Our last port was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We did a Champagne Catamaran excursion offered by the cruise ship. We took a catamaran ride over to Honeymoon beach on St. John, a neighboring island. It was a beautiful day to be out on a boat, blue skies for miles. At Honeymoon beach we did some snorkeling and then Jeremy hung out on the beach a bit while I continued snorkeling looking for the elusive turtles. 🙁 On the trip back to St. Thomas there was champagne, rum punch, and snacks aboard the boat. The crew were all young adults from the states. One of them came down for a visit and never left. It was beautiful on St. John and out of all the places we visited on our cruise I would love to go back and explore the island some more.
Our third stop was in Basseterre, St Kitts. We did a Mount Liamuiga Volcano Hike Tour offered by the cruise ship. It was listed as a strenuous tour, but we had been on cruise ship “strenuous” tours where we couldn’t figure out what was actually strenuous. This one was actually fairly physically demanding, we had to climb up some rocky areas making me wish yet again for longer legs. 😉 Within 5 minutes we had left 4 people behind with one of the three guides because they were “less skilled” in the words of our lead guide. The remaining 11 of us all made it the 2.5 miles up to the top crater of the volcano (3000 feet above sea level). The hike wouldn’t have been bad at all but they kept a fairly quick pace, it felt like we were almost running on the way down. I guess they wanted to make sure we got back before our ship left port. Luckily it was a little cooler than 90 degrees in the rain forest but it was still very humid so by the time we got back down Jeremy and I were both soaked with sweat.
Next stop was Oranjestad, Aruba. We did a trikes island tour and got to see about 70% of the island which was even drier than I was expecting. It was interesting to talk with our driver, he was from the Netherlands and came to Aruba a year ago to do something different from the high stress job he had in the Netherlands.
After a day at sea we stopped at Willemstad, Curacao. We had booked an outside tour (not through the cruise ship) based on many favorable reviews at CruiseCritic. We went to the place and time specified in the email and there was no one there. We stuck around for a little bit longer in case they were on “island time” but no show. Jeremy emailed them using Curacao’s free wifi and got a very apologetic email about the mix-up with an offer for a deal next time we were in Curacao. So we walked back towards the cruise ship and went on an island tour with one of the many tour operators hanging out around the port terminal.
Several of the people on our tour were from Puerto Rico so he did the tour in both Spanish and English. He usually did the Spanish first so it was interesting to see how much I understood with my high school Spanish before hearing it again in English.
We drove around town and saw a lot of the colorful danish architecture, this is the most photographed building on Curacao, the Wedding Cake house, named because of it’s unique architecture. But our guide informed us it had nothing to do with Weddings or Cake, it was actually some sort of state building.
Our first stop was at The Curacao Liqueur Factory. The Spaniards had bought the orange plant to Curacao but in the arid climate the fruit it produced was much too bitter to be edible. It wasn’t until sometime later it was discovered the peels when thoroughly dried by the sun had a pleasing odor that anything was done with the plants.
On our 11th Anniversary (October 4th) Jeremy and I flew to Puerto Rico for a southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas. It is one of their “smaller” ships but we found it more than big enough. The ship was full but the only time we found it overly crowded was for breakfast on the last day. Otherwise while on the ship we hung out in the adult pool area (with the drink of the day), the quiet decks on the lower levels, or in the Schooner bar for trivia. We won trivia once and were runners up 4 other times. Ella and Abby were very impressed with the Royal Caribbean highlighters we won.
The food and service in the main dining room was excellent, and the casual Windjammer cafe was good for buffet food. There appeared to be plenty of vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options on the menu which is something new from when we cruised 6 years ago. The nightly shows were ok, not as good as on other cruises.
Since this is already getting long I will save the islands stops for another post or posts.