This summer we went on a Southern Caribbean Cruise. One of the ports we visited was Angtiua. In Antigua we booked the Best of Paradise Island Tour with Gordon.
July 10--Our tour with Gordon began at 9:30 am.
We had no problems finding Gordon--at his designated meeting place-- on the boardwalk, wearing his straw hat.
About 20 minutes later, we boarded Gordon’s bus. There were some couples who booked the Scenic Snorkeling Adventure with Gordon but received the Island Tour with us instead. I don’t know if they were disappointed or not, but at least there were no complaints about who would get Gordon as their guide!
Gordon had a cooler filled with soft drinks and water. He made one stop during the day to purchase more drinks to restock this supply.
As we departed from the cruise ship pier, we drove through St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and passed the monument of V.C. Bird, the first Prime Minister of Antigua and its sister island Barbuda.
Our first stop was at St. Barnabus Anglican Church, a historic church in Liberta, and the oldest Church on Antigua.
As we continued on our way, Gordon pulled over to the side of a road, where we climbed a few stairs to get a panoramic view.
Next we went to Nelson’s Dockyard—the world’s only remaining Georgian dockyard still in use. We had ½ hour here. After paying the $5.00 admission fee, we were given a “Personal Tour Guide Map”. Since we requested a guided tour of the Dockyard, we were told that our maps were no longer necessary and they were quickly taken away. (We thought that was a little strange). Anyway we followed our guide a short distance, where she stopped and talked a little about the history of Nelson’s Dockyard.
It wasn’t long before it started to rain. Our guide told us to look around and we’ll meet back after the rain stops. We went inside the Admiral’s House which is now a museum and gift shop.
It didn’t rain long and after investigating the Admiral’s House, our group gathered to continue the tour--but our guide was no where in sight. She had deserted us! So everyone walked around and explored the Dockyard, on their own, without the assistance of a Guide Map!
Personally, I didn’t think there was that much to see at Nelson’s Dockyard. Although the historic buildings depict beautiful Georgian architecture, I thought they would be restored as a museum, showing what they were used for back in the 1700’s. Instead most of the historic buildings were converted into restaurants, hotels, offices or shops.
We did walk around the grounds and saw some interesting things, like the massive Camelford Anchor, the three capstans used to remove barnacles from vessels and the Boathouse pillars with wet dock.
It would have been interesting to walk over to Fort Berkeley, but we didn’t have enough time to do that. On our way out, we asked for a tour guide map. . .now we know what we saw!
Once back on Gordon’s bus, people mentioned to him the problem we had with our tour guide deserting us. He said he would mention that to the Dockyard.
It was a short drive to the Blockhouse. This was a lookout post and stronghold in 1787.
The officer’s quarters and main buildings now lie in ruins. We had a great view of the south-east coast, saw Eric Claptons House, the large gunpowder magazine and the cistern and catchment area of the Blockhouse.
From here, it was another short drive to Shirley Heights, located on the most southerly point on the island. From here we got a fantastic view of English Harbour—a safe harbour for ships during hurricanes.
Gordon told us that every night a large chain would be drawn across the channel from Fort Berkeley. This was done to block ships from entering the harbour which helped to prevent sieges. I thought that was pretty amazing!
Our next stop was Long Bay Beach. We spent 1 ½ hours here.
For those that wanted to go snorkeling they had the opportunity to do that here. Even Gordon went snorkeling!
Our last stop was Devil’s Bridge located on the Atlantic side of the island. The surf is very rough here, so Gordon made sure everyone walked where it was safe!
We arrived back at the ship around 4:30 pm.
During the course of the day Gordon offered us delicious sour bread with cheese and fresh, juicy pineapple. After our beach stop Gordon wanted to offer us some meat patties, but when he opened up the container, he only had one left. He ended up giving the last meat patty to my youngest son. No one else in our family got a meat patty as he had run out. It is possible that Gordan didn’t have enough meat patties for everyone, but I’m guessing people were helping themselves to them and took more than one.
Overall, we had a great day touring the island with Gordon. Gordon was an excellent guide. He kept his eye on everyone in the group and explained points of interest at all the stops.
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