The Norwegian Gem Cruise- Antigua

If there was anywhere on my trip that I truly fell in love with, it was Antigua. There was something about this island that I thought was just fantastic, and my experience there was borderline perfect. No other place that I went to on my cruise (except maybe Puerto Rico) has me this excited to go back, and nowhere else am I that glad to have visited.

Part of this might be that I had relatively low expectations based on the activity that we chose for the day. Originally, we were going to spend the first half of the day visiting a donkey sanctuary, and the second half of the day beaching. After our beach day at St. Lucia, we sort of discovered that beach time wasn’t the best for the group of people we were traveling with and tried to find some other stuff to occupy our day in port. What resulted was plenty of wandering around and discovering new places and parts of this beautiful island.

We kept the first part of our plan the same– a 40-minute taxi to the Antigua Humane Society, where we were able to visit with rescued donkeys. I didn’t think that this experience would be as cool as it was, but hanging out with these animals was totally awesome. They were friendly, funny, and most of all it was cool to have an opportunity to give some TLC to them. Inside the office building for the humane society many of the donkeys’ stories were posted– some of them were hit by cars, others abandoned by their owners. We were pleased to discover that sponsoring a donkey cost only $25 USD, a price pretty manageable when split between the eight of us. We decided on a donkey named Chrissy (who we nicknamed Fashion Donkey), although another donkey named Stevie (who was dealing with a pretty large… situation while we were at the donkey sanctuary) almost made the cut.

The humane society also had rooms full of cats and dogs, and one of the most surprising moments of the trip for me was meeting one of the dogs in the kennel. As a default, I’m relatively scared of dogs– a few too many of them jumped up on me when I was just a bit too little to handle them, and while the older I’ve gotten the less blatantly afraid of them I’ve become (thanks to my siblings owning a St. Bernard and a Grate Dane), I’m still pretty hesitant around them. But when I walked into this kennel I instantly fell in love with this puppy, and spent as much time as I could kneeling by his cage and scratching his fur. I wish him the doggy-best.

The woman who we spoke with at the humane society was incredibly lovely to all of us. She talked to us about her daughter, and how she used to be a teacher. We purchased community curated cookbooks from her and asked her questions about the animals that she helped to take care of. We’re all looking forward to getting our email updates about Chrissy so that we can keep in touch with her and let her know how much she contributed to the awesome time that we had in Antigua.

We piled back into our taxi and made our way back to St. John’s. Driving through we saw teenage girls in blue uniform dresses walking around on their lunch break. We made our way to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, a tiny local museum that educated all of us on tons of Antigua’s history, going all the way back to Pangea. Having the opportunity to understand the history of the place where we were was really special, I love a museum and this one is nicely curated, even though it’s tiny tiny tiny. It’s also housed in a beautiful old court house, giving every inch of the space a sense of history.

guarding the door of the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

Our last stop on the island was eating lunch at the Alligators Bar and Restaurant, which we stumbled upon just while wandering around St. John. The outdoor seating was a little toasty, but it was great to be eat some of the local food and feel like we were in a little bit more of an out-of-the-way place to eat. One of the people I traveled with finally found the glass of Ting that they had been looking for during our whole Caribbean vacation, and the food was awesome. I had chicken in pineapple sauce, it was basically oozing with awesome flavor.

Spending time in Antigua really put a smile on my face, and more than any other island that we went to on our adventure, I felt like I got a good sense of the place, the people, and the culture of the island– and it was amazing. There’s a liveliness to Antigua, and having an opportunity to do a few smaller things and get away from other tourists gave us a different perspective of the island. I also was able to buy a steel drum for my nephew while I was here– so maybe that’s why it has such a special place in my heart.

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