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After the past couple of near horrific years, 2023 is offering up reasons to celebrate in our family with 3 milestone birthdays, 30, 70, & 75 (I’m withholding names to protect the innocent) and a May wedding. I’ll accept a hearty “Mazel Tov” now. To that end we gathered the family together and took a celebratory cruise from San Juan to several Caribbean islands.
The first port we visited was St. Barthelemy, Paris in the Caribbean, tres chic. It’s simply beautiful, full of life with cafes, restaurants, beautiful beaches, and people watching. Amy and I have visited here several times over the years and loved almost everything about it, except the prices. Judging by the high end shops of every premium brand, and the number of large yachts and schooners, there is a lot of money coming onto the island. If you want to see how the 1% of the 1% live, this is the place.
People travel to the Caribbean to escape, and that’s what these blue sky, turquoise water and white sand venues offer, refreshing of the spirit and a modicum of happiness. Add a cruise ship that caters to almost your every whim and you can see how it is the ultimate detachment from one’s own reality for a seven-day sailing. A cruise ships mission is to make sure you want to come back. To that end, in addition to caviar served in your cabin, and midnight Death by Chocolate tastings, cruise lines offer excursions on land and water to what they think are more attractive venues. They don’t want to show you anything that would disturb you, such as poor people and dilapidated housing. I like to go into the towns, engage people, learn something and do some street photography. Tourism is the economic driver for St. Lucia, producing over 48% of the GDP . Average annual income was just about $10,000 in 2021 and it has hovered around there with little fluctuation since about 2008. Despite this challenging economic, I found the residents to be mostly friendly and easy to talk with. I didn’t get a vibe that it was a facade for tourists, more a sense of acceptance with hope and resilience mixed in.
St. Lucia is full of life and activity. A photographer’s dream, color is everywhere. I like to walk around, and ask permission when I want to take a person’s photograph. Everyone was friendly, generous in spirit and only one woman objected, “take picture of my produce, not me.” I convinced her she was too beautiful to pass by and she flashed a great smile. Click.
As I mentioned, St. Lucia is a color photography wonderland. From the arts center to food trucks, bold colors and soft pastels delight the eyes.
St. Lucia hosts a variety of cruise ships. Ours by industry standards was on the small side, 600 passengers. Also in port was the P&O Ventura, 3200 passengers and large enough to dwarf the town and the Voyager of the Seas, another 3200 capacity monster from Royal Caribbean. It’s a personal preference, but I don’t need a zip line or water slide on a ship.
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