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Cruising the Caribbean

Little or Large

The Choice is Your

P&O Ventura alongside Azamara Onward - I know which l prefer

The Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world at 236,857 Gross tonnage 362 meters long and 64 meters wide and hold a whopping 6988 passengers. I’m sure she is a wonderful ship with lots of facilities, but no thank you not for this Salty Old Seadog, I have to say we like the smaller ships offering great service and food where you get the chance to get acquainted with the crew and your fellow passengers. Azamara at the top of our list balancing service and offering good value for money, admittedly the ships are a little older but are very well-refitted with a touch of class and sophistication.

We recently cruise in the eastern Caribbean on Azamara Onward and amongst our ports of call was Philipsburg on the Island of Sint Maarten.The Island also known as Saint Martin is divided into the French section occupying slightly more than ½ the Island, while the capital Philipsburg sits in the Dutch territory

Philipsburg Methodist Church 1851

In September 2017 hurricane Irma ripped the guts out of Sint Maarten. This was followed by a complete shutdown due to Covid, all in all, the main economy of the island, tourism was left in tatters. The resilience of the islanders shone through and as our recent visit to the island showed, it is once again firing on all cylinders

The day we visited we were lucky with only two ships in port, ourselves, and P&O Ventura. More recently no less than six cruises ships were in port at the same time the largest being Wonder of the Seas. Berthed next to her was Holland America’s Rotterdam not exactly a small ship but less than 1/3 the size of Wonder of the seas with a passenger capacity of. 2668. The six ships in port averaged a pax capacity of 4000.

The island of Sint Maarten was busting at the seams with over 20000 cruise passengers flooding the streets and beaches, can you imagine trying to get a taxi?

A Caribbean Taxi


St Kitts and Nevis

A couple of days later we arrive at the beautiful, lush island of St Kitts. Beautiful beaches surround the island, the centre of which rises to its volcanic peaks surrounded by tropical rain forests. The rainforest covers around ¼ of the island and has been protected since 1902. As you tour the island the central peaks are shrouded by rain clouds.

Christopher Columbus arrived and claimed the island om 1493 for the Spanish. The first English colony was established in 1623 followed by the French two years later. During the 17th and 18th centuries, control alternated between the British and French

The island originally produced tobacco but switched to sugar cane in 1640. The labour-intensive sugar cane cultivation was the large-scale importation of African Slave. Purchasing of enslaves Africans was outlawed in the British Empire by an Act of parliament in 1807 and slavery abolished in another Act of PARLIAMENT IN 1834.

1st August is a public holiday and is called Emancipation Day.

The smaller island of Nevis lies approximately 3 km (2 mi) to the southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called The Narrows

For hundreds of years St Kitts produced cane sugar, but due to decreasing profitability, the government closed the industry in 2005. Tourism is now a major drive to the economy and has been increasing since 1978. As tourism has grown so has the demand for vacation properties helping to drive the construction industry on the island.

During sugar production, a narrow-gauge railway was built along the coast to collect the sugar cane from the plantations and transport the sugar to a newly build central sugar mill in Basseterre, the sugar mill was built by a group of investors in 1912 to reduce sugar processing cost by applying economies of scale and thus increasing profitability. With the worldwide introduction of sugar beet, the sugarcane industry the island suffered financially and in 2005 sugar ceased to be produced on St Kitts.

A privately owned company, unusual in that is a partnership between the government and private enterprise started to operate tourist trains around the island on the old narrow-gauge track. The St Kitts Scenic Railway was born.

The St Kitts Scenic Railway

Five double-decked rail cars now rattle around the track each day giving the island and cruise shop visitors a panoramic view of the island. The lower deck of the rail car is enclosed with comfortable seating a small bar area and the inevitable comfort closet. The upper deck is canvas covers with roll-down sides, passengers enjoy a 360 view of the island. During the trip, each car has a hostess that serves rum-based drinks.

During the trip masquerade, dancers come through the cars performing their dance. The dances were originally performed by African Slaves letting off steam but are now performed at festival and carnival events.

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