Coming Back to a New World

A New Reality

Friday, March 20, 2020

Last week, we were cruising the Lesser Antilles and exploring the islands visited by Christopher Columbus in 1493.  These islands were the first of the New World to be settled and colonized by Europeans.  Consisting of the Leeward Islands (so named because they are less exposed to the Trade Winds) and the Windward Islands (more exposed), the islands are a barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Our adventure began March 4th as we sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to Sint Maarten aboard Holland America’s MS Koningsdam.

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The first half of our cruise was scheduled aboard the MS Koningsdam 03-04 to 03-15-2020.
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The second half of our cruise, scheduled for March 15-27, 2020 aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, was canceled when all cruise lines announced a 30-day hiatus and docked all their ships.
The MS Koningsdam
The MS Koningsdam
The MS Koningsdam
The MS Koningsdam
Looking to Customer Service from the Dutch Cafe aboard the MS Koningsdam.
Looking to Customer Service from the Dutch Cafe aboard the MS Koningsdam.
The Lido Pool Deck
The Lido Pool Deck
Wine tasting in the Main Dining Room
Wine tasting in the Main Dining Room
Creating our own wine at Blend.  This is Sommelier, Nodel
Creating our own wine at Blend. This is Sommelier, Nodel
Creating our own wine at Blend
Creating our own wine at Blend
Custom made sandwiches at the Breadboard Station in the Lido.
Custom made sandwiches at the Breadboard Station in the Lido.

We learned that all the islands share a similar history.  Early Native inhabitants would battle with other island inhabitants; then the explorers come; trade ensues; economic prosperity brings more strife; forts are built–many, many forts.  The sugar, salt and spice plantations bring slavery; the desire for freedom and equality prevails; treaties are signed, some succeed, some fail.  And the modern-day tourist arrives; there we were!!!

We visited Philipsburg, Sint Maarten and Fort-de-France, Martinique before learning that islands were closing their ports to cruise ships due to fears of the Coronavirus.  We by-passed St. Kitts to the substituted port-of-call, St. John’s, Antigua.  That port decided to close; we never docked.  We went to Barbados, St. Lucia and the US Virgin Islands.  At this point, the cruise line informed us that we would complete the itinerary, stopping in Half Moon Cay for our final port, and disembark in Fort Lauderdale as all cruise lines ceased operations for a 30-day hiatus!!!  We got home March 15th.

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Maho Beach at the foot of Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten. photo by Aldo Bidini – https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/5908899, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16488761
The warning sign that so few heed.
The warning sign that so few heed.
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
The Sint Maarten Market District
The Sint Maarten Market District
Lots of Shopping
Lots of Shopping
The Historic District
The Historic District
Isn't this just the cutest!
Isn’t this just the cutest!
The Guava Berry Emporium
The Guava Berry Emporium
Greenhouse Restaurant
Green House Restaurant
Creol Shrimp
Creole Shrimp
Quesadillas
Quesadillas
Ahhh, the afternoon libation!
Ahhh, the afternoon libation!
Locally brewed San Martin premium beer.
Locally brewed San Martin premium beer.
Fort-de-France, Martinique
Fort-de-France, Martinique
Fort-de-France, Martinique
Fort-de-France, Martinique
Vendors' kiosks along the Boardwalk
Vendors’ kiosks along the Boardwalk
Saint-Louis Cathedral
Saint-Louis Cathedral
Saint-Louis Cathedral
Saint-Louis Cathedral
Fort Saint-Louis
Fort Saint-Louis
Schoelcher Library in Fort-de-France
Schoelcher Library in Fort-de-France
Bridgetown, Barbados
Bridgetown, Barbados
The promanade in Bridgetown
The promenade in Bridgetown
The St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway
The St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway
St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery
St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery
Saint Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery
Saint Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery
Rum tasting
Rum tasting
Castries, St. Lucia
Castries, St. Lucia
The Port Seraphine Ferry runs between the Port and Downtown Castries.
The Port Seraphine Ferry runs between the Port and Downtown Castries.
The Castries Market
The Castries Market
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Our final view of Port Seraphine in Castries, St. Lucia.
Our final view of Port Seraphine in Castries, St. Lucia.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Shoppers Paradise.
Shoppers ‘ Paradise
Charlotte Amalie offers history, beaches, museums and lots of shopping.
Charlotte Amalie offers history, beaches, museums and lots of shopping.

And this week, well…., we’re exploring a New World of our own as we learn to adjust to social distancing and self-imposed isolation.  We came home to supermarkets with empty shelves; restaurants with 50% of their tables unseated; stores and shops without customers.  We watched as all this devolved to closed stores, restaurants serving take-away only; services halted; roads empty as people stayed home and worked via internet.  Cruise ships docked in port and going out to sea periodically for, I’m not sure what—exercise; making room for more ships?  All this in only a week!!!

A Publix Supermarket
A Publix Supermarket
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On this day, no produce. But we will check back. On another day there will be beautiful bananas, heads of lettuce and cabbage, tomatoes!!!!
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I still have not found poultry, but beef and pork were available on another day.
Floweres were scarce; but a few days later, we scored two bouquets!!
Flowers were scarce; but a few days later, we scored two bouquets!!
There was, obviously, a run on dairy products.
There was, obviously, a run on dairy products.
No bread.
No bread.
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Never, ever, are we going to find toilet paper or paper towels or tissues or napkins. Oh Sh*t!!!

Just don’t know where this will lead or how long it will last.  But do know that the human spirit is strong and amazing.  We will get through this.  We will recover and grow stronger.  We will continue to love our families; hold our friends close; and pray for all.

Eventually, we’ll travel again.  We’ll walk in the explorer’s footsteps and learn, experience, and exalt in the wonders of the world.  Someday, I’ll finally get to Grenada and buy an amazing designer knock-off!!!

Meanwhile, we’ll tell you about whatever strikes our fancy; whatever oddities we come across; interesting observations.  Oh,wait.  That’s what we do!!!  More later.

2 thoughts on “Coming Back to a New World”

    1. The Guava Berry Emporium in located in the Historic District of Philipsburg on the Dutch side of Saint Martin (Sint Maarten). That building is a Dutch Creole town house built in 1783. The retail operation sells rum, liqueurs, sauces and artisan created collectibles.

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