Our final port of call on our wonderful cruise was St. Kitts and Nevis, two islands, one country, birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, former British colonial influence. This was our earliest morning yet, compounded by the fact the ship changed the timing to leave even earlier. We noticed this happened to us a few times, and never in the favor of those who don’t enjoy morning activities. However, we decided not to cancel because we wanted to make the most of our final shore day.
We did a quick and light room service breakfast, and then headed to the Silhouette theater for a 745AM meet up point and an 8AM tour departure. Completely circumventing the busier Basseterre, St. Kitts, the capital of the islands, we headed instead to the sleepy younger sister island, Nevis. The journey took about an hour on an open-air ferry, which fortunately was much more pleasant than our St. Bart’s indoor ferry. The water was also quite calm, and we got a great view of the long expanse of the undulating St. Kitts shoreline and hills.
The ferry operators were very nice and tried to provide narration, but we couldn’t hear much over the noise of the engine.
Once in Nevis, those on the ferry were divided in to smaller groups for our Nevis tour.
We ended up with a guide whose nickname was Cookie – nicknames were apparently quite common for the island of Nevis. He was high energy, always had a smile, and operated an open-air safari vehicle with bench-style seating. We were able to snag a row near the back with no one sitting next to us. And off we went…
First stop was a tour around Charlestown, the main city in Nevis. It was a small island, but with the second largest mountain in the Caribbean after Jamaica, named Mount Nevis. The island Nevis itself was named by Columbus after he saw clouds shrouding the mountain, which looked like snow – snow in Italian is “nieve“. There Christopher Columbus goes again, being all creative. The Carib tribe has previously named the island Oualie, meaning “land of beautiful waters.” Unsurprisingly, Columbus was a better explorer and navigator than a poet.
It was a little hard to hear Cookie for the first part of the tour because of the noise from the engine, but he was able to turn up the volume once we let him know. There wasn’t much to the town, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out – however we did learn that St. Kitts and Nevis is the oldest British colony in the Caribbean, starting in the 1620s. The island was populated by British families who set up sugar plantations on the back of slave labor. From one of these families came Alexander Hamilton (out of wedlock no less). We took a quick stop at his birthplace, where he lived until he was 8 years old. There was not much to see at his birth home, which was also a museum.
The other famous colonial Nevis resident was Horatio Nelson, British naval commander who lost the Battle of Trafalgar.
We took a stop at the hot spring area near the town center which was pretty pathetic today – but in years gone by it featured a resort (now abandoned) that was probably quite nice. We were able to get some nice overlook pictures from a higher vantage point.
Making our way inland, our next stop was the Montpelier Plantation, which was the sugar plantation and estate where Horatio Nelson wed widow Fanny Nisbit. This is now the fanciest boutique hotel on the island and competes with the Four Seasons as most luxurious/high-end. The plantation was obviously no longer operational, but the current owners did a good job preserving elements of its history – including turning a sugar mill in to a unique and romantic dining experience. Rooms here range from $300-800 depending on the season.
For our final stop on Nevis, we went to Pinney’s beach to have lunch at Lime Beach Bar. It was a really laid back, open air kind of place with excellent rum punch, rum raisin ice cream, and bizarrely enough vegetarian wraps. Our lunch (plus several rum punches) were included in the tour, and it was delicious. Since we didn’t bring our bathing suits, we opted to read and suck down some internet with the TEP, as well as explore the boutique nearby. It was oddly high-end and run by a British lady (which threw me for a loop even though we saw the same thing on Dominica (hot springs operating).
And, that pretty much wrapped up the day. Cookie drove us back to Charlestown, taking us through the Botanical Gardens modeled after Kew Gardens, and back to our ferry. We grabbed our same places on the back in the open air for the sunny and pleasant return journey. Brendan even saw some dolphins in a dolphin experience enclosure. We again struggled to hear one of the ferry staff offer narration on what we were looking at, despite him talking directly to us! We caught a few things – such as a villa where Beyoncé and Jay-z stayed, as well a Boobie Island (a small little rock that basically looked like a nipple) – and the ferry captain swung next to a marina area around a salt pond surrounded by mountains. It was the most beautiful place on St. Kitts from the sea.
Back in St. Kitts, we walked around the town and checked out some of the shops for 30 minutes before heading back on to the ship.
I was on a mission to finalize an expense report so I worked through that for the next hour, and then met Brendan at the gym.
That night’s entertainment was an Venetian magician, David Gatti, who was both serious and not serious. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to be, but his sleight of hand and lack of artifice demonstrated that he was highly skilled. But, it was a little weird and we walked away feeling “meh.” The best part of the show was the audience participation segments – where a lady had to read a few sentences silently to make sure she understood it, and then was asked to read it aloud. She pronounced the abbreviation “aka” as “ack-a” instead of spelling out the letters. There was another segment where the magician asked the audience to catch a beach ball, and then throw it behind them, where it should be caught by the next person. The audience completely dismissed the instructions and performed as they would at a sporting event, bouncing the ball all over the place, ignoring the magician’s instructions to catch it. Both were perfect examples of the infiniteness of human stupidity.
Even though the show was so-so, dinner that evening was the best we had on the entire cruise. We booked the Taj Mahal Indian food night on The Porch, which was a patio sister restaurant to The Lawn Club Grill. It was $35 a person and was in a format where we got to try smaller portions of everything on the menu across 3 courses. It was flavorful and spicy in just the right way and hit the spot since we felt a little deprived of ethnic food this trip. The ambience and music were delightfully Indian, and the breeze from the open air threw cool kisses our way, just hitting the spot. Our waitress was also great and gave a great explanation of every item on the menu with very good Hindi pronunciation, and even brought us complimentary glasses of wine and sent us away with a full sparkling water bottle without charging us (again, we think the cards turned in our favor for not having a beverage package and it throwing off the wait staff).
After a great night and feeling accomplished that we were able to count seven new countries/territories to our list in 7 days, we savored our well-earned rest.