The turn-around at the Isle of Spice.
Waking up was not too difficult. I had fallen asleep pretty early the night before and after a certain amount of sleep, my body is almost always compelled to stir. Or perhaps it was my back aching because I slept on it all crooked. Stepping out on the balcony for a quick glance, I could see us approaching Grenada. The ship was already creeping along. Room service knocked and I was delivered the pretty-much daily banana, tea, and toast. I felt a little better this morning though my guts were still a little upset and I felt slightly woozy. The biggest difference was my lack of nausea. This meant that I would likely not need to visit a doctor. Excellent. The question then was what to do with my day.
Grenada was a port where I was once again, on my own. This morning I was okay with it because I wanted to get off the ship and check some stuff out. I also wanted to pace myself. At 8am the Shore Excursions desk would open so I decided to head down and see what I could find as far as a shorter and easy-going island tour. Once I approached the lobby on deck 3, I bumped into Suzette and Keith who were on the catamaran that I was supposed to be on in Martinique along with Janet who was as well. We had a little conversation about how I was feeling. After a short while, they went to meet for their excursions and I got in line to book one. When the desk opened and after my turn came, I chose to do a fort and beach tour that took roughly 3.5 hours. It was the Ft George, Ft Frederick, Grand Anse, and Scenic Ride tour. It started in roughly an hour which gave me a little bit of time to get my crap together. I went back to the cabin and grabbed all my gear.
I took some Imodium shortly before stepping off Splendor. I also brought my sunscreen and wore a baseball cap. There was no way I was going to allow myself to get burnt today. Stepping onto the pier, it was absolutely beautiful outside. Tropical but not over-bearing. I made my way to the gates where excursion staff were waiting with signs for the tours. I met up with my group and we made our way to the taxis. We had 2-3 vans for our tour and some couples were upset because they all wanted to travel together. They made a big deal about it, but ultimately caved when nobody outside their group felt like shuffling van-to-van. Honestly, they’d have enough time together anyways. I was last to be put in a van as I was solo. I was assigned to Leroy (aka “One Time”) and got to sit shotgun in his van, which was excellent. He is a character. One of a handful of locals born in Grenada who was Caucasian. His origin was British, but his accent and demeanor was definitely that of an islander. He was welcoming and very happy to talk about Grenada, but not the most patient individual, which came up later. We set off, creeping through the maze of streets that cut through St. Georges. All the roads were very old and laid-out in a way that made little sense, yet we progressed. Driving past several old buildings and stopping briefly for an occasional photo we eventually made our way to the first actual stop, Fort George.
We pulled up to Fort George and stopped in a driveway in front. Leroy told everyone to meet back there in twenty minutes so we would continue to our next stop. I didn’t hear him say it, but others did. Now, Fort George is an oddity in historic landmarks in that while much of it is in ruin, some still houses staff. Walking around we saw both and took in the excellent views from the top of the hill in which it was situated. There were a good amount of people from other groups there and I noticed I was probably the youngest. This became particularly apparent when others needed to ascend/descend the many stairs of the fort. As such the case, I took a little more time at certain parts taking photos while waiting for the stairways to clear.
When I felt that I had better get out of the sun, I descended through the backside of the fort and found Leroy parked among other taxis at the bottom of a hill. At first he was cool with just me meeting him there. I told him because of my medicine I couldn’t be out too long in the sun and he understood. When others started to meet him there, he got a little upset. “I told dem to meet me out in front!, Don’t dey listen?” He drove the van to the front of the fort where a couple of others were waiting. They hopped on, but we were still missing two. We waited for a bit and then Leroy opted to drive around back again to check back there. Nobody was there. We drove to the front again and once again nobody. Leroy called his boss who instructed him to make a couple more circles and then proceed. We did eventually move on when there was still no sign of the others. They had left their belongings on the van and we all hoped they had just taken another bus.
We went on another drive for our next stop which was the even older Fort Frederick. This fort was even older and perched even higher than Fort George. From it, you could see a good bit of Grenada, including Grand Anse Beach. This stop, we were given roughly thirty minutes to enjoy the scenery and a small bar right outside the property. There was a steel drum trio playing and a man selling souvenir spices (as Grenada is the “isle of spice”). Not feeling up to it yet, I went to explore the mostly sun-covered fort.
After our time was up we made our way to the van for the trip to Grand Anse Beach. It was a short while away and along the route, Leroy pointed out several things of interest. Cashew trees, sweet sop, bread fruit, citrus, and gave us some history. Apparently they had a lot of snakes on the island and had to bring in some mongoose to help rid them. Well, the mongoose thrived to the point where there was an over-abundance of them and they were sought after now. We also learned that many houses had their own water reservoirs as the ancient plumbing in Grenada was very prone to breaking. This made me feel a tad better about the infrastructure issues here in the US.
Approaching Grand Anse Beach, we were told that our access to it was through one of the oldest and most prominent resorts on the site, the Radisson (it had changed through various brands/owners over time). Leroy pulled the van up to the drop off area. With one look down the hallway, the property was absolutely stunning. We were given tickets for drinks and told to come back in a little over an hour. At this point I was starting to feel better and ventured over to the pool-side bar for the free drink. Many opted for the cliché rum punch, but I asked about the popular local beers. They had Carib Lager which I had before and Stag, which I had not. I obviously chose Stag. It was pretty smooth but a little short on flavor. Not disappointed though, I finished it and made my way over to claim a spot on the beach under a tree. There was already a very nice Canadian couple who had taken a few loungers under one tree. I took one as well and set it under the same tree. I applied another liberal amount of sunscreen and set off for near-bath temperature water. I swam for a short period of time, pretty much just hovering in the same spot. The water was so nice, I didn’t want to get out. I began cursing myself for not doing a longer tour. Obviously I was playing it safe, but I felt I was playing it too safe. A few times I would get in and out of the water to take some photos. Eventually though the inevitable happened and our time was up. It was time to get back in the van and head back to port. Que sad-face. On the way out, I took a brochure for the resort and promised myself to return in time.
Getting back to port was just as scenic as leaving. This time we stuck to the shore this time and drove through the old port of St Georges (not the cruise port area). It was rather cool. At this point, I kind of regret not taking more photos of it, but like I said, I will be back to revisit Grenada.
Back in the cruise port section of town, we were dropped off and I tipped Leroy. I then set off inside the mall-of-sorts that makes up the duty-free shops. I needed to try to find my magnet and t-shirt for Grenada. I found that many of the shops were similar in nature and ownership. Most of them had owners and staff from India. While all the tees seemed the exact same, one shop in particular stood out in its selection of magnets. I purchased a nice magnet for my tool box and then gave in and got a touristy t-shirt at another. There was one Carib Lager T-shirt I almost bought, but for some reason, even though it was a medium, it was so long it may as well have been a Snuggie. After buying my stuff, I bumping into Jenna, Phil, and their crew who had been doing the 80s party the night before. I apologized for not making it, but they were cool with it and we would hang again more over the course of the trip. After running into them, I got my passport stamped and made my way back to the ship after briefly watching (and enjoying) a steel drum band.
Once on-board, I had a nice ham and cheese sandwich from the deli and then bumped into some folks from the Facebook page. I sat down and enjoyed some drinks and conversation with them for a while before sail away.
Sail away from Grenada was awesome. I found a spot on the starboard bridge wing and watched as a couple of pier runners made their way onto the ship with cross looks from some staff. We set sail shortly after and once again they sounded the horn as we backed out of port. There were a couple of cool looking vessels anchored off shore, that had I had a better lens, I would have taken impressive photos of.
After sail away I went back to the cabin. Waiting for me was the invitation to Chef’s Table, and the past guest party. Chef’s Table I was looking forward to with a slight bit of hesitation. I felt like I was on the mend, but wasn’t sure If I could handle all the courses and endless wine. I was denied Chef’s Table last cruise on Carnival Victory though (due to low attendance) so I wanted to go through with it this time. I donned some nice threads and at 6:30, made my way to the lobby bar where we were to meet the staff. I felt slightly overdressed, but then again, preferred it that way. We waited a short amount of time and then were escorted by the steakhouse staff into a separate dining room near the mid-ship main dining room. We were seated in an order that initially didn’t make sense as it separated couples. We re-arranged out seats accordingly. Not long after seating, we were introduced to the lead chef and his assisting staff, along with those waiting on is. Another short time later we were then given the galley tour. I had seen the galley before on a Behind the Fun tour of Carnival Valor which is a similar class. I knew roughly what to expect. At the start we were led to an area in a remote portion of the galley, where we were given a couple of really good hors d’oeuvres. We were then led to another section of the galley, where the lead chef gave us detailed instructions on how to properly prepare the cruise line’s famous warm chocolate melting cake. I had read about those who had issues making it and when he was giving his instructions, I realized it has to be pretty specific in some parts -Read, it’s easy to screw up. I have no desire or proper amount of patience to make it on my own. Before heading back into our separate dining room. There were some questions asked. First off, due to the unique nature of the cruise, there were THREE sessions of Chef’s Table which is unheard of. Secondly, when the seas are rough, they lower the levels of soups/stew to avoid spillage. Another interesting detail is that the lead chef can decline delivery of any type of food for any reason he feels it’s not satisfactory. Good to know.
Once the tour was over, we were seated. The courses began and so did the endless wine. The food came out looking very ornate and fancy. Everything was delicious. I ate everything and drink the wine along with it. It was so much food. By the time the (very rich) dessert came around, it was all I could do to eat a portion of it. Good grief, what a meal. I was stuffed. At the end of the dining service, we were given copies of a group photo we had taken with the lead chef earlier, and then we departed.
After chef’s table, I wanted to burn off some of the massive amount of food I had eaten. I walked around for a good while and then changed in the cabin before a brief moment in the nightclub. Kim was telling me about how the DJ had been playing the same reggae over and over and over again the night before (the night I missed). She also told me about how Amberly called him out on it, and how eventually how his manager was called in to have him switch things up. I wish I had been there to see it. I don’t think it made much difference though as the DJ seemed a little better but was still not getting enough people on the dance floor. Seated at the bar were Alicia, Kim J, and Andrew. We all talked for a while and they mentioned they were on the same tour I had booked for Dominica the next day. Sweet! More familiar faces!
After a while most of us started calling it a night. My stomach still relatively full, I fell like an anchor with a loose chain into bed and passed out for the night.
Yes. I was feeling better.