"" Writer's Wanderings: Crown Princess -- Caribbean Ports

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Crown Princess -- Caribbean Ports

Our itinerary for the week of our cruise aboard the Crown Princess called for putting in to Princess Cays the first day, a day at sea, and then St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk followed by another day at sea before returning to Ft. Lauderdale.

This was our first time at Princess Cays even though we have sailed with Princess seven times before. The island is beautiful and well appointed with shopping opportunities, lots of lounge chairs, a lovely beach, and of course the ever-popular BBQ. Somehow a hamburger tastes so much better when you can smell it cooking on an open grill.

Our group rented a bungalow for the day. This was our first experience with anything like that and it was very nice. The bungalow actually had A/C which we really didn't need. The morning was cool and the afternoon temperature never got unbearable. Wait staff brought us food from the buffet around noon and supplied us with ice water in pitchers. We could have opted for drinks and grilled lobster but that was another $48/person.

The area in general is shaded nicely away from the immediate beach so there are plenty of places to stay out of the sun if you choose. Just be sure to get there early for the best choice. There is also a very nice play area for the kids.

In St. Maarten's we got off early and strolled the boardwalk until the heat set in and then we opted for the shadier main street where all the storefronts and casinos are. Tough to find a jewelry store--NOT. That's about all there is lining Main Street.

At St. Thomas, we were docked across the harbor from the usual pier at a place called Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal at Crown Bay. Shuttles into town were $4/person each way. Be aware that when that open air "bus" pulls up to a stop in town, you will be inundated by all sorts of barkers who are literally in your face offering deals for jewelry and tours. It was worse that St. Lucia. But once we were away from the melee, we found some pleasant side streets and "malls" to wander through. We stopped to admire and try to catch a photo of a beautiful dark green/black hummingbird with a teal crown. Out of the dozen picture we got this one.

It appears that Crown Bay is gearing up for more regular cruise ship traffic. There were several shops and some empty new buildings as well as a windmill that were in the process of being finished for obvious occupancy. It is not as large a shopping area though as the other pier where most ships dock.

We arrived at Grand Turk at 1 p.m. and stayed until 6. The Grand Turk cruise port is one that has been built by the cruise lines and features quite a few nice shops as well as Margaritaville where you can spend the afternoon by the large pool that has a swim-up bar. There is also a very nice beach area with all sorts of lounge chairs. If you venture into town, be sure to take a tour that gets you out to the lighthouse where there's a nice little path by the sea and "Kodak" opportunities and then into town for a tour of the prison and the museum. The museum houses some great artifacts from some ships of the Christopher Columbus era.

Our days at sea were relaxing. Bob took advantage of several tours including one backstage and watched the comedy of Executive Chef, Giuseppe Pollara and Maitre d', Francesco Ciorfito, as they had a Culinary Demonstration (or a "cook-off" as it was advertised). The last show offered on Saturday night, "Motown," was probably our favorite but then, that's our kind of music.

Next Post: Dinner at Sabatini's

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