Harmony of the Seas: Part 2 (4 Caribbean Islands & A Restaurant Named Wonderland)
We spent an afternoon at the busy port of Nassau.
The small commercial capital of the Bahamas is full of colonial and old world architecture, plus a marketplace overflowing with souvenirs. Some of which came home with us and now live in the rumpus room downstairs.
Saint Kitts and Nevis are two islands well-known for their rain forested mountains and black, white and grey sand beaches.
The capital Basseterre, on the larger island of St Kitts, has a long history of rum production. Christopher Columbus introduced sugarcane to the island that grew to have 68 plantations.
We learnt all about it from our rum tour guide. I think her name was Nikita. I remember her well because she handed out the sass as well as the rum samples. Like the souvenirs from Nassau, a couple of bottles made it home to the rumpus downstairs too.
We went horse riding over the hills and through the forest in St Kitts. We were led by men who spoke hard Creole, sharper than any I’d heard on our trip to Belize the year before.
Although the scenery was beautiful, the men were rough with the horses and the ride was so long it left us apprehensive about jumping back in the saddle in Vinales, Cuba. (It turned out fine).
Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St Thomas Island, was a busy port. It’s the gateway isle of the U.S Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, well known for its beaches and snorkelling spots.
While the rest the team went snorkelling, I headed out for a dive at Shipwreck Cove at Buck Island. It’s a shallow wreck overgrown with water weeds and the fishes that have made it their home.
It’s covered in bright coral highlighted in patches by the sun streaming down into the water.
On land, St Thomas has pastel coloured iguanas that hang out on the rocks there by the water, sunbathing.
We went for another snorkel at Saint Martin, an island divided into two separate countries, its northern French side, called Saint-Martin, and its southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten.
We were sitting on the hull of a catamaran out at sea, when a barefoot guy with a boatload of coconuts appeared beside us. He sliced the top of three coconuts clean off for us with his machete, so we drank fresh water on our way back in, while he stayed out at sea.
I've always wondered where he went after. It was hard to tell which side of the island he was from, and Puerto Rico was only 300km away.
Back onboard, we spent a decadent evening at Wonderland. Wonderland was my favourite restaurant onboard. When the front entrance has a red velvet couch to wait upon, you know your in for a treat.
The walls were lined with china plates that had been hand painted with characters from Alice in Wonderland. The wallpaper had the dark swirling designs that a library full of leather bound books might have. The cocktails on the menu were worthy of the The Mad Hatters’ Tea Party.
Dinner was succulent and dessert was to die for. We ordered a giant chocolate ball that collapsed into itself when the waiter covered it in warm chocolate sauce, revealing a curl of smooth white ice cream underneath its melted shell.
We were grinning like the Chesire Cat after we’d finished that.
At the back of Deck 6 there was an outdoor area called the Boardwalk. It had the Carnaval feel of what I imagine Coney Island to be (I’m yet to go there).
Right in the middle was an old Carousel, with brightly painted horses and lions all lit up under a circle of dazzling bulbs.
We couldn’t get enough of that carousel. It whispered to us like the burgers at Johnny Rockets called to Mum, until we took up the shiny red stools lining the bar.
We washed down that American icon of a burger, with milkshakes and a chocolate fudge Sunday served in a vintage ice cream glass.
The thing about the cruise is there’s something for everyone.
When half the team hit the Casino on Deck 4, the other half went to the Jazz Bar opposite. It was a 362 metre long example that sometimes, bigger really is better.
After forgoing the rock climbing wall for a massage in the beauty parlour, we’d have to book round two to do it all.
In retrospect, the massage was a good choice. It would be a long time before we’d have another one, because unless your in Asia, a backpackers budget doesn’t spring for such luxuries.
Back in Miami, our parents departed to the bright lights of Vegas, while we boarded a plane to Cuba.
The white plastic card loaded with cruise ship currency was now obsolete, and we wouldn’t see a buffet again until Brazil.
By the time we made it back to NZ to see our parents, we’d be packing for another family vacay.
All that’s left to say is Mahalo to our parents,