St Kitts

Monday 26th February 

DSC_2095 In 1623 St Kitts was the first Caribbean island to be colonised by the British.  From there the British moved out to other islands so St Kitts has always been known locally as the “mother” island. Michael was the driver for our tour around St Kitts and what a great guide he was too!


The British heritage was plain to see, they had to take the glass out of the phone boxes though as it was just too hot.


At times it was very uncomfortable to hear the things that had gone on in the past. Where this fountain now stands used to be the the stage where slaves were auctioned. It’s sad to think that this activity took place in the shadow of the Anglican Church. Michael told us that under all the big houses around the square were cellars where the slaves were kept before being sold. It was very sad and very sobering to think back to those awful days!


These two houses, although not in the best of repair, had a great view of the sea.


This picture was taken as we passed through one of the many towns on our trip.  It does look a bit run down, and there were many more places that looked a lot better, but I haven’t got a photo of those.


This is a picture taken from Brimstone hill fortress.  We were lucky with the weather again and got some great views.



Michael’s son joined us for a short ride back home from the shops; what a little cutey he is!

Goodbye Tourists!

One of the stops was  at a place called Bloody River, so named because the French and the British massacred hundreds of the native Carib indians to prevent a rebellion, and the resulting loss of life caused the river to run red with blood. As we got out of the coach we noticed these children from a local day care centre waving at us, so we all waved back and as we got back on the coach to leave they all called “goodbye tourists”. So cute!


St Kitts is another stunning island and I think we need more time back here to explore.


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Thursday 23rd February


Bridgetown, Barbados.  A short walk from the cruise terminal brings you in to a rather run down version of what the UK was like in the late 60’s and early 70’s.


Barbados is known throughout the Caribbean as “Little England” for the market town atmosphere, the cricket ground and signposts giving directions to places such as Hastings and Worthing. The Cathedral and Parliament buildings still look great, it looks like they may have just been refurbished.


A short walk from town is Carlisle Bay which has a fantastic beach.   (As I am writing this blog the t.v. news is showing the bad weather and snow at home, I hope its all gone by 9th March!)  We enjoyed a couple of hours there sunbathing and swimming but as the sun got higher it became too hot for us, so we decided to go for a drink in the shade.


Whilst in the bar we decided to see if we could get a taxi tour of the island, and after a little bit of negotiating we arranged for Freddie to show us around. The first port of call was St John’s Church on the east coast. We got there just as a wedding was finishing and one of the rather posh looking guests remarked that we were a little late, and as I was dressed in shorts and t-shirt I replied “so I got all dressed up for nothing then”!


We had the taxi to ourselves and he said that it was his job to take all the photos, and as you all know how shy and retiring I am, I was delighted it be able to get some pictures of the two of us together.

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This waitress was happy for me to take her photo and with a bit of cropping I might enter it in the on board photo competition.


At the far end of the island the Caribbean sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. There are some terrific waves to be seen here.


Some take people a little by surprise……………


Some are little too far away to cause problems but they still look impressive!



Thanks Freddy for a great trip around Barbados, we would definitely love to come back and see you again.

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Fort de France

Saturday 24th  / Sunday 25th February

Martinique is a French island situated in the heart of the Caribbean archipelago between St Lucia and Dominica. Typically French, yet typically tropical.


We decided to explore the island by car, so Kev and I set off as soon as we were berthed to search for a car to hire. This proved to be easier than we thought and we were back at the ship within the hour to pick up Val and Jane. It was just as well that Kev was navigating as the road signs weren’t much good!


After an hours drive we stopped at a roadside coconut stall and I tried a fresh coconut for the first time ever! Delicious!


Val was telling me that certain birds like to eat them as well, but she couldn’t remember the name!


We had a great drive up the central mountain through the rain forest and back down to a bar on the other side of the island. I was driving, so just to keep everyone on their toes I dropped one of the front wheels down one of the very deep gutters that they have by the side of the road, that woke everyone up! As I was driving I didn’t have any time to take photos, that had to wait until we reached the beach.


What a lovely beach it was too, this was the place that Kevin and Val set of for a couple of years ago and didn’t make it (more later)!


The beach was so quiet considering it was a Saturday afternoon, and it was great to stroll in the warm water taking in the atmosphere.


This is the spot that several years ago Kev and Val arrived at by bus whilst on another cruise. Kev is the king of organising his own tours whilst travelling and never normally leaves any stone unturned.  However, on this occasion he had forgotten to find out what time the bus returned to the ship. When the driver told them the bus returned at 5pm and Val knew that the ship sailed at 4.30pm Kev realised he had a problem. When they couldn’t get a taxi Val began to panic…………. so to cut a long story short this is Kev hanging his head in shame and Val demonstrating how they got back!


Sunday morning we set of to explore Fort de France only to find that everything was closed! The only thing open was a bar which had run out of white, red and rosé wine and the coffee machine had broken. So I thought that I would have a practice at taking a few selfies with Cormac and Mary, I think I need to do a bit more work!


The French influence on the architecture is plain to see……….

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Martinique is a lovely place,  you really do think you are in France, the only way to tell you are in the Caribbean at this time of year is by the weather!

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St Lucia

St Lucia 

Friday 23rd February


Today we are on another P&O organised trip, we were a bit concerned after our trip to the Pacoche Nature Reserve in Manta, which turned into a muddy fiasco. But P&O refunded our money and reassured us that there wouldn’t be any problems with this trip.


So we set off on our trip to the rain forests of St Lucia, and it did what it said on the tin and rained! The drive to the Aerial Tramway was very exciting, a small coach took us at great speed over the pot holed roads, and at every hairpin bend the driver crashed through the gearbox with the dexterity of Lewis Hamilton. We were all relieved to have arrived safely.


It rained quite heavily at times…………


But despite the rain it was wonderful to ride above all the lush vegetation and see all the flora and fauna.


And get close to the local wildlife. Well done P&O, the Aerial Tramway was a great success!


Back in Castres, the main town in St Lucia, it was very busy and bustling with energy.


The market stalls were of all different shapes and sizes, some like this had a limited stock but it was all very fresh!


The indoor part of the market had a sign with a couple of polite requests.  Jane agreed with the no smoking but was a little disappointed with the other request!


But back outside all was well again!


Friday night and everyone was finishing for the weekend, looking relaxed and ready for a couple of days off.


Traffic was quite chaotic, and there were lots of jams on the back streets…… in fact there was jammin everywhere you looked!


Back on ship we were treated to the sounds of a steel band before we set sail for Barbados.


What a great atmosphere, and lovely way to start the evening.

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Wednesday 21st February



This doesn’t look like the Scarborough I know, its far warmer! Hang on it has started to rain , thats more like it!

IMG_0933 2

Kevin negotiated a taxi ride all around the Island,he nearly got into fisticuffs (but that another story!)  This was one of the first view points of our tour, this is a far more lush island and had a great “feel” to it from the start.


This island was a lot more laid back than some of the other islands that we have visited so far, this is one of the gift shops that used high pressure sales techniques to obtain their money!


This one was so laid back that it wasn’t even open!


Next stop on the trip was a beach bar in a tree………….


Plenty of gaps for a lovely gentle breeze to waft through……….


Great views from the window, and a lovely freshly squeezed fruit juice inside.


A couple of local characters were jus chillin on the corner.


A lot more shopping action here at this stall!


We took a picture of this sign and now we can’t remember why!


We didn’t actually get to this bay (Englishman’s Bay) but it looked absolutely stunning, Maybe next time!


What a way to display your wares………


It certainly caught Jane’s attention!


This is called an immortal tree and there are very many around the island.  They look stunning.


This is Michael, our tour driver for the day.



After our drive we were coaxed in to this bar by the sound of the reggae music and the sound of laughing from fellow passengers.  The rum punches were small but very potent!


This young lady thought that I was Daniel Craig and asked for a picture of the two of us together.  I was slightly reluctant but relented in the end!


Jane spotted her favourite wine waiter out shopping and he gave her one of his winning smiles.


Well we all made it back safely to the vicinity of the ship, but whenever Kev wears that shirt it always takes us a lot longer to get through security!

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Monday 19th February


We were joined in port by Aurora’s big sister Britannia. You realise how big the Britannia is when you see it next to our ship. I’m very happy with the size of our ship, I can find my way around very easily now after nearly 7 weeks, if I was on anything larger I would worry that I wouldn’t find the restaurant!


Kevin had read  quite a lot about a quiet beach a short walk from the ship, that would be  ideal for snorkelling. Well it was a short walk for Kevin and I with our sensible walking shoes on, however for Jane and Val, our resident fashion icons with their sandals and flip flops it was more of a struggle!


When we finally got there it was paradise.  There were 4 other people on the beautiful white sands of the beach and as you can see the sea was lovely and clear.  We found a tree to hang our clothes and to get some shade and then headed  for the water. The dark strip that you can see is a coral reef. Kev was the first in and he was astounded at the variety of fish that he had seen within the first 5 minutes. He said that this was the best spot he had ever been to and he has visited quite a few!


So I thought I would stop mucking about taking silly photos and join him!


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Then this little fellow came along and kept me amused for a little while longer.


Meanwhile Jane, in a moment of complete madness, decided to roll around in the sand! Unthinkable I hear you say, and she wasn’t drunk!


Kev was having a few problems teaching Val how to snorkel, and at one time it looked like things were getting a bit fraught. But as it happened it was only that the mask  kept moving! Well done Val, as this was the first time EVER that she has had a go with the mask and snorkel. She loved it!


No, this is not Ursula Andress from Dr No, its Jane washing the sand off herself and having a go at snorkelling.


A picture of Kev with his heavenly body……..sorry heavenly t-shirt! Do you think he is holding his stomach in?


This chap was looking for some lunch…………..


It might be a little bit too high……………


But not if you are hungry enough !


Talking of which…………this was where we had the BEST tuna burger ever. The fish was caught in the morning and we had it for lunch…….superb!!!!


Well all good days have to come to an end………


So we decided to elongate it by having a couple of rum punches…….


And watch the wildlife hard at work sitting on top of some poles…..


All that exertion has made my cheeks go red…… or could it be the rum punch……..more on that tomorrow!



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Sunday 18th February


Aruba is one of the smaller Caribbean islands and is 19 1/2 miles long by 6 miles wide at it widest point. It is a very flat island with only 3 small hills. The very dry climate means that not much grows here and most of the fresh fruit and vegetables are brought here daily from nearby Venezuela.


Today we were going to catch a bus to the far end of the island to visit the lighthouse and take in the view from one of the 3 hills. Unfortunately not this one though!


Before the bus trip we had a wander along the sea front and got another picture with the ship in the background .


Well this is the lighthouse, much like many others I have seen!


And this is the view from the restaurant on top of the hill, not quite like many I have seen!


The ship didn’t leave until 9.30pm, so that gave us a chance for a stroll into town in the evening and watch the sun go down.


And to get a few different photos.


And also to wear my new shirt.


What a coincidence another man with great taste in shirts (someone mentioned Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger)


Well blow me down with a feather!


My god they are everywhere, and they wash well, this one was bought 3 years ago.  (Yes, I know it has a different coloured background.)

Aruba was a nice place, but I wouldn’t rush back unless I wanted to sunbathe all day, not much else to see on this island.


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Friday 16th February


This is the first time that we have arrived at a port to find that  the entrance is through a zoo……….and gift shop, of course!


Lots to see……….


All with beautiful bright colours……..

DSC_1472Well except for the monkeys!


Old Cartagena is a lovely walled city


With great views, especially  if you decide to walk the walls.


You can see the modern city in the distance.


But we were so enamoured with the charm of the old town that we decided to spend our day walking around this charming vibrant place.


We were again lucky with the weather, the sun was shining although the wind was a little brisk!


They call Cartagena the jewel of South America and it doesn’t  take too long wandering around to see why!


The colonial architecture is evident all around.


And the colours so bright………..


It looks like you are on a movie set rather than a working city.


These ladies add to the colourful spectacle, they wanted $5 for this photo and I only had $1 so one of the ladies hid her face from the tight Englishman!


We had time for a little shopping but Jane thought this fruit bowl was a little over the top!


Whilst Jane was in the shops I took the opportunity to take even more photos!


As you know Columbia is world famous for its coffee (amongst other things).  So we thought we would try the local brew. Although coffee has been famous here for many years, coffee bars are a relatively new thing. They take their coffee very seriously, and we were lucky enough to sit next to a Colombian English teacher who was in the bar with her boyfriend. She got the barister to explain how he was making their coffee and why he had chosen the particular method to make this specific style of coffee.  I kid you not that it took 10 minutes discussion of what bean they wanted (they chose the Santander variety) before they started making it!


I choose the house special, and I was a little perplexed when they brought out a chopping board onto which they put some leaves, set fire to them, and then held the glass over the smoke and then whilst the smoke was still percolating they poured the chilled coffee in. Well I have to say it was well worth all the palaver, this was defiantly the best coffee I have ever tasted!  Jane also enjoyed hers although I think the Baileys in it helped!


Jane is always pleased when I indulge in the local customs, although in this case, when I was tweaking this statues nipples she did find it a little embarrassing!


So after a great day in the city it was time to head back to the port, and another look at the zoo.


Where I managed to pick up a couple of birds, one of which was so keen to undress me it clearly embarrassed the lady standing behind me!


That kept these two talking!


This one reminded me of working for a great cash & carry quite a few years ago!

What a great place Cartagena was, I would definitely like to return!


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The Panama Canal

Thursday 15th February

We were very excited this morning as it was time for our transit of the Panama Canal. This had been on my wish list of places to see and visit for ever, and I never ever thought I would actually be lucky enough to tick this one off my list!


At about 6.45 am Panama city came into view. And what a sight it was with all the sky scrappers and tower blocks looming up in the distance in the early morning light.


The Aurora just squeezes in to the Miraflores locks with only a matter of a few inches to spare. Here the ship is raised 54ft to the same level as Miraflores Lake.


As we exit these locks you can see a far smaller ship leaving the adjacent lock.


This picture (slightly out of sequence ) shows the ships at anchor waiting until night time for their transit, as it is considerably cheaper then.  We were informed that it cost £300,000 to take Aurora through!


These new locks were opened in 2018 and allow ships 25% larger to use the canal. The new locks cost $5.4billion and now the new larger container ships can take advantage of the 12000 mile and 23 days savings that the canal offers.


The first bridge we go under is the Bridge of the Americas.


It looks like we only just fit under but I’m assured that we had plenty of room to spare!



This is the Culebra Cut which slices through the continental divide.  This stretch of the canal is 9 miles long and it is hard to believe it was built in the early 1900s.


Looking back through the cut you can see the Centennial Bridge which was completed in 2004. This was built to supplement the overcrowded Bridge of Americas and can now take 6 lanes of traffic.


The next set of locks are the Pedro Miguel Locks which raise the ship a further 31ft to the height of Gatun Lake.


Here we are greeted by members of the Aurora photography team making a DVD of the trip through the canal (and yes I did buy it and yes you can come round to see it!)


These trains are called mules and they are used to pull the ships into and through the lock.


Not always successfully, as this photo shows.  We were sat right beside this rail when it got caught on the side of the lock and it sheared right off!


This is Gatun Lake, created between between 1907 and 1913 by the building of the Gatun dam across the Chargres River.


With the scenary changing every moment there was always something new to see and little time to sit down.


Although if you’ve done it before you might get a little blazé about it!



A new bridge under construction, it was very interesting to sail underneath whilst all the work was going on above!


Good bye Panama Canal, a very pleasant way to spend a day!

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Tuesday 13th February


Manta is the second largest port in Ecuador and is situated in the bay of Manta. The Republica del Ecuador is slightly larger than New Zealand and twice the size of England. The U.S dollar became the legal currency in September 2000. Ecuador is bordered in the north by Colombia and by Peru in the east and south. The so-called Panama hat actually originated in Ecuador and not in the Central American state as the name would suggest, more of that later!


We had booked another P&O tour today, so it was with high hopes that we set off to our meeting place at the Curzon theatre to see what coach we were on.


Our first stop was around the corner from the ship to where they made the tuna boats.We were both amazed at the fact that they used bamboo as scaffolding.


A little further along  from the boatyard was the fish market (and good cod we have seen a few of those this trip!)


The pelicans were certainly enjoying the attention from all the tourists vying  for their attention and the perfect photo opportunity .


Whilst we were there the local mobile shop turned up, sadly everyone was well shod and not in need of any flip flops.

DSC_0742And as it was early in the morning the ice cream man didn’t do any business either!


Our main destination on this trip was the Pacoche Forest Nature Reserve for a trek to see the howler monkeys and the flora and fauna. Before the trek we were treated to a couple of exhibitions. The first was on how to make a Panama hat.


I didn’t realise how long they took to make. The top of the range ones can take up to six months to make, these feel so smooth and light but will cost you anywhere up to $1000.


Whilst we were there a hat was put through the finishing touches


And then modelled by a willing volunteer!


As a person known for his sartorial taste and elegance I thought I should purchase one of these hats to enhance my already smart appearance. I think I succeeded don’t you?  So that was $40 well spent.


Next on the agenda was to see sugar being extracted from the sugar cane. Maria the donkey worked the press and in a short amount of time we were able to taste the juice.  Very nice and unsurprisingly sweet. This is then boiled down to make molasses, which again was nice to taste.


So then, so far so good. We set off on our trek to see the wildlife. P&O had organised about four coaches to this park, so there were about 160 people wandering around.  There was a sign saying quiet please so as not to disturb the animals. This didn’t, and couldn’t, happen with so many people altogether at one time in one spot. So we didn’t get to see anything.  These things happen I suppose…………….


But the real problems began when we were led to the pathway down into the jungle…..


The paths were as you would expect in a jungle – just mud. The problem was that with this amount of people descending these slopes it soon became treacherous…………


With at times only a thin rope to hold on to it became more and more difficult, so much so that it wasn’t uncommon to see mud stained knees and bottoms! It was difficult for me  and nearly impossible for the 80 year olds with their sticks! (they were given fair warning that it would be hard going, however they had paid and weren’t going to give up!)

It wasn’t all that bad, however, and on the few occasions that we had some flat ground I was able to take a few photos of the flora.


Hooray, we survived………with very muddy shoes!


Francesca, one of the ship’s official photographers, wasn’t  best pleased with the day as her party had to turn back as it got too dangerous, and she didn’t get her photos!


On our way back to the coach this pair emerged from the undergrowth dressed in camouflage gear, giving an unusual salute………


They denied have been to any unauthorised meetings, but I didn’t like the way they marched off!

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