By the time we got to Saint Lucia, we were really beginning to be worried about having to leave the Viking Sea FOREVER. Saint Lucia makes day 19 of our 22-day cruise and is exactly as the Viking travel guide says…
“Rich in unspoiled and dramatic scenery, St Lucia boasts some of the Caribbean’s most idyllic beaches, many near the capital of Castries. This paradise is so seductive that the British and French fought over it for 150 years.
“The British finally triumphed in 1814, but today Saint Lucia is its own nation, yet still part of the commonwealth. The island has a rich artistic heritage: the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Castries is adorned with lush murals painted by a local artist and batis artisan to keep a cherished tradition alive.”
However, I’m sure that’s all true, but we didn’t see any of that. Instead the island’s west coast, the landmark Gros and Petit Pitons, two breathtaking rock pylon peaks, soared into view as we jetted out on a fishing boat to see whales.
Whale watching in Saint Lucia – race against the clock!
It was a bumpy ride as we sat on a double decker fishing boat hurtling out to open waters with the hopes of catching a glimpse of a blowhole. There are 33 varieties of resident and migratory pods of whales and dolphins, including pilot whales, sperm whales, humpbacks and false orcas which visit these waters. Bottlenose, spinner and fraser dolphins often accompany whale pods.
This is a three hour trip and sightings are never guaranteed. Our guide was pretty sure of himself ‘80% success rate’ he said when we boarded. Twenty pairs of eyes peered out onto the horizon. After 90 minutes with no such luck, I was beginning to think we were going to be unlucky on this occasion, we’d seen plenty of flying fish but no whale tails.
Then ‘ahoy’, the boat sidles up to a female sperm whale and her calf, blowing majestic sprays as they come up for air. After that, the rain came, but it was worth the 60 minutes in drizzle back home. It’s not everyone who can say they’ve seen a whale, a real whale.
I was upset that my Dad was ill the night before and missed our trip, although having said that he does not get on well with seasickness and boy, was our guide boat rocky. I mean it was like a rollercoaster and pretty uncomfortable at that, even with the free rum punch on offer.
However, Dad did take a super trip in the afternoon, which took in a number of vistas of Castries. It then took in the Morne complex, where the Inniskilling Monument was erected to honour the British regiment that overtook the French in 1796. Dad also stopped at the estate of Stony Hill, a private home with lush tropical gardens, which I think Tom would have loved to have seen.
Whilst Dad was on his scenic tour, we took a walk around Castries. The cruise ships dock at Port Seraphine which has a well established shopping area with duty free stores and several bars – a couple are very popular with the Viking Sea crew as you can see them all letting their hair down ashore, so they are obviously the ones to head to!
I think we arrived on market day, a Tuesday, as Castries Market was teeming and the stalls flooded the surrounding streets selling fruits, vegetables, homewares, beauty products, clothing. Pretty much anything you could possibly need. Unfortunately for us we had two restrictions, one a tight luggage allowance which meant lightweight and small souvenirs only and no cash.
After walking around the market, we stopped for a few beers and lunch in The Pink Papaya Cafe, which I would heartily recommend in Port Seraphina. Tom and I had jerk chicken in wraps, Luke had jerk chicken on a pizza and Mum had jerk chicken with rice. Overall, the jerk chicken was excellent.
After this I have only two more days to write up, I feel as sad about that as I did about the actual prospect of leaving the Viking Sea.