Only two weeks late…A day after moving in to our new house in Florida we were due to go on a Caribbean cruise. Terrible timing however I didn’t complain for very long. After a four hour drive we boarded the Celebrity Equinox in Fort Lauderdale and the ship was almost exactly the same as the Celebrity Silhouette which I cruised on last November. I can see why cruise companies commission identical ships, but speaking as a passenger, I’d much prefer it if each ship were different. Exploring the ship on the first day is one of the highlights of the cruise. This felt like deja vu. As for Dianna, this was her first Celebrity cruise and she really liked the brand.
That evening we met up with some friends I’d met on the last Celebrity cruise, Karen and Graeme from Suffolk. The only English people I’ve ever befriended in my travels. I normally avoid the English but these two are my type of people.
After a rainy sea day our first stop was San Juan in Puerto Rico however we didn’t arrive until 3:30 in the afternoon which was not ideal for a morning person I can tell you. I’d visited there before and Dianna had been there at least two dozen times on layovers so neither of us were chafing at the bit to get off. We did eventually debark in the early evening and had dinner ashore.
On Tuesday we arrived in St Thomas which is one of the three US Virgin Islands. It’s a regular cruise stop and once again we’d both visited before so we headed for the ferry port of Red Hook to get the 20 minute boat ride to the island of St John where neither of us had been.
St John is the smallest of the three islands at only 20 square miles with the lowest population of just over 4,000 (St Thomas and St Croix have around 50,000 people each). I realise this has aroused some curiosity with regard to population density so I shall put those of you as statistically anal as me out of their misery. St Thomas has 1652 people per square mile, St Croix comes in at a fairly crowded 610 whereas St John is only 212 people per square mile. The UK comes in at around 700 per square mile.
St John also is renowned for having the best beaches of the three islands so we headed to one called Trunk Bay in a large taxi with some others. Like many Caribbean islands, they like to fill up large vehicles with people going in a similar direction and make multiple stops. Slightly annoying for anyone with patience issues but it does keep the cost down and you do get to meet others. There was another ship in port and it turned out that it was another Bliss cruise which is the alternative lifestyle people. The clothing optional, swinger people. And we had some in our taxi to the beach.
A nice few hours at the beach and on the return journey we stopped at Mongoose Junction for some shopping and a bite to eat. We caught the last available ferry back which was heaving so we were not able to sit together. I was upstairs and Dianna was downstairs and just before docking I went to find her. It was then that the health and safety conscious crew decided that I needed a seat whereas I was happy to just hold on. It wasn’t rough and there were some locals already standing at the back. Anyway Dianna and I both ignored the crew member who immediately went to the captain who stopped the boat until everyone was sitting (including the locals at the back). What was interesting is that it was the belligerent tourists (us) that made them enforce the rules. They would have quite happily let the locals carry on standing at the back. In fairness I don’t blame them even though I can easily hang on to a rail and Dianna can balance a tray of drinks at 35,000ft during heavy turbulence.
On the taxi back we were separated again and we both sat next to swingers going to the other ship. My two were a little less reluctant to talk about it despite my attempts at light interrogation.
Stop three was the British Virgin Island of Tortola which was a very short journey indeed. Perhaps an hour away from St Thomas although the captain took the long route and we arrived 12 hours later. This was a first for both of us and the stop I was most looking forward to.
We had no real plans and we got off and decided to hire a car rather than be at the mercy of taxis. We pretty much drove the whole island in the Wrangler and ended up on a beach on the north coast adjacent to a Wyndham resort which was being rebuilt after a hurricane. There were some killer wasps on the beach as well as a couple of toothless locals so we availed ourselves of the facilities at the Wyndham which no one seemed to mind.
On the way back we went via a road called Little Dix Road which we both found quite amusing. We covered the entire length of it (it didn’t take very long).
Thursday was our second sea day and I managed to secure some wonderful sunbeds by the pool. I was there at 5:30 in the morning and by six all of the best loungers were taken. I’ve never seen such a towel frenzy.
In the evening it was formal night and Dianna and I dressed up again. We went to see the show which was a second comedian and he was very funny. The Cruise Director was a chap from England called Dan who was highly amusing. He was also trained as an opera singer which was a real surprise and he sang O Sole Mio before the comedian came out. Very entertaining and not bad for a ginger.
The final stop was Nassau in the Bahamas. We arrived at lunchtime and headed to the beach for a couple of hours. After that it was shopping before returning to the ship for our last evening. We had dinner with Graeme and Karen. I enjoyed their company and wish I’d spent more time with them.
A nice seven day cruise and I was able to tick off a few islands I hadn’t been to before.