Island Hopping

Walking the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Walking the streets of
San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While many travelers are content to spend every waking moment onboard a ship, others like me enjoy visiting the various ports of call. In fact, the more ports on a cruise; the happier I am.

Cruising is a wonderful form of transportation that allows you to hopscotch to interesting places all over the world. I credit cruising for introducing me to places I might not have otherwise visited, in particular, the islands of the Caribbean. Let’s face it, when was the last time you chartered a plane and headed to Jost Van Dyke? .The neat thing about cruising to an island is that if during your short visit you like it, you can always return for a longer visit. And while many of these islands offer enough activities to keep you entertained for four to eight hours, they are hardly worthy of spending a week or more. And that’s the purpose of seeing them on a cruise. If you like island jumping, you can see it all. Well, most of it anyway!

A few pleasant memories: Myself, a friend and two 70 year olds, took a 90 minute hike across what could only be described as a desert landscape to the only bar on the aforementioned island of Jost Van Dyke. It was very hot and walking was the only way to get there.  There were only a handful of people there and most lived on that side of the island. There were three or four people who wandered in by boat. Then there was us and by this time we were looking more like cruise ship refugees. They loved us!

In Montserrat, the island’s formerly dormant Soufiere Hills Volcano had a minor eruption a few weeks prior to our visit. None of the tours would take us closer than two miles because another eruption was predicted shortly. So we hired a taxi. For about $30, our driver took us within a half mile of the volcano. It was bliss. The ground was smoking and the coals were hot to the touch. Smoke billowed from the mountain top. We stayed only a few minutes, but made memories that lasted a lifetime.  Two days after our visit, the island was all but evacuated and the volcano had a full eruption that lasted for weeks.

We walked the hills in Saba and tasted lots of homemade rum. Nearly every resident makes their own brand and the taste is markedly different from one household to the next. I brought a bottle home where the couple’s children hand designed the labels – in crayon!

Now truth be told, the above three islands were only accessible by Windstar Cruises because its tiny footprint was ideal for docking there. I can’t even imagine a megaship trying to do that and I think if they tried – well – let’s just say the results wouldn’t be pretty!

Cruising took me to islands like Virgin Gorda, and Nevis, and better known locales like Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas.

Thank you to all the cruises that introduced me to these wonderful little islands!

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