Done with Covid? Longing for the joys of cruising? Enjoy “Caribbean cruise-different islands-same location?”, the excerpt from Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel.
The great thing about cruising is that if you don’t like where you are, no problem; the ship will move on to a new location. You go to bed looking at one port in the Caribbean, and in the morning you wake up gazing at a different port. Or do you? In the Caribbean—I wonder.
After taking three or four Caribbean cruises, I started noticing a similarity among the ports.
You dock, and there is a calypso-type band welcoming you. To me it looks like the same band as the one I saw at the last port. And there is a sign reading “Welcome to St. Thomas” or “Welcome to St. Maartin” or “St. George (Grenada) Welcomes You.”
If you take a tour, the local guide gives you a spiel about coffee or cocoa beans or in Grenada supposedly nutmeg. Most of the islands were formerly British colonies. However, the Danes ran St. Thomas for a while, but they lost it temporarily to the British. I don’t know why. Maybe they were too busy baking and eating those Danish pastries that they didn’t notice the British fleet under some Lord Admiral Fenwick approaching along the cove. The British usually approached along a cove. Very effective. Certainly baffled the Danes.
The head of the colony was a governor who resided, of course, at the “Governor’s House,” usually the most lavish property on the island. But I can swear I saw many of these same-looking edifices on one island, and then along in the itinerary, on the next island.
Actually, the governor’s houses all look alike. The tours offer you tea at the governor’s house. I once hid a tea bag under the dining room table in St Lucia, and when I visited the governor’s house in Barbados, I looked under the table. No, the tea bag wasn’t there, but I am sure the cleaning staff must have removed it the day before.
And of course they all have histories of rum manufacturing. In fact, the pirates used to come to this local tavern, called by a different name, depending on which island you are supposed to be visiting on this particular day. Often it’s the same pirates too. Captain Blackbeard, for example, must have been quite a lush, having favourite pubs, usually by some cove, on every island. It seems pirates also like their coves.
I believe that there is only one island out there. At night the cruise ship sails out, maybe 10 to 15 kilometres off shore, and meantime, the island tour company changes the harbour area, putting up a fake front with a new name, welcoming cruisers.
When the switch is complete, the tour company telephones the ship and says, “OK, we are now St. Kitts. Bring them back.”
The people unsuspectingly prance off the ship onto the same island they visited yesterday, thinking they made some headway.
Oh sure, they have to make some adjustments daily as the ship comes back. In “Grenada” they probably shout, “The Diamond Princess is back. Get out those nutmegs.”
I expect to get definitive proof of my theory. On my next Caribbean cruise I’ll try that tea-bag trick again.
And speaking of diamonds, a common denominator of all Caribbean main streets is the jewellery stores. Strings and strings of them. Each main street, everywhere, is dominated by the same suspects: Little Switzerland, Diamonds International, Forever Diamonds, and so on.
I never counted, but I am sure these islands have more jewellery stores than palm trees. And certainly even more than they have of Starbuckses.
All have a lady standing out in front entreating passersby to enter the store, promising them a free jewellery gift just for coming in to browse. Actually, there are only about a half dozen of these ladies, and they rotate stores. And, of course, one day they are in what appears to be St. Lucia, and the next day it’s St. Maarten. I am sure they are the same ladies. They have to be; the islands don’t change.
Want to get a great deal on a watch? Give me a shout. I’ll tell you which island to visit.
End of excerpt
Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel, is available in eBook and paper versions on Amazon, Apple books etc., and wherever books are sold. Please click on books page to check out links for some of these sources.