We didn’t need Coleen Rooney and Amy Winehouse to show us that the Caribbean is THE place to be in January – away from the freezing cold, the rain, the wind and the snow.
Of all the islands in the Caribbean, St Kitts is the centre of attention this week, and not just because the England cricket team are playing a warm-up match there..
No fewer than 36,000 passengers will be delivered to Basseterre, the capital, on board 16 cruise ships, and many of them are Brits.
Yesterday, 1,444 arrived on Thomson Destiny, en route from Martinique to Tortola.
Today, Island Star and P&O’s Ventura are in port, together with Carnival Victory and Azamara Journey. Total passengers: 9,158.
Tomorrow brings Emerald Princess and Grand Princess, each carrying 3,100 passengers, together with the magnificent three-masted Sea Cloud, with just 69 aboard.
On Monday, Fred Olsen’s Boudicca arrives, and its 1,375 passengers will be fortunate to have the island to themselves before Tuesday’s arrival of Sea Princess (1,950) and Celebrity’s Constellation (2,450).
Carnival Miracle (2,680) ties up at the pier on Thursday, Ocean Village (1,388) on Friday, and Carnival Victory is back again next Saturday.
In total, St Kitts expects to welcome more than 400,000 passengers during the 2008/2009 season.
I was in Basseterre (pictured above) in November, aboard Ventura, and we were berthed alongside the Carnival Victory. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas was anchored in the bay.
Excursions were available to the scenic railway, which uses a track built originally to carry sugar cane to the port; there was snorkelling, scuba diving, mountain biking and a trip into the tropical rainforest.
We took it easy, strolling past the T-shirt shops, jewelry stores and handicraft stalls at the Port Zante cruise terminal, and on to the Georgian clock tower in The Circus, and Independence Square which houses St George’s Anglican church.
As you can see from the picture below, there are still signs of St Kitts’ history as a British colony, although Basseterre is said to be one of the best examples of a traditional West Indian town.
It’s a fascinating island, and I for one would rather be there today than in cold, grey, credit-crunched Britain.