By LARRY VAUGHT
Again it’s almost impossible to explain why spending time on a Princess Cruise is fun, educational and refreshing all at the same time.
We are a little over halfway through our 11-night Caribbean cruise aboard Crown Princess and I could not be happier.
I have had fresh shrimp every day — and a lot of it. I had a lobster cake for the first time and fish stew that had clams, scallops, grouper and, of course, shrimp. I had a 16-ounce New York strip steak that almost melted in my mouth. Then there was the Mongolian dish that was cooked to my specifications that had spices I loved.
Again the entertainment on board has been fantastic. Stephen Schwartz, the composer of the Broadway hit “Wicked,” designed a show — “Magic to Do” — exclusively for Princess and it was amazing. The music was solid but i though the magic was even better. Then two nights later the same production staff came back with another show: DISCO — Blame It On the Boogie. The singing and dancing in the 40-minute show gave you no choice but to tap your feet, clap and maybe even yell a little.
I also loved singer Solomon Jaye. We’ve heard him twice and his music is magical — and from the time I loved. His Motown tribute had the place rocking.
Once again both the crew and passengers are so diverse. The crew literally is made up of folks from across the world and I love talking to them. Same with the passengers, especially those from Australia and England. They simply are the best — and might enjoy some of the same beverages I do.
I got a chance to talk with assistant cruise director Song Eunmee of South Korea for about 30 minutes one day. Her journey from South Korea to Princess was fascinating and she’s a non-stop bundle of energy whether it is line dancing, hosting a game show or just greeting you at a show..
We’ve made three stops so far — St. Kitts and Martinique. St. Kitts was a gorgeous island with some breathtaking scenery and views. I enjoyed watching locals make create Caribelle Batik’s signature fabrics — and spent some money to bring some of the products home.
But what I loved most was the chance to interact with monkeys. It seems a lot of locals have pet monkeys and they were happy to let you hold them and pose for pictures for a donation of a few dollars. I had a monkey on my head, shoulder, hand and lap at different stops. I also had some of the best ribs from a street vendor I’ve ever had.
At Martinique I elected just to wander the city streets on my own. A lovely “market place” was set up new the pier with local art, clothing and more. I opted to walk to the beach for a bit, came back to downtown to visit a cathedral with lovely stained glass windows that was 125 years old after it was rebuilt for the fifth time, and then managed to sample about 10 kinds of rum — actually I am not positive about the count because I got a little confused.
Our most recent stop in Barbados was perhaps my favorite. We went out a tour of Harrison’s Cave — a miniature Mammoth Cave. It’s a young cave with a lot more running water than most caves. It was also a lot warmer because at the deepest level we were still 700 feet above sea level. One other difference — you rode a tram through the cave rather than having to walk to see the formations.
Once we got back to port, I wandered in Bridgetown. I came across the Caribbean Cigar Company where I got to actually watch cigars being made by five women who produce over 200 per day and bought one to take home to my son-in-law. Also I stumbled upon a pottery shop with some lovely crafted selections all made in Barbados and spent a few more dollars. While walking along the beach, I met a lot artist selling various wares and bought some hand painted bookmarks.
Today I am headed to what is described as a “beautiful beach” in Jolly Harbor on the west coast of Antigua. It’s called a “slice of heaven” and I get five hours on the beach and lunch with the locals at Castaways Beach Restaurant. If they have rum and shrimp, then I may truly be in heaven.