Wonderful ship, great islands and perfect holiday
We were both really looking forward to this holiday and the chance to relax and escape to some winter sun. I am pleased to say that both the ship and the destinations did not disappoint and this was a fantastic holiday.
I have provided some detail of what we did on each of the ports and would urge anyone to get off an explore on every island - do your own thing.
The highlights for us were the picturesque Wilemstad, the spice market and Grand Anse beach on Grenada, the local bar and resturant converted from a shipping container in the middle of nowwhere in Barbados where we entertained the locals when trying the hot sauce (yes, it is !. We loved the atmosphere in Marigot and the people and beauty of Dominica.
The service and food on the ship was top notch - we had chosen the 8.30 sitting and ate in the Oriental restaurant most nights. Our waiters Sri and Juan were excellent and the food choice and quality terrific. We ate at the 3 select venues during the cruise and More
really enjoyed the change in style and pace. Sindhu was our favourite for food - Sean loved the Rabbit tikka but we also enjoyed the experience of the tasting evening at The Glasshouse and would recommend this to anyone and understand it gets booked up very quickly. We ate in Seventeen the night of my birthday and it was a lovely meal although we were puzzled why the wine menu was smaller thatn in the main restuarant? My only comment about dining in the select restaurants is that although the food and service is top notch I felt they lacked the atmosphere of the main restaurant.The entertainment was varied and very professional - we had no trouble getting a seat at any of the later shows in either the Playhouse or Manhatten. The Reel to Reel show put on by the Headliners was as good as many West end shows we have seen.
I woudld not hesitate to recommend this ship or this intinerary to anyone and felt you could find your own perfect holiday so easily with all the choice on offer. Less
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Cabin review: Azura Superior Deluxe Balcony Stateroom D Deck D515
Just the right size to relax with plenty of space to sit and ample storage.
The bigger bathroom was appreciated with plenty of room in the shower over the bath vs the usual small upright showers.
The balcony is quite spacious - plenty of room to sunbathe for 2 or enjoy room service. The balcony sticks out from the ship and this does mean you are overlooked, but this did not btoher us at all and meant that we were not troubled by any cigarette smoke as it all blew past us, and gave us more sun than on higher decks.
Port and Shore Excursions
We shared a taxi to Eagle beach with another couple and then spent the day in the sun. Only 10mins from the port this was a pleasnt place to relax with bars and facilities dotted along the beach. The beer was expensive though - 11 USD for 2 bottles.
Beach beds seemed to be in short supply as there were 3 cruise ships in port that day, so we roughed it on the sand. It was quite windy - normal for the island I understand, and the sea was quite rough and not suitable for anyone but a confident swimmer but I certainly enjoyed the waves.
We jumped on a bus back to Oranjestad and wandered to the Seaport Village Mall.
We picked up a private tour from the cruise terminal - around 20 people in a modern air conditioned mini-bus. The 2 hour trip took us to some view points across the island, the Curacao distillery and past the historic buildings in Willemstad. Teh guide was funny and informative and found us an Iguana to photograhp as they are widespread across the island. For only $20 each this was great value for money.
The island is not the most beautiful in the Caribbean - a lot of oil refinieries and drilling, but the capital, Willemstad with its brightly painted builings and the pontoon bridge was the most attractive port of the entire cruise.
Rainbows & rivers...
Best tour of the holiday! Despite being told by several couples we had chatted to on the ship who had visited this island the week we before we embarked - " not to bother getting off the ship" or "there is nothing there", we decided to go ahead and go on a tour with some friends. We wanted to see the Emerald Pool, the Trafalgar Falls and the sulphur springs. We found a number of local tours and taxis offering various trips at the port but happend to get lucky with our amazing driver and guide - Jamerson. The 4 of us had a great day on the beautiful island choc full of fruit and flowers. Despite the number of taxis parked at the entrance to the national park (you must pay the 5USD fee to enter) when we reached the pool it was not busy and we took some lovely
pictures. it is only a round 15 mins walk from the car park but wear sensibe shoes as it is slippy. We saw a fresh water crab on the path way at one point a hummingbirds later in the day.
Jamerson took us to see the famous "Mr Nice" for some local fruit and entertainment - this was great fun. The boys had a go at crushing sugar cane and we drank this as well as trying all the local bananas, grapefruit and a delicious spicy coconut treat.
We only went to see the falls from the other side of the valley close to the suplhur springs which were very smelly! But the view was great and a huge rainbow formed just for us it felt.
On the way back to the ship around 4 hours after we 1st got in the taxi (we had to tell Jamerson that we really should be getting back to the ship!)we stopped off at the botanical gardens and Windsor park - very beautiful and obviusly loved and enjoyed by the locals. A cricket match was in full swing and we could easily have stopped all evening.
Roseau was clearly not a great town for international shopping when we drove through on the way back to the ship, but as this was not want we were looking for on our holiday, Dominica really delivered the Caribbean we had hoped to see.
We caught a water taxi to Grand Anse beach from the cruise terminal - quite an exhilerating ride, and don't expect to stay dry! It felt like most of the ship was on the beach but we still had a great day. The further you walk from the water taxi dock the quieter it gets, so if you want someting more peaceful keep walking. We took up the offer of one of the beach boys for 2 beds and a brolly for $20 nearby and then settled down with a bucket of beer to watch the world go by and were kept amused by the endlessly optimisitc water sports sales guys who seemd quite prepared to ask anyone of any age if they wanted to have a ride on what looked like a huge infaltable armchair towed behind a speedboat! I settled for a gentle swim every 1/2 hour or so. Further along the beach was a small craft and spice market where you could get the spices so famous on the island. I got 3 "spice necklaces" as gifts for friends and the smell was lovely.
When the water taxi dropped us back in St Georges we had a brief look around but felt there wasn't much to see. Damage from hurricane Ivan was till evident.We bumped into another couple on the way back to the ship who had been to the spice market in town and from their report we would recommend you give this a wide berth if you don't like to be hassled by the sellers.
The duty free shops back at the Crise terminal seemed to offer some of the best value we found in the trip.
The 2nd time we saw rain - and in bucket loads this time in Castries!
We took the only P&O tour on the holiday at this port - "Cruise to the Pitons" and it was well worth the money as we both escaped the rain, had a lot of fun, wonderful views and too much rum punch.... Would reocommend this to anyone.
After the 1/2 day trip we caught a watertaxi across from the cruise terminal into the town and found a local restaurant in the market selling creole food to the locals. After washing this down with local beer the other half finally succumbed to the lure of the caribbean shirt and parted with his USD! Back at the terminal we carried on with the local beer chatting to fellow cruisers and enjoying time at our last port before home. Castries had character and seemed a safe but still colourful place.
We shared a taxi from Philipsburg to Marigot with another couple as we had read that the French side of the island had great character and great food. The fares are all published and the cost was 8USD pp each way. The taxi we shared was a beautiful new huge American Ford and overall we felt the island to be the smartest place we had stopped off at so far with the greatest obvious wealth.
There was a large market in Marigot selling the usual brightly coloured shirts and sarongs but also many stalls with local arts and crafts of a high standard. We had a good look around before finding somewhere for lunch as there were many busy bars and restaurants filled with locals and tourists alike. We ended up at "Rosemarys" (see Trip advisor) and had fabulous goat curry, creole fish and shrimps. Give it a try if you are there.
We asked to be dropped off at the end of the boardwalk in Philipsberg when we made the return trip so we could walk along the beach and back to the cruise terminal. We were then glad to have spent the day in Marigit as we felt that Philipsberg lacked character and was tacky and touristy. - friends remarked it was like being in the Spanish costas.
We grabbed a local taxi just outside the port as we wanted to head up to Fort Charlotte and the Botantical gardens. We were shown around the fort by one of the colourful local guides, Charles and the views from the hilltop fort across to the other islands and inland were great. There were several small fires visible in the wooded hillsides around Kingstown and Charles told is this was to indicate where cannabis was being grown - not sure how true this was, but Charles was pretty relaxed! Our took around 30mins.
The Botantical Gardens were back on the outskirts of Kingstown and were enjoyable for any gardening enthusiats out there - I took a lot of photos! The best feature for me was the cannonball tree with its huge round seeds and alien looking flowers. There are quite a few locals at the gates asking if you want a tour but they are polite and if you want to be left alone to do your own thing they will not hassle you.
We walked back into town and back to the cruise terminal. The town itself had a lot of character and was quite a contrast to the Americanised ports on Aruba and Curcaco.
First rain of the holiday! We decided to give the trips to Cane Garden Bay a miss as the other half is not a fan of heights and precipitous drops so we went for walk around Road Town on a mission to find the famous Pussers Pub. It did not disappoint! After the 1st Painkiller #2, the famous rum cocktail they serve, we felt obliged to have another.... The best rum punch on the holiday and we did try alot!
Other than this pub there was very little to see in the town itself.