SILVER CLOUD CRUISE REPORT
JANUARY 7-16 2012 From Fort Lauderdale to San Juan We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on January 6th and spent the night at the Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport North 2301 SW 12th. the Manager David Blevins was actually driving a transportation van to pick us up. The hotel also furnishes transportation to the port. The service and food at this hotel was very good. The hotel furnished transportation to some restaurants within a mile of the hotel. We ate at the old Heidelberg German Restaurant that was very good. We boarded the Silver Cloud around 12 noon without incident and hardly any wait being entertained by the local energetic people working the port. They were very hospitable. The Silver Cloud was built in Italy in 1994 by Mariotti and refurbished in 2001. She looked remarkably in good condition for her age. The 16, 800 GRT ship has a capacity for 296 passengers that are carried in superb luxury. She is 514 ft long and a 70 ft beam. She has 4 restaurants one pool and four elevators. One never seems to have to wait very long for an elevator to traverse her 6 decks and no long waits in line at the buffet.
We had two days at sea and then on January 10, stopped at Spanish Town in Virgin Gorda British Virgin Islands. Columbus discovered the islands in 1493 an archipelago consisting of some 60 small islets and rocky outcrops of which Tortola and Virgin Gorda are the largest ones. The British took over in the 17th century and still retain control to this day as a Crown Colony. The B.V.I have a governor who is appointed by the Queen. This was a tender stop and we took a ships sponsored tour in an open air safari type truck that took us up to Gorda Peak and we had several beautiful view stops on this wonderful day. We then descended down to Gun Creek where we disembarked to get on a motor boat to tour around the Dog islands named by Christopher Columbus. We had a view of Necker Island owned by Sir Robert Branson. The main house burned down just before his daughter was to be married, but they put up a tent and had the wedding. BTW you can spend some time on the island for $50,000/p/day. HA. We motored around Moskito island to the Baths just sightseeing. We returned to Spanish town where we browsed the shops and sat at a table to eat a snack and have a drink while we watched people come and go. Jan noticed two young guys that seemed to be getting supplies. Their dingy had Satori written on it. Copy and paste the link. We did not see where the Yacht was. http://www.superyachts.com/news/heesen-yachts-launch-motor-yacht-satori-1105.htm
Wednesday January 11 we arrived at Marigot Bay St.Martin and used the tenders to go ashore. This is a much better stop for St.Martin than at Phillipsburg where competition with the larger ships can be difficult. We just spent time in Marigot having decided not to go to Orient Beach on this visit. Jan did not want to risk walking in the sand with her leg splint on the stress fracture of the tibia. I did climb to the top of Fort Lewis using several rest stops and did the round trip in about 45 minutes. Jan limped around in her leg splint and did not let it slow down her shopping. Marigot is on the French side of the Island and has a more genteel ambience for some fashionable shopping and continental flair. Ships drop anchor off shore and ferry passengers to Marina Royale in the middle of Marigot where you can walk to any of the downtown shops. There were many stalls set up along the wharf with various goods to sell. St Martin remains a part of the European Union.
Thursday January 12, we stopped at St.John's Antigua where I did a Segway tour. Jan had decided not to do it since it was over uneven surfaces and she already had a broken leg. Jan rode in the chase car and took some video. I had done three previous Segway tours, but fell off on this one. No serious damage to machine or passenger. I was kind of standing looking for a parking place when I ended up on the ground. Not sure what actually happened. I should have just dismounted as soon as I got to the area where we were to stop. Antigua is an island of beaches with 365 of them all open to the public. We had previously visited Antigua spending a week and done the Nelson's Dockyard thing, and Shirley Heights for a sunset and BBQ. We had visited the Devil's bridge natural rock formation where slaves were reported to jump to their deaths when their lives became unbearable. This trip after bringing Jan back to the ship, I just hired a cab and rode out to Dickenson bay to see how nice it was and yearned to visit the Sandals again. Same old story. If you are on the ship you want to be ashore and if you are ashore you want to be on the ship.
Friday January 13, we were in Castries, St. Lucia. We used Cosol tours and Yellowbird, Cosol's brother gave us a very good tour for $65/person. He took us all over the island through fishing villages, and then to Jalousie Beach arriving by water taxi since the Jalousie property controls all the other accesses to the beach, but cannot prevent people from coming on the beach from the sea. This beach was between the famous Pitons of St.Lucia. We had beer and Rum punch in our travelling portable bar and several snacks. We visited the Botanical Gardens and later had some Hot bread and cheese. We stopped at a local store for samples of spiced rum and of course buying a few bottles along with some Banana Catsup. They make many things in the Caribbean with bananas. I think this was the day the news broke about the sinking of the Costa ship and Friday the 13th turned out to be an unlucky day for those involved. St. Lucia has suffered through the years from Hurricanes I think the latest was Thomas that brought 1/2 a mountain down on a family of 5.
Saturday January 14, we were in Roseau, Dominica where we met Levi Baron of bumping tours who took us around the Island and we did the Aerial tram right through the forest being below the canopy most of the time . Since 75% of Dominica is a rain forest we thought an Aerial tram through it for 70 minutes would be a good idea. This is also where one can do the Zip line over Breakfast River Gorge. I did walk across the bridge across the gorge, and it was pretty stable. This Aerial Tram through a Rain forest is one of only two available in the Caribbean area. The other is in Costa Rica. I think St.Kitts has a Zip line tour. The roads in Dominica are improving since our last visit, but it takes a driver that knows where all the pot holes are to give a good ride. Levi is well worth any fees. On a previous trip we had used Bumping tours with my family so we were familiar with Levi Baron. We were able to bring Levi and his wife aboard the Silver Cloud for a visit. I have not been able to do this on other ships.
Sunday January 15 we stopped in Basseterre, St.Kitts where we met Royston a 38 year old very young looking gentleman that gave us a great tour around what I think may be the most beautiful of the Caribbean Islands. The views he showed us were magnificent and we didn't have to walk. We went up to Brimstone Hill and Royston would drive and position the vehicle so that I could look out the window and take pictures without getting out. We even drove along the water's edge and actually into the water so he could demonstrate how hard the black sand was and we did not get stuck in just an ordinary two wheel drive van. When he took off on a side road later, climbing at about a 40 deg angle, Jan took a deep breath, but Royston knew what he was doing and he went up the top of the mountain like a mountain goat to where the water tank was and gave us a magnificent view of the beautiful Marriott Hotel on St.Kitts and of the Caribbean sea and shore line.
We arrived in San Juan on January 16th and had cancelled the previously arranged Segway tour. This is where we had done our first Segway tour and had planned to repeat it since we enjoyed it so much last time. Since we survived the Antigua Segway without too much damage we just went to the airport after a wonderful in suite breakfast of Eggs Benedict and Cappuccino. Our flight back was just tiring but uneventful. The food on the Silver Cloud is the best and the service is impeccable. Jan says that this butler was the best we have had. Women seem to know these things. Breakfast in the suite was always on time and hot. Lunches were excellent and were as good as they looked. The dinners were wonderful and fixed to perfection. We never stood in a line for food except at the galley lunch when everyone showed up. This was not a long line and seemed to move very fast. At any other time no lines. We ate under the stars by the pool with a sit down dinner. This required reservations because of the limited tables but was one of the best eating experiences we have had. Of course all beverages are complimentary and in room drinks are also supplied. The entertainment aboard was excellent and after their show the entertainers would carry the show into the main bar dance floor and get everyone jumping and dancing. Who says Carnival is the party ship. The short time us older folks could last was a blast. Unfortunately if my Eagle is going to fly the next day, my Owl has to stop hooting at a decent hour.