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Friday, 9 March 2012

Blackbeards Castle

One of my passengers has just come back from a Caribbean cruise with P&O and gave me a call to let me know how it went. They had a great time but said they were a little disappointed with the Caribbean. This was the first time they'd done a Caribbean cruise and said next time they thought they'd stick to cruising the Mediterranean. They loved the weather but they thought there just wasn't a lot to do in the way of shore excursions. Apparently none of the Islands had enough history for them.
"Once you've seen one palm tree and white beach you've seen them all" was their final comment.
Whilst I'm obviously glad they had a great time I had to disagree with them about the history of the Caribbean Islands.
Going back to the 15th Century or so and then forward they've been attacked, settled, conquered, invaded, and freed by a variety of Western powers and if you know where to look there's some really interesting things to be seen.

One of the spots I'd really love to see in the Caribbean would have to be Blackbeards castle.
It's located on  St. Thomas in the city of Charlotte Amalie in the US Virgin Islands and is one of the five national landmarks in the Virgin Islands.
Built in 1679 by Danish settlers to protect the harbour it was originally called Skytsborg Tower but came to be know as Blackbeards tower in the 18th century. Which is where the mystery comes in.
No one's sure when the tower started to be known as Blackbeards Tower or even if Blackbeard ever even used it.
It is known that Blackbeard, or Edward Teach to give him his real name, did operate in that area at around that period but there's no proof, other than local legend,that he ever used the tower as a base. I'd love to go to see if the legends were true. Maybe I could even find some buried gold!

Have any of my readers ever been to Blackbeards Tower? Or what did you think of the Caribbean in general? Is it all white beaches and palm trees as my passengers thought or can you think of any other really interesting places to visit?

Happy cruising.

1 comment:

  1. Peoples (first) perceptions of the Caribbean depend very strongly on the ships cruise itinerary , the ships trips or ones own studies of individual islands prior to visiting.
    Many organised ship trips are relatively short ( ca 4h) and do not cover many of the historical areas. Ships are now so big that they moor / dock out of town and it becomes more difficult to do ones own thing ( even more true in the Mediterranean)
    Use of a good guide and a local taxi may be the best for the more obscure sites OR to spend some time staying on land for an in depth view of the island ( by car hire - usually not practical from a cruise ship or by taxi)
    I believe we have spotted Blackbeards tower in passing on a round tour of St Thomas but historical sites like Nelson's dockyard ( Antigua) are much easier to get to see. For Forts and old Spanish colonial buildings see San Juan ( Puerto Rico) or colonial buildings in Christianstadt ( St Croix) , Brimstone Hill Forts on St Kitts. One must do noes homework!
    Some smaller ships - like Azamara , arrange more specialised trips to historical sites
    If you haven't got the detailed Fodors Caribbean then get the Carribean Ports of Call book OR the Anne Vipond "Caribbean by cruise ship" for realistic ideas as what can be done from a cruise ship rather than a land based trip
    The big advantage of a Caribbean cruise is you see a lot of different islands , the disadvantage is that it is only a fleeting glimpse
    . You get the same effect ( even worse) at some Mediterranean ports) where a 2-3h journey is required before you get anywhere( Rome , Florence , Pisa)
    What is wrong with white beaches and palm trees anyway?
    There ARE plenty of historical Caribbean sites but one must work harder to get to see them OR be very selective as to the itinerary. Even if you stay on an island and hire a car some are not that easy to find.

    We have done many cruises and love the Caribbean for its weather , beaches ,people and sights - but you may have to work at it a bit!
    And yes , we do like the Mediterranean and will be back there in May ( as well as the Norwegian coast in June!)