Hopping on a really big boat, part 2
I’m definitely a bit late in posting my cruise stories, but I suppose there’s really no need to hurry up and tell them.
Continuing on our southern caribbean cruise experience, our next port of call was St. Kitts. As with our first three island stops, high clouds and rain were mostly in the forecast. But the temperatures were oh-so-nice as much of the rest of the nation was freezing. As we approached, clouds were gathering around the top of the highest mountain on the island, Mt, Liamuiga which stands at 3,792 ft.
Since many caribbean islands are cruise destinations, it’s not unusual to see several monster ships docked at any given port. St. Kitts was no different, and it was cool to see, up close, two huge RCL ships docked side by side – with the newer Explorer of the Seas obviously much larger than our “little boat”, the Jewel of the Seas.
At St. Kitts we chose an excursion that was something a bit different. Instead of going to the beach, we headed up into the mountains to participate in a “Cooking Caribbean” class. It was held at the Fairview Great House and Botanical Gardens, some 20 minutes from the harbor. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery on our way to this 300-year-old estate property, which has undergone a restoration to its grand great house, courtyard and surrounding tropical botanical gardens and outer buildings.
Built as a plantation great house in the late 1600s, Fairview is now a historical landmark available to tourists, foodies and history buffs. Before the cooking demonstration began we were given a tour of the house, where we learned about previous owners of the property, life on the island in colonial times and the process undertaken to fully restore this historic gem.
Later, during a break in the cooking, we were led to the botanical gardens where these blooming flowers caught my eye:
We had thought we would actually be cooking our food, but it turned out to be just a demonstration. The cook was english-born Janice Ryan, who has been living (and cooking) in the caribbean for decades. We were given the menu and recipes that she would be preparing, and she talked about the various island ingredients she would be using as she prepared our lunch.
For those of you who may not know, Steve loves to cook and experiment (on me) – so he was excited to learn some caribbean cooking techniques on this trip.
Our menu for the day consisted of jerk pork loin, creole fish in a tomato broth, island rice and peas and green banana escovitch.
We watched and listened as she cooked and talked effortlessly while answering our questions. Then once it was plated we savored every morsel of the dishes she prepared. They were all very yummy, especially the creole fish in the spice-laden tomato broth. The perfectly cooked and crusted pork loin with a mild jerk seasoning was tender and oh-so-good. These were simple dishes, straightforward and very tasty! The dessert, coconut bread pudding with rum and brown sugar glaze, was divine. We are hoping to try some of these at home, if we’re able to gather all of the ingredients.
Back at the ship, we had plenty of time before dinner to look for our pictures that the cruise photographers had taken. You see, they ask all passengers to pose at every port and several times on the ship, hoping to sell the photos for around $20.00 a pop. We never buy them, but it’s fun to just check them out.
At our next port of call, Roseau, Dominica, we chose the River Tubing and Rainforest Drive excursion. I picked this one, since I had not yet experienced floating down a river on a tube. I thought whirling and spinning down some of Dominica’s rivers would be a great place to give it a try. And it was! Driving to the river, we learned from our tour guide that Dominica was the backdrop for two sequels of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies – where my favorite man Johnny Depp was the bomb. We enjoyed the island’s beauty as our crazy driver raced down the coastline on roads hacked out of the mountainside.
Exotic scenery awaited us at the river, and we were ready for some adventure. Our tubing guides were there to help us avoid hitting rocks and to keep us moving smoothly down the river. It was a mostly peaceful ride, interspersed with some mini-rapids and antics from the tubing guides to make it more exciting. We had a great time but didn’t get any pictures, as we got soaked and didn’t want to risk destroying our camera.
After arriving downriver in one piece, we watched a cultural presentation by the Carib natives that was in progress. Then off we went again with our maniac driver to the lovely Hibiscus Falls, which was hidden in the lush rainforest greenery.
More unusual and beautiful flowers:
Before heading back to the ship, we stopped once again at a local stand to beat the heat by enjoying a rum punch featuring the island’s unique rum.
At this port, the ship was positioned at just the right spot for a beautiful caribbean sunset. Oh yeah!
As usual at dinner time, we devoured our delicious three-course meal. Except for the comedy shows, we usually hit the sack fairly early so we could rise in time to witness the approach to our next port.