Terminal 18 is a beautiful terminal that also really sped up the embarkation process. getting to the pier was smooth, check-in was smooth, and sail-away was also very smooth. Not really much else to say here.
We have been to Tortola twice, both times on the MS Noordam of the Holland America Line. Both times, we only had the afternoon and not the full day, so being there a whole day was a first for us. This was probably our least favorite port, as it was boring and there really wasn't much to see, just like how it was the first two times we were there.
Basseterre (Port Zante) was a new port for us this cruise, so we didn't know what to expect. We stepped off of the ship and we were amazed by how beautiful the terminal area was. It was really nice, with ample shopping, taxis, and tour offerings. It sort of resembled what St. Maarten looks like, if not nicer. We went on a half-day island tour/half-day beach tour with a driver that found us almost immediately after we stepped out of the terminal. We went to the Botanical Gardens and saw that part of the island before going back in the taxi to the other side of the island to Frigate Beach. Our driver actually took us to the wrong beach, as we had wanted to go to FRIAR'S BEACH, not FRIGATE beach. But either way about 30 minutes after we got there, it started to pour and we left to go back to the ship then. Overall, it was a very nice island.
We pre-booked an excursion, which is something we NEVER do, unless it was to the Beach at Cayo Levantado, Samana, DR. This tour was to go to Hibiscus Falls and see the waterfall for awhile before going on an hour and half long river tubing expedition down a 1.5 mile track. We only did the excursion knowing how poor the island is, and there really isn't much else to do on the island (we have been here twice before, also on the Noordam.) The excursion was great, and Dominica remains high up there on my list of favorite islands, despite the extremely poor conditions on the island.
We have been to St. John's once, on the MSC Orchestra back in 2009. Antigua may have had the best in-port shopping of every island. The area around the port was also very nice, one of the nicest I had ever seen. In Antigua, we took a taxi to Jolly Beach, which was beautiful. The water may have been the nicest color blue we have ever seen. It was even nicer than in Bermuda. Overall, this island may have been the prettiest island of the five we visited this cruise.
St. Maarten has always been our favorite port, and this was my sixth time there (and we will be there again next February on the Independence of the Seas). This was the first time in three years that we didn't go to the Westin Hotel on Dawn Beach, but instead going to Maho Beach. Maho Beach is about a 1/2 mile away from the famed Airport Beach, so we saw the planes just off to the side of us. We left the beach early and went down to Front Street, where we went shopping. I hadn't been there since my first time on the island. The port area in Phillipsburg was actually under renovation, so by the time we dock there next February, we may be talking about a completely different Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.