For New Years, Paul and I joined his family on a 7-Day Western Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have previously been on one other cruise back in 2010. I’m not a big fan of cruising. I don’t enjoy the motion sickness or the buffet-style eating with everyone’s germs! However, we did get to visit some fun islands and stay pretty active!
BOARDING THE CRUISE SHIP IN SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Our cruise left out of San Juan, Puerto Rico (check out my 24 guide here). We were at -sea for the first full day on the boat. This was my least favorite day, as all of the activities offered on board are pretty cheesy and the pools are way overcrowded on at-sea days. For the duration of our entire cruise, we were also battling 20+ mph winds, which made for a really nauseating journey! So being on land was much appreciated!
FIRST STOP, BARBADOS
Bridgetown, Barbados was our first stop. We visited Barbados on our first cruise back in 2010. Since we enjoyed ourselves the last time, we headed back to the Boatyard Beach Club, which is a $5 cab ride from the ship.
They now charge $25 per person to get in, but it includes one free drink, a beach chair and umbrella for each person, access to their restroom facilities, and an hour snorkel tour.
Initially we weren’t going to do the snorkel tour but decided to give it a chance. It was our favorite snorkel tour of the entire trip (we did three)! At our first stop we saw giant sea turtles. The sea turtles are well-protected by the Barbados government and it was a relief to see how seriously the team respected the wildlife.
Our second stop was at a shipwreck, dating back to the early 1900’s. Story goes, the crew loved the island, the beautiful women, and the rum too much to go back to their homeland, so they purposely sunk their own ship so they could stay in Barbados! The ship wreck was only about 10 feet from the surface, making it really easy to see the fish and the boat.
That night was New Years Eve. The ship had live music playing in multiple areas. At midnight we went to the center of the ship where they did a balloon & confetti drop, and then I immediately went to bed, ha!
Next up was St. George, Grenada. We arrived to port on New Years Day, so sadly the city was shut down for the holiday. We walked up to the St. George Fort for some pretty views and then decided to take a taxi tour of the island.
Grenada is known for being the island of spice. They grow so many spices and fruits, from nutmeg to cocoa to mangos & breadfruit. Our first stop on the taxi tour was to a spice stand where they ground fresh spices and taught us about the process of cultivating and selling spices.
We headed out to Annandale Falls. They were pretty, but quite small and unimpressive. Paul took a dip in the water and then we left. They had a poor monkey chained up for tourist to take photos of. I absolutely hate supporting that and it breaks my heart when I see it happen and all of the people crowding around the little prisoners. Ugh.
Day four brought us to Roseau, Dominica. We booked an island & snorkel tour with the cruise ship and headed out right after docking.
Our guide was great. Super knowledgeable and passionate about the island. We started at Trafalgar Falls, which are two twin falls and they were gorgeous. Much larger & more impressive than Grenada’s Falls. We saw land crabs and bugs that look just like sticks! Our guide also gave me a “tattoo” using a fern leaf. When the fern is slapped onto skin, it leaves a white powder residue, resembling a tattoo!
The snorkel tour was about 1.5 hours and was in the sea, with beach access. I’m used to snorkeling off of a boat, so this was a little different but worked just fine. The water was much colder and the fish & plant life weren’t as bright & colorful as they had been in Barbados.
We went to St. Maarten on Thursday. On our last cruise we came here as well. We decided to head to a beach on the French side for the morning (St. Maarten is split between the Dutch and the French). There was a lot of damage from the hurricane that hit in 2017 and while they are taking steps to rebuild, they have a long way to go.
After the beach, we met up with Paul’s family at Sunset Beach Bar, which famously looks out over the airport beach. Yes, you read that right. There is a very small strip of beach directly in front of the airport runway. Mobs of people gather there to watch the planes fly over. It was pretty wild!
ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Lastly, we went to Charlotte Amelie, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Paul and I pre-booked, you guessed it, another snorkel tour on a catamaran. Well, things didn’t quite go as planned! Another tour’s boat had broken down, so they crammed around 75 of us onto a snorkel boat. It was PACKED. People were literally sitting squished together. Needless to say, I was pissed.
But after the snorkel stop, they took us to a private beach with free rum punch. As you can imagine, my frown turned upside down once the rum started flowing. We stayed in the water at the private beach for about two hours, just downing rum after rum. I can’t say I remember the boat ride back to the ship, ha!
Overall, the cruise was enjoyable. I like being able to visit a lot of islands in a short amount of time. I really enjoyed Dominica. The land was so lush and tropical, it looked like it was straight out of Jurassic Park. And the people were so kind. Personally, I have no interest in doing a cruise again, unless it’s a river cruise in Europe or somewhere that goes to more remote places, like Alaska or the Baltic’s/Russia.
Have you been on a cruise? Did you enjoy it? Where did you go?