Virgin Gorda & Prickly Pear, BVI

Even the captain enjoys a day at the beach

ABOARD THE SEADREAM II-So sad that it’s the last day of our Caribbean yachting adventure aboard SeaDream II. Though it’s been less than a week, it has given us a world of rest and relaxation. There was some partying last night at Foxy’s, the “in” hangout on Jost van Dyke, but we  still manage to get an early start for our land adventure at “The Baths.”

This natural wonder, administered by the National Parks Trust, has been shaped by the ocean, by centuries of relentless surf. The result: enormous boulders sculptured into fascinating rock formations. Ropes and wooden steps help us climb over the boulders, and a winding dirt trail leads to the cove.

Interspersed among the rock formations are delicate tidal pool ecosystems. One of the most fascinating adventures of our itinerary because it is unique to this place. We’ve brought our bathing suits so we’re able to swim (snorkeling is also possible, right off the beach). Yes, it’s another splendid beach and the water is perfect. We’re all glad we got an early start because as we’re getting ready to leave, passengers from another ship arrive.

Caviar and champagne in the surf — the rush is on!

The “in” spot here is the Mad Dog Restaurant at the trailhead. Nearby is Top of the Baths, a larger restaurant complex that includes a swimming pool and a couple of shops. We hold out, however, for this afternoon we have the Champagne & Caviar Splash, served SeaDream style – in the surf. This is SeaDream’s signature event on Caribbean itineraries and repeat guests look forward to it.

But before that happens, there’s all sorts of fun stuff  at the beach – like yoga and spa massages (sheltered away from prying eyes, of course).

The captain’s here, too, dressed in shorts and a casual shirt and a turned-around baseball cap. He admires my new iPhone case and we start talking about Hurricane Sandy. He tells me an amazing story about being hit hard by a hurricane in 1995, while he was the first officer on a container ship that was also carrying a number of elderly passengers. I can’t disclose the measures that the captain took to ensure the safety of the passengers – they were ingenious (and would definitely notbe allowed today).

After champagne and barbecue, it’s time for the banana boats

As we’re speaking I see a big crowd gather in the surf – and then everyone is rushing the chef and one the officers. The champagne has been opened – and chilled caviar is being served. How cool is this – hanging out in refreshing Caribbean waters while sipping champagne and nibbling on very good caviar?

We move seamlessly from champagne and caviar to lunch: salads, fruits, breads, barbecued shrimp, ribs, chicken, hot dogs and wursts, steak and baked potatoes – accompanied by all the beverages we have on the SeaDream II, from wine to beer, sparkling water and soft drinks. We dine on big wooden tables sheltered by palapa-style umbrellas. Though this may be a beach picnic, everything is served on china, with cloth napkins – and our beverages, in appropriate glasses.

While the lunch dishes are being cleared, lines form for the banana boats. The first day the crew put these out in the water alongside the yacht, people were falling off left and right. But practice makes for a steadier grip, and as the motorized zodiacs take off with the banana boats in tow, all we can hear are screams of delight.

This has been a glorious finale to our holiday. The weather is perfect, as it has been all week, and now all the people we met on the first day have become comfortably familiar. Tonight we’ll share some farewell drinks with the captain and what will no doubt be a very special dinner. And then it will be time to pack. Sigh.

December 8, 2012

Photos by Lillian Africano

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