Dominica appears out of the early morning darkness
and we approach the capital
and moor in the harbour at Roseau, the capital of Dominica.
We are in fact sent to the Commercial Harbour just outside of town
because our arrival is quickly followed by that of the $500 million Royal Caribbean "Adventure of the Seas”.
In the picture above, it is about 10 miles away and is of a totally different scale to The Minerva.
Its size is quite astonishing
and it requires all of the town cruise ship berths to moor (here is seen from a hill overlooking the town).
When moored, it towers over the town.
One of the directories on cruise ships provides information about it and the somewhat smaller Minerva.
|Cruise Line||Royal Carribean||Swan Hellenic|
|Cruising Speed||24 knots||10 knots|
|Health and Fitness||
4 Pools; 7 Jacuzzis
Obviously we have very little in common other than both being flagged in the Bahamas but we have a Launderette ! (and a far better staff:passenger ratio).
Our captain tells us that if everyone onboard the Adventure were to come ashore, the number of people in the town would increase by 50%. As a consequence, the centre of town is swarming with tour guides, taxis, souvenir sellers and in fact, everyone who hopes to make a profit from nearly 4000 tourists arriving for a few hours.
Cruise Ships are very important to the island, over 70% of its tourist visitors come by cruise ship and during the six months cruise ship season, it is usual to have at least one ship in port each day (although generally far larger than our minute size).
American Ships tend to attract the more exotic forms of tourist transport including
a frog based one
a Jesus illustrated one
and a lovely Hummingbird one.
The town is the first place in The Antilles we have actually wandered around on our own and it creates a first impression of the area which we had not expected - namely that of greater poverty.
Starting with housing, the majority of the houses we see are much smaller than we had imagined and many are little more than shacks.
Despite its small size, this one evidences a certain style.
Many of the local shops are also
small or colourful
and the only large ones were those designed for tourists as well as numerous street stalls
selling souvenirs you never knew you wanted.
Being close to Christmas, the town market was open and doing
big business selling vegetables we were familiar with as well as ones which we were not.
That it was Christmas, was clearly evidenced on a house balcony
near the St George’s Anglican Church.
The Church was still showing signs of damage from Hurricane David which hit the island in 1979 and Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015.
Immediately in front of the crib (on a roundabout) was one of a number of statues related to slavery which we were to see throughout the islands
Dominica has a sizeable community in the UK and they (we were told) regularly support community developments and needs in the island.
Best of Dominica Scenic Drive
Enjoy a leisurely drive through the beautiful forests and plantations of Dominica, admiring the scenery of majestic mountain peaks carpeted in rich rainforest foliage and colourful tropical flowers. See the city of Roseau from a 400 feet elevation by visiting the historical Morne Bruce view point. Stationed on the summit with steep slopes on three sides Morne Bruce provided a natural post for the protection of Roseau, as a British Garrison for troops defending Dominica against the French. Continue on your journey through the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Established in 1890, this 40 acre oasis is the largest area of green space within the City of Roseau and home to over 50 types of indigenous plants and imported trees. Afterwards travel towards the beautiful Springfield Valley, stopping at a cool 1,200 feet for a beautiful photo opportunity at Springfield Plantation Guest House. This 200 acre estate is a wildlife sanctuary which features old “Plantation House” built in a traditional colonial style. Your scenic tour continues to Pond Casse roundabout and down the Layou Valley, named after Dominica’s longest and largest river. The Kalinago Indians were the first inhabitants of the Valley but in the 17th Century the estates of York Valley, Clark Hall and Hillsborough started producing and exporting some of the island’s finest tobacco, cane sugar, limes, cocoa, citrus, and banana. Enjoy some local folkloric music performed by local dancers dressed in National Costume while you stop for a taste of local fruit juice and rum punch. Experience the scenic coastline of Dominica while you drive through the fishing villages of Mahaut and Massacre before returning to Minerva.
The timing of this excursion was changed to the afternoon because most of the tour buses had been commandeered by the Adventure and it was felt that we were more likely to have a peaceful tour if we went during the afternoon whilst the Adventure was preparing to leave port.
It is also a half day tour and hence we will be able to go into Roseau independently in the morning using the free shuttle bus provided by Swan Hellenic.
Google Maps says: Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island nation distinguished by geothermal hot springs. Its most famous spring may be the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake, which falls within Morne Trois Pitons National Park. This preserve also encompasses rainforest, sulphur vents, the twin waterfalls of Trafalgar Falls and narrow Titou Gorge. To the west is Dominica’s capital, Roseau, with colorful timber houses and botanic gardens.
Currency: East Caribbean dollar
Population: 72,003 (2013)
Our tour included visiting the Botanical Gardens in the centre of town. This has the most famous bus on the island, namely a school bus which was crushed by a
Baobab Tree during Hurricane David. The gardens themselves were severely damaged
during the Hurricane.
Amongst the trees which survived the hurricane are a large 100 year old Banyan Tree which has now been decorated
to sell the impact of
the manufacture of plastic bottles on the environment.
There also was a large enclosure grown from Bamboo
and a tree which was known locally as The Devil’s Shit Tree
and also a wild Poinsettia which was very large
compared to the one when had left at home.
We liked the island very much, its scenery was much more tropical than that of Barbados and it was less tourist developed.