Diary of a cruise ship tourist in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad's capital city of Port of Spain.

Diary of a cruise ship tourist in Trinidad and Tobago

Our final stop on this fantastic cruise was the island of Trinidad. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about this Caribbean country before we made port. However, our cruise director said it was a multi-cultural society with lots to see and experience. I figured this could be interesting because Trinidad sounded quite different from the other Caribbean islands I have visited.

Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship at the Port of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Caribbean Princess at port, waiting to disgorge itself of unsuspecting tourists.

Still, even with its intriguing story, there were some warnings about keeping my camera close at all times, or better still, back in the cabin on the ship. That sort of warning doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. 

But look, I’ve eaten a day-old burrito once before. I’ve even slept with my iPhone charging next to me. I’m no stranger to danger. I figured I didn’t come all this way to stay on board and wait for the turnaround. Well, I am glad I didn’t because I was in for a surprise. Trinidad was completely different from any other Caribbean stop off. These people really take a relaxed attitude to a different level. 

Homeless person/vagrant in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Follow along with an extreme Tai Chi session at the Port of Port-of-Spain.

Now, why our cruise director made no mention of this is beyond me. I joined in what seemed to be an impromptu Tai Chi class right there on the port. This is not the sort of Tai Chi I’m accustomed to. Actually, it was quite aggressive. The instructor kept muttering under his breath, your mother something or the other. I didn’t really need to know what he was saying anyway. Hey, it was his process and you know what they say, when in Rome! LOLZ. 

Homeless person/vagrant in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Don’t make any sudden moves and you’ll be fine.

Thinking back on it now, there were quite a few times when I thought this guy is getting a little close…he’s actually going to kick me in my Whiteways of Whimple! His revved up energy, though, really got the blood pumping. He must really have been into his extreme Tai Chi because he kept on going long after I finished up with him.

Port of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Not the typical tropical aesthetic of a Caribbean port.

Okay, so I took a bit of a stroll down the waterfront. It wasn’t quite the same vibe as other ports in the Caribbean. There weren’t any lovely pastel colours, charming fishing boats or Caribbean-type buildings. There’s a sort of post-industrial grunge to it, not to mention a diesel and dead fish smell. But each country is different so I guess the ports will represent their unique characters? 

Fort San Andreas Port of Spain Museum, Trinidad and Tobago.
The (abandoned?) Museum of the City of Port of Spain.
Entrance to the Fort San Andreas Port of Spain Museum
The vine trellis at the Museum of the City of Port of Spain.

I was really disappointed that the Port of Spain Museum at Fort San Andres was closed when I visited. What are the odds that it wouldn’t be open on the very day my cruise ship steamed into town? Although, judging by the advanced growth of vines on the building, it’s quite possible that those odds are extremely good.

Train at the Fort San Andreas Port of Spain Museum.
It must be a train engine of some sort.

Now, I knew there must be an interesting story behind this train engine on the compound of the closed or possibly abandoned museum. The guy I kept asking about it wouldn’t answer me. He seemed more interested in finding out whether I had any change and putting his shoes up to dry. And he made sure to get in my shot! Grrrr!

Homeless people/vagrants in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
A progressive society!

Well, who would have thought? Maybe it’s my tendency to prejudge countries like this, but I wouldn’t have imagined a bank in the Caribbean would be offering digital services. Something must be off with their marketing, though. That long line of customers lying down outside suggested folks don’t know they can register online. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

Homeless person, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Beppin’ under the statue of Captain Arthur Cipriani.

You have to love the relaxed attitude of Trinidadians. It’s infectious. It’s almost like they don’t have a care in the world. It’s like they don’t care. If you’re tired, just take a nap. I was a bit tired of all the excitement myself, but there was no time to snooze! There was a lot more to see.

Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
What an interesting aesthetic for a capital city.

Hmm, Trinidad’s capital city of Port of Spain seems to be going for the run-down look. I should also mention, at no time did I see any police officers around. I took that to mean that crime is really under control here so I felt completely safe. 

Pigeons on Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
City sanitation workers.

It’s encouraging to see that Trinidadians have a healthy attitude towards wildlife. They share whatever they have to eat by carefully distributing their leftovers for the pigeons. Making a living in any city can be tough going, even for city-dwelling birds. It’s good to see the locals are looking out for them.

Mille Fleurs, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
The Not-So-Magnificent Mille Fleurs.
Mille Fleurs, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
A pile of wood rot beneath a shed.

We caught a bus for what we were told was a tour of the Magnificent Seven. Someone must have made a mistake because I never really got up to seven on the magnificent count. I did notice a few buildings under some pretty impressive sheds. I was told the building pictured above, or what’s left of it, is called Mille Fleurs. It looks a bit worse for wear, but maybe that’s intentional. They sure do have a strange way of preserving their heritage buildings here in Trinidad. Back home. we fix them up. Here, though, they build a shelter for them. Who knows, that might be the way to go!

Queen's Park Savanneh, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Accommodations around the Queen’s Park Savannah for the indigent, on-the-go lifestyle.

I have to say I’m impressed with the ingenuity of this Caribbean city. It seems city planners develop bus stops with a dual purpose design. By day, you can shelter while you wait for your bus. By night, it is converted into a mini hostel for outdoor residents. This one even has personalized, decorative touches. 

President's House, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Well, at least the grounds are lovely?

The last stop on our whirlwind tour of Port of Spain was at President’s House. In my little guide book, it said this building was constructed in 1876 and, by the look of things, it hasn’t had a once-over since then. Still, it must be very important to the people of this country, because it has the biggest shed I saw during my tour. 

Well, it may have been short but it was still an interesting tour around the city of Port of Spain. There were some unique sights and quite a few intriguing smells. The people seem quite free-spirited. Would I come back? Probably not. There are somethings in life you should, ideally, only do once, like marriage, or getting shot. I felt that, while there could have been a lot to do and see, ultimately, there wasn’t. It very much had a feel like a work in progress…with no determined end date.

This blog was a fictional account of a tourist’s day out and about in Trinidad’s capital city of Port of Spain. While the tourist in this piece is fictional, the photos are not. Pictures never lie.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Trinidad is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. It’s unfortunate you took it for the face value of Port of Spain. The North Coast is spectacular with friendly people and so much wildlife to see. If only you could have stepped out beyond the city limits.

    1. This is a fictional account of a cruise ship docking at Port of Spain not the North Coast, soooooo it would make sense he speaks on what a tourist would see immediate as they docked.

  2. Well done!! A true picture of how valuable Tourism is to Trinidad!! And they keep talking about diversification!! How laughable!!

    1. I’m not too disappoonted about this considering that tourism contributes to the country’s status as one of the most polluting nations in the world. I group it with the water intensive sugarcane cultivation and dirty petroleum. T&T can focus its resources on more sustainable development. When I see these unkept landmarks, I hope it’s because there are more important priorities.

  3. Does the truth hurt? We live in a society where anything is accepted – Excellent & great (absolutely); bad & indifferent (that too!!) – so what, that is all part of life. That is the Trini attitude. So does the truth hurt?? It is there very visible for all to see.

  4. While i did enjoy your sarcasm, it’s sad that you chose to only highlight the negatives… like you drove past NAPA, the Museum and Memorial Park right after you passed the BIGGEST SHED YOU’VE EVER SEEN… but I guess your battery may have died 🙁

  5. Hoping it is used as a guide as what needs to be addressed if improving the tourist product is an objective.

  6. While I agree Trinidad is a beautiful island I agree with the authors description of the Capital.

  7. You passed through the worst part of Trinidad, A very small area. Take some more time next time to really see the beautiful parts of Trinidad. Not in the middle of town, Too small an area to judge. The town of Los Angeles is worse. Everywhere has their good and their bad. Too bad you didn’t see more, you had no right to judge.

  8. I have been living in TnT for 40+ years and it’s true we have let many parts of our beautiful islands go to waste! We need to take pride in our islands. From Chaguaramas to Sealaots past Bhagwansingh we should have developed the area in such a way as to attract tourism. We should strive to keep TnT safe, clean, warm and inviting! What are we doing?? Apart from carnival?! When the ship docks what do the tourist see first? You know first impressions last! Come on guys, we can do better than that! I love TnT and would like to see some major changes that are uplifting!

  9. Good Lord. Do people not read? This was a fictional account. It was meant to provoke discussion about the dilapidated conditions of the nation’s Capital City. Yes yes yes we know there are positives to see but for Pete’s sake… Sheesh.

  10. Why has T&T been allowed to get like this? Do you guys owe your souls to the IMF? Why does it seem as if you do better when you leave the country, than when you stay there? I was last there in 1975. It was a truly different place.

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