Day 7 - Antigua
Friday, August 1, 2008: Welcome to Antigua!
|We passed a Maersk-free container yard on our way to the dock.
|Our shore excursion this day was the only one we did not book through the ship. Our meeting place for our Adventure Antigua tour was a souvenir shop just outside the pier area, and near the left in this photo.
|We waited at our meeting place and watched the Black Swan head to sea, a pirate ship ready for mischief and mayhem. Debbie was impressed by what appeared to be a wheelchair-accessible entry. Good for you, Black Swan!
|We were on the Xtreme Circumnav tour and we were the second of three stops to pick up passengers.
|The third stop was at Sandals resort, one of several we had seen or heard of throughout our week. Someday we might have to try these all-inclusive resorts but for now, we still have a lot of ground to cover and prefer cruises in order to see as many places as we can.
|Our tour would circumnavigate the entire island, so we needed speed and we got it.
|We passed Prickly Pear Island, which is a day trip destination we had read about featuring lunch and sunbathing. We zoomed on past.
|This is Long Island where they keep the wealthy people. Well, lots of them anyway. Apparently, there are more scattered throughout the mainland as well.
|We made a brief drive-by at Hell's Gate, a location that warrants a longer stop on Adventure Antigua's other tour.
|Our first stop was Stingray City.
|Inspired by Grand Cayman's popular Stingray City, one was developed on Antigua.
|Circumstances led to fencing in the rays. Note that our arrival at the dock prompted rays to gather along the outside of the fence -- they're the dark shapes in the water in this photo.
|Pelicans circled and dove for fish as we awaited our Stingray City guides.
|Once we donned our snorkel gear (minus fins to protect the rays), the nice Stingray City guides took photos of each of us, which we purchased later. Tom held the ray this time since Debbie had her turn in the Cayman Islands.
|Once we were in the water, we were surrounded by rays.
|Watch and enjoy.
|If you look closely, you can see two more rays on the outside of the fence in this photo. They want inside because that's where the free food is.
|They're graceful creatures and we snapped photos ...
|... far away and ...
|... UP CLOSE.
|We didn't just enjoy the rays. We snorkeled the small reef and saw several huge schools of tiny fish.
|Our Stingray City guides left when we did.
|Next, we zoomed off through the giant waves of the Atlantic side of the island.
|We passed many resorts but didn't keep track of which is which.
|This is the Devil's Bridge area.
|We had lunch on Green Island. Around the island on the left was a nice little area for us to splash in while we waited for the crew to set up lunch.
|Serge found a conch and showed us the little creature hiding inside the shell.
|We found a good spot for Orchy's daily photo proving where he is.
|We did a little bit of exploring and found lots of lizards and hermit crabs.
|Yes, hermit crabs like this guy. They were tucked into large plants, hiding under brush, and sitting out in the open like this guy.
|We also got a shot of the lovely Adventure Antigua Xtreme boat in all its muscle boat glory.
|Serge announced that it was time for lunch -- barbecued chicken, pasta salad, tossed salad, the most delicious sweet plantains ever, and banana bread for dessert. Ross served up passion fruit juice and tamarind juice.
|After lunch, we amused ourselves with the antics of nearby lizards.
|This guy appeared to be king but had to constantly defend his crown.
|One of the crew spotted something in the water. What could it be?
|A family of dolphins!
|Back on the beach, we spotted these juvenile cocoa damselfish and a juvenile sergeant major playing safely in the shallow end of the ocean.
|After an hour and a half of play time on Green Island, we were back on the water for more adventures.
|We passed these natural caves, ...
|... and these rocky cliffs that show the geological origins of Antigua.
|We went past the Pillars of Hercules with promises to return shortly.
|It was just a short distance to Nelson Bay, home of Fort Berkeley.
|Here's the fort from the other side, ...
|... and the historic buildings that comprise Nelson's Dockyard.
|More buildings, ...
|...a cool-looking ship, ...
|... and the original boat house pillars.
|This is where the wealthy folk keep their big boats and bring them for repairs.
|This is also where pelicans look for lunch.
|Anyway, back to the Pillars of Hercules to do some more snorkeling, because that's what it's all about, baby.
|Ross took us out on a guided snorkling tour of the impressive terrain just below the water. He makes diving down 20 feet look easy.
|We saw a jellyfish, ...
|... then a bunch of them. Tom had gotten a jellyfish sting during our biobay tour in Puerto Rico, but we're more fascinated by them than afraid.
|This shot gives an idea of the terrain underwater, with Debbie's fin thoughtfully included to give you an idea of scale.
|We love the little bright blue yellowtail damselfish. This little guy's tail was still clear instead of yellow, so he was still a kid.
|And here's an elkhorn coral.
|Our snorkeling was over too soon, but not before our waterproof camera started to fog up. Pretend this photo isn't blurry.
|Our final stop was at Rendezvous Bay, where we had the entire stretch of beautiful sand to ourselves.
|It was rum punch time so we enjoyed a cup or two along with the scenery.
|As we were leaving, one of our guides spotted these turtle tracks on the sand.
|Previously, we had seen turtles in the ocean mating, so when we spotted this log bobbing in the water, we assumed it was also turtles. It was not. However, this is a more family-friendly photo to include.
|Another rum punch, another digital closeup.
|Off in the distance, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the mysterious island of Montserrat.
|These little cone-shaped buildings were scattered throughout Antigua. We learned that they were used for sugar production when sugar cane was a big industry.
|This area is known as "Five Islands." Guess why.
|This is Hawksbill Rock.
|This sugar mill building appears to have been restored and is in use.
|We dubbed these hair-extensioned, faux-nailed sisters Britney and Jamie Lynn. They loved two things: rum punch and the boys in the crew.
|Captain JD smiled for his fans as the Sandals folks departed the boat.
|These lucky goats got to live right next to the ocean.
|Here's another fort of some sort. At this point were weren't really paying attention; sorry.
|We returned to our majestic ship worn out, sunburned, and pleased with our tour.
|After a well-deserved shower, we had a seat on our balcony and enjoyed our Piton beers from St. Lucia the day before.
|Adventure Antigua's Eco Tour boat was coming in about then, so we got to see it too.
|St. John is a pretty little town in the late afternoon.
|At the formal dinner that night, we were already primed with rum punch and Piton beer, so we decided to have some foofy tropical drinks. Imagine our horror to find them served in neon plastic cups. They were tasty though!
|Meanwhile, back in our cabin, some sort of snorkeling explosion had occurred in our bathtub.
This carnage had already occurred several other times during the week so we were starting to figure out what caused it.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy