DON'T WORRY ABOUT A THING
After 25 years of me choosing the holidays, I thought it fair that my husband could choose this time. He suggested a Caribbean cruise and whilst I wasn't actually overjoyed at the suggestion' I agreed.
After various weather-related traumas in the journey to get to Manchester airport and having to be 'de-iced' before we could fly to Barbados, our flight was very smooth and uneventful.
The fact that we got straight onto a coach from the plane and then the smooth operation of going through customs etc at the ships side was excellent. We located our cabin quite easily. It was smaller than it appears on the website but was plenty big enough for what we needed it for. It was clean, comfortable and our Cabin Steward Edwin was very polite and helpful.
The ship is lovely, quite easy to navigate around and I never at any point felt that there were 3000 passengers on with us. We chose selective dining which I was a bit unsure about(I was worried that we would be dining More
with people we just didn't connect with) nothing could be further from the truth as the 3 other couples we shared our table with (table 124 Bay Tree Restaurant you know who you are) were some of the loveliest people we have ever met and for me they made the time on the ship so pleasurable as we giggled our way through every evening meal. The service in this restaurant was excellent and the food on the whole was also first class. We tended to have our breakfast in The Waterside (self service buffet)good quality and plenty of options. On 3 occasions we had a room service breakfast which made a lovely change sitting on our balcony. We spent a romantic dinner for 2 in The White Room, which was very special (at a cost of £20 a head plus drinks). But the best meal by far was when we went as a table to the fusion restaurant of East, absolutely delicious and excellent service. (This costs £15 a head).
Our favourite bar was The Tamarind Club which had different vocalists and we often went to watch different shows in the theatre. A highlight of the entertainment was Clem Curtis of the Foundations (Build me up buttercup) who at aged 70 can still get an audience on their feet dancing.
Unfortunately our days at sea weather was quite iffy so we spent very little time sunbathing on deck, however on the couple of times we did sunbathe, while there isn't an abundance of sun-loungers we didn't have a lot of trouble finding some.
OK my husband was right I did love cruising, although I wouldn't want to cruise every year. The highlights of the ship were definitely our fellow diners and I also enjoyed the sail aways from each port. We never actually went to the sail away parties up on deck but sat with a glass of wine on our balcony as the lovely Ventura quietly sailed from yet another beautiful island leaving us with even more lovely memories and watching the sun set on yet another perfect day.
Our final port was St Lucia. Very picturesque but I don't think there was much to keep you in the port. So we hired a mini bus with 3 other couples and after a couple of viewpoint stops that had craft stalls at them we made our way for a wonderful viewing station overlooking the mighty Pitons (a volcano that over time has formed two peaks). We also witnessed the devastation that was caused by the hurricane they suffered in November where landslides took away huge parts of mountain sides and washed away a family of 6 and their house. Nothing has ever been found. We also visited Marigot Bay which is a beautiful beach, that is quintessentially Caribbean. WEATHER - Mainly sunny with clouds. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We woke up to torrential rain and the day didn't get much better. The port we were in was very uninspiring, with not alot to do or see and the shops were full of tat. We had arranged to share a taxi with a couple off our table to go and visit Nelsons Dockyard which is meant to be lovely. Due to the weather we didn't (however, they did and the weather was lovely on that side of the island and they had a lovely day). And yes we did ourselves for not going. Obviously we didn't see Antigua at its best, but should you dock in St Johns you would definitely need to do a trip even if the sun is shining.
The same chain of islands as Bonaire but bigger and more upbeat and aimed more at American tourists. Lots of gold shops and a colourful craft market. A nice marina lined with bars/restaurants. Past the marina you come to a line of rocks along the seashore, where we saw about 20 iguanas basking in the sunshine. We continued past the rocks and an interesting lagoon man-made for the use of a hotel to a small beach where we spent an hour watching the pelicans diving into the sea and coming back up with their dinner. Aruba is an interesting island where you wouldn't have to take a tour as the port Oranjestad could quite easily keep you entertained for the day. WEATHER - Again a mixture of clouds and sunshine.
We didn't go out of Bridgetown and this was a mistake as there isn't alot to do or see in the town.There are not many nice shops to look round although there is a small marina which is quite pleasant and we found a beach, which although the sand and sea are typical Caribbean, the backdrop to the beach isn't, as there was a woman laid in a heap of rags where she obviously lives and the buildings are all disused. Next time we will definitely go on a tour as I am sure we haven't seen the best of Barbados. WEATHER - Mainly cloudy, however we still managed to get sun burnt so be careful.
Beautiful. A flat island, very laid back atmosphere. You walk through a small craft market to the main shopping street which has some nice shops. We then walked along the seafront with palm trees and beautiful blue/green sea. EXCURSION- Samur, sail and snorkel. We had to get a small rubber dinghy to the samur (a Siamese sailing junk) for those unsteady on their legs beware as you then have to transfer from the rocking dinghy to the Samar. We then sailed to the island of Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island and everything you dreamed a Caribbean island could be. The whitest sand and my husband who snorkels said the fish were amazing. We spent and hour here and then sailed back to the Ventura. WEATHER - Started off cloudy but sunny before we went ashore , a perfect day.
The port of Roseau is very pretty as its backdrop are lots of green mountains. We went on an excursion, a difficult decision to make as the choice of excursions are very varied and all sounds very intriguing. We got a bus over the mountains (very difficult in a bus at times) to Trafalgar Falls where there was shot hike through the rain forest to 2 very high waterfalls. Then we had another drive through the mountains and after stopping off at a little cafe for a drink we again made our way on foot through the rain forest to another waterfall and the Emerald Pool where the more adventurous of our group swam. The descent into the pool can be quite hazardous, so beware, but it is meant to take years off your age. We then made our way back to Roseau and the Ventura. A lovely island and so many lovely excursions it would be a shame not to see more of the island. WEATHER - Possibly the hottest day.
We docked in Grand Turk on a part of the island that has been developed just for the cruise ships, beaches stretch either side of the ships jetty with an abundance of sun loungers, however if you don't want to be laid that close to strangers, walk that little bit further to get away from the crowds as we did. They have also built a purpose 'village' full of some really lovely shops. You don't really need to go on an excursion with all this on your doorstep. However, we did, we went swimming with the stingrays on a little island called Gibbs Cay. Another very beautiful uninhabited island, where the stingrays swim up to the shore and around your legs you can also have your photo taken kissing them. A very lovely experience. My snorkeling husband said that further out to sea there are loads of them swimming. The island of Grand Turk is very small so not alot to do if you aren't a sun worshipper. WEATHER - At last wall to wall sunshine.
Jamaica - not our favourite island from what we saw of it. EXCURSION - The best of ocho Rios. We travelled by bus to 'Fern Gully' what used to be a river and then there was an earthquake and the river disappeared, it has left a very steep sided gully that they have built a road through and hundreds of ferns grown there. Then we went to Shaw Park Gardens - which are botanical gardens. Beautiful exotic flowers and trees and a big waterfall and lots of hummingbirds. Very pretty. We then parked in a shopping street where we could have half an hour to shop. Not the nicest shops and we found the Jamaican people very pushy when it comes to selling things. We then went onto the famous Dunn's River Falls, I didn't really want to climb these but felt I had to keep my husband company. You have a guide and a group of about 15 all link hands and climb up this 600 foot waterfall that crashes into the Caribbean sea at the bottom.I wish we had made our own way up as we didn't have the time to take in our surroundings of how beautiful the waterfalls are. I can't say I enjoyed the experience but I am glad I can say I have done it. I feel that you need to do an excursion in Jamaica because it hasn't got a good reputation crime rate wise. WEATHER - A completely cloudy day.
A lovely port to dock in with lots to keep you occupied. Unlike the other ports we had docked in, we woke up to mountains. You can take the water taxi to the centre of the beach or you can have a very pleasant stroll that takes about 20 minutes. It is a lively port which lots of market stalls/ shops/ bars and a marina. The beach stretches all the way round the bay and is quite busy but not overly so. We had a good couple of hours sunbathing with the sound of steel drums music playing Christmas songs which was a bit surreal. And then a pleasant stroll back to the ship via drink en route. You wouldn't need to take a trip away from the port in St Maarten but the rest of the island is meant to very beautiful, so it might be worth doing. WEATHER - Beautiful sunshine.