Sunday, December 30, 2007

Antigua Facebook group

When facebook first started i thought it was another of these silly networking websites for kids just like hi5 and others i had gotten a million emails from. It didn't take long for me to figure out that there were many adults including most of my friends on facebook, and like millions of others i joined up. What was interesting was how many old friends i met up with, and how quickly i could search for old friends too.
It was interesting how many people would use it for email purposes too as if not using any other type of online email program at all anymore. I guess some people figure, that if you are not connected with them then they shouldn't be getting mail from you.
When Google purchased part of facebook i began to become more interested in how powerful a tool facebook could become. Recently i noticed several huge companies using facebook to their advantage in the travel industry and decided today that i would start a Adventure Antigua group on facebook.

For those of you who are members of facebook or become members on facebook please join the Adventure Antigua group. You can add video, photos, comments, suggestions..... tag your friends in photos which are so easy to upload and share on facebook. Its an interesting tool and i hope that it provides some fun to our Adventure Antigua friends all over the world. Click on the image to see what the group page looks like and goto to join up if you want to be part of the group.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cousin Ross!

I just realized that I have been speaking about Ross in my blog for months with only a tiny explanation of who he is. I need to update the crew list too. Chris will be next, but this one is about Ross.
Ross Alan Bloomfield is one of my cousins who is now working with us at Adventure Antigua as crew on the tours. He is my dad's sister's son and was born here in Antigua as was his older brother Jack. Mary was their mom and was the last of my grandparent's seven children. She ran the Lord Nelson Beach Hotel with her husband Graham and it was where Ross and Jack grew up.
Like the rest of the Fuller kids before them, they spent all their free time snorkeling, fishing, boating and generally messing about on the waters edge or in the sea. Life changed dramatically when Mary discovered she had cancer. Poor Mary fought hard always being positive and upbeat bringing joy into many people's lives. She was a great person enjoying life to the fullest, but like many people she just couldn't beat the disease. So many of us miss her and think about her and her positive attitude all the time. After she passed on, Graham who was originally from England decided to move back to be close to his family there. The boys went to school in England and came to Antigua on holidays. Ross graduated from school and decided that he had to come back "home".

We are delighted to have him back here doing what he grew up doing now as a "job" and spreading some of that upbeat positivity that Mary had passed onto him. Ross loves fishing and has fit into the Adventure Antigua team like it was all part of him from the start..... which it was.

Say hi when you see him on the boat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy holidays to you

.... from all the Adventure Antigua crew: Jill, Nell, Tony, JD, Shamel, Chris, Wan Lovv, Trev, Ross, Kaitlyn and eli.

While sending you warm winds from the Caribbean, we hope to see you all again in the new year and wish you all the best.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

changes and additions

As i mentioned on an earlier blog entry, we have had plans to take school children on our eco tours to show them areas they would not normally see in an effort to help promote eco tourism's importance as a tool of saving the environment. My family have been fighting environmental battles for over 40 years and it seems that although many have been won, many have been lost because the people making the final decisions just didn't understand the big picture. By giving children an opportunity to see for themselves, i am sure that only positive outcomes can come about.

While in the planning stages i was contacted directly by Racquel D'ornellas who said that her teacher had told the class to find an interesting field trip to do. Anyway, it was a little earlier than i had planned to start taking kids but we ended up taking 18 kids form her class out with some of their teachers on a full day in the north sound. The Eco Tour was "a blast" according to some of the kids i spoke with and we are excited about the future trips.
Taking groups of people from the west coast on the 40 mile round trip into the ecological playground that is the North Sound involves conisderable costs both financial and some we can not measure exactly. The whole footprint thing as i spoke at great length about on this earlier blog is something we have to consider too. Buying offsets for our busines from companies in another country is not somthing i have been convinced is a great option. Doing these tours for kids under cost is a better option i think. Our usual cost for the Eco Tour is US $100 and we have decided to offer the trip at a tiny percentage of that for school kids not to cover cost but to cover a % of them and also to give some more value to what they kids are getting. We are in the early stages of speaking with an environmental group about partial funding for these trips as their is international grants for these types of school outings. Our hope is to start full time in the new year with several school outings a month and in order to take all of antigua's kids we will need some of that grant help hopefully.
On another note we have decided to start another new adventure tour offering people a day of exploring and snorkeling in and around Nonsuch Bay. Green Island, Crump Island, the amazing mangrove habitats of Ayres Creek probably containing the largest of these trees on Antigua.
Anyway, to read more about it click on the image and zoom in.

Hotels like Veranda, Pineapple, and Long Bay may be interested in this tour as it highlights the virgin areas nearby that are not accessable by car. We pick up In Jolly Harbour, St. Johns, Dickenson Bay and Dian Bay, but only offer this tour on Fridays and Saturdays currently unless we are doing it as a private charter. If you want more infor about any of this you can call me directly on +1 268 725 7263. Have a good day, eli.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

want some wallpaper for your computer?

The problem with putting large photo files on the net these days is that people end up using them commercially all over the world without permission. I had quite a few imgaes from my private photo collection used that way. Anyway, since it sounds as though its pretty cold and nasty up in North America, England and Europe.... maybe you would like a new computer desk top background. If you click on the images you should be able to get the bigger files. It may take a while so pick the one you want. Then all you have to do is right click and save to your computer. Once saved you can "set as desktop background". Just a thought, and if you like i may do more.Hope you enjoy. Have a good warm sunday! We are off to Harmony Hall to see the new Dragon Fleet of boats there at the opening of the new yacht club there. Should be fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas winds are here

Windguru and magic seaweed had the christmas winds arriving earlier in the week and just as predicted, they came with a vengence. There is nothing new with this as each year during the winter and especially around christmas we get strong 20-25 mph winds during many days. Yesterday and today its been blowing hard. Windguru usually lets us know about a week in advance that wind surges are coming and this gives us plenty warning to adjust tours and or snorkeling sites if we have to. Most of the time the winds are out of the east which is perfect for our eco tour. The Xtreme tour has to be modified if winds are up to or above 25 knots. This doesn't usually happen more than one or two times a month during the winter. On those days we stay in the protection of the North Sound after visiting stingray city. Whatever happens we try to make the tours fun and safe. We do cancell tours and did this way too many times the winter before last when the winds and rain squalls were terrible. Windguru also does a very good job of predicting cloud cover and rain. Rain is something that makes it more difficult on tours. We cancel more tours because of rain than for any other reason, and if the forecast turns out to be correct and we wake up before dawn with rain bucketing down, we first check the guadeloupe radar which shows actual rain fall, then we correlate that with various satellite cloude cover maps like this one and then we make a decision. Here the radar image below was taken this summer and shows circular rainfall over the southern caribbean when Hurricane Dean was passing. They had torrential rains in the islands to our south that day.
Of course we put both radar and cloud maps in animation (a collection of images taken over hours) to see if the mass of squalls is going to move on before the tour gets started. Another bit of info that we use is swell maps which are very good when planning pick ups at the hotels. This one shows how big the waves are in the atlantic as well as the direction the waves are coming from.
Some days when we have ground swell the weather can be lovely and without checking the swell maps we would never know that there were 5 foot waves pounding hawksbill beach. If all the bits and pieces of info are within reason then the tours go on as normal, but each week we use this info behind the sceens to make sure you are all well taken care of.
If you know me, then you will know its not all just about the job either. Coming from a windsurfing background, the weather sites also help me plan sessions on the water too. Yesterday i was out windsurfing with some of the Sunsail employees, wadadli cats owner Xabier, and Roddy from Aquafilms. As predicted, Half Moon Bay had massive waves and strong winds. IT was perrrrrfect! JD and Tony said that the eco tour was fun inside the protection of the North Sound, but that it was hard to hold down the salad during lunch. Harriet's lovely salad will be blowing all over the boat this week for sure. I would have put more interesting links and pics but my APUA internet is being a real pain in the tail fin today!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Antigua "super yacht" show.

Antigua is one of the most important places on the planet during the winter months for super yachts also known as "mega yachts". Generally the Caribbean is where many of the world's largest private yachts come to cruise around during the winter months when its just too cold for boating in the Mediterranean.

Antigua, St. Martin and St. Barts are the three most important islands in the Caribbean at the moment for the huge "yachting industry" and when i say yachting i am speaking about the big ones, and not the little ones like they have in the BVI and other islands.
What exactly is a mega yacht or a super yacht? Wiki says that they are very expensive private yachts that are professionally crewed. I think that's too broad of a definition. I think there should be a price or a length in there to narrow it down a bit. For example a private yacht like my friend's that is professionally crewed couldn't be called a mega yacht or super yacht but could i guess be called a "luxury yacht". Its funny because i looked on google for a definition and saw this lame try at it. That made me chuckle. Anyway, according to Jim Gilbert, editor-in-chief of Fort Lauder dale -based ShowBoats International, "Typically, true luxury yachts start at 60 feet, with mega-yachts starting in the 80-foot to 100-foot range and the super mega-yachts at 200 feet and up," Gilbert said. "The 80-foot to 100-foot sizes were overlooked for some time, but are now the fastest-growing segment." The above was taken from South Florida Business Journal from back in 2002 and can only be described as old news. Since 2002 i would think that the 200 foot and up boats have seen the largest growth in the industry. I mean, if your boat isn't 200 feet these days why are you docking in Gustavia or Antigua Yacht Club? Funny...... kinda. Each year some boat comes into port with loads of people straining to get a look at "the biggest privately owned sailing yacht" or the "biggest powerboat" or "biggest single masted yacht of all time". BUT this keeps happening each year like there are people out there trying to compete for the biggest boat title. Anyway, this years Boat Show here was a little less dramatic than it has been over the past few years with some lovely yachts on show, but nothing as crazy as i have seen before. St. Martin's boat show is now going on during the same week in an effort to disrupt ours. Not exactly sure of the reasons but you hear grumbles from some of the yachties down south. I know that over the past few years St. Martin and other islands have sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into their Mega Yacht industry and now are on par or even bigger than Antigua for yachts. Grenada is trying very hard with their Port Louis mega marina this year. They are in every yachting magazine you open. Its big business in the Caribbean. My friends Roddy and Ian over at aqua films have been very busy this past week and have a new promo film out which they have been showing off at the show. It's not on their site yet, but should be soon. You can also see some of their other stuff now if you go there. Cool vids of massive yachts.

I took a walk last night along the Antigua Yacht Club and Marina docks and saw some lovely yachts. The photos at the top of today's blog were taken by me last night and the others last season. While in Antigua over the winter months you should definitely take a drive down and have a look. Lots of eye food.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

LIVE from Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas:

This morning i got an email from a friend of mine who cruises often and who contributes and reads the wonderful Cruise Critic Message boards. It took me a while to find what she described to me, but it was worth it. It was such a wonderful post that i thought i would share it with you. If you want to read more about "BuyREALLYLow"'s adventures live from Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas then you can goto
Anyway, i decided to reprint the Antigua part of his cruise report as here as many of our readers may not goto Cruise Critic. "BuyREALLYLow" writes in great detail all about his trip before he leaves his home and all the way down into St. Lucia aboard the cruise. Below, is his description of his Antigua day.
St. Johns, Antiqua – December 4, 2007
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the journey take the whole long day?
For morn to night, my friend. - Christina Roseetti, 1867

In each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred. We will travel halfway around the world and endure great sacrifice and pain to enter the sanctuary, whether it is a temple, shrine, cemetery, library or Sea.
This is the way that is no way, but a practice.
”It’s not so much what you do,” wrote Epictetus in his study of happiness, “it is how you do it.”
Your practice is your path.

If so, “The Way is uncontrived,” as Lao Tzu said.

It is simply the way of seeing, the way of hearing, the way of touching, the way of walking, the way of being, with humility.
Oh, did we hear, touch, walk, and be today! What a wonderful day! What a fantastic day! What a….. words are superfluous – they do not do justice to what we experienced today! But before the main course, one must have appetizers….. Mornings on cruise ships are glorious.

When should I get up? Whenever you want to.

What should I eat? What you want to. Feel sluggish? Work out. Sore? Soak. I have commented before on how much my wife and I love mornings. We like to take our breakfast in three stages. First, we like to be waked by the call alerting us that our room service breakfast of coffee, juice, cereal and rolls will be delivered. After dining leisurely, my wife begins to prepare for the day. While she does so, I trot over to the Concierge Lounge to grab a bit of fruit and a Latte or Cappuccino. I then do my work online, and then check back in with my wife. IF all is going well, we then will head to the windjammer or the main dining room for some eggs, (maybe an Omelet), a bit of turkey sausage, and sometimes a treat. THEN (and only then), we officially “start” our day. JDid I mention what a day? We signed up for Eli’s Eco Tour for a day of sun, snorkeling, hiking, and quite a bit fascinating knowledge. Eli’s tour gets great press on many a website and chat rooms. I am here to proclaim that is all deserved. Your day begins just a few feet from the boat at Adventure Antiqua, where you board Eli’s Catamaran. They own two of them, a 42 foot and a 52 foot. Today we were on the 52 footer. Departure time is 9:50 AM (Atlantic) The Cat is brought past the ships in port (great photo op) and out to the north side of the island. Along the way, they stop and point out the various hotels, buildings, history and animals of the area. Our team today consisted of Captain Tony and First Mates Wan Lovv and Ross. Wan Lovv looks like a Bob Marley disciple, and is always quick with a smile and a hand. Ross is from Antiqua, has lived in England for some time, and has now moved back to his home. All three were wonderful, helpful, and quick to the task. This first leg of the day takes you approximately 2 hours. At a bit before noon, Captain Tony pulls into a secluded bay on Bird Island. Here, Sea Turtles are plentiful – no less than 5 were viewed while we slowly pull into shore. Passengers are encouraged to disembark and are led on a nature walk by Wan Lovv. It is obvious that Wan Lovv loves his island and loves people and the environment – possibly not in that order. He points out countless plants and animals in our 15 minute climb to the top of Bird Island. Once there, we are able to look out over a large number of small islands just off shore from Antiqua. It makes for beautiful pictures. When ready, we clamber back down. Here we have 20 or so minutes to swim in the bay if one wishes to cool off. The bay is not a good snorkeling spot, as it is full of seaweed (good for the turtles), so it is more of a “get your feet wet” for the swimming/snorkeling that is to come. But if you are a beginner snorkeler, Captain Tony is happy to provide lessons.Now lunch is served. Lunch consists of a pasta salad, a lettuce salad, grilled BBQ chicken, grilled plantations, beverages (cola, soft drinks), and banana bread for desert. It was fantastic!! Fruit drinks and water are served throughout the day. Lunch is devoured by all – it was finger licking good! While the final banana bread is being served, Captain Tony fires up the cat to head towards our next stop – Hell’s Gate.Hell’s gate is a very small island that has two distinctive features. One is a natural bridge that spans a third of the island. Second is a sea cave that leads into the center of the remaining part of the island, exposing a natural blowhole that looks like a whirlpool. Water enters from the Atlantic Side, and then is pulled forcibly out into the Caribbean side. The process is reversed when the tide is going out. The Cat is pulled approximately 30 yards off the shore and then everyone interested proceeds to swim the 30 yards in approximately 20 feet of water to the Sea Arch. Once there, the swells are strong – make sure to keep your wide apart. The rocks are limestone and coral here and very sharp – so make sure you have good sandals or aqua socks with thicker soles. After examining the underside of the arch, you are told to climb the wall on one side to the top of the island. It is a bit of a strenuous climb if you are not athletic or not in good shape. It is not a long climb – maybe 35 feet – but one must use handholds on the coral, which are sharp. So use care here. One is rewarded with more wonderful views, including the ability to walk across the arch for wonderful pictures from below. An important point – if you want your Camera on this island, it will need to be waterproof. There is no way to keep your camera dry on the swim to the island. Once on top, you take a very short walk to climb back down into a cave. The walk in the cave is maybe 40 yards – at a couple of points you will need to duck down to have your rear almost touching the ground (at least this 6 ft 4 in guy did). You are rewarded by coming to the whirlpool. Algae of different colors has grown in this sheltered area making for a beautiful scene. Another quick mountain climb follows to leave the cave. Tough handgrips and footholds again for the less athletic. The group had a few who were very helpful here and helped those less athletic. Only one lady scraped her knee. Once on top, you walk a short way back to the arch, where you clamber down the side wall about 40 feet back into the surf beneath the arch. This was probably the most difficult part for most – but I found it wonderful!! My wife is not much of a swimmer, so she decided to stay on the Cat and was camera lady – she took numerous pictures with others cameras while they were on top of the arch. We then swam back to the boat and got situated to head to our next stop – snorkeling. A side note. It is amazing some times at how certain situations can bring out different things in different people. I believe that 99% of people are good, kind, and caring. People can not be fully aware of how their actions can affect others around them, but for the most part these types of groups take on a family picnic feel – everyone joining together for the journey. There was a group of four (2 couples)on this trip that were bound and determined to snorkel at every opportunity. This was not a problem. Opportunities for snorkeling presented themselves constantly. The husband of one of the couples has prescription sunglasses. When he jumped into the 15-20 foot water near the arch, he somehow forgot to take his glasses off. They of course fell off and went to the bottom. He was embarrassed that he was so “stupid” (his words) and said no big deal. His wife, however, was less pleasant. She began to yell at the staff, saying how important those glasses are and he could not see without them. The husband kept saying no big deal – the wife did not see it that way. Ross and Won Lovv began to attempt to dive to the bottom to see if they could locate the glasses. The wife kept railing on the the staff. Won Lovv did a fantastic job of talking to her to settle her down – finally in a friendly way telling her to go the island and “chill out – your on vacation beautiful lady”. J. Which she did. Amazingly enough, Ross was able to find the glasses after about 20 minutes of very strenuous work. It is just another example of what an excellent job the staff did on this day.Captain Tony fired the boat up again and moved us off shore about 400 yards to an area of active coral for snorkeling. The bottom was a bit churned up and the water a bit cloudy, but for most it was a fantastic experience. The area was filled with small quarter sized Jelly Fish. No stinging – at worst they tickled or itched. But in places they were thick, and it felt like you were swimming through clear mucus. It added an “interesting” experience for some. But nothing too startling for most. We did this for the better part of 45 minutes. It was now bit after 3 PM, and the crew got the cat headed back to port. We were able to see the same scenery on the way back, but the sun was lower in the sky, providing better light for picture taking. We were back in port by 4 PM, allowing one last hour of shopping in port before making it back to the ship before the 5 PM departure. All the shops in Antiqua were right by the ship, so this was no problem.All of this for $90 per person. A fantastic value in my book. It was a glorious day, well deserving of all the accolades it has received. It comes with our highest recommendation!
Once back on board, we were exhausted from our days journies and had enough sun that we simply relaxed in our cabin until meeting in the Concierge Lounge for drinks at 7 PM. We only had an hour to discuss our day – it was TV Tune Trivia in the Schooner Bar at 8 PM. It was a tough crowd tonight – One group got all the answers correct – we got one wrong (a three way tie for 2nd). The prize were small picture books – a nice gift. Then it was off to dinner. BTW, the 2nd place team from Toronto on night one was named Ennio & Christine.Tonight is Caribbean Night, highlighted by the breaded Tilapia. My wife had a Shrimp and Crab Salad, Grilled Chicken off the alternative menu, and then the BBB for Desert (Bailey’s Banana Brule’). I had the Chicken Soup, a salad, the Shoulder Beef and the Tilapia. For desert I had the BBB and the TriCocolate Medley. Ummmm. Yummy!! The waiter staff did a special dance for everyone tonight, finished by making all rise and do the Macrena. Yikes!! JOur after dinner consisted of losing our daily allotment in the Casino, then consoling ourselves in the Champaign Bar before turning in around midnight. We were tired from our day in the air and water. As we fell into slumber, we could hear the sounds of the dance under the stars dance around the pool. The Latino beat did not disturb – it soothed.Some daily details:- Showtime Spotlight was the Comedy of Rick Starr- Win-a-Cruise Bingo – One game only (9:45 p.m.)- The Love and Marriage Game Show was tonight at 10:30. It’s always funny – but we’ve been there-done that.- The already mentioned Dancing Under the Stars Party was tonight at 11:30- The Drink of the Day was “Green Tea”- The Wine Tasting Seminar was at 3 PM.- The Belly Flop Competition was at 4:30 PMOff to bed – tomorrow promises to be another busy day – a tour with Cosol in St. Lucia.

Explorer of the Seas - 03/02Serenade of the Seas - 03/05Radiance of the Seas - 01/06Adventure of the Seas - 12/06Freedom of the Seas - 02/07 Serenade of the Seas - 12/07

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Green is in

There is not a day that passes where i don't hear people speaking about green issues. Even on the tours people remark when they see us separating our garbage. Green is the colour of today and its about time i think. Recently a small organization came to Antigua to see about possibly setting up their very Green company here instead of in Canada. Green Focus asked for a meeting with me to discuss ideas and see how and where i thought they would be able to help environmental causes here on island. Gabe, the creator of Green Focus worked in Antigua during the big gaming industry boom and wants to see if his concept and new organization can make fast and positive strides here in Antigua. I guess using Antigua as a testing ground for Green Focus concepts serves many purposes, but helping create more environmental awareness and action here is something that we all should be excited about. We had a great meeting brainstorming and I think that his idea and company is viable with a little tweaking. Lets hope he does set it up here on island.
On another note i went to Veranda Resort to see how Adventure Antigua and the hotel may work more closely together. They received plenty of bad press for some very bad environmental practices and like many people or organizations that get caught doing bad things, i think Veranda is trying hard to make things right. I think that any development that cuts red mangrove plants in this day and age in Antigua should be severely punished and there is no excuse IMHO.
If you search through my blog using the search function on the top left you will see many posts showing how people do damage to Antigua's environment and mangrove systems. This one for example or this one from a different angle. A few lines up I say "in this day and age" because it was the norm for most hotels to cut mangrove down until very recently. Even hotels and homes next door to Veranda cut mangroves historically so that they could have water access. That being said, they did it recently and have had to pay the price. Boycotts are still being called for and probably making a dent in their bookings. They are now trying harder than many hotels in our nation to be green. A little late i agree but trying nevertheless. Cutting down a basket ball patch of mangroves to build a massive hotel, employing many local people and THEN turning green will always be controversial. What is interesting is how many of their systems and designs are organized in a way to be environmentally friendly. They provide a very large base of employment for local people and the trickle down economic impact of this development is extremely significant. Was Antigua better off without it....? I think so, but that is my personal opinion. Was it inevitable that another big development was going to come along? Yes. In fact, if you have been reading my blogs for a long time then you know that i think there is no end in sight at all for hotel development. Our nation does not see undeveloped beach front land as an asset. Until that day comes along, then i think developers that try to run their hotels in a green manner are better than the alternative. Green Globe is an organization that i spoke about after staying at Carlisle Bay. They are the number one organization internationally that labels hotels as "green". Both carlisle bay and the Veranda are working with Green Globe, and after being to both hotels i agree that their efforts are clearly visible. Does any hotel have to spend money to be seen as eco being eco friendly by an organization such as Green Globe? No. Is it the right thing to do? Yes. The Veranda resort is in its infancy and still under construction while some of the hotel is open. I think it was a terrible mistake for them to have cut the mangroves on that West beach, but they did it and now have to move on. I hope that they can show us how well they are running a green hotel when they are all finished. Stay tuned i guess.
By the way, comment if you want to. I know that there are one or two people who will never have anything but harsh words for Veranda and its management. Comments like those are welcome here if you think it helps the island and it's tourism. I also welcome anyone from Veranda to add links and or news or more info. People don't like it when companies are silent. Use this site to comment if you like.