Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Cruise - Antigua #6

Look what greeted us on the dockside when we arrived in Antigua, the 'island with a beach in the middle'!   What's more it was SUNNY!!!!!

We berthed in St. John's Harbour and after breakfast we disembarked and went to the taxi dispatch centre on the quay, where we joined one of the many tour buses for a trip round the island.

Our bus headed to Antigua's National Park and Shirley Heights.   This military complex, within a short distance of the Dockyard, is not named after the fairer sex, but after Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands, who strengthened Antigua's defences in 1781.  Britain had lost all her West Indian colonies (including North America) at the time, except for Antigua and Barbados.  Much effort, therefore, was put into Antigua's defences, mainly because of the island's great sugar producing value and the important Dockyard.  Shirley Heights may be divided into three sections:

1. The Ridge and Artillery Quarters, which we saw but did not stop.

2. Blockhouse, our first stop.  This is the easternmost part of the military complex of Nelson's Dockyard, with the most magnificent views looking over the south-east coast, which you can see in the slide show below.  It was designed as a place of last refuge, which is the meaning of the word.  A moat opposing the vertical cliffs was originally planned but was never started.  The Officer's Quarters is in ruin as are the out buildings, servants quarters, married quarters and stables.

3. The Lookout with views of English and Falmouth Harbours - this was our second stop.

Here's a little slide show of the views from Blockhouse.

Our guide pointed out two houses on the headland - Eric Clapton's and Whitney Houston's!

You will notice how Eric's house blends into it's surroundings, that's because he had it built that way.  The guide also told us that Eric has built two drug rehabilitation centres on the island, for which celebrities pay a small fortune to use whereas the facility is free for native Antiguans - how comendable is that?

Our next stop was The Lookout from where we had excellent views of Nelson's Dockyard.

Nelson's Dockyard is the only remaining naval dockyard in the world designed to maintain wooden sailing warships of olden times.   It was started as early as 1725, though it had been used as shelter from the mid 17th century.  The first recorded ship at English Harbour, anchored to survive a hurricane, was a yacht.  It was a naval ship chartered to the King for the use of his Governor of the Leeward Islands.

Nelson - the famous British hero of Trafalgar (1805), was here as Senior Captain (27 years old) in 1784.  As a zealous Naval Officer, he enforced the Navigation Act, which stated only British ships could trade with British Islands.  America had become independent, so Nelson severely upset the Antiguan merchants by suppressing their long standing trade with the former British American colonies.  At one time, if he had left his ship ('Boreas'), he would have been arrested because the merchants were attempting to sue him.  The Dockyard's main function was to maintain ships, thus saving the long voyage to America for docking.   The yard was abandoned in 1889, then in 1930 restoration was half-heartedly started and it 1951 it went full ahead.  The National Parks Authority took over from the Friends of English Harbour in 1984.   It is a beautiful place with lots to see and plenty of private yachts moored there.   I've put together a little slide show for you below.

We followed the coast road back to the boat and, although we didn't have time to stop at any, we saw some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable.   On the way back our guide pointed out Antigua's highest point - Boggy Peak, which had been renamed Mount Obama  for President Obama's birthday on 4th August 2009 - a much nicer name than Boggy Peak don't you think?

We'd had a wonderful day, especially as it was sunny, and had time to sunbathe on the balcony and a little snooze before getting ready for dinner.    We didn't watch the show that evening but we did go to Connexions to watch the comedian Rudi Lickwood twice that evening he was just so funny.  If you click on his name it will take you to Youtube where you can watch some clips.  It was a bit annoying because in the ship's newspaper his act was billed as being aimed at an adult audience, but that didn't stop some irresponsible parents bringing their young children to watch, which meant he really had to tone it down.

Join me for our next stop - Dominica.


Dumdad said...

Another great guided tour!

Anonymous said...

What a world wind extravaganza this cruise was. I am so loving this cruise and the way you are writing it makes me feel like I'm right there. Mahalo

Valerie said...

I agree with Thom, your post makes me feel was there. Wishful thinking! I was looking through some of my cruise photos and found a couple of the welcoming bands but I didn't get a picture of the most memorable band in St Petersburg.

Gledwood said...

I hope you bought lots of unwanted souvenirs. The locals always say they line up with their wares, all bells and whistles a-gleaming and wait for the cruise ships to dock. Then the snooty tourists come by, give their hard-won wares nary a look and swan on by to the nearest beachbar!

Not an implied criticism, just an observation from a BBC2 documentary!

PS do you know if you can still sail to NYC from Southampton on the QEII or its successor..?

Mike Minzes said...

Thanks for the tour!

Akelamalu said...

Glad you liked it Dumdad :)

It was an extravaganza Thom, there's a lot more to come. :)

I'd love to go to St. Petersburg Valerie!

We didn't buy many souvenirs Gleds mainly because of the weight restriction on luggage. I think maybe P&O do the cruise you mention.

You're welcome Realliveman :)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Nelson's it! Incredible view from The Lookout, all the masts peppering the landscape.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

beautiful stop! i love your cruise. the ship should not have allowed the children in the show, that's too bad really.

smiles, bee

Ron said...

Another faaaaaaaabulous tour, my dear!

I sincerely think you should be a professional tour quide, because you really know how to pin point all the great stuff!

As always, I enjoy your photos, however, the ones of Eric Clapton and Whitney Houston's houses were spectacular! OMG...what a VIEW!

Thanks for sharing, Alekamalu!

Have a wonderful day!


buffalodick said...

You should be a tour guide!

Maude Lynn said...

You had me at "sunny!"

cheshire wife said...

Thank you for the memories. We went to Antigua for our honeymoon.

Linda said...

Look at all that beautiful sun and the beautiful lady enjoying every moment of it! Just gorgeous!

I had to smile when I saw the second picture where you're posing underneath the Subway Sandwich sign. Seems like you just can't get away from places like that even in paradise!

Maggie May said...

I love the sound of the kettle drums. Can almost hear them!

Lovely guided tour.

Nuts in May

San said...

What gorgeous photographs. Looks like you're in paradise. I envy you, Akelamalu.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

Akelamalu: it's almost like being there...I love the pics and the celeb houses. I loved 'trunk bay' at St. Johns. The beach beautiful and so is the ocean.

Sweetie...I can tell you had a fabulouss time.


Cloudia said...

Jolly Fun!

Is Clapton still god? LOL!

Aloha, Ake

Comfort Spiral

tattytiara said...

The place had me at steel drums. I'm absolutely loopy about steel drums!

tony said...

I Looked Out The Window While Reading your words & viewing your Photos.It's snowing here again! It seems like another World! Have A Great Time (*green with envy!*)

secret agent woman said...

I like the house built to be concealed - so many huge houses are just eyesores.

Akelamalu said...

Nelson's Dockyard was much nicer in reality than the view - if that is possible Julia! :)

I don't think there was any way to stop them Bee. A a parent I wouldn't take children to an adult show, I think the onus is on the parents.

Oh yes Ron those houses were incredible! Imagine waking up every morning to their views!

Aw thanks Buff :)

It was a nice change Mama Zen! LOL

Oh lucky you Cheshire Wife, it's a beautiful island!

At lease we didn't see a McDonalds Linda LOL

Oh me too Maggie it just makes you think Caribbean doesn't it?

It was paradise San :)

You've been there Spiky?You're right is is just beautiful.

Clapton is still God in my book Julia! :)

Welcome Tattytiara - I love steel drums too. :)

I HAD a great time Tony, I've been back 3 weeks now. :(

I so agree with you SAW!

Chandrika Shubham said...

Nice tour. :) Thanks for sharing with us. :)

Real Live Lesbian said...

I just love travelling with you!!!! What beautiful places!

CrAzY Working Mom said...

I'm so glad you're taking us along! Look @ those beautiful houses. WOW!!!

Travis Cody said...

Well it's good to know that I can get a chicken bacon ranch Subway sammich in Antigua!

Akelamalu said...

Glad you enjoyed it Chandrika :)

They were indeed lovely places RLL :)

I'm happy you're enjoying my trip Tisha x

They're everywhere aren't they Trav LOL

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