The only drawback to Curacao was the surprising amount of pollution in the port from oil refineries. It was only bothersome at the height of the Lido Deck, but it did sting the eyes. The tour was a good combination of island history (much richer than Aruba's as well as other islands) and well as some scenic views overlooking gorgeous beaches and crystalline water. Included a history museum that was worth a short visit. The capital, Willemstad, is very pretty (noted for its colorful Dutch buildings) and it might have been worth exploring it more as our tour didn't go through the town.
Aruba is not an island that lends itself to bus tours and watching beautiful scenery go by. Similar to Grand Cayman, if you want to enjoy Aruba, you need to get in the water or enjoy something active like hiking or three-wheeling. (Or shopping) The California Lighthouse is picturesque, but skippable. The arid, rocky landscape, dotted with cacti, and the local lizards,goats, and small donkeys appeared to be photographed as much as the lighthouse.
Island Tour Rating:
Our driver's sense of humor made this better than it could have been, but it was nice overall. Aruba is neither incredibly scenic in terms of lush beauty nor historically fascinating, but our driver's explanations of local architecture, customs, and legends make up for the fact that their natural bridge has crumbled and their famous church is about as impressive your average airport chapel. There are enough views of rocky coastline and unusual trees and plants that I'd recommend this tour to someone who wants to see what the arid, "non-lush" Caribbean looks like.
Ostrich Farm Rating:
This was a nice walk and an all right experience, but the fact that we chose this shows there weren't a lot of options. The guide at the Ostrich Farm seemed a bit bored and didn't actually seem to be a big fan of ostriches himself. There were some nice views from the farm and the birds, including a baby ostrich and baby emu, made for cute photos.
This was our third visit to Barbados and our favorite. We saw Orchid World the previous year, but Andromeda Gardens was even more beautiful. The incredible rocky coast at Bathsheba should not be missed.
St. Vincent was an incredible day. A very friendly guide, a wonderfully unspoiled island, and rich history made this perfect. Our tour included a stroll through a botanical garden, a hilltop fortress, and a stop at a beachfront restaurant/shop to try local rum and take pictures of the neighboring island, Bequia. Couldn't have been better.
For the combination of cliffs and lush foliage, Grenada is one of the most dramatically beautiful islands I've seen even if not quite as much a riot of green as Dominica. Unlike Dominica, the water in Grenada is the often the famous Caribbean blue. The hilly capital of Grenada, St. George's, looks beautiful from the ship - much of it must be rebuilt since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It makes for fantastic viewing while lounging on the ship or taking photos.
St. Kitts is too small to support the amount of tourism it receives and still retain substantial natural beauty. Romney Gardens was again beautiful, but other areas seemed to have more development and fewer flowering trees. The area near the port did feel a bit safer than our first visit. Overall, this feels like an island that's fun and pretty enough to visit once, but not twice.
I'd definitely recommend this, but don't sit in the middle seat in the front (an open air bus) if you have trouble breathing when wind blows in your face. Rain and clouds made this less than perfect, but St. John does look like all the incredible photos you see online.
Before getting to Princess Cays, Santo Domingo deserves a 5. Not many large ships call there, and touring a teeming, historic city with a vibrant Latin American flair was a superb treat after island after island of English Caribbean culture. The beautiful old town was well worth a tour, especially the governor's house belonging to Colombus (the guide made this stop fascinating) and the cathedral. Shopping is great there too.
There's nothing to do on Princess Cays unless you want to swim or get in the water, but that's just fine. It's pretty and relaxing. The cruise line provided a buffet. There are kiosks with cute trinkets and postcards. There's some music. It was actually quite relaxing to sit around and watch sandpipers. For those determined to go on a bus tour, Princess did offer a tour of Eleuthera, but at a slightly steep price.