It was the day we weren’t quite ready for: the last day of our wonderful Caribbean cruise. We had to be out of our cabin quite early, so we got up earlier than normal and we’d booked a final excursion to occupy the day until it was time to head to the airport. We were just sailing into port at Castries, St Lucia, when I opened the curtains to find a great view of a runway! This is not the main St Lucia international airport – just a small local airfield.
Once in port, we had a lovely view of the harbour area with jagged volcanic-looking peaks in the distance.
One of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships was also in port, framed here by a rainbow during a brief tropical shower.
The video gives you a better idea of what the rain was like – sunny and showers at the same time!
Disembarking felt like a bit of an anticlimax, because it was just like disembarking had been on every other day of the cruise – only this time, we weren’t going back, which felt kind of sad. We boarded the waiting bus and our first stop of the morning – after a beautiful journey that took us up the winding coastal road surrounding Castries, which had spectacular views across the bay – was the Eudovic Art Studio, the base of St Lucian artist and wood sculptor Vincent Joseph Eudovic.
The studio buildings are set amidst all sorts of tropical plants and trees. You could imagine an author like Ian Fleming hiding out here – or indeed a Bond villain! (In fact Ian Fleming’s Caribbean hideaway, Goldeneye, was/is in Jamaica – close enough.)
We got to see some of the sculptors at work making traditional St Lucian carvings.
Of course there was also a shop where you could buy them, and this was the moment we realised that this ‘farewell tour’ of St Lucia might have a bit too much of a sales focus for our liking! Nevertheless, the locations were lovely and it was better than hanging around on the ship with nothing to do until our flight. Also, I confess that I did buy a wood carving, having bought no other Caribbean souvenirs the whole trip!
Of all the luscious vegetation we saw that morning, this was the species I was most interested in. It’s a breadfruit tree, brought to the Caribbean from Tahiti by Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty fame on a second, more successful voyage in 1791. Having seen various adaptations of the Mutiny on the Bounty story, it was fascinating to see this tangible link with the past. Of course, it was imported as a high-energy food for slaves, so there’s an unpleasant association to it (though most apparently refused to eat it).
Our next stop was the Howelton Estate, where we stayed for a while at a beautiful old Victorian house perched on a hillside overlooking Castries.
This was even more atmospheric than the previous place, with the wind blowing in the palm trees to the gentle sound of a single steel drum.
We learned about how chocolate is made, on a verandah overlooking the most stunning view of Castries.
Of course, I had to buy a small bar to try some! I believe Hotel Chocolat gets its cocoa beans from St Lucia.
I just couldn’t stop photographing the view! It’s exactly what you would imagine a Caribbean island to be like.
Can you see Britannia down there in the harbour?
A better view of Britannia…
In case you’re wondering, that’s my hat that Lee is carrying ;-)
From there it was on to the Pink Plantation House, another beautiful old French colonial house overlooking the bay.
It’s 140 years old and home to an art gallery, restaurant and two acres of lush tropical gardens.
It too had a verandah with wonderful sea views – a stunning spot with a pleasant breeze where we’d be having lunch. The sound of tropical birdsong filled the air, the more daring of the birds occasionally to be seen trying to pick up crumbs from the tables.
Between the palm trees, we could still see Britannia down in the bay. It was actually really nice to have lunch away from the ship for once, because we’d not been able to try any real Caribbean cuisine up til then.
Lunch was a delicious buffet with lots of authentic French Creole cuisine to sample, and ice cream to finish. You couldn’t fail to enjoy a meal in such surroundings.
After lunch, we had a bit of time to explore the gardens, and a last chance to imbibe the laidback Caribbean atmosphere before it was time to head to the airport.
The ride to the airport was probably one of the most interesting airport runs I’ve done in my time. We drove past banana plantations, learning from our guide that they wrap the bananas up in these blue bags to protect them from birds and the sun.
We also drove through lots of scenery like this – hills covered in dense rainforest.
The international airport had some nice Caribbean views, too, though the (not air-conditioned) terminal building wasn’t big enough to handle the volume of passengers moving through it and it was a bit of a miserable wait for our flight to end the day!
The great thing is that because we loved the cruise so much, we’ve already booked for next year – and next year, we’ll be picking up where we left off, joining the ship in St Lucia and continuing on another week-long itinerary of different islands. I can hardly wait! In the meantime, this is the Caribbean view I’ll remember most fondly.