When I awoke this morning, the first thing I saw out our open balcony door was the colour purple.
I had to investigate, so I joined my hubby on the balcony to get a good look at the brightly painted ship docked across from us at the pier in Antigua.
It was a ship I'd never seen before, the Ocean Village from the U.K., and it was painted with bright purple, orange and yellow wavy stripes and their logo, "see more, do more, be more".
On the other side, was P&O Cruises' Ventura, a really long ship, with lots of balconies. We certainly did see many different ships on this cruise, much to the delight of my husband and his video camera!
We watched as the Ocean Village disembarked hundreds of passengers and dozens of bicycles. I had never seen bicycles come off a ship before, but I assume they were used for some sort of shore excursion.
We disembarked our own ship around 9:30 for a pre-booked shore excursion, a bus ride to a beach.
The bus was not as nice as the ones in St. Kitts and St. Lucia, it was old, dirty and run-down, and very difficult for older passengers or those with mobility problems to get in and out of.
After a short ride, we arrived at the Sand Haven resort in Runaway Bay. The day was brilliant and sunny, and the view of the beach was spectacular, but the waves were oh, so high!
Word had it that there had been a bad storm the night before, so the waves were still very rough.
Beach chairs were included in this excursion, as well as lunch and 2 free drinks. Beach umbrellas as usual, were extra, but only $6 at this beach.
The waves, and the sound of the waves, were incredible, crashing down over the swimmers brave enough to go out there. There was also a very strong undertow, so you had to be very careful.
I inched my way out in the water, with a wide-legged stance, bracing myself against the onslaught of the biggest waves. My husband wisely stayed on the beach filming this adventure, and he got some great video footage of me being slammed by a huge wave and washed up unceremoniously on the beach. I had sand in every imaginable body crevice, and hours later, even after a shower, I was still finding sand in my ears and eyelashes!
My "swim" was fun, but exhausting, so soaking up some sun on the beach looked like the best option.
By lunchtime we were ready for our free buffet, which included BBQ chicken, salad, rice and beans, baked potato and cole slaw, and it was quite delicious. The free drinks were rum punch and fruit punch and were quite good also, the former actually containing rum!
Later, while relaxing on the beach, I heard someone talking enthusiastically about a "Dirty Banana", so I went to the bar to investigate. Sure enough, a Dirty Banana consisted of a banana, Kahlua, Baileys, Coconut juice, dark rum, and ice, all thrown into a blender and poured out into the most delicious frosted smoothie since the Bailey's Bushwacker!
I now have 2 favourite beach drinks!
It was a wonderful, relaxing day at the beach, and one of the reasons it was so pleasant, is that we were not constantly pestered by beach vendors. At this beach, there was a special area near the entrance set up with kiosks and tables where there were clothing vendors, handicraft vendors, jewelry vendors, hair braiding and a massage table.
If you were interested in something, YOU went to THEM, instead of them bothering you every 2 minutes.
I wish more beaches would adopt this policy, it would make things so much more pleasant.
I was sorry to see this day end, not only because I was leaving the beach, but that it was the last port on our cruise, and after we sailed that night, we would be on our way home.
Speaking of sailing away, late that afternoon, while I was off playing Trivia with the CruiseMates, James was relaxing on our balcony, and observed the Ocean Village preparing for their sailaway. He had his video camera as usual, and was witness to the most fantastic sail away party he'd ever seen! I was so glad he caught it on video, because I missed it, but got to see it later when we got home, and it was quite the party!
The Ocean Village Cruise Director orchestrated the whole thing, getting all their passengers at the rail and on their balconies, to wave and shout at our passengers on the Emerald Princess.
He held a contest to see who could cheer the loudest, and called out for Brits and Canadians to identify themselves.
He played music and had everyone dancing and singing along to the Monkees' Daydream Believer, Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, and the Village People's YMCA, then followed it all up with Hail Brittania!
Never in all our cruises had we seen a sail away party like that, it was exciting and fun seeing thousands of people all interacting and cheering with each other as the sun set over Antigua.
A perfect ending to a perfect day, but it was not over yet.