Arriving in Guadeloupe one notices the industrial development not typical of most Caribbean islands. A large power plan and a container port are readily noticeable from the dock. This is a French speaking island of nearly 500,000 inhabitants—very large for the Caribbean. It’s a butterfly shaped island with two large wing-like sides with a narrow intersection where it comes together and the main city, Pointe-A-Pitre is located.
We read the shore excursion brochure and decided to take a walking tour of Pointe-A-Pitre. Our friends the Reinagal’s from the Williamsburg, Virginia Cruise Holidays store joined us. As usual, the weather was hot and sticky—about 90 degrees! Disembarking from the Journey we passed through the typical market of mostly made in China souvenirs. Our guide took us across a busy street and our group of about 15 moved into the city. The town was quite dirty and crowded and our group was stunned when Ron, from Charleston, South Carolina has his gold necklace snatched from around his neck by a young man wearing a Rastafarian hat who ran away faster than anyone could react. This put a big damper on the tour.
We visited the home of the man who freed the slaves in Guadeloupe, early in the 19th century, and a busy spice market and fish market in the city center. The highlight of the tour was a visit to the local Catholic cathedral which had been built of steel, wood and concrete over the past 150 years or so. It was shaped much like a traditional European Cathedral with a long nave and two arms to each aide in the shape of a cross. Outside the church was a small flower market where a nice bouquet of birds of paradise and other tropical flowers could be purchased for 15 Euros (about $20). Perhaps with a bit of French pride, all of the merchants priced their products in Euros and wouldn’t take dollars—so they lost out on any sales from the ship’s passengers-not a bright tourism policy.
After passing through a rather chaotic and busy downtown shopping area, we returned to the ship feeling as though this was the worst port stop in the Caribbean. The shore excursion office obviously agreed because they refunded half of our fee for the tour.
A major downpour came in the afternoon, perhaps putting an exclamation point on this port call.
We again ate on the aft deck with the Reinagals. The ship has the best sushi we have ever experienced on any cruise. They also have a nice stir fry and pasta station at the evening buffet. And they always have nice sugar and gluten free desserts at both lunch and dinner.
The evening entertainment was the ships five dancers and singers doing a revue of swing era music. Not our cup of tea, but appreciated by the mostly elderly passengers attending the show.
Tomorrow we will visit St Barts and we’re all looking forward to this port.