Monday, April 14, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 5, St. Kitts

I think we ate breakfast this day in the Windjammer, so we could see what the island looked like.  But,  I could be wrong :)  Before leaving Canada, I had been making arrangements with a tour company for a tour, with plans to drop a travel bug off at a geocache at the veterinary college.  Rob suddenly decided he didn't want to do this and we didn't make any concrete plans on where/when/how to meet up.  So when we got off ship, we were a little unsure what we were doing.  Rob's parents didn't want to come with us, they'd been here before.  
The night before, in the evening show, the cruise director said that when we get to St. Kitts, we should avoid the monkeys.  Dirty filthy monkeys, he called them.  Well, of course, you can't tell these kids there are monkeys at port and we should avoid them!  LOL.  It wasn't quite what we pictured though.  We thought there were wild monkeys running around.  We weren't surprised though, to discover it was another monkey-making ventures by the natives.  Walking through the port, it didn't take long to find them, and for one child to get "monkied".

Rob immediately left us and went into the closest store.  I had no cash.  The girls were enjoying this.  Yeah.

See the wad of cash in his hand?  LOL.  I did not feel obligated to encourage the girls being "monkied", or obligated to pay for this unique opportunity, but I did respect that this was his "business venture" and these animals need care and upkeep.  It takes a certain personality to stand in a hot sunny port with a bunch of monkeys, encouraging tourists to put them on their shoulders and hopefully pay him.  So I paid him.  Just $5.
After a couple minutes (lost some good time while finding Rob to get the money), the man abruptly said, "That's it" and took them away.

We had been approached by a taxi operator with a binder, showing us the best beaches.  He recommended  (North) Friar's Bay as an alternative to Cockleshell Beach, which he said was really developed.  I thought he said there were food stands at Friar's Bay but Google satellite doesn't show anything, not really even a road.  The North Friar's Bay is a much larger beach than South Friar's Bay, which does have a road and a beach bar shown.  However, he explained about the winds and currents, and it made sense; I think he must have bee talking about South Friar's Bay.  He also offered several different island tours, including an open trolley that looked fun.  Rob still wasn't convinced.  I wanted to see a pink or black beach, the veterinaries college, and whatever else.

We hemmed and hawed, and came across another taxi driver who pointed out another beach, Frigate Bay.  It would only be $4 per person, one way!  The kids were getting antsy, so we decided to go ahead.  The drive out was pleasant, not as nail-biting as St. Maartin, LOL!  We heard about how wonderful the cruise industry has been to St. Kitts, which really has no other industry besides tourism (the last sugar plantation closed in 2005).  In 2009, there were 587,479 arrivals to Saint Kitts compared to 379,473 in 2007, which represents an increase of just under 40% growth in a two-year period.   The amount of people that visit the island a day, in the high season...The population of the large island is about 35 000.  If five large ships come in, that's about  17 500 people, plus crew (I'm not sure they can take five large ships, but even a combo of medium and one large ship would be a lot of people).  Of course, not all go ashore.  However, the ships still have to pay to dock, and I'm not sure if they pay a tax based on how many actually do go ashore, or based on their total capacity.  I think the taxi driver said $10/person is the tax.  That's a lot of money directly to the government.  On top of that, whatever people spend on shore.  There aren't a lot of big resorts on the island, with the exception of St Kitts Marriott Resort.  There are quite a few smaller resorts though, and St Kitts has a unique program where you can acquire citizenship if you pass the government's strict background checks and make an investment into an approved real estate development. Purchasers who make a minimum investment of US$400,000 are entitled to apply for citizenship of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  Not sure what the benefit of citizenship is, but it sounds cool :)

Taxi man let us off at a little Mexican food beach stand, and we arranged a 3:00pm pick up.  We headed out to the beach, which seemed well used.  Well, the beach was popular, but there weren't many people in the sea-weedy, rocky, water :(  We decided to head up the beach, beyond the people, to at least "check it out".  
As we walked down, we could see one person swimming off by themselves.  Knowing this must mean they're a local, we were optimistic.  It was quite a ways down, and even though we asked if there was shade, there wasn't a whole lot.  There had been umbrellas up at the popular end, but we prefer quieter areas, and didn't want to spend money on an umbrella.  

We stopped at the first tree we found, you can see it on the right, above.  It was a ways from the water, but we felt secure.  We didn't want to alarm the woman swimming alone, so we stayed closer to the tree.  But then she left, and we started drifting down the beach.  There were food shacks along the beach, but none were open.  I think they might be on the weekends though.

It was wavey at times, but nothing like St. Maarten.

It was very scenic, though not exactly a black beach, it was enough of a difference from the previous day that the kids found it interesting.  For about 10 seconds.
I could see this tall ship off in the distance.
The underwater camera was fun in this calmer water!
Meg found this awesome orange shell!
Lucy, once again, covered herself in sand.  I wonder how many pictures I have of her covered in sand.

At one point, this young couple in matching bathing suits wondered down the beach.  Cute.  According to Google satellite map, there is a saltwater pond on the other side of this beach, which is a narrow strip.  We never noticed it.  We did notice the open air tour trolley, and many other tourist vans coming down at the far end of the beach (where we were).  
We decided to head back up to the Mexican restaurant and get a drink.  The food looked really good, but Rob said no :(  I recognized several other people from the ship, including someone wearing a New Liskeard t-shirt, which I had noticed on ship, the day before.  We all had a drink, Rob and I opting for a Corona.  The kids got pop/soda, which worried Rob because it was fountain, instead of bottled, and came with ice cubes. 

We had the taxi driver's card and had the bartender call him for an earlier pick up.  It worked out perfect for him, and he was there shortly.  The drive back was nice, hearing more about the country.

On the way to the beach I had seen this house, above.  It's hard to see, but there is a Canadian flag painted near the roof (click on it to see it larger).  He dropped us off in the taxi zone and we wondered back through the cruise port, now much quieter, I think even the monkeys were gone.  I believe there were only two ships in on this day, ours in on the right, and you can nicely see the cantilevered hot tubs in the Solarium, and also Lou and Nya's suite, second row of round windows, from the top, on the left.

Meg was looking a little sun and sand kissed!
Oh, how I wanted to get in that hot tub!!  Instead, since we had missed lunch, we opted to use our "Crown and Anchor Society" coupon for Johnny Rockets.  It's not much of a deal; lunch still cost us $35.
We didn't get to see the staff do their singing/dancing show.  Perhaps they needed more than 2 booths of customers to do it (the kids did get to see it on Undercover Boss though).  Or perhaps the sudden rainstorm deterred them.
In our sheltered little booth, we thought it'd be over quickly.  Mum found us and said Nya was going to do the FlowRider, so we headed up.
Well, the rain was not just a little afternoon shower.  It was a good soaking, and a good reminder that St. Kitts is a tropical rainforest island!

Of course, being back on ship, I had traded the waterproof camera for the "good" camera, LOL, so I was a little hesitant on getting too wet.  But I did end up very wet.  There was no where around the FlowRider to stay dry.
Nya did awesome on the FlowRider!
Very focused!  The instructor encouraged her to get up to a kneel though, and she wiped out.  It was a pretty rough landing up at the top and that overshadowed the fun part of the surfing.

Meg had to try too.
She did well, but didn't try to kneel!  Lucy had gone off with Nya to the rockclimbing wall, but they closed it when it started raining.  I have probably my biggest complaint of the trip.  There was NO towel exchange on this deck, you have to go two decks down to where the pools are, and both the towel exchanges are at the other end!!  Why not have one at each end of the pool deck, especially considering this end has the FlowRider up above?   It was a long way!  I missed Nya's wipeout, and worried I'd miss Meg's try if she had a short run.  I left the camera with Rob, who accidentally started video recording, but didn't know it, before I got back.  Then, Meg went to get her flip flops, and they were gone!  We searched all around, asked at the sports desk, nothing.  Then, we just happened to go back to the FlowRider benches, just as someone was walking away with orange flip flops and Meg's were back on the bench.  Turns out they had grabbed the wrong pair.  I'm wondering now if this was the girl (and her sister) who Nya made friends with, looking back, we saw them in our photos at the Flowrider, before "officially" meeting them.
The rain was impressive, but left us soaking wet and cold!
These three pictures show the port area, all new and fresh for cruise ships, built out into the ocean on filled land.  One nice thing is that they are planned, and closed off to vehicles.  Much of this is new since Google Satellite took their shots.  The downside is, of course, you have to walk a ways just to get into the town.  Not a major hike, LOL, but a few minutes.  Wish we had walked around too.

 There is a road that runs around the island, but the interior is too steep for much occupancy.  You can drive around the island in about 4 hours.
 Look, a rainbow!  It might have been a double, or there might have been two...
 This was after we set sail, going up the west side.
 In the distance, you can see Frigate Bay
 This was the ship I could see from the beach.

 We started to turn away from shore gradually
Just for laughs, I took a selfie after the day in the sun, sand, saltwater, and rainwater LOL.  My hair gets quite curly when humid!  The forecasted humidity was 81%, though they didn't forecast the rain.

At 9pm we went to the Production Showtime, "Once Upon a Time".  Rob didn't go, it was just me and the kids.  The four of us had a hard time getting seats, and ended up way on the left side, behind a pillar.  In the row in front of us were four seats (and then the pillar).  A couple had sat in the centre two seats, leaving an odd seat on either side of them.  Ugh.  Meg got really upset she couldn't see, so Lucy climbed over the seat and sat in the row below and Meg moved to Lucy's seat.  No good.  The couple to my right saw the commotion and moved down a seat so Meg could get out from behind the pillar. They really shouldn't have put a seat there.  It was a good show, and the neat thing was when we went on our cruise in 2008 we saw this show as it did a "pre-production test".  At least, I think we saw it.  I don't remember the show really, but I know we saw an extra show, and when we had a backstage tour, the sets were there (I have a picture of the set from the Pinocchio part).  On the last day of this cruise, we had a meet and greet, and they said that the shows don't change ships, they're built for the ship, they'll change the ship's itinerary instead.

After that, I think we went to bed; we're pretty tired after two shore days, and Lucy wasn't feeling all that well.....

1 comment:

Janet Fludzinski said...

Very thorough. Thanks for sharing. It was a great trip with treasured memories. Nice to reflect back on with the help of your blog. Love you guys. Hugs to all.