by Philippe G. Cornu
March 11, 2000
We sailed from San Juan on March 11, 2000. As we were already in Puerto Rico for business, we took a taxi from our hotel at 2:00 pm and we arrived at the port around 3:00 pm. We decided to carry our luggage with us, which was recommended by another person on this web site. Even if the ship was full (it was Spring Break), it took no time to get to our cabin (with window) on the main deck. We met our cabin steward, Juan Pichardo, who provided outstanding service during our cruise.
Our first stop was St. Thomas. We took a cab to Charlotte Amalie, where we bought souvenirs. Then we took another cab to Sapphire Beach, which was very nice and not too crowded. Beautiful view of St. John. We ate by the resort's pool. On the way back we stopped by the duty free shops close to the Havensight Mall. You can get a liter of Tanqueray for $8.00!
In St. Marteen, we took a cab to Marigot, the French capital. The taxi driver was rude and did not give us the promised discount after another couple joined us for the ride. Marigot was much nicer than Philipsburg, where we stopped on our way back. It helps to speak French, but everybody is nice and speaks English. We took a cab from Marigot to Orient Beach, where we had lunch by the ocean. The beach is beautiful. Plenty of cabs are available to go back to the ship. The other cab drivers were very nice to us and did not overcharge us.
After reading about Dominica, we decided to follow the recommendation of people on this site and organized our own tour. It cost us $25 per person on the Lybo's tour. We found the twin brothers and once we got 2 other couples to join us, off we went in our air-conditioned bus with a young guide and the driver. If you have more people on that bus, it could get uncomfortable. They took us to Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool and the Botanical Garden. The roads are very narrow and you go up and down the hills for several hours...dramamine is recommended! The tour guides were great.they made the trip fun!
In Martinique we took a cab to downtown. Cabs are very expensive, but you will be riding in a Mercedes. As most of the shops were not yet open, we took the ferry to Pointe du Bout. A lot of locals recommended the beach at the Sofitel Hotel. It's very nice until lunch when hundreds of people from the ship arrive! Then you are like sardines. The beaches at the Pointe du Bout are not natural. The Sofitel beach is entertaining as you can buy shirts and bathing suits presented on the beach by young models. We left the beach after lunch and went back to Fort-de-France where we shopped for a couple of hours.
We booked the 2:30 pirate tour of the Jolly Roger in Barbados. In the morning we took a cab to visit part of the island. Be careful with most of the cab drivers, they will overcharge you. Don't go straight to the cab area, stop by the Tourist Office, where we spoke with Ms. Parris. She recommended a driver. His name is Southbert Warthe. For half the price he drove us to Harrison's Cave, the Atlantic Ocean and Sam Lord's castle. We had a great time thatnks to Southbert. He is very friendly and honest. We were back on the ship by lunch to fill our stomachs before the Jolly Roger tour. A lot of young people were aboard each of the two pirate ships. This may have been the highlight of the cruise.this was just too much fun. We were careful with the rhum and were able to attend dinner. A lot of tables stayed empty that night!
On Saturday, we took the 3 hour Old San Juan tour. Our flight back was at 3:30, but we heard that the people who have a tour are the first one off the ship. They were right. Customs took no time and we started the tour at around 9:00 am. Our bus driver/guide was fantastic. His name is Rafael Reyes. He owns his bus and knows the city inside out. He took us to the fort, to Old San Juan. He stopped at a great sandwich place for lunch. On our way to the airport we stopped by the El San Juan Hotel and Casino and by the beach. I would definitely recommend asking around and seeing if you can find Rafael, as he loves his island and the tourists that visit it!
We really enjoyed our cruise. The ship was full (it was Spring Break), but the staff was fantastic. The food was outstanding considering the number of meals served. We had six people on our table. The service was good, but we could have used an extra busboy. We would definitely recommend this cruise. Great ship, great service and outstanding port of calls.