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Eastern Caribbean - 2003

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Date:                                   August 17th, 2003
Length of Cruise:              7 Days
Ship:                                    Grand Princess
Cruise Line (Princess #):  Princess Cruise Lines   (#3)
Embarkation:                      Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Ports of Call:                        St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Princess Cays Final Destination:               Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Total Days With Princess: 21
Total Days At Sea: 25

Rosalee and I enjoyed our trip last year around the Island of Cuba, so we booked passage on the Grand Princess again, but this time it is the Eastern Caribbean that we toured. Same ship, same port of departure and return, same length of cruise, but we visited several other Caribbean islands this time. We were on our own for this cruise as the kids were not available. So we flew into Ft. Lauderdale on our day of departure and were able to literally walk right onto our ship and up to our cabin. Caribe 504, which is Deck Ten, about 2/3 back from the bow. It is an outside cabin, on the Port (left) side of the ship, and like the last cruise it is a balcony cabin.

Let's take a tour through our home for the next week. Stepping through the door from the corridor, there is a small foyer from where this image was taken, where you may have an ample closet and storage on the left or it may be (as in this case) on the right. Also on the right is the 'head' or bathroom, which is adequately sized. It has a normal shower with a curtain, a nice flushing toilet, and a sink and counter with mirror and some small shelves. There is one power outlet that is the standard universal 110/220 V adaptable outlet. Through the wood archway is the bulk of the cabin, which has a small round table and a cabinet that contains a refrigerator, a counter top, and above that the TV for the cabin. You can see the bed on the right that is always prepared for you an made up if you step away for a moment. It can easily be made up as a double be or two singles. Some cabins have a drop down bed or two that the cabin steward will drop down and have ready after dinner, with a nice ladder to access it. They also return the bed to it's storage place in the morning while you have breakfast.

Stepping in a little further you can see more of the bed, and in the far corner you can see the comfortable occasional chair and the nice desk with drawers on both sides. Another bead stand with lamp and drawers is on the far right side of the bed and the switches on the wall control all the cabin lights from the bed. A hair dryer hangs in the corner and the phone is below that. You are given stationary and a book which explains the many features of your cruising experience. The large mirrors you see obviously make the cabin appear to be larger, but it is quite comfortable. Outside the curtains is a sliding glass patio door and a nice balcony on which you can sit or stand at any time weather draws you outside. Most days and evenings in the Eastern Caribbean should be rather enticing since this is summer time. Each evening we return from dinner or a show the bed is turned down, the cabin is ship-shape, and chocolate candies await you on your pillow. A mailbox outside your cabin door holds any matter that is not really important (the phone can take care of that), and it holds the Daily Patter first thing in the morning, which is the little newsletter they put out to explain the day's events, entertainment, or excursions and the port to be visited that day.

The 'head' will accept two people at the same time... if they are good friends. :-)  For one person they are not bad at all. The cabin steward is usually pretty good about tidying up the head each morning. Towels on the floor are removed and replaced with newly laundered towels and floor mats.

We are looking forward from our balcony in this shot. We can see the ship's Bridge extension protruding out to allow the Captain and other officers to watch the side of the ship when working close to the dock. Our berth was along side that dock on the left, nosed in toward the bow of that other ship. We will return to this location when we return Saturday morning. The city before us is Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We have basically moved under our own power in reverse from the dock to where we now stand, and will be turning ninety degrees starboard (to the right) from this location and then move forward through a channel into the open Atlantic Ocean.

Fifteen minutes later we are headed eastward out the channel toward the sea. These condominiums' occupants will often hang banners on their balconies and stand out there cheering the ships as they pass. One has to wonder how much privacy these owners expect to have with 4,000 people coming by every few days. I would guess that they do not get high seas in this part of the world, considering now low that seawall is. It is likely there to control the wakes of ships going in and out.

Questionable font aside, the name indicates that this room is used to deal with affairs of the heart as well as dealing with the mind. It is the name on the door to the Chapel. It is a meeting place for various small-sized groups. Sometimes a church service can be held on board, but it is seldom held in the Chapel. No, I don't know why. LOL. It can be arranged to have the Captain perform a marriage in the Chapel.

I took these images because our travel agent Suzy was planning to be married in this chapel on a subsequent tour. The Chapel would seat possibly 70 people. This is in the center of the ship so the light coming through the 'stained glass windows' is from light bulbs.

We are overlooking the island of St. Maarten / St. Martin. It has two names because it is owned by two separate countries. The southern 40% is owned by Kingdom of the Netherlands and the northern 60% is owned by France. We chose an excursion that took us to this hill which we accessed by these cable cars. Then we traveled by bus into the northern end toward that highest hill up there. We ended up on the East coast. Standing here, if you turn slightly to the left...

...you can see our ship at the dock. Another ship has pulled up to the dock behind us. There are a series of small islands or extensions of this island. When we traveled over to the other side of the island we traveled through pretty dense jungle. We did not see too much clear land for farming or grazing of animals. 

Our terminal destination on the east coast was this Butterfly Farm. I am not sure why they farm butterflies, but it seems that they are digging pretty deeply to find something on their island to brag about. But it was fun to see the 37 square miles of land that we so often hear people talk about. Across the water to an outreach of land was Club Orient, a well-known community that is a destination of many travelers. Being as it is a clothing-optional estate, most tours are not likely to take people there for viewing. :-)

Of course, there is this view that we had on our way over to the eastern side of the island. Imagine that being your own private beach, with a nice house back a hundred yards from the surf, with this kind of weather to go along with it... yeah... I think that I could actually find something here on this island to keep me happy. Isn't that a gorgeous sight?

When visiting another island we tendered off the ship. Here we are returning in the tender (boat) and you can see the platforms that fold out at water level to allow boarding the tenders. When we enter at these platforms, we enter deck four. There is a limited usage of this deck level for passengers. The medical center is on this level as well. That gives a bit of an idea of how much of the ship is below the waterline... at least three decks are down there, plus a bunch of nooks and crannies. They do not offer any tours of this area. I asked. :-) If for some reason, lifeboats were needed, they would be lowered from where you see them now just enough that you could board them from the deck immediately below the lifeboats. Then they would be lowered to the water and sail away under their own engine power. They are covered over for use in all weather. They would never open the side platforms if the ship were in trouble.

We are home! The small white ship is still in front of the Grand. We have collected our luggage and started the walking trip to the hotel we have reserved. It is across the waterway from the port. We could see the hotel from the ship, so of course we figured it was no big deal to hoof it over the bridge. But... we forgot the bridge is a draw bridge. Turning a little to the right and you will see...

... THE BRIDGE!. We have walked across, and made it this far and we heard the bells clanging and the bridge lifted up to pass a sailboat through. We were a third way across the bridge when we wondered if the man with his hand on the button that drew that bridge could see us walking across. It is a curved bridge and it was like walking over a hill. As you can clearly see, there would have been no way we could remain on that raised section with it going up into the sky like that.

We made it over to the hotel, and spent a day there, relaxing, enjoying the area. Step outside the hotel and you did not get into your car... you got into your yacht.

It was a beautiful week. I am quite sure that we will doing more of this cruising thing. Nice places, nice food, nice entertainment, nice people... what's not to like?

















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