ANTIGUA_And now we arrive in Antigua. Or maybe not.
As we finish breakfast and go to the Atlas Lounge to assemble for our walking tour of Nelson’s Dockyard — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — we learn the seas are too rough for the tenders, so the ship is moving north to dock at the island’s capital, St. John’s.
The announcement was late in coming, so both passengers and crew are scrambling to readjust, as are the Antigua authorities, who have to clear the ship. They’ll have to move their health check team as well. So we’ll just wait with everybody else in the lounge for the green light.
As previously noted, reopening travel since the COVID lockdown is new territory for everybody, so be prepared for frequent temperature checks, showing your vax cards, masking up and lots of hand sanitizing.
Antigua was one of the last islands Pam and I visited prior to the pandemic in late 2019. On that visit we volunteered to work at the island’s Donkey Sanctuary, where they care for rescued donkeys as well as dogs and cats. It was a very fulfilling task.
While the ship is offering a walking tour of St. John’s, six of us opt to hire a taxi for the day and make the 45-minute ride over to Falmouth Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard to get a dose of history. It gets its name from British Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived here from 1784-1787. The site is part of Dockyard National Park, and features many of the restored original buildings.
Normally, this area would be bustling with tourists, but with many of the shops and restaurants still closed, we almost have it to ourselves. We did find a hotel bar where we leisurely enjoyed drinks while watching the the pelicans diving for their lunch.
Thanks to our taxi driver, we got a bonus: He said our $15 admission ticket to the dockyard included entry to Shirley Heights, a restored military post and gun battery whose elevation (almost 500 feet) affords sweeping views of the harbor as well as panoramic ocean vistas. He pointed out the house on a distant rocky bluff, owned by rock legend Eric Clapton. So that’s how the other half lives.
Back at St. John’s, we hit a few of the shops, but the majority were closed, so we beat feet back to the ship for a very late lunch at the only venue still serving, Paula’s Pantry.
After a full day on Nevis and Antigua, we throttle back in the evening with a quiet dinner at Porto (where tonight’s theme is food from India), followed by cocktails in the Atlas Lounge, where we enjoy conversing with the crew, who’ve been greeting us by name almost from the first day. Impressive.
Tonight you can really start to feel the motion of the ocean as we reach for handrails while walking back to our stateroom. Next stop — we hope — St. Lucia.
PHOTOS: credit Gerry & Pam Baker
Cover: The view from Shirley Heights
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