Saturday, April 14, 2007

Coral Princess Cruise, April 2007 -- Day 6

Saturday, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

According to Captain Manfuso's Log of the Cruise, "We were all fast alongside by 0800." Soon after that we went ashore to the terminal building. It was very hot and humid. The Coral Princess was the only ship in port here today.

FireflyFor years we read about Firefly, Noel Coward's vacation retreat in Jamaica high above Blue Harbour and the town of Santa Maria.

Before we went to Montego Bay last December on the Golden Princess we looked into making the trip over to Firefly. However we couldn't find any official package tours, and it was too far for a day trip on our own.

On this cruise we would stop for a day in Ocho Rios and Firefly is just about 18 miles east of the port. Again there were no organized tours offering what we wanted, but through the Internet we found Marva Shaw who operates a tour service,, and she was most helpful. Her company's slogan is, "Feel free to customize your own itinerary." Thank you, Marva, One Love from Pensacola!

To the MasterThrough Marva we set up exactly the tour we wanted -- a drive to Firefly and back with a nice visit there including a guided tour. The toast we made at Sir Noel's grave site we provided ourselves -- with a thermos of icy martinis we brought from the Coral Princess.

Firefly was rescued and restored by Chris Blackwell of Island Records. The estate is now operated and maintained by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. For more information about Firefly and Chris Blackwell's other Jamaican interests click here.

On Flickr there are more photos from our visit to Firefly, just click here to see them.

And now for a few words of warning...
Outside the very heart of the tourist area of Ocho Rios the streets and roads are bad. Very bad. Do not think about renting a car and driving into the countryside yourself.

Turn here for FireflyOur driver, Maroon, heroically avoided the worst of the potholes, often having to drive in the ditch. There are also long stretches of rough surfaces that cannot be avoided and I am talking about the main highways. To get to Firefly we needed to take some back roads and the conditions on these were terrible. We were both elated when we saw the sign for Firefly.

If you suffer from any kind of back or joint problems, tend to get motion sickness or have problems with long periods of violent shaking do not attempt the trip to Firefly. The round trip of less than 40 miles sounds easy but when much of it is taken at a speed of 5 to 10 miles an hour it makes for a long day.

We loved seeing Firefly, toasting Sir Noel and walking through the house. Inside Firefly there are lots of photos of his guests over the years. They were icons of the 20th Century -- Vivien Leigh, Lynn Fontanne & Alfred Lunt, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, the Queen Mother, Ian Fleming and many, many more...

It was worth the trip, despite the bumps.

From Fort Lauderdale to Panama Canal
1273 nautical miles, 1464 statute miles, 2355 kilometers
average speed 21.0 knots

From Panama Canal to Limon
187 nautical miles, 215 statute miles, 346 kilometers
average speed 18.2 knots

From Limon to Ocho Rios
650 nautical miles, 748 statute miles, 1203 kilometers
average speed 18.1 knots

Total distance sailed
2110 nautical miles, 2427 statute miles, 3904 kilometers

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