April 2004 - Dawn Princess Cruise

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'Cruising' is hard work! We left San Juan, Puerto Rico Easter Sunday evening on the Dawn Princess. After spending the first day at sea getting to Barbados, we visited a different island each day. Each island had its own unique attractions, but beaches, sightseeing, and shopping were a constant theme. In addition to spending most of the day ashore, there were also shipboard activities, entertainment, and of course, 24 hour food service!

note: Each of the photographs is a thumbnail image of the original. Just click on the thumbnail to view the full size picture.

Special moments

  sunset st. thomas happy birthday us
  yellow haliconia with waterfall seasick? many sunsets
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Getting started

Our ship left San Juan Easter Sunday evening heading for a 'day at sea' on the way to Barbados. The Easter bunny left some eggs behind to welcome us.
  easter bunny greeting
[photo by Catherine]
big bunny eggs
[photo by Catherine]
pool in san juan
[photo by Catherine]

Of course we checked out the pool as soon as we could.

  catherine on deck After grabbing a quick lunch on board [they start feeding you right away], we spent part of afternoon exploring the various amenities of the ship. By the time the ship actually left San Juan, the sun had set and we had already eaten dinner. SanJuan sunset
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Day at sea and 1st Formal night

  main pool area

Main pool area - early morning

scuba review

Michael getting 'tanked up' early Monday morning with Meghan

  Sonia sonia and michael in atrium
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Barbados sight seeing

Our driver, Sylvester, was proud of his island and wanted to make sure that we learned about it while we toured the island.
  bathsheba mushroom rock

Bathsheba is on the wild east coast of the island.

coral fossil on overview

The island is made up mostly of coral, unlike the majority of the other Caribbean islands, which are volcanic in origin. Coral fossils like this one can be found on just about any cliff face.

bathsheba coast path and boats
  black bellied sheep

These black bellied sheep are raised for their meat

berries berries close-up

Berries close-up

  animal flower caves

Sea coast by Animal Flower cave. These are sea caves, offering unique vantages to the sea.

sea coast by caves
marilyn and caroline

We met Marilyn and Caroline through the Cruise Critic board. We toured Barbados with them in the morning. We saw one another each day to compare travel notes.

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Barbados snorkeling trip

We rode on the Wildcat I for our tour with Atlantis Adventure. The ride out to the turtle site, north up the west side of Barbados gave us a good view of the posh hotels and resorts. This was particularly interesting since we had just driven down the coastal road with Sylvester earlier that morning.

The mini bus we took to board the snorkel boat was environmentally friendly. It supported safe emissions both outside the bus and in.

clean air sign

sister boat for turtle snorkel

Sister boat [Wildcat II] also doing the turtle snorkel.

resting after turtle snorkel

Resting after turtle snorkel. We were each required to wear a life vest as a safety precaution, given the number of snorkelrs in the area. The straps were annoying, but necessary to keep the vest from riding up over you mouth.

  snorkling on berwyn shipwreck and reef

The tour touted the Berwyn shipwreck in Carlisle Bay. However, the real exciting part of this snorkel session was the adjoining reef and our guides who brought along a big loaf of bread for feeding the fish.

sun on catherine

Sun on Catherine

rum factory

Mount Gay rum factory. From a number of local Bajans, we learned that rum is made from molasses, the by-product of extracting sugar from sugar cane. So, while sugar is the main export, it is the rum, made from left over molasses, for which the island is most famous. Based on our personal sampling, not to mention the fact that Bajans been making rum here for over 300 years, we agreed that they make a very fine product!

  beach and rum punch break

After snorkling we take a beach and rum punch break!

beach seat

Michael finds a nice place to sit on the beach.

one tired snorkelr

One tired snorkelr

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old fisherman

Old fisherman

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St. Lucia


Michael's first scuba dive of the day was at on the marine preserve on the north side of the Soufriere bay. This picture is the view looking south the to famous Pitons.

This is a view of Soufriere bay from land looking north to the dive area. This site is known as Grand Caille [ a.k.a. "The Big House"].

soufriere bay looking north to dive area
sourfriere and pitons looking south
[photo by Catherine]

View of the town of Sourfriere and Pitons looking to the south.


The second dive site at South Beach and the sister Sandals dive boat. Both sites had an abundance of fish, corals, and other interesting sights.

south beach dive area other dive boat
cliff detail One of many interesting cliff faces on the way back from the dive sites.

While Michael was off diving, Sonia and Catherine took a taxi ride down to the Soufriere area to the the 'drive in' volcano, sulfur vents, and other sights.

  sulfur spring
[photo by Catherine]

[photo by Catherine]

blue bananas
[photo by Catherine]

Can I interest you in a blue banana?

  bad hair day

The sea breeze on deck, sun, beach, and salt water can make for a really bad hair day, as Cathering discovered!

Catherine with fishing pier and friends.

fishing pier and friends
  marigot bay from land marigot bay from land
[photo by Catherine]
Marigot bay as seen from land.

Marigot bay as seen from the sea.

marigot bay
  richard and debbie Richard and Debbie celebrating their anniversary.
We met virtually on-line through Cruise Critic and then in person at the Wheelhouse bar. This picture is from dinner together at the Sterling SteakHouse onboard.
us the 'rents
  'Bannister' girl!  catherine in atrium #1 watch out for splitters catherine in atrium #2
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St. Martin/San Maarten

  marigot and surroundings

The town of Marigot and surroundings

marigot bay

Harbor scene at dock in Marigot.
Old fort guards over tourist shops and native fisherman

fisherman, shops and old fort

cactiThis is a Turk's head cactus [Melocactus intortus] common on many of the Caribbean islands. The stout, rounded Turk’s head cactus received its whimsical name from its red, flower-covered cylinder, which resembles a fez, or traditional Turkish hat. salt flats

What's left of original salt flats

  nudie beach

What's a vacation without a nudie beach?

nudie beach scene

It was easy to tell the visitors from the regulars by the extent of their tan coverage.

Parasailors could see the full expanse of the mile+ beach at Orient bay.

orient beach scene.
  port dolphins

cruise ship alley

Four cruise ships at a single dock create a shaded canyon.

harbor scene
  ship bow

Ship appeared 'light' when passengers are ashore!

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  small harbor at tortola

Both berths at the small dock were already taken.

For ports that don't have sufficient docking facilities, cruise passengers get 'tendered' to shore. The Dawn Princess used 4 of its lifeboats as tenders. But with 2,000 passengers wanting to go ashore and each tender only holding 150, it takes a while. I'm glad we only had to tender at one port.

tender boat  tender approaching mother ship
  tortola harbor scene dawn princess

Our ship looked especially big from the deck of 'Speedy'.


These were our choices for getting to Virgin Gorda. It was a nice 30 minute ride with some great views of the many small islands in the area.

catamaran to virgin gorda alternate ferry

'Speedy' didn't live up to its name, leaving 25 minutes late.

  engineering mods

Of course, life on the ship for the crew was 'just another work day', as they made some minor engineering changes to the superstructure.

ice sculpting ice sculpting #2

Some 'work' seemed especially refreshing on a hot day. This was a 150-pound block at the start.

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Virgin Gorda, The Baths


From the sea, it just looks like a pile of rocks. But up close, is was an amazing labyrinth, home to a great many fish.

sea view of the baths area
  baths scene snorkling virgin gorda baths
  our beach at the baths

By this time on the trip, we were interested in a shady beach spot. This was also the hottest day of the trip. Of course, hiking 350 yards down to the beach and then back up did not help!


There were plenty of rocks to climb around on, with a 'path' taking you over to the next cove.

more rocks


Although this was the driest island [and hottest] we visited, there was still abundant vegetation. This is a Turk's head cactus [Melocactus intortus].

The taxi park at the ferry dock.

taxi park at virgin gorda ferry dock
beach adjacent to ferry dock

This beautiful beach was right next to the dock. Several of our fellow passengers took the opportunity to cool off.

  main dish

Another formal night and late night activities. The one on the right they call 'the champagne waterfall'. 150+ champagne glasses with passengers invited to join in the photo op. Free champagne for everyone!

champagne waterfall

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St. Thomas

With many great beaches to choose from we picked Sapphire beach because we hadn't been there and we had heard good things about it. We were not disappointed.

  orange flowers

One of many flowering trees at Sapphire beach.

Sonia and Catherine under the shade of the seaside grape trees.

two beachcombers
flowers everywhere

Flowers seemed to be turning up everywhere, here at the beach.


Sapphire beach panorama

Sapphire beach panorama - left Sapphire beach panorama - center Sapphire beach panorama - right

After the beach, we made a visit to Coral World Marine Park at Coki Point. The park has a lot to offer beyond its famous 3 story tower in the sea. There is also a 80,000 gallon reef encounter tank -- feeding time is great! And a marine garden with 21 aquariums and terrific air conditioning.

  coral world tower

coki point beach coki point snorkelrs

  sea horses and babies

hermit crab
shrimp crab

  ship docks and haverside mall

Our taxi driver took the scenic road back, which gave us some great panoramas of the island. This was our third visit to the island, but it was still breathtaking.

town of charlotte amalie



sunset - st thomas

We bid a fond farewell to St. Thomas, heading back to San Juan. Another cruise ship leads the way.

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San Juan - El Yunque

After the ship docked, we disembarked and headed off on one last excursion before returning to our regular lives. This trip was to the El Yunque rainforest. However, as we soon discovered, our 1/2 day tour only allowed us to get an overview of the rainforest. We'll need a longer visit to really explore the plants and creatures of the forest.

el yunque signpost

  fern head

tree snail palm boat

  el yunque peak

bromileade on tree native storm tree

When you can see the white underside of this tree's big leaaves, you know that a storm is on the way.

  yellow haliconia

palm nuts yellow haliconia at waterfall

  flamboyant tree

[photo by Catherine]
[photo by Catherine]

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Copyright © 2004 Michael Botos. revised: 7/19/2005

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