Yes finally we are on board our ship – the Carnival Glory. Along with 1,000’s of others. This was the smallest ship we could find cruising the eastern Caribbean. Hahaha!!! It is over 12 stories high and we get lost nearly every time we venture out of our cabin, which is delightfully called a Stateroom. Must be because we have a tiny balcony. My biggest bugbear is how far I have to go to get a cup of tea! Otherwise all is good. People are friendly & nice, food is not too bad, shows are awesome and the islands we stop at are amazing. I think it is the colours that make it so mesmerizing. The glorious aqua water and perfect white sand.
You don’t really need to hear about shipboard life. Suffice it to say we boarded Saturday, visit Half Moon Cay Sunday, at sea Monday, St Thomas on Tuesday, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Grand Turk on Thursday, at sea again on Friday and land early Saturday morning.
1/ Half Moon Cay – a blindingly gorgeous strip of beach owned by the shipping lines. So no shops – just swimming & snorkeling. Best thing we did was bring onboard our own snorkeling gear – so we are not tied to trips. Our ship anchored in the bay and the masses are ferried ashore. A bit of a squeeze with lots of mayhem – but that is the downside of cruising. A magic place & a great BBQ lunch (provided by the ship- bonus)
2/St Thomas – again no tour booked. We have decided to wing it at each stop. As we wait on deck we see Avis & Budget & a row of jeeps. Hmmmm. So we head straight there. Budget has nothing, and Avis nothing, until the people in front of us decide not to take their booking and yes we have a car. Sadly not a jeep, but a van! We head out in to oncoming cars. Stop and ask a police lady. “What side do you drive on?” Answer – “The left hand side”. Crazy as the cars are LH drive. St Thomas is a biggish, very hilly island previously owned by the Danes, but now by the US. As we navigate the streets we find very few road signs & my map is pretty basic. We have been told that Coki Bay & a bay near the airport are good for snorkeling. But we are warned not to go to Magens Bay as all the tours go there and it will be packed. So we find our way to Coki Bay – gorgeous, but pretty busy. So decide to head on. Can’t resist stopping at Magens Bay for a look-see – very, very crowded & has a $5 entry fee per person – I am very unpopular with the guard as I sneak in for a photo. Then get a bit lost (our navigator is not the best – John misses his GPS), but find the lovely & secluded Hull Bay – perfect spot to snorkel amongst some pretty fish. Moving on we head around the island to the beach beside the airport – Brewers Bay. Only a few locals here. Slip on our gear and head in not really expecting much – but wow!! An awesome snorkel watching lots of stingrays (one with big spots) & heaps of turtles happily munching sea grass. John is a bit naughty and holds onto the back of one of the bigger ones for a ride. Finally we pull ourselves away and head in to the old town of Charlotte Amalie for a quick explore. Many of the shops are full of duty free jewellery – and no we don’t buy any! Time to return our car and head back to ship. John got his no plate from an unoccupied scrap yard.
3/San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. We dock bright and early and this time we are off on our own walking tour to explore the historic fortified town. It is rather like Cartagena in Colombia – that is to say it is amazing. We spend quite a few hot sweaty hours walking to and exploring San Felipe del Morro Fort. Then we hop on the free trolley bus to do the same in town. This time we actually stop and buy some lunch – guessing what we are getting as Spanish is the language here. Then finally we explore the second fort – San Cristobal Castle. John decides he would like to find a no. plate for his collection, so we pick up a taxi and head to a scrap yard. He can now add some more to his collection, and we head back to the ship.
3/ Grand Turk. We land at 11am (just before our sister ship arrives) so a hasty exit as our gangway will be closed while Carnival Magic docks. Again the beach is magic. We decide to walk along the beach front to a wreck we have seen. So off we head, stopping only to look at some underwater propulsion units on the beach – wouldn’t mind one of those. Maybe take one home. 20mins later we reach the shipwreck. Here we plan to snorkel around the wreck. Not much to see, but as usual the water is amazing. A lovely lady on holiday here stops to chat. Paula & her granddaughter are staying on the island. They have a golf buggy and kindly offer it to us. Wow how kind. We can’t say no to such an awesome offer, so in we hop to explore the island. Here they drive on the LHS as it is English. We head along the beachfront to the old town stopping to look at the crumbling old buildings. It is an old salt town & interestingly most of the inhabitants are descendants of Negro slaves that arrived by shipwreck. The local people let them free on the island & imprisoned the crew. Then on out on a very potholed road to the old lighthouse with glorious views of the reef & ocean where lots of shipwrecks occurred. It is said that the light was turned off deliberately so the island could get more goods. Then back to town to hunt down successfully a no. plate, before returning the buggy to Paula. Another swim before being driven back to the ship. Thank you Paula.
And so our cruise is coming to an end. Just one more three course dinner, one more sit & soak in the adults only hot tub at the front of the ship, one more excellent show and one more sleep before we tackle the crowds to get off the ship and head back to GR2. Can’t wait! Key West here we come.