Celebrity Equinox Holiday Cruise Day 7 Thursday December 29, 2011 Dominica
On our arrival in Dominica, we were greeted with both sunshine and rain showers, as this very mountainous island is known as a rainforest. There always seemed to be clouds over the mountains, while at the same time, sunshine elsewhere. This resulted in a beautiful rainbow over the harbour.
From the ship, we could see a causeway connecting us from the pier to downtown Roseau.
It was really only wide enough for pedestrians, although we did see one car pass by.
In the centre of town, there is a bank (Royal Bank of Canada!), a museum and one store selling alcohol, tobacco and leather goods.
The only other shopping I could see was a small
"tent city" lining the waterfront, with many tarp-covered stalls selling the usual island souvenirs.
We couldn't help but notice the bright yellow "train" waiting for passengers on the main street.
It was actually a tram/bus that took visitors on a tour of the city.
The excursion that we had booked the previous day had us boarding a modern, air conditioned Nissan bus, for a 45 minute ride across the island to a waterfall, then to a beach.
The first part of the journey the roads were in good condition, in fact, newly paved.
We wound our way up and over this very mountainous island, where clouds hung low and it rained off and on. Our first stop was a bathroom and refreshment break. We were offered
fruit punch and fresh fruits, and a view of a small waterfall and all the surrounding flora and fauna.
Back on the bus, it was a short drive to the beginning of a hiking trail. I don't think we thoroughly read the description of this tour; I had no idea it would be such a strenuous hike to the waterfall, and as I knew we were going to a waterfall and a beach, I had worn only flip flops, not proper hiking shoes. Note to self: do your research!
Following our tour guide, we trekked along a natural trail through the rainforest, and by natural, I mean not cleared, just trampled by previous visitors.
We hiked through mud puddles and pot holes, tripped on tree roots, slipped on rocks, and climbed up and down many areas of steep hills, grasping onto flimsy, and at times, loose, skinny tree trunk guardrails. It was downright dangerous, especially since it was raining a fine mist all the way, and everything was wet and slippery.
Finally, we reached the magnificent waterfall, which made the trek in almost worth it.
We stayed on the large viewing platform, but many fellow passengers made their way down another slippery slope into the water to bathe and splash under the waterfall.
It really was a wonderful experience, standing near a magnificent waterfall in the middle of a rainforest, feeling the cooling mist on our hot and humid bodies.
On the trek back, we welcomed the light misty rain, until at the point where the path finally straightened out, the skies opened and it poured heavily all the way back to the bus!
Shoes, socks, backs of legs, and carry-bags were mud splattered, and we were soaking wet as we boarded the bus for the long trip to the promised beach.
Poinsettias growing wild, right next to our bus.
We endured another 45 minute drive up down and around the island, with windy hairpin curves and some very bad roads, with many areas under construction or repair.
Apparently months previously, there had been a storm that had flooded a lake into a river, and then flooded surrounding areas, leaving agricultural areas devastated, and depositing
mountains of black sand on the roads. In many areas, these huge piles of sand could still be seen roadside, and although we saw many pieces of heavy machinery, there was no evidence
of anyone actually working on removal or repairs. Someone asked our guide if it was a holiday in Dominica, as no-one seemed to be working, but she answered no, and went on to
say that unemployment in her country is at 27%. We did notice on our tour of the island and capital city of Roseau, that many adult males were walking aimlessly on deserted roads, or
sitting idly in front of abandoned buildings. The only people we saw working were farmers, tending their crops with hand tools like hoes and scythes.
There are few industries in Dominica, some rum making and coconut product factories, but little else, other than tourism.
Our guide also mentioned that there had been a 30% drop in cruise ship visits this year, and we think we know why...
Finally, we arrived at the promised "beautiful black sand beach", but the brochure doesn't tell you that the beach is right in the middle of an impoverished and filthy shanty town.
On one side of the bus, were dilapidated shacks with open sewers running into the street, and people actually living in these shacks.
On the other side of the bus was a picture-perfect
tropical beach, featuring the famous black sand from the island volcanoes. It was a very strange juxtaposition.
As this excursion was taking a lot longer than we had anticipated (about 5 hours total when we had expected 3) we were by this time, starving. Complimentary drinks were available at the little beach cafe ( rum punch, fruit punch or water), but simple meals of a burger or chicken and rice were $10, and I did not like the look of the cleanliness of the place, so I settled for 2 bags of Fritos.
I was right about the cleanliness; the few plastic deck chairs
that were available on the tiny beach were filthy and covered in spray paint graffitti, and there were wild chickens and many baby chicks running freely all over the beach, pecking at
any crumbs they could find.
We settled in our chairs and enjoyed the view for the short time we were there, but were made very uncomfortable by the phalanx of unfriendly looking local men who stood against
palm trees, backs to the sea, glaring at us tourists behind their sunglasses. We didn't dare leave our bags unattended to go in the water, and the surf was too wild to do so anyway.
As a beach visit, it was too short, and not very enjoyable, and the only thing I got out of it was dirty feet and some nice photos.
It was a long ride back to the ship, over some very rough roads, and having experienced the bad roads, and the abject poverty seen along the way, I think I see why some cruise ships are
no longer visiting Dominica.
When we returned to downtown Roseau, we were hungry, wet, dirty and tired, and didn't even bother trying to shop in the tent city, just went back onboard for something to eat and to play late afternoon trivia.
We checked out the menu at BLU in passing, and honestly didn't like anything on the list, so we decided to go back to the Silhouette dining room tonight. It was a good decision, because
we had the best service and the best meal all week; a delicious cream of broccoli soup, a scrumptious Pot au Feu, a tasty Barramundi, and for dessert, a to-die-for cocoa meringue,
and flambee banana in rum sauce. Everything was absolutely delicious!
Showtime tonight was a Vegas-style performer, Greg Bonham, who like most of the entertainment on this cruise, was inconsistent. A singer, trumpet player and master showman,
he was good on one song, then the next song he was all over the place, in terms of volume, pitch, melody, timing, and his trumpet playing was screechy. Good effort, but not particularly
James decided to retire early after the show, but I stayed up for "Dancing With the Stripes" up on the pool deck.
Celebrity's answer to Dancing With the Stars, this was a dance competition pitting ship's officers and staff with volunteer passengers, and it was hilarious!
Accompanied by the live band D"Revelation, the contestants danced their way through many different styles of dance, and competition was tough! Who knew that the mild mannered
ship officer and the average cruise ship passenger were such talented dancers?
It was an enjoyable time, and well attended, and the excitement buoyed me enough to stay up and catch the midnight comedy show in the small theatre off the main theatre.
The comedian was Steve Chouette, and he was a natural; not profane, not obnoxious, but very very funny, taking most of his material directly from audience members.
I really enjoyed his show, too bad it wasn't on earlier in the evening so more people could enjoy him.
Tomorrow, St. Maarten....
Last edited by rollerdonna; January 15th, 2012 at 05:35 PM.
Reason: adding photos
Now this is my kind of place and excursion. No shopping, seeing the island as it is, warts and all. A nice waterfall and a bag of Fritos. The only thing that would have bothered me is the bus ride. I would have preferred a car.
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"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
Sharon, our bus was more of a van, about 10-12 passengers.
And I completely forgot to mention seeing rows and rows of pineapples growing - I swear I didn't know pineapples grew in the ground, for some reason I always thought they grew on trees! Learn something new every day!