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Home > Member Reviews > MamaParrotHead's Port Reviews of St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, Nassau

MamaParrotHead's Port Reviews of St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, Nassau
Carnival Freedom cruise in November 2012
Member Name: MamaParrotHead
Cruise Date: November 2012
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Canary Islands
Member Review: MamaParrotHead's Carnival Freedom Review
St. Thomas
St. John Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
This was our third time in St. Thomas, and we had a good chunk of time in port, so we made the decision to attempt St. John. And we're so glad we did! It really was much quicker and much less hassle than I'd worried it would be. We had arranged ahead of time for Sunny Liston (who we used as a guide for the day the last time we were in St. Thomas) to pick us (and some Cruise Critic friends who wanted to join us) up and take us from the ship to the ferry at Red Hook ($25 per person, round trip). He was there, on time (RIGHT when we were able to get off the ship, we wanted to beat the crowds and other excursions over to Trunk Bay) and as predicted, smile on his face, welcoming us to his island. We jumped on his truck, headed to Red Hook (which took around 20 minutes). Got out at the ferry terminal, bought our tickets (it was around $30 for all of us, round trip, for the ferry) and waited to board. They run every hour, on the hour. Ferry ride took all of maybe 20 minutes.

We had Sunny's help in arranging for a guide over on St. John for the day. Puff Daddy was there to meet us right at the ferry, escorted us to his truck and off we went. A few quick photo stops and we were off to Trunk Bay. GORGEOUS doesn't begin to describe it. $4 per adult to get on the beach. Baby powder sand underfoot, turquoise blue water with gentle waves rolling in. Decent snorkeling (there's a snorkeling trail there, and a little hut to rent gear and a snack bar as well). The beach was IMMACULATE (as it's a US National Park) as well as the bathroom facilities. Drinks were GOOOOOOOOOOD...I can highly recommend the Painkiller and the Pina Colada, but skip the Rum Punch, LOL.

Puff dropped us off downtown after some more photo stops and we hit up Woody's Seafood Saloon near the ferry dock. A basket of conch fritters, a basket of grouper fingers, a basket of wings and a big crab pasta salad, 2 Red Stripes, 3 sodas for $50. HIGHLY recommend it. Nice tshirts and souvenirs to be found RIGHT on the ferry dock at the St. John Spice Company.


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Antigua
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
We'd never been to Antigua before. Our plan was just to hop a cab to the closest beach and bum around. We found a cab easy enough (just start through the port shopping area and there's the "Taxi Dispatch" which is LITERALLY 25 cab drivers standing around an old man in a plastic lawn chair, who has a book and is calling their taxi ID numbers as people walk up, LOL). I think it was around $6 per person to Dickenson's Bay beach. Beach was clean, but there were a LOT of peddlers (though none of them were too pushy or rude) AND quite a few reports of jellyfish stings. My dad and nephew got nailed (interestingly, my dad got nailed on the back of BOTH knees at the same time, so those tentacles had to be pretty decent sized = no small jelly fish) but Tony at Tony's bar (where we had purchased a few drinks...very reasonable prices and very clean and friendly service) gave us some vinegar in a small cup and it worked like a charm and provided immediate relief (no no one had to pee on them, LOL!). We shared the leftovers with the others we noticed had gotten stung. My husband, early in the morning, said he felt something that resembled a basketball hit the back of his legs and we brushed it off as just odd. Then the epidemic of jellyfish stings. Then a few hours later, he felt the same basketball in the water and we decided we'd best get our behinds back on the beach. We had had enough beach time for the day at that point and headed back to the ship area to pick up a few quick souvenirs. Not a whole lot to choose from but we scared up some tshirts and our Christmas ornament (we buy one from wherever we travel to). Ate at "Cheers" where they not only didn't have half the things listed on their menu, but they served the most disgusting burger any of us had ever eaten. Do yourself a favor and SKIP "Cheers" in Antigua, LOL.

Not overly impressed with Antigua- it ranks just above Nassau for us, because the people were nicer than those we've encountered in Nassau previously.

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Tortola
Port Rating: Not Rated
TORTOLA Our first time in Tortola and we really enjoyed it. Didn't start the day out great, our guide I had arranged for ended up double booking himself, so we had a heck of a time trying to find a guide for a decent price that would STAY WITH US. We just wanted some beach time and then a few photo ops. One of our new Cruise Critic friends, Rachel, came through and negotiated well for us and Carlos was the man for the job.

Tortola is INCREDIBLY hilly. The roads give new meaning to the term "hairpin curves" and it's all straight up or down a mountain. We headed to Brewer's Bay beach, based on good Cruise Critic reviews. Carlos also confirmed that's where his family likes to go on beach days as well. It was a nice, out of the way and quiet beach. No peddlers. Cheap drinks and chair rental ($5 for a full size lounger). A storm had passed through earlier and kicked up some rocks from the bottom on to the beach, but they were smooth ones, so as long as you avoided them it was no big deal. Fun wave jumping here, the kids loved it. My husband and I headed out to the snorkeling area with our gear and eventually found it. It was quite a way off the beach, so I'd recommend some kind of flotation device (the bar rents them) or taking your time to float out there. Spent a good few hours here, loved every minute. Friendly locals as well. Abandoned ruins of a rum distillery nearby...wish I had gotten pictures, but it was cool. The still is right next to the road, still standing. Headed back across the island for the ship area. Local craft market is located about 200 yards from the ship and was the same you see everywhere...tshirts, magnets, bags, assorted jewelry.

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Nassau
Atlantis Aquarium Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
This would be my husband's and my second time in Nassau. Inspite of the fact we weren't OVERLY impressed the first time, I was confident we could find SOMETHING to do that was fun. We had originally booked a catamaran snorkel trip, but the weather wasn't looking great (and my husband had injured his ankle) so we cancelled that. Then we were going to take the ship excursion to Atlantis, but they only had 4 spots (and there were 8 of us). So I figured we could do better than that, pricewise, just cabbing it over to Paradise Island and purchasing the Dig Tour on our own.

Weird port times today (1:00-7:00 p.m.) so we had more time to show off our prowess in another trivia battle. The boys volunteered to be Jedi's in the atrium during the Star Wars theme portion of the "Movie Soundtrack Trivia" and earned themselves each a Carnival medal. ?

Arrived in Nassau on time, even a bit early. Grabbed a cab for $6 per person cab ride over to Atlantis from the ship (be prepared, they literally pack 18 people in a 12 passenger van, LOL...it's like being in a clown car). Asked directions to the appropriate desk, paid for our Dig tour, got our bracelets and off we went. VERY impressive resort and the Dig worth the money we paid. I was kind of shocked at the almost trashy clientele they had at the resort though...weird. Do yourself a favor; eat before you get off the ship though, because the resort cafes were charging literally $20 for a sandwich over there. We spent maybe 2 ½ hours there and then cabbed it back to the port area. Found the new straw market (WAY better than the older one that burned down shortly after we were there in 2005), had a man paint a small canvas picture for me, watched the losers pile off the Booze Cruise excursion and stumble down the street (one of whom face-planted right in front of us, as her husband, wearing his balloon hat and toting his melted yard of margarita from Senor Frog's, just watched. Also witnessed a man on a motorcycle snag not one, but TWO, purses right off women's arms on the street. Lesson to be learned- have your male companions wear a backpack. Also paid $20 for 5 sodas and 4 candy bars. ANNOYING.


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