Fantome Honeymoon 1996
“Our Honeymoon On the Fantome” (note…. the good stuff has been edited out, sorry)
A friend from work, Dean Dey (a diehard Windjammer) suggested we take a Windjammer Barefoot cruise. It sounded like so much fun, so we took his advice. We booked our honeymoon cruise on the Fantome from 31 Dec 1995 to 6 Jan, 1996.
We stowed away on the ship Sunday, New Year’s Eve day. When we arrived in Antigua we dropped off our luggage and walked down to the Crazy Horse Saloon a nice little bar right around the corner from the dock. I must say we were a little surprised to find a T.V. inside playing a video tape of a Johnny Cash concert. Not exactly the island music we were expecting to hear. However, the atmosphere was just right….. Laid back and friendly. We were introduced to our first Caribe beer…yum, this could be the start of a good relationship. And of course we had to try the drink of the day…a mango colada…yum again. At the bar we met up with a small group of people we could tell were fun from Long Island N.Y. They too were going on the Fantome. We also hung out with Tony, a Navel test pilot/navigator from Maryland, also a Fantome buddy. At 1700 we paid our tab and headed for the ship, let the fun begin. On board we had our first swizzle and checked to make sure the cabin quarters, well, really just the bed, were o.k. Yep, just fine, as we predicted. So it was upstairs for dinner. The food throughout the entire cruise was fantastic. I even managed to get chef Baggs to tell me his secret bread recipe at the end of the cruise. There was a great island band set up on the deck to provide entertainment and dancing for a New Year’s Eve party. Unfortunately, we were both too exhausted from the wedding to partake in the fun. Not to mention the fact that each toe on both feet was broken from being in those awful heals for forever during the wedding, so I couldn’t dance if I wanted to. But that was O.K. with us, we just propped ourselves up on the upper deck where the wheel was (please excuse my lack of knowledge about ships and the proper names of their parts) and watched everyone else make fools of themselves, knowing that they would all have their turn to laugh at us later in the week. Windjammer provided us with a complimentary bottle of champagne to help us celebrate our first day of marriage. That came in very handy at midnight. We didn’t last much past that.
Day 1 Antigua
We had set Mark’s watch for 0630 to get up and go have complimentary bloody Mary’s and sticky buns, and yes, you guessed it, we did not get out of bed until the bell rang and someone yelled “last call for breakfast”. After breakfast we went up deck for story time with Capt. Sean Cassidy. Sean had a great sense of humor and was a fine Captain, not once did we get lost. Louise, the activities director, was up next to explain out options for the day. With took her advice and decided to take a cab ride around Antigua. First, up to Shirley’s point, the highest point on the island. Beautiful view, our pictures of the view looks fake kind of like a postcard. Can’t believe how beautiful and blue the sky and water was. And 85 degrees is my kind of weather. Next we went to Lord Horatio Nelson’s Dockyard an old naval ship dockyard, now inhabited by beautiful sailboats that we all dream of owning. Checked out the bar, very good foofoo rum drinks. Antigua still had some evident hurricane damage, and is very green now due to the abundant rainfall. Back to the ship for rum swizzles and to prepare to set sail for St. Barth’s. We helped hoist the sails as they played “Amazing Grace” which brought tears to your eyes. The ship truly is beautiful, along with the weather. At this point we’re already trying to figure out how we can: not go home, quit our jobs, and go to work on one of the West Indies islands, heck, why not the ship! Later that night we relaxed on the top deck under the stars, and enjoyed conversations with our new friends and sampled the foofoo drink of the day.
Day 2 St Barts
Same morning routine. After breakfast we took a launch into St. Barth’s. A great little quaint French island. The people speak French, the signs are in French and they use French money, the people even walk around with loaves of French bread in their hands, just like in the movies. Being aviation nuts of course we had to go see the airport. Being fitness fools we decided to walk rather than take a taxi (plus we wanted save our money for Caribe’s). Well, it was quite an upward hike but worth it to see the worlds shortest runway and to watch the planes come in-between the two mountains and land. Got some great pictures while the men were discussing the proper instrument/airplane procedures to go through while trying to land a plane on this football field. We walked around the island some more and then headed back to the ship for lunch. Later that afternoon we went snorkeling….great time and saw lots of pretty colored fish and even a barracuda. After dinner we all ventured back into town to check out the night life at Le Select, the bar where Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Great bar, people leave their business cards on the wall. I tried to find someone famous but had no luck. Nice cold cheap Caribes. Our Long Island friends did their best to get us happy on Caribes. They succeeded and didn’t do so bad themselves. Our turn to make fools of ourselves. The men all decided to do the electric slide in the street. On the walk back to the launch we stopped to admire the boats in the dock and sighted Donald Trump’s ship. We were standing there waving when I noticed that the boat next to it was from Dover DE, wow, what a small world. We wondered if the owners had ever been to DE since many a person registers a boat in DE due the “no tax” deal. Back on the ship we danced more. Late that night we set sail for St. Maarten.
Day 3 – St. Maarten
Same morning routine only this time we were smart enough not to bother setting the alarm for 0630. After breakfast, everyone on the ship went ashore to participate in the regatta race. I decided that was too much work for vacation and opted to stay on the ship and catch some rays. I love the sun and the ship. Everyone had a blast on the regatta. After lunch we went to tour the island. This one is great if you like to shop. (I personally wasn’t there to shop). We did however, buy a pair of binoculars for half of what we would have paid in the States. Electronics are cheaper there too. This island is more touristy. We found a great rum store that sells flavored rum, of course we had to sample several flavors in the form of a colada before we decided which 2 to buy. We settled on Guavaberry and Mango. We walked some more till we found a cute little bar on the beach, it was yellow and pink and served great foofoo rum frozen drinks. Can’t remember the name of it but the owner was very nice. A storm blew over us, it rained for 5 minutes and then cleared up again. Well, you guessed it….back to the ship for swizzles and dinner. By the way very few people got sea sick and we actually found the rocking of the ship very relaxing (the rocking from the water of course).
Day 4 – St Kitts
Same morning routine. This time we are ready to go check out St. Kitts. In the morning we went into town and took a cab up to the Brimstone Hill Fortress. Very cool to climb around on. It is huge and the view is magnificent. This day we had lunch on Frigate Bay beach and then left to go on a hike through a rain forest. The rainforest was beautiful, and very peaceful. I was however, a little disappointed that there were no funky birds, animals, or bugs. We did see some normal birds and some greenback monkeys. oh and a colorful centipede made my day. The tour guide, Greg, was very knowledgeable and nice. We talked to him on the way back to the dock about how obsessed Americans are with time, from the moment the alarm clock goes off in the morning. The Kittitians are laid back, and are not concerned with time. This island impressed me the most because of the friendly, warm people. I’m convinced that New Year’s is their favorite holiday because the whole time we were on the island people were constantly shouting “happy new year to you mon” to each other. And it wasn’t unusual for someone to look at you and say “hi, have a good day” for no reason. It really makes you realize how materialistic, unfriendly, and unreasonable we Americans can be. If the mail doesn’t get delivered one day on the island their response would be “oh well, we’ll get the mail tomorrow”. Whereas in the States if that was to happen 500 people would be on the phone cussing someone out. Now I’m going to change the subject to my favorite topic, agriculture. There is a fair amount of sugarcane grown on the island. They harvest the cane and load it onto old rail carts and transport it to the processing plant where they use it to make CSR (Cane Spirit Rothschild) and molasses. The CSR is a spirit made directly from the juice of the cane. It is very potent. Greg had several juices and a bottle of CSR waiting for us when we got out of the forest. We tried the Tamarind Bean tea, the Papaya, and the mango all with CSR of course. They say the stuff is supposed to be smooth, I thought it smelled like grain alcohol and I could taste it right up to the point when it numbed every nerve in my mouth. I think they call it a “spirit” because you see things after you drink it, or shall we say, it haunts you! From the molasses they make rum and good rum might I add. This night was designated party night (costume) on the ship (as if you needed a designated night) and the theme for costumes was “anything that started with a P'”. The ship provided some costumes and stuff but we got back too late from the rainforest hike and everything was already claimed. So Tony made a letter P’ and tied it around his neck and blackened his eyes with my mascara, hence the black-eyed pea. I tied a sign around Mark’s neck that read Passenger 57′ and a sign around mine that read Passenger 57’s wife”. We danced and played a drinking game with dice at the bar.
Day 5 – Nevis
The last island on the tour, Nevis. Nevis was a beautiful small island that used to be all sugarcane plantations but now all the plantations have been turned into hotels. The island was very well kept and had tons of flowers. In the morning we walked around downtown Nevis and went to see Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace. We went back to the ship for lunch and then back to the island to hit Sunshine’s, another famous bar on the beach. This bar known for a drink called the “killer bee”. On the way, us women collected small beach shells and conch shells to decorate out bathrooms with, as all women do. We went swimming and then decided to try a killer bee. What’s in it? Who knows, they won’t tell you. We do know that like all island low-cal foofoo drinks it contains rum, rum, more rum, several splashes of exotic juices, and a splash of bitters and some fresh ground nutmeg on top. And let me tell you, that thing will knock you on your ass. I finished half and was seeing two of everything so I switched to good ole Caribe. Again the people on this island are very friendly and warm. While waiting for the launch to pick us up at the dock, we witnessed a food and supply ship pull up and unload. I was surprised… Here we were on an island where they have perfect conditions for growing fruit and veggies and they import all their produce from the States. I guess they make more money selling Killer Bee’s .
riday night’s supper was Captain’s night with a choice of prime rib or grilled wahoo. Definitely had to try the wahoo and glad we did, it was wonderful, kind of like shark or tuna, a steak fish. yum. One of our Long Island friends had bought some new strings (specifically a GString) on the island that day so that he could fix the Fantome community guitar. We all thought he was in search of a new bathing suit to wear back home to show off his tan. He was able to repair the injured guitar and after dinner we all gathered around and sang songs from the past. It was a very nice relaxing even, perfect for our overstuffed stomachs.
Day 6 – Antigua
Saturday Morning we arrived back in Antigua, somewhat sad knowing that the vacation had come to an end. Our flight didn’t take off until 4 p.m. and my football team, the Steelers, was playing in the first round of playoffs. So our objective was to find a bar to watch the game in. We inquired about a bar with a T.V. and were told to go to the Big Banana. We walked around downtown looking for this bar for a while. We came to the conclusion that the police are the least informed people on the island. We asked 3 different cops where the bar was and each one replied “umm, go down there 2 blocks and then ask someone else. They all had the direction right but couldn’t tell us exactly where it was, I guess that’s a good sign obviously there must not be any fights in bars on Antigua. For those of you who have some time to spend in Antigua and would like to check out this nice bar/pizzeria, it is in the Heritage Quay, quite hidden (Look for the Heritage Quay sign and don’t bother asking the police for directions).. We didn’t sample the pizza but it looked and smelled good. Funny how the main menu item at the “big Banana” is pizza. They had a huge T.V. and willingly put the game on for us and then laughed at the Americans, particularly a female, as we (mainly she) became obsessed with the game. At halftime we sadly left for the airport. We caught our flight to San Juan and then Philly and got home 6 hours before 2 feet of snow fell. Quite a shock to go from 85 to 18 .Regardless, we had a wonderful time and met some great new friends. We had to go to several AA meetings after we returned (just kidding) and had a bad case of sea legs. The ship and islands offered such a wide variety of things to do, something for everyone, you pick. The staff of the Fantome was very friendly, fun and accommodating. Our cabin steward “Treads” was a great worker and friend. Again the food was fantastic. We will definitely be back. Many Thanks to Windjammer and the crew of the Fantome for a wonderful and memorable honeymoon and vacation!…see you next year!
Lisa C. Hersant