Flying in to Martinique on the inaugural Norwegian flight was great. Flying across to Grand Case in St. Martin was a special experience. But the departure the following day was even more interesting.
The short runway at Grand Case Airport means the Air Caraibes ATR-72 needs every inch of asphalt it can get; this was the only time I can recall being on an aircraft which pulled on to the runway and then backed up to the edge – yes, we went backwards under our own power on the ATR – before locking the brakes, revving the engine and giving it everything available to get off the ground. Departure is right over Orient Bay so more great views of the ocean and coastline for passengers.
After all the fun at Grand Case the arrival into Guadeloupe was nothing special. We spent the afternoon at the hotel’s “beach” (not much, really) and then dinner in the local “village” once again. In this case that meant driving as opposed to walking so less drinking; probably a good thing based on the volume the first two nights of the trip. We returned to the hotel to discover a fashion show in the bar area, providing our entertainment for the evening before turning in relatively early as the return flight to Boston required an early alarm.
The Sunday morning departure from Guadeloupe carried a very light load – probably 50% at best – which meant plenty of room to spread out and relax. It also meant that the in-flight internet service (Norwegian offers it for free to passengers) was almost functional, a good counter to the outbound flight where it was basically useless. Still only basic browsing functions but far fewer page load failures on that segment. The early morning flight also meant a lot of tired passengers. Many were quickly laying down across sets of three seats to sleep off their weekend in the islands.
Once back in Boston I checked in with a buddy for lunch (that’s one good part about the schedule originating in the islands: most of a day still available when you return) and then hopped on Amtrak for the sunset ride back home.
Overall a solid trip, with a few hiccups along the way and rather disappointing stops on the two main islands. I’m sure that’s mostly because I did zero planning and didn’t bother to stick around on either long enough to decide if there was actually stuff worth doing, but the first impressions didn’t leave me all that impressed.
But the flights were damn cheap to get out of NYC (or Boston or BWI) and get to some island sun in the winter. That has to count for something.
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