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Home > Member Reviews > barbpretz's Port Reviews of Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados

barbpretz's Port Reviews of Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados
Serenade of the Seas cruise in February 2012
Member Name: barbpretz
Cruise Date: February 2012
Embarkation: San Juan
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Member Review: barbpretz's Serenade of the Seas Review
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We did the trip to the Virgin Gorda Baths through RCCL - We were going to book directly through Speedy's which would have given us more flexibility in term of timing except for the fact that we were there on a Sunday. Speedy's schedule is very limited on Sundays and wouldn't have gotten us back until 4:30 pm which was cutting it too close for our comfort. So we opted for a shorter visit through the official RCCL tour. The whole excursion was well-handled and well-organized - this was probably our favorite excursion of the whole cruise. The weather was gorgeous and the ferry ride was fun - we rode on the top in the open air on the way there and inside on the bottom level on the way back. We definitely preferred the open air despite the wind - the views were great and it had a festive atmosphere. The Baths were great! At first there were tons of other people on the path, but as soon as we got to the first beach, the crowd thinned out and we could make our own way which was much better. I could have stayed for hours longer just crawling through caves and on top of rocks - there were so many different places to explore! I will definitely go there again and spend more time - but it was a lovely introduction!

We got back to the ship for lunch and then went out to explore downtown Road Town. It was a Sunday, so almost nothing was open. But there wasn't much there anyway. It was hot and run-down with very little to look at and very few stores (open or not). Decidedly not a place to shop or explore!

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St. Maarten
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We decided to have a more relaxing day today after the exciting excursion yesterday. We were planning to walk into town, but couldn't easily find the way, so we took the water taxi for $6 (unlimited trips). Basically all we did was shop - but we were successful at getting most of the gifts we wanted to bring home. I was glad we did some comparison shopping: We almost bought liqueurs at the Guavaberry Emporium, but decided to look around first. At another store, we were able to buy a variety of small liqueurs in exactly the types and quantities we preferred, at exactly the same price (the Guavaberry Emporium gave us many fewer options). Plus, the people at the Guavaberry Emporium were decidedly unfriendly). We walked along Great Bay Beach and realized that laying in the hot sun in a jam-packed row of other people laying in the hot sun was just not our thing. So we shopped and then took the water taxi back to the ship for a relaxing afternoon.
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St. Kitts
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We didn't plan a formal excursion, so the four of us went out of the ship area to where the taxi drivers were and asked for someone to take us to Brimstone Fortress and Romney Manor. We were lucky to find Marvin Harrigan (Marvin Taxi Service - e-mail; cell 1-869-663-1693). For $20 per person we had a lovely tour. We wanted more time at Brimstone Fortress, so we planned for 1 hour there instead of the usual 45 minutes. We could have spent many more hours there! We had fabulous views, found the video and fortress fascinating, and enjoyed the experience. The $5 audio-tour, however, was absurdly slow-moving, so I'd pass on that next time. We learned all that we wanted just from exploring the Fortress and the exhibits. We then had a brief visit to Romney Manor which gave us time to see at least some of the lovely gardens and buy some beautiful batik gifts. The best part of the day, however, was Marvin - he was very knowledgeable and proud of St. Kitts and showed us many other areas. He actually spent over 1/2 hour more with us than had been arranged because he had so much to show us. He answered all of our questions and took us to a spot where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean at the same time. When we expressed interest in certain aspects of the culture, he went out of his way to show us relevant areas. He dropped us off at the Ballyhoo Restaurant, overlooking The Circus, where we had a light lunch of conch chowder and roti. A lovely day which gave us a good feel for the island of St. Kitts.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We had originally planned to go to the Papillote Wilderness Retreat for their Interlude for a Day ($60 per person for garden tour, thermal hot springs bath, and gourmet lunch). They had said that they could send a taxi to pick us up or we could just take our own taxi out there. Since we didn't know what time we would be ready, we decided to take our own taxi. Bad idea! When we got off the ship mid-morning, the taxi drivers told us that all drivers were going in the opposite direction in the morning and that no one could take us to Papillote until the afternoon. So, be sure to get them to send you a taxi if you want to go there.

We had lunch at the Windjammer and then headed back to the taxi area. We decided that we didn't really have time to go to Papillote since we didn't want to be rushed, so we decided to go to Screw's Spa instead. We got a taxi from Louis Romain of Son-Shine Services (e-mail:; cell: 1-767-245-1772). He had another couple who wanted to get a general tour of Dominica, so he dropped us off at Screw's Spa, took them on to Tralfalgar Falls, then came back to pick us up and continue to show us around. Screw's Spa was exactly what we wanted! There was literally no one else there when we arrived, so for $10 per person we had 6 thermal hot spring pools (at varying levels of heat) to ourselves. We love the heat, so the first and hottest pool was our favorite, but we tried them all. The setting was gorgeous and the pools felt great - we especially liked the hot water falls! We got totally relaxed and very much appreciated the plate of fresh fruit given to us afterwards. There are numerous videos of Screw's Spa on Youtube - check it out! Louis picked us up exactly on schedule and then gave us a very good tour on the way back to the ship. He showed us Trafalgar Falls from a distance, and showed us many different types of vegetation, buildings, the Botanical Gardens, the smushed school bus, etc. When he expressed interest in buying some Dominican coffee and Cocoa Tea, he took us to a supermarket when the locals shop so we wouldn't have to pay tourist prices. Excellent service! We got a very good taste for the island including its history, educational system, etc. All we had really expected was a ride to and from Screw's Spa, but Louis turned out to be an excellent tour guide and was a bargain at $20 per person.

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Snorkeling Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Based on the many positive reviews on CruiseCritic, we booked the Snorkeling with Turtles Tour through Silver Moon before our cruise. We booked the 24-person tour. I loved the boat and the crew - they definitely went out of their way to make sure everyone was happy. It was a beautiful day and it was very relaxing to sail around, enjoying the sunshine, the good music, and the unlimited free drinks (alcoholic or otherwise). The lunch was excellent - I had really wanted to try flying fish. The crew pointed out various sights on shore along the way. The snorkeling itself was just as advertised: we snorkeled at one site where we saw turtles and at another site with 2 shipwrecks. Personally, I enjoyed relaxing on the boat more than the snorkeling. I'm used to much more private snorkeling, where there are just a few people at a coral reef with the leisure to just float around and spot a wide variety of fish and sea creatures. This felt very different: there were several other boats at each location, so there were clumps of people snorkeling close to each other to see the sites. It was cool to see the turtles and the shipwrecks, but there were so many people around that you had to be careful not to kick the turtles or other people. The turtles and shipwrecks were cool to see, but there was not a wide variety of fish or other sea creatures and it was not at all private. So, it was exactly what we were expecting and Silver Moon did a great job. As far as I was concerned, it was well worth it for relaxing on the boat - for snorkeling itself, I'd rather go with more of a wilderness/private feel.

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