Eastern Caribbean: Escape from the Freezing Cold

I always wanted to visit Cuba, but there were specific regulations that must be met to get travel authorization to Cuba. When I learned that participating in group people-to-people program by a sponsoring organization such as Holland America would make me eligible to travel to Cuba, I booked a 14-Day Cruise to Cuba. However, the 14-day cruise turned out to be a two-part cruise. The first segment was to the Eastern Caribbean. And it worked out fine because I also wanted to see the hurricane-ravaged island's recovery progress. Also, the timing of the cruise coincided with the freezing weather in the US. So, sailing to the Eastern Caribbean was a great escape from the freezing cold, so I thought.

Our first port of call was Half Moon Cay. Half Moon Cay is a private island owned by the cruise ship. People pretty much come here to enjoy the beaches. I signed up for the Eco Lagoon Kayak Adventure. We were taken by a tender, but as we reached the island, it started to rain. I took shelter in what looked like a chapel until the rain stopped.  I decided to walk to the beach area and stop at the bar before kayaking.  It was stereotypical Caribbean - a stretch of white sandy beach, turquoise waters. While warming up with rum and coke, I saw a few people suntanning under the intermittent rain and cloudy sky, and a few people frolicking in the water. Then I heard the lifeguard calling everybody to get off the water because of the thunderstorm. My kayak adventure got canceled automatically.

Our next port of call was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. First discovered by Christopher Columbus on his initial voyage to the New Word in 1492, Grand Turk has many historical points and is home to a state of the art cruise ship center. In as much as I was into water sports, I went for a tour of the whole island to photograph the many colonial buildings and the island rustic charm.
A sad reminder of hurricane Maria
We passed many small hotels that cater to divers. I found out that Grand Turk was a prime dive destination. Sadly, due to time constraint, it was not possible for me to sign up for a diving trip, but I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of naturalists that showed me and allowed me to photograph some sea creatures that I would have, otherwise, seen underwater. I discovered that Grand Turk was not only a great place for photographing colonial architecture and its rustic charm but a great place for photographing nature, such as the ocean with different shades of blue, the pink flamingoes, butterflies, and birds, etc.

An open field across the lighthouse where the roaming donkeys and the egrets coexist peacefully

Grand Turk Lighthouse
The island is small enough to tour in a day and a great relaxing place to chill out. So, I spent the rest of the day at the beach, swimming.

I was really looking forward to our next port of call, Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, so I signed up for the countryside experience and relaxing at the famous and private Juanillo Beach, but due to the rough sea, we were unable to tender.
The waters of Dominican Republic

Our last port of call before returning to Fort Lauderdale was Puerto Rico. (I’ll talk about Puerto Rico in another blog)

NOTE: All photos by the author

Disclosure: I have no material connection to the products, brands or services mentioned in this blog nor received compensation for writing this blog.



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