Labadee: An Island Paradise

Day 8, Saturday, December 5, 2015 on the Celebrity Constellation

Labadee is a beautiful beach hideaway private to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It’s at the very tip of Haiti if my geography is correct. The sea is a magnificent aqua color and mountainous terrain adds beauty to the scenery.

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RCCL (which owns Celebrity) supplies chairs and towels for all guests. All you need do is tip the beach attendant to put a chair where you want it. Then you can laze about, swim, or participate in various activities sponsored by the cruise line. Bring sun screen, sunglasses, a hat and beach sandals. It gets hot.

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Plenty of bars and rest rooms are scattered about for your convenience. The peninsula is big enough that you can even ride a free tram around to the various stops. Be aware that swimming is allowed on one side only, at the bay with its multiple beaches. The other side faces the ocean and is suitable for sunbathing and admiring the sea.

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The beach barbecue is always fun. You can choose hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, or chicken plus side dishes and cookies. Free cold drinks are available in dispensers.

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At one end of the place is a zip line and roller coaster up on a hill. Near this at the base is the shopping village, where you can buy lovely gifts for your friends at home. Mahogany bowls, colorful Haitian art, native jewelry, dolls, wood carvings and more all can be yours, preferably for cash. Bargaining is expected.

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This area had grown since I’d last been here, and I lost my cousin Janice among the warren of shops. We reunited later at the tram stop. An air-conditioned indoor section offers a respite from the heat. The marketplace is a good site to pick up gifts for folks back home. Here’s a lovely serving dish I couldn’t resist:

Bowl

I could revisit this setting endlessly. The scenery is magnificent; the bay water gentle and warm; the beaches rife with palm trees and lounge chairs. Food is provided, and there are shopping opportunities. What more could you want?

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Coming Next: The Final Journey

SAN JUAN

San Juan

We’ve been on tours here before so this time we just walked around, browsing in the stores. I picked up some 14k gold hoop earrings at Tropical Jewelers for my daughter cheaper than the ones I bought myself in a similar size in St. Thomas. From the pier, walk up Calle Tanca a couple of blocks to Calle Fortaleza, the main shopping street. Turn left and stroll along, ducking into any shops that strike your fancy. We got lured into Restaurant Barrachina, home of the famed Piña Colada drink created here in 1963. It’s a charming restaurant with a tempting appetizer menu or a place for lunch. No worries about the waiters; they speak English. The food is good and there’s a rest room in the back. As for the piña coladas, I’ve had better but it was fun to try one here. The waiter recommended Don Q Cristal for a white rum. There’s a store by the waterfront but it was closed on Thursdays and that’s the day we were in port. He also mentioned Ron del Barrilito for a golden rum. He said these are the rums used by the natives, not Baccardi brands.

After an early meal, we continued onward on Calle Fortaleza. At the far end toward Calle Christo is a barricade blocking access to the Governor’s mansion. Turn left and you’ll find yourself at a historical chapel. Go into Pigeon Park next to the chapel for a fabulous view of the harbor. Note the stone wall with all the pigeon holes where the birds live. It’s a fascinating glimpse of old San Juan. If you’ve never been to the island before, you can tour the forts or take a bus tour to the rainforest. A couple of hours patrolling the city streets is more than sufficient for shopping.

Labadee

This is a fabulous beach party at RCCL’s private hideaway. Passengers haD the entire day to roam about this beautiful peninsula. It’s part of Haiti but is separated from the mainland by scenic mountains. Lush with green foliage and palm lined lagoons, this island-like setting offers something for everyone. You can lose yourself in bliss lying on a lounge chair and sipping a potent Labadoozee or rum punch while gazing at the sparkling turquoise waters. Go for a swim, stuff yourself at the BBQ lunch, or get a thrill riding on the zip line or rollercoaster. Shop for colorful Haitian paintings and wood carvings at the native market. Or rent a jet ski and zoom across the waves. Kayaking and floats are available as is an Aqua Park for kids. Whatever your pleasure, you can find it here. A tram ride can take you from one end to the other if you don’t feel like walking in the heat.

My camera broke so I don’t have any photos for these ports. A new camera became one of my holiday gifts upon our return. I hate learning new technology. Some features are better than my old camera, though, so it’s worth the effort.

Happy New Year!