After bidding adieu to Europe, Riviera crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Miami today, where she will begin her winter season exploring the idyllic beaches and swaying palms of the Caribbean.
As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I find that when I
travel to the Caribbean, I have to take it down a few notches. Shore excursions
tend to be about relaxing on a beach or a sailboat, snorkeling or gazing at the
beautiful scenery and less about touring ancient ruins and visiting world-class
I enjoy doing in Europe. Not that I am complaining! This is one of
the great things about seeing the world with Oceania Cruises: every region of
the world has new, different and equally wonderful experiences to offer.
A day in Gustavia, St. Barts, is the
perfect example of the nice relaxed pace I enjoy when sailing the Caribbean.
Though Gustavia is very popular for duty-free shopping and high-end designer
fashion boutiques, mostly it is geared toward enjoying the weather, the
beautiful scenery and the iridescent blue waters.
St. Barts was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named after
his brother Bartolomeo. However, it was not until 1763 that the French
successfully settled on the island. Ultimately, St. Barts fell into the hands
of the Swedes, and as a free port, it became important for trade and supply during
the colonial wars in the 18th century. Unlike many of the surrounding islands,
St. Barts is inhospitable to sugar farming, so it has served primarily as a
center for trade.
Today it is an idyllic island resort, serving tourists from
all over the world in search of warm weather and beautiful beaches.
Just a short walk from the harbor where the ship docked, I
found Shell Beach, a remarkably uncrowded, tranquil cove with a wonderful little
Brazilian café where I sat and enjoyed the views and the gorgeous day.
Like most Caribbean islands, the deep blue waters and the
lush green foliage are stunning, but what I find especially captivating about Gustavia
are the coral-colored roofs and multi-hued flowers. It is truly a colorful town
and has one of the most picturesque harbors in the Caribbean.
On my leisurely stroll through town, I came across a couple
of lovely little churches. The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is a Catholic
Church surrounded by a lovely courtyard. St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church sits
right off the harbor.
There are shore excursions that take visitors on tours of
the island or on fabulous snorkeling adventures. I’ve also read about wonderful
hiking in the area. But on this day, I chose to relax and enjoy this little
town at a slow Caribbean pace. Regardless of what you choose to do when you
visit Gustavia, I can promise that you’ll have no regrets!