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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Oceania Cruises' REGATTA ~

Caribbean Hideaways

Tortola (British Virgin Islands)

Late sleeping Regatta passengers in portside staterooms and suites awoke to quite a surprise, particularly if they left their drapes open before retiring the previous night. Berthed alongside in Tortola, Norwegian Sky passengers had a pretty clear view through their floor-to-ceiling windows. All of Regatta's Pool Deck was visible from the larger ship's uppermost reaches and Norwegian Sky guests were snapping photos as we sipped coffee in Horizons Lounge. With the two vessels side-to-side, it was possible to appreciate how much smaller Regatta is than mega-sized cruise ships. She appeared much sleeker and, frankly, more exclusive than the 77,000 tons Norwegian Sky, which carries over 2,000 passengers. With a double occupancy rate of only 660, Regatta's ambiance is more intimate, yet she features many of the facilities of the larger ship.

Pusser’s—famous for the Painkiller, made with dark, aromatic rum

Docked at the cruise terminal, it was a short walk to the center of Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. Blackbeard is said to have inspired the sailing ditty, “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,” by marooning 15 pirates with a single rum bottle at Deadman Bay in the British Virgin Islands. No visit to Tortola would be complete without a stop at Pusser's for a Painkiller, made with the official rum served for over 300 years by the British Royal Navy. 

While many fellow Regatta passengers headed to the beaches on the northern side of the island, about twenty minutes by taxi from Road Town, we took a short stroll to Main Street where most of the shopping is located. Island arts and crafts are good finds in Crafts Alive, a collection of shops in the style of a Caribbean village on the waterfront and an outdoor market nearer the cruise terminal.

Back aboard Regatta, the highlight of the evening was dinner in Polo Grill, including an oh-so-tender filet prepared as rare as I like it and bread pudding to rival any in New Orleans. To enhance the mood for our itinerary, entertainment included the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, shown on the big screen in the Regatta Lounge.

Independence Square & Immaculate Conception Co-Cathedral

St. Kitts & Nevis

The next morning was something of a bonus in the form of St. Kitts. Not on our itinerary, we were nonetheless delighted with docking there and the opportunity to poke around Basseterre, the island's capital. A short stroll from The Circus, a roundabout in the heart of the city, found us in Independence Square and smack in the middle of blocks of British-influenced colonial architecture.

Just off The Circus, we discovered an Internet cafe that offered high speed connections and phone cards (and phone) for touching base with home.

From the steel drum band composed of school children that greeted us, to the merchants in the crafts market, every resident of St. Kitts made us feel welcome. We hated to leave, but an afternoon in Nevis beckoned.

Charlestown, Nevis

Unfortunately, we encountered our first Caribbean shower as we anchored off Nevis. With the lush green mountain tops shrouded in clouds, which Christopher Columbus likened to snow, we waited for the rain to subside before tendering ashore. A combination of our late-afternoon arrival and the weather made for a brief and not-so-fulfilling look around. We had looked forward to seeing the Museum of Nevis History, housed in the Georgian style house that was the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. While we found it with no problem, regrettably it was closed.

While overlooking the harbor from the museum grounds, we discovered the Christena Memorial Plaque, erected to honor the persons whose lives were lost when a government ferry sank in 1970. With its lovely view to St. Kitts and historic sites, we'd like to return and explore Nevis more extensively.


Uh oh... awakening to the sound of water against my window, I couldn't help but wonder if our tour in Dominica was about to be rained out. No problem. While it was postponed for an hour, the River Tubing Adventure got off to a terrific start when we piled into three vans and were sent on our way with unexpected box lunches from Regatta's galley. Due to our delayed departure, we wouldn't be back until after the dining room and buffet closed and the Destination Services staff didn't want us to go hungry! Really considerate and most appreciated later.

Tubing down Layou River Gorge

Our 40-minute drive through Dominica's lush rainforest was enthralling as the van climbed higher and higher on twisting mountain roads. Our driver stopped to point out waterfalls, banana plantations, and fields of pineapple and bright tropical flowers.

I have to admit that river tubing wasn't my idea, but my friend Anita assured me it would be great fun and my lack of swimming skill wouldn't be a problem. She was right on both counts and I was reassured when we arrived at our launch site on the Layou River Gorge. Our guides were waiting right there beside the road and we were outfitted with flotation vests and paddles and given an orientation of what we were to experience while floating down the river in our wooden-bottomed tubes. One by one we waded into the shallow water and plopped into tubes, holding onto one another's paddles until we were all afloat. Then we let loose and went racing toward the first set of rapids. Screaming and laughing, we dodged rocks and one another while attempting to capture the fun and magnificent scenery on waterproof cameras.

The guides were on hand to assist those of us who managed to spin out of control and get ourselves "beached" on rocks—yes, I got entangled once before getting the hang of it. After a refreshing dip in a swimming hole ("the longer you stay in the water, the younger you'll feel!") and a taste of sticky sweet cocoa seed provided by the guides, we were on our way again through the forbidding gorge, a bit of rain, and several more sets of rapids. At the end of our wild ride we once again grabbed each other's paddles and gathered in a circle. Our guides engaged in riddle-telling and congratulated us as "rocky rollers" and then, to our surprise, they showered us with much splashing and laughter.

To accompany our lunches, we were treated to trays of coconut, mango, and pineapple and a potent punch made with local rum and freshly squeezed native fruits. Would I do it again? Absolutely! The excursion was one of the best I've ever taken and the Dominicans were splendid hosts. For someone who approached the tour with trepidation, I hated to see it end.

Back at the pier, we browsed through the small "market" and bought locally grown spices and Island made bamboo crafts. What began as a gloomy, wet day ended on a bright and cheerful note.

As Dominica faded from view, we chose to dine beneath the stars at Tapas on the Terrace. What a delightful setting—with candlelight, deep blue chair covers, linen placemats, and colorful dinnerware transforming the Terrace into a magical outdoor cafe. While the original Spanish-style menu has been altered for American tastes, we were quite pleased with the variety. Start with a freshly tossed Caesar salad, then move on to the carving station or perhaps an individually prepared pasta selection. And don't pass up the desserts!

  • Part Three -- Antigua, St. Barts & Virgin Gorda

  • Part Four -- Dominican Republic & two relaxing sea days

  • Part Five -- Debarkation and lasting impressions

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