El Rama to Big Corn Island: A Luxury 2 Day Caribbean Cruise (or not…)
Cruising the Caribbean; it’s the stuff of dreams for old ladies and young men alike. The lure of crystal clear lagoons and historic shipwrecks brought me to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, where I hoped to sail in style from El Rama to Big Corn Island. Join me on this luxurious adventure.
5 pm, Tuesday
We arrive at the port in El Rama in high spirits, hoping to relax in an opulent departure lounge before hitting the high seas. After searching in vain for a butler to serve me a refreshing gin and tonic, we eventually make it to the waiting area – a cozy little room with a working chair for my lady companion, a stool for me and half finished concrete walls for company. This is the life…
After waiting for 3 hours in the slightly disappointing room thing, we finally get the call to board the boat. I’m excited to meet our fellow passengers; I’m just hoping there won’t be any piggish Americans hogging the buffet. There are no Americans but there are a few actual pigs. Not to worry, these will surely be roasting on a spit in no time.
We get settle into our room, which turns out to be more of a youth hostel dorm than a luxury cabin. The other beds are filled with locals. I’ve read about this new “travel like a local” trend – how quaint! While slightly disappointed my lady companion and I won’t get some privacy, I’m excited to walk a mile in the shoes of a Nicaraguan – that will make the boys back at the country club jealous.
12 am, Midnight, Tuesday (or Wednesday, technically)
How odd – the ship still isn’t moving. Not to worry – I decide to turn in for the night; surely we will be well on our way to Big Corn Island by day break…
7 am, Wednesday
I’m awoken by the sounds of chicken and children. I’m excited to see the spectacular scenery that we are surely sailing past. Wait…We haven’t moved. Hmm, trying to stay positive, I make my way to the galley for a few slices of that delicious pig I’d seen the night before. I’m sad to report that it’s still alive – I’ll have to make do with milkless cereal instead.
11 am – Wednesday
We still aren’t moving. Gia and I take a stroll through the streets of El Rama to grab some lunch and a nice cup of Earl Gray. We come back with a cooked chicken, a loaf of bread and some strange sandwich sauce. It’s actually isn’t bad for a working class lunch, although nowhere near as nice as my chef would prepare back home.
6 pm, Wednesday
Success! We are finally moving! We proceed to watch as, for the next 30 minutes, the boat manoeuvres its way about 30 metres downstream only to pull up next to another boat.
8 pm, Wednesday
We’ve moved about 30 metres in 24 hours. Why did I think a Caribbean cruise in Nicaragua would be a good idea? Why aren’t I at home being waited on by my butler? Why do people travel? This is depressing.
8.30 pm Wednesday
We finally pull away from El Rama headed for El Bluff, the halfway point on this (budget, as it turns out) Caribbean cruise. This part of the journey takes us down the Escondido river. I’ve heard it’s lovely but it’s too dark to see anything.
Sometime in the middle of the night
We arrive at El Bluff! Again, it’s too dark to see anything – I get the feeling I’m not missing much though (this would be confirmed on the return journey a week later).
7 am, Thursday
I take a peek at the water expecting to see a crystal clear, turquoise lagoon. Again I’m disappointed – it’s polluted and brown, the kind of water that you never fully recover from if you’re unlucky enough to fall in. We finally leave the polluted lagoon behind and enter the Caribbean Sea. The water is rough and the boat slow dances from side to side for the entire 7 hour trip. This has probably been the worst Caribbean cruise in history – even the poor pirates had it better I’m sure.
2 pm, Thursday
We arrive on Big Corn Island and, as if it was anticipating our arrival, it welcomes us with a sudden downpour. We made it though, and after waiting around on Big Corn Island for a couple of hours, it only takes another 45 minutes on a small boat in rough seas (and rain) until we make it to Little Corn Island, our final destination. I can’t say it was a fun trip, but I got a taste of the local life, enough of a taste to know it isn’t for me!
In case you haven’t noticed, this post isn’t all that serious. We knew what the trip entailed and definitely weren’t expecting luxury, although we weren’t anticipating having to spend 24 hours stuck on a boat without it even moving. The rest of the journey wasn’t so bad, but if you’re in a hurry to get to the Corn Islands you should just fly. This is definitely the budget option, and I guess you get what you pay for. Our boat was the Captain D and it runs once a week, leaving El Rama on Tuesday night (in theory). There are also smaller boats you can take, one from El Rama to Bluefields and one from Bluefields to Big Corn – it’s slightly faster but a bit more uncomfortable ( we did it this way on the return journey). If you’re looking for a unique Caribbean experience and you’ve got plenty of time, give the Captain D Caribbean cruise a go, it’s an experience! Stay tuned for posts on the Corn Islands.
Have you taken the boat from El Rama to Big Corn Island? How did it compare to my experience? Let me know!
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