Jewel Of The Seas Back To Back

Dec 18th, 2017, 10:18 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
Jewel Of The Seas Back To Back

Although we already had one week of cruising planned when the opportunity came up to add a second week for basically the same price we jumped at it. We had previously sailed on the Jewel Of The Seas last March and really enjoyed the ship and crew so this was a “no-brainer” decision. However, we did have a little understandable disappointment as our initial itinerary for both weeks of sailing was changed as some of the ports are still recovering from the 2017 devastating hurricane season.

Even around San Juan trees are still down and traffic lights are without power. A walk to Old San Juan and we sense however that spirits are still high as we see families and friends out and about enjoying festivities around the city.

Our first port of call Crown Bay is new to us although we have cruised to St Thomas numerous times. We leave the port for a walk to a nearby beach but as luck would have it we are offered a ride by a storm repair utility worker from upstate New York. We do get a bit worried when he tells his co-workers he is off to do his “double murder tourist” routine. As it turns out one of the staging areas for the utility trucks is just opposite Brewers Bay Beach. We escape from the mass-murderer and enjoy a few hours at the beach then on his recommendation have lunch at a food truck parked nearby. The salt fish pate for $4 and the fried “Johnny Cake” for $2 are both filling and delicious.

A walk back towards Crown Bay and we again witness first hand some of the damage from the last hurricane season as we see some airplanes in pretty bad shape at the nearby airport. Later we hop on a local bus for $1 each then it's a short walk to the Crown Bay Marina for a Coney Island Hard Root Beer.

St Kitts and Nevis our next port of call is visited twice on our 14 days of sailing. Our first visit again has us at an unfamiliar port although we have sailed here before. A free shuttle ride and in less than fifteen minutes we are at the familiar Basseterre Cruise Terminal. The area is nice for walking around and we end up at St George's an interesting place. This site was first the home of a Catholic Church, Notre Dame but was destroyed by the British who then built the now Anglican Church.

On our second visit we take a walk to what we discover is the now defunct as of ten years ago St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Manufacturing Plant. It still turns out to be a rewarding walk as we do get a treat of hearing a group of students practicing “Silent Night” on steel drums.

Antigua is also visited twice and both times it's a trip to one of Antigua's 365 beaches. From the West Bay Terminal we take Bus 22 for US$1.50 a person to Darkwood Beach and then spend another $25 for two beach chairs and six small but cold Wadali's, Antigua Lager Beer. At the far end of Darkwood Beach we camp out in the shade for awhile before enjoying the beautiful and crystal clear waters that are continuously crashing on shore. On our subsequent visit we go a bit further and enjoy Turner Beach with views on Montserrat and its active volcano in the distance.

On your return from the Darkwood or Turner Beach find Mystic Bakery located at the West Bay Bus Terminal. You won't regret it!

On our second sailing after visiting Antigua our next port of call is Fort de France, Martinique. A first for us as a cruise destination. A short walk from the ship and we are on a local ferry heading for Pointe du Bout for some more beach time. Although we had been forewarned that it might be difficult to make purchases because the Euro is no local currency we have no problems using US dollars. Prices are steep on Martinique but the views and being able to enjoy Pointe du Bout made the $7 a beer worth it.

Back in Fort de France we feel like we are in Europe as we walk around the town. Sidewalk cafes and
beautiful buildings like Hotel de Ville, Government House, St Louis Cathedral and Schoelcher Library give this island city a very European flavor.

Did you know that the grapefruit originated in Barbados? Or that George Washington sailed here in 1751? Just some of the fun facts we learn on our double visit to this beautiful island nation.

On our first visit we have lunch at a local restaurant. At Square Restaurant I have Stew Marlin and Bajan Rice with a refreshing and cold serving of Golden Apple juice. After lunch its a nice $10 haircut of what hair I have left.

Even though we have been to Barbados on several occasions we are still drawn to Carlisle Beach. This beach is nice walk from the cruise ship terminal and depending on your pace will take you only about 40 minutes. The walk is easy and you will have the opportunity to stop in town and take in some of the local happenings. For an affordable local meal check out Chefette. They also have a nice hard ice cream selection. Maple Almond is delicious.

Barbados Wildlife Reserve is about 40 minutes away by car and is offered as a stop on many tours. If you want to do it on your own like we did on our second outing Courtesy Rent A Car is available right at the cruise terminal. For US$110.00 per day with everything included we set off on a road trip with our first stop at Chefette then Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Our US$15 per person admission fee is well worth it and we regret not being able to spend more time there. If you go be sure to be there for one of the animal feedings where everyone is welcomed from monkeys to birds, deer and even tortoises.

Our drive back is through sugarcane fields then across a mountainous landscape with amazing scenic views. A brief stop at Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill home of the Caribbean's largest and only working windmill then we cruise along Barbados Northeast Coastline. We cannot leave this island without another swim at Carlisle Beach even if it has getting back to the Jewel as one of the last passengers to board.

The sun is setting as we leave Bridgetown for St George, Grenada the final port on both of our seven day sailings. Our first visit involves an island tour with Stanley for US$10 per person. We make a stop at a local shop for an introduction to the various spices grown on the island and I opt for a Rum Punch sampling that is topped with fresh nutmeg. At Annandale Falls we are in time to see one of the “Fall Divers” in action. Although you can swim at Annandale we all take a pass. As we head to our next stop an afternoon tropical storm is brewing and although it is short lived we cut out our planned beach visit.

We leave Stanley and venture back to the ship on our own but not before meeting a “Woodman”. If you get the same opportunity make sure he has his friend Lemon Bitters along unless you want to grow some here on your chest.

Our final visit to Grenada and again we are on a local bus this time headed to Grand Anse Beach. Loud but comfortable music is playing as we ride along making multiple stop along the way. By chance we exit the bus right next to what turns out to be a great place for lunch. At Grill Master I enjoy a fish roti and Carib as we are entertained by a steel drum player. Lunch for two, US$15.

From Grill Master it is less than a ten minute walk and we are on one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. We end up away from the popular tourist spot and find beach chairs for US$5 each in the shade of a huge what I grew up knowing as an almond tree. Interestingly at this spot we are told there is free Wi-Fi available.

As we are relaxing on the beach we hear in the distance a somewhat familiar tune. A Princess cruise ship is about to leave port and I think it is under the command of Captain Stubing.

“Love, exciting and new. Come aboard. We're expecting you.”
No “Love Boat” for us as we board the Water Taxi for the cruise terminal but the scenery is lovely as we say goodbye to Grand Anse until next time. In about 20 minutes we have a close up view of Jewel Of The Seas and our balcony cabin. In less than an hour we will be sailing North to San Juan with a “Quest” ahead and a full day at sea.

DMBTraveler is offline  
Dec 28th, 2017, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 329
DMBT glad to see you back . I am going on a New Year's Cruise next year, 2018-2019. I am stopping in St. Thomas and San Juan. I know they are working very hard to get everything up and running, I have friends on both islands.

Grenada is on my list to go but I want to stay a week or more. I also want to visit Carriacou.

I enjoyed my visit to South Africa but I really didn't relax, I need a cruise so I can relax.

PS: I enjoyed your video.
tch912 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2017, 07:17 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,473
Thanks for such a great trip report.
We are booked on Jewel for March, going with DD, GD (age 8) and dear old friend, in her mid-eighties.

How was the food on Jewel in the buffet and in the main dining room? Any specialty restaurants we should consider?

How was the main stage entertainment? Was it very loud? Any outstanding musicians, dancers or singers? Appropriate for our 8 year old?

We will have stops in St Lucia, St Thomas, Antigua, St Kitts and Barbados. One DD lives on St Kitts, so we will spend the day with her.

For Barbados and Antigua, what excursions do you think an 8 year old would most enjoy? Any particular drivers, tour guides, etc. you might recommend for any of our ports, including St Lucia and St Thomas?

Any beaches that are calm - no crashing waves? We love being in the water, but none of us are swimmers. We are all more like toddlers, wading around. GD is very small and could not handle rough water. We like rocks though, usually nice for shallow snorkeling.

Any kid oriented activities, treats, etc. you might know about is most appreciated.
Sassafrass is online now  
Dec 30th, 2017, 12:35 PM
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Posts: 4,080

I was more surprised to see the damage in St Thomas than in San Juan. I guess because of San Juan news coverage. However, the local in St Thomas told us the storms were pretty bad there too. I hope they get spared the "2018 Hurricane" season.

Have never spent much time on Grenada but I think a week or so there would definitely be worth it.

Did you do safari's in South Africa or go to Cape Town?

Hope you are back on the relaxing "High Seas" soon enough. Happy 2018!!!
DMBTraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2017, 08:44 AM
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Food in "The Windjammer" was very good except for the breakfast items like bacon which was overcooked and pancakes/French toast which were cold. Also some mornings there were no muffins although always a ton of other pastries. Enjoyed the lunch days when they had nice selection of "fresh fruits" like cherries and even tamarindos. Found majority of The Windjammer staff to be very friendly and helpful.

Did not eat in any of the dining rooms which is the norm for us except when cruising with friends.

Main stage entertainment was average except for a guess band "Savannah Jack" which high energy and very entertaining. I think all of the main show entertainment would be suitable for kids and was not particularly too loud.

In Antigua I recommend Darkwood Beach.. US$1.50 per person from West Bay Bus Terminal a short walk from cruise port or I think you can arrange a taxi for about $10-12 per person RT. It does have a bit of a surf but I think it is kid friendly and it is nice to walk along. There is some snorkeling available at the far end of the beach but I don't recall seeing any gear rental available. Nearby is Turner Beach which does not have as much shade as Darkwood but from there you can see Montseratt and it's volcano.

In Barbados.. A car rental is easy if you want to tour the island (which is mountainous and beautiful) on your own.. about $110 per day with gas, license and full insurance included. We enjoyed Barbados Wildlife Reserve and swimming at Carlisle Beach.

At Carlisle Beach you can go to The Boatyard ($20 per person) but I don't think it is worth it as you can access the same beach for free. Here you can do a snorkeling tour to see turtle for about $10 per person if you do a little bargaining and/or wait until the first wave of tourist have been hustled for $20 person. Also there are locals who rent beach chairs and umbrellas for about $5-10. Although a cab is about $4-5 person it is only about a 40 minute walk to the cruise port.

As far as kids activities.. our GS really enjoyed "Adventure Club" and the mini-golf on-board the ship. There is also a nice kids pool with a slide on-board. I think seeing the green monkeys and other animals at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve would also be cool. If you self-drive there is a Chefette (local McD) in the area with a huge playground, cheap local food and cool treats including a nice selection of ice creams. There's also a Chefette in Bridgetown.

Hope this helps...
DMBTraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2017, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,473
Yes, TMBTraveler, That is all very helpful. Really appreciate the info on beaches and Barbados. Because one of our party is mid-80s, we will likely spend a bit extra and use taxis. I like the idea of a car rental, though DH my not want to drive. The wildlife preserve sounds good. I think I read about a garden that might be interesting.
I also appreciated your thoughts on the ship too. We are pretty easy. It is just nice to hear someone's recent experience.
Sassafrass is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2018, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 329
DMBT, you are right about the damage in St. Thomas. The people are working so hard. St Thomas is so much smaller than Puerto Rico. I know when there was a storm there in the nineties, it took some people years to rebuild.

Yes I did go on a safari. I went to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, it is the largest near Durban. I saw all of the big five except the lions. I was told they are easy to spot early in the morning or very late in the evening when they come out to hunt. I visited to Johannesburg, Capetown and Durban. It was a great trip but we toured everyday. I need the cruise to just rest because I been to all the ports except, Grand Turks and Amber Cove, I am going to do little when cruising this time.
tch912 is offline  
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