A February 2003 trip
to Eastern Caribbean by Irishdancer
Quote: Why would anyone want to escape to the Southern Caribbean in February? If you wintered in the great Northeast this winter, it's a mute question...over 120 inches of snow and still counting. Survival was uppermost in our minds and SUN the main attraction.
Per usual, the 6 of us met on deck for an early breakfast and to plan DAY 6. Our companions chose an excursion to Sandy Beach followed by shopping and my husband and I decided to take a "day off" from port excursions. It promised to be an extremely hot and humid day and we were "shopped out"! Why not spend a whole day aboard ship being LAZY? Isn't that part of all the hype cruise lines lure us with - the promise of total relaxation, fabulous food, and enjoying every amenity imaginable?
SUGGESTIONS FOR ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES:
- Enjoy extra cups of coffee after breakfast on Deck 11 poolside. - Use the outside track to walk or jog on. No traffic today - everyone's on Barbados. - Workout in the Ship Shape Center. You've got your choice of elliptical machines, treadmills overlooking the water, free weights, or some aerobic classes. - Claim a deck lounge poolside or in the Solarium and read, order cool drinks, or take a nap. - Immerse yourself in a hot tub. No waiting in line for one today. - Slip into a bathing suit and use the outdoor or indoor pool. - Watch an ice sculpture artist turn a huge block of ice into an incredible eagle. - Make your own sundae @ The Windjammer Cafe. The swirls of chocolate and vanilla soft ice cream plus sprinkles are pure indulgence.
Around 4 pm our companions and other cruisers started to come aboard ship and share their on-shore tales and adventures - even mishaps can be exciting. We were having the worst time trying to stifle our yawns. Their stories were interesting and amusing but we had just awoken from a nap after enjoying a couple of frozen Strawberry Margarita's while sunbathing. Oh, excuse me, here comes another yawn.
FOR OUR NEXT CRUISE: We're saving all our Barbados' research notes for our next Southern Caribbean cruise. So many ports-of-call....so little time.... However, we'd like to share some info that may be helpful to you re: Barbados - if you opt to go ashore. Island Overview: Barbados is the easternmost island of the West Indies and over 4 times the size of Sint Maarten/St. Martin. Official language is English. Currency is the Barbados dollar. Like other Caribbean Islands, credit cards, travellers checks, and US Dollars are welcomed. Tourist Information: - To book car rentals, make restaurant reservations, and "tour" the island, access Barbados Tourist Authority. - Go to Dive Barbados to find good diving spots. - Prefer an island guide format? Try Fun Barbados.
CAUTION: THIS PAMPERED, CRUISIN-KIND-OF-LIFE CAN BE ADDICTIVE!
TIPS:Taxi transportation to and from airport is $17 each way and regulated by their Public Service Commission. Tip at your own discretion.
Check out your Guest Vacation Documents booklet which Royal Caribbean sends you a few weeks prior to your cruise. Under the heading, "San Juan, Puerto Rico", they list four tours they can arrange for you. Prices vary from $19/person for the "Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour" to $38/person for the "Old San Juan Walking Tour". The walking tour takes approximately 3 hours. Save yourself the $38 each by self-touring this lovely, embraceable city. Old San Juan is a lovely cobblestoned city with colors, smells, and photo ops on every corner. Bring bottled water along and wear a hat as it can get mighty humid and the sun is intense. You'll especially want to get lots of exercise after seven days and nights of feasting on Royal Caribbean's fine cuisine! The sidewalks are narrow and the weekends crowded so be ready to do a single-file walk as needed.
Safety is uppermost on the minds of the Puerto Rican Tourist Board. Don't be distressed to see very visible police officers both day and night. The usual precautions prevail, however. DON'T get careless with your wallets, purses, packages, etc., and be aware of your surroundings.
Lots of info is available from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. You can call them at #800-866-7827 or key into their state-of-the-art website Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
Convenient accommodations can be had directly across the street from where the ships are docked at The Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel and Casino. It's located at 100 Brumbaugh St., phone 800-996-3426. (CAUTION: I almost made reservations at the wrong hotel -- there is a Wyndham El San Juan Hotel and Casino on the Isla Verde Beach!) It's a perfect location overlooking the historic southern shoreline. The day your cruise departs you don't need to make arrangements for a taxi from the hotel. All you do is wheel your suitcase across the street! Excellent photo ops from the 9th floor pool and hot tub area. Be aware that it's a little pricey for what you get, i.e., the pool water was quite cold and the hot tub was not functioning. There aren't a lot of lounges for the number of people using these facilities. Yes, as the hotel name suggests, there is a casino located on the first floor off the lobby. The slot machines are ancient and the attendants are very slow in payouts. Price: $195/night for a comfortable room for two and simple amenities. However, the Wyndham website was running a special of $130/night, so we made online reservations. The hotel itself is a bit tired looking and needs some sprucing up in the way of paint and repairs.
Move slowly and enjoy your time in this very special tropical city.
St. Thomas is the epitome of what cruising and ports-of-call are all about!
If your pleasure centers around photography, this Caribbean island just beckons to be photographed. "Shopaholics" will find their many treasures in any of the 400+ shops on Main Street in Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas. If you love jewelry and good deals, try Tanzanite International(they have two locations in St. Thomas).
Or, if you prefer beaching it, take your choice of Sapphire, on the eastern shore; Morning Star, just east of Havensight, or our favorite, Magens Bay, on the north shore.RECOMMENDATIONS: PLAN AHEAD -- Don't wait till you're disembarking at St. Thomas to decide what tours/sights you want to see. Once again, Royal Caribbean's "Guest Vacation Documents" comes in handy to preview all the trips and tours they offer even before you begin your cruise. Budget-wise you'll benefit as well. For example, you can save $34/adult and $24/child if you bypass the "St. Thomas Sightseeing Tour" and do self-shopping and touring. Cabs are plentiful and the drivers manuever their vehicles on the left side of the road with steep uphill climbs and twisting roads much better than tourists. MEGAN'S BAY -- See if you'd agree with The National Geographic Magazine's rating for this beach as "in the top 10 of the world's most beautiful"! Even the iguanas prefer dining beachside. (See photos).
If you want to just relax and stay onboard the ship one day, wait till you get to St. Lucia's or another port. St. Thomas is a must see!
New York, United States