We’ve enjoyed our winter Caribbean cruises for quite a few years now. When we were younger we used to fly to Florida and stay one night in a hotel prior to boarding one of the big American ships, especially the Royal Caribbeans.
But, as we’ve got older, we’ve found it much easier to fly directly to Barbados and get straight onboard a ship there. In the main, that means a choice between either Marella or P&O, ie a British ship. Though doing that means we don’t get to meet any Canadians or Americans, the big advantage of doing it that way is there’s no need for a hotel stop. It seems to take less time to get over the jet lag, and you get straight into your holiday without having to spend two nights at sea before reaching the Caribbean.
Prior to boarding the Arvia we had always opted for Marella when cruising from Barbados. We had only sailed with P&O once before on the Azura, and had found that having to sit at the same table at the same time next to the same people each evening was frustrating. Also the evening entertainment was pretty dull, so that put us off P&O. However when we saw the adverts for the big brand new Arvia sailing from Barbados via a TUI flight and with “my time” dining, we were tempted into giving them another go.
We went on a tour of the island before visiting Nelson's Dockyard: an interesting place but we didn't have enough time to do it justice. Next time we will head straight there.
We went for a walk into the town. Lots of police about, we didn't feel comfortable. We couldn't see anything worth looking at and ended up in a supermarket.......we should probably have stayed in the port area which was good.
Walked around the town, which was more sophisticated than most Caribbean towns. Don't forget to take Euros, they don't want your dollars!
We went on the sugar plantation railway trip, which was fun, but remember to take a rainproof jacket if you opt for the open sided top deck. We got very wet....
Then we returned to the Basseterre port area and enjoyed one of the famous Mrs Moore's "jonny cakes" in her al fresco bar.
We went on a tour on an open sided bus where they plied us with rum. It sounded more fun than it actually was, especially when we were dropped off at a scruffy beach for two hours. We've been to St Lucia a few times. People tell me how beautiful it is, but I've yet to see much evidence! The ships must dock on the wrong part of the island......
From what I could tell from the noise coming from the catamaran trips as they passed the ship, they seemed to have had a lot more fun than we did on the bus.
We went on a tour to the French side of the island, which was interesting. We walked round Marigot and went in a patisserie where we had the best coffee and cake we had all week. It's a nicer place than Phillipsburg where gold and diamond sellers hound you for business.
Next time we will get a taxi straight to Marigot.
We always enjoy a walk round this town, people are so friendly. It's weird that they drive on the left of the road in left-hand drive cars! Go on the back street which runs parallel to the main road, its very quaint.
We took a $5 pp taxi to Carlisle beach: we walked to the far end, its always quiet there, away from the "Dockyard" revellers.
Then we walked into the town to enjoy the atmosphere of the locals doing their shopping, before walking back to the ship. Along the way we went into the little chocolate factory, which smells great, but not cheap.....
Don't forget to look out for the artist selling his $1 hand painted bookmarks near the sea, just after the fishmarket.
Bridgetown port area was the only place we found free wifi.