kingbird. We were dead tired when we got back to the ship. On our last day in Brazil (April 14) we crossed the Equator and passed thru the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent the day at the Spa, till an afternoon rainsquall hit. My wife started getting free Internet today after Princess changed their policy on how to count back-to-back cruises that are booked as one cruise. She is now a Platinum member of the Captain's Circle and gets $100 of free Internet on each cruise. The change seemingly affected lots of people on this cruise since 305 people booked a round trip cruise instead of a one-way cruise. We stopped eating in the Dining Room. It was OK coming down and we liked all the people, but half our group left in Manaus. Now we eat dinner in the Buffet with a couple from Nevada that was at our table before. The food is the same going back as we had coming down, which was not that good. By going to the buffet you could make your selection based upon appearance, which still did not always mean acceptable taste. They need new receipts, or a new chef, or something! We are usually asleep by 8:30pm. We don't go to the shows or clubs on the ship. Sometimes we stay up to see a movie we have heard about like Australia or Slumdog. We get up when it gets sunny out - normally 5am. This cruise is unusual in that they didn't change time as we traveled - we have been on Eastern time the whole trip even thought we have been up to 2 hours ahead of Eastern in some places - no problem. We try to go walking early in the morning. The top deck is too windy most of the time, so we walk around the hall on our floor - 9 times around is 2 miles. It is OK in the morning before the Stewards are in the hall with their carts. You had to walk fast past some rooms because they reeked of smoke. On April 15 we were back into the Atlantic, but so far ahead of schedule we just sat at 4 degrees north of the Equator most of the day. We spent the time watching Momma Mia on TV - the music sound track plays continuously in the Buffet area. The TV in the rooms has a channel that shows the ship's location and gives the lat. & long. It often didn't work very good. Sometimes it would show us going up the wrong river, or cruising thru dry land far away from the river, or would just stop working at all for hours. In Santarem, for example, we got very different lat. & longs. at the same dock going up and down the river. My lat. & longs. are based on being there and using Google Earth. We arrived back at Devil's Island on April 16 about 6am. It looked stormy and dark. We were on the first tender boat to shore. A few minutes later it started raining - we waited it out under a porch awning. Apparently there had been torrential rains here since we last visited. Several of the old stonewalls had partially collapsed. We wandered around the building complex looking at birds and made our way over to the hotel just before it started raining hard. My wife had a cup of real French coffee. We met some friends (Bill & Nancy) from the ship and walked over to where a band of monkeys hang out. Nancy had brought some bananas from the buffet with her to feed the monkeys. There was a dominant male that got a large part of the bananas, but amongst the smaller monkeys we noticed a female with a very small baby hanging on her back. Later we went to the "beach" by the warden's swimming hole. The beach was about 20 ft long and covered with shell and beach glass (mostly from old wine bottles). My wife picked up a couple lbs of beach glass - some pieces were so rounded they looked more like pebbles than beach glass. Last time we were here it must have been high tide because we didn't even see the "beach". We saw 30 bird species for the day including a Golden-headed Manakin, Purple Honeycreeper, Red-billed Toucan, and Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch. At 2pm the Captain came on the PA system and told us there was an electrical problem with the propulsion system. A few hours later they had it fixed and we were off - just in time to see hundreds of Royal and Common Terns dive-bombing a school of fish. We arrived in Tobago (11.181N 60.737W) early on April 18. We met our bird guide David Rooks (rookstobago@yahoo.com) and his niece Gaby at the dock. David is getting pretty old and feeble. Earlier in his career he had been the bird guide for the Rothschild's and Prince Phillip - which got him a lunch with Queen Elizabeth. He was mentioned in a National Geographic article about Tobago in Feb 2008. We headed out in David's car. Our first stop was at a marsh (11.178N 60.804W) just outside town. David said Global Warming had messed up the seasons. This year they had just finished a wet "dry season", and were now into a dry "wet season". Not a lot of birds, but we did see a White-fringed Antwren, Pale-vented Pigeon, and Red-crowned Woodpecker. When we got thru the marsh we ended up at a beach where we saw hundreds of sea birds, including Bridled Terns. Our next stop was at the Tropical Gardens & Nature Reserve - a fancy name for a house with lots of bird feeders. Boy did they have birds and hummingbirds! - "if you feed them, they will come". The birds were spectacular, including a Bare-eyed Thrush (with a huge yellow eye), a Barred Antshrike (looked like a Zebra with alternating black and white stripes), a pair of White-lined Tanagers (all black except for a small white line), and mobs of hummingbirds whizzing around with exotic names like Black-throated Mango, Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Rufous-breasted Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird - the most spectacular hummingbird we have ever seen. Our final stop was at Eleanor Alefounder's Wildlife Sanctuary (11.194N 60.791W). Eleanor had a 400-acre coconut plantation in a mountain valley. When she died she left the plantation to her birds, and her money to a Fund to feed her birds. David brings birders her to see courting Blue-backed Manakins. The males do a dance to attract a female. The males were too busy dancing to respond to David's whistles, but we did see a male and female fly off to a tree. Along the hike thru the valley we had a great view of a Blue-crowned Motmot (with balls on the end of its tail), a Palm Tanager, and a couple dozen Rufous-vented Chachalaca (from the turkey family). We saw 42 bird species today. On April 19 we arrived at St Lucia (14.014N 60.994W). Our birding guide Toussaint Adams (toussaintadams@yahoo.com), a.k.a. Adam, from the Forestry Division was waiting for us at the dock. We headed off for the Cul de Sac Wetland (13.990N 60.996W) where a Roseate Spoonbill had showed-up last year after a storm. It looked much whiter than any Spoonbill we had ever seen. We headed across the island in search of birds endemic to St Lucia. After several stops we found the extremely rare White-breasted Thrasher (only 600 left) and later a St. Lucia Black Finch (all black with pink legs). Adam took us up into the Quelisse Forest Reserve (13.925N 60.915W) where we saw some Black-whiskered Vireos, a Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, several St. Lucia Orioles, and a few St. Lucia Warblers. We saw 8 St. Lucia Parrots flying over the forest. Under a Mango tree we found a freshly eaten mango lying on the road, and up in the tree sat a St. Lucia Parrot. We drove to the south end of the island (13.711N 60.954W) to see Red-billed Tropicbirds; unfortunately, it started raining hard. When we got to the overlook where you can normally see the Tropicbirds, we couldn't even see the ocean, much less Tropicbirds. Part way down the mountain it stopped raining, so Adam turned around and headed back to the overlook. Even though there was still a light rain, it was clear enough that I could see 2 Red-billed Tropicbirds flying over the ocean. Driving back to the port, we got behind a car that was driving erratic. Finally, the car turned off our road. Soon afterwards, we found the last endemic for the day; actually, three Mangrove Cuckoos. We saw 49 birds today! On April 20 Bertrand Jno Baptiste, a.k.a. Dr Birdy, (drbirdy2@cwdom.dm) met us at the port in Dominica. We headed north to a cobblestone beach (15.356N 61.394W) were we found heaps of great colored beach glass. This place must have been a dump many years ago to generate this volume of high quality beach glass. My wife was self-actualizing as she filled up her pockets. We made a big loop thru central World Heritage area, stopping at Emerald Pool (15.398N 61.312W) where we saw a Jaco (Red-necked Parrot). Later we went for an impromptu walk in the rain forest while it was raining looking for Ruddy Quail-Doves - we didn't see any, but my water resistant watch got so wet the crystal clouded up with water drops and never recovered. We drove over to the Atlantic coast looking for Black Swifts. We didn't see any close enough to count. We stopped at some nice beach properties. One house had a piece of driftwood for the front door handle, and was enclosed with a rock wall lined with Irish Moss. We also stopped at the Jungle Bay Resort - it is very remote but has great hardwood floors. The road back to Roseau was steep and winding. The final segment of the road was lined for a few miles with multicolored wild Impatients. Wow!!! Without trying too hard today, we saw 42 bird species for the day. We arrived at St Bart on April 21. We walked over to the Shell Beach overlook. It was a lot dryer this time and hot. We spent 2.5 hrs looking for beach glass at Shell Beach. We ended up with about 10 lbs, including a beach glass "ring". The sun was so hot we drank 3 bottles of water. We spent the afternoon watching White-tailed Tropicbirds and a lone Red-billed Tropicbird flying around their nesting rocks off shore. We arrived back to Ft Lauderdale April 24, 2009. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Amazon. The birding trips we arranged with private guides were superb and a great value. Our balcony cabin and the private Spa were a plus for enjoying this trip. Princess still needs to address the issue of smoking in rooms and on balconies that adversely affects other people's enjoyment of the trip. Birding Summary: We saw 198 birds on the 28-day cruise. Date Observed Species Island 03/30/09 13 St Barts Location Species Seen 03/31/09 44 Dominica Boca da Valeria 45 04/01/09 22 Dominica Devil's Island 34 04/02/09 26 St Lucia Manaus 44 04/03/09 2 At Sea Dominica 53 04/04/09 13 Devil's Island Amazon river 14 04/06/09 16 Amazon River Santarem 41 04/07/09 30 Santarem St Barts 17 04/08/09 28 Boca da Valeria St Lucia 52 04/09/09 28 Manaus Tobago 41 04/10/09 3 Manaus Total 198 04/11/09 25 Manaus 04/12/09 33 Boca da Valeria Photo Species 73 04/13/09 31 Santarem Species seen w Guides 89 04/16/09 29 Devil's Island 04/18/09 44 Tobago Amazon 85 04/19/09 49 St Lucia DI & Tobago 71 04/20/09 42 Dominica Caribbean 80 04/21/09 15 St Barts 04/22/09 2 At Sea E-mail us if you would like a file on the birds we saw each day. Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Pacific Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 4.0 4.0

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