Enchanted Princess Review

4.5 / 5.0
162 reviews

Limited-mobility and snorkeling perspective

Review for the Southern Caribbean Cruise on Enchanted Princess
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voyager1964
First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Mar 2024
Balcony Dinner
St. Lucia
St. Lucia
Catch
Bubble Bath Beach, Dominica
Bridge
Bubble Bath Beach, Dominica
Bridge
Bridge

Enchanted Princess 17-27 March 2024 Review: Limited-mobility, snorkeling, suite life perspective including detailed know how

I had an egoistic desire to spend my jubilee birthday onboard. Why egoistic? Well, the first reason is obvious, it costs money, much more than we typically spend on a birthday. But there was another and more significant reason – my wife does not like cruises. In the past, I was able to lure her by either interesting ports (e.g., Madeira, Bordeaux, Flam, Marmaris), wildlife (Galapagos) or bringing our adult kids onboard.

This situation is challenged by the fact that DW has a bad back which severely limits her ability to climb stairs yet she is a vivid snorkeler. Typically, we spend a couple of weeks in Winter in Curacao, but the connecting flights through MIA have been more and more challenging recently, so I suggested to her that we would explore other Caribbean islands with snorkeling to find a potential replacement for Curacao (spoiler – we did not find a comparable replacement among the islands on this cruise).

Cabin Review

Port Reviews

Antigua

Antigua is known for good snorkeling but not from the shore. You need to take a boat to get to small islands or snorkel from the boat. Which requires stair climbing and not suitable to us.

My research suggested that there are very few places you can snorkel from the beach in Antigua. So we took a taxi from the port to Galleon beach, one of such places. The taxi costed ~$120 roundtrip and was about 30 minutes one way.

The driver dropped us off near the gate. Right there, there is a restaurant that opens at 12 pm, and there are public restrooms (free). The beach for swimming also starts right from that restaurant, but to get to the snorkeling part you need to go to the left along the water for ~150 yards or so. There, the entrance to the water is not very easy but still doable. We left our belongings on a tree, right near an unfinished villa, and snorkeled for about an hour. The water was warm with no waves. There were some corals and fish, but not too much as compared to our usual place Curacao.

After snorkeling, we changed the clothes in the public restrooms and went to the gate where our taxi driver was waiting for us.

Dominica

This was a difficult island. We already visited the main tourist places there back in 2013. For snorkeling, the usual recommendation is the Champaigne Reef, but after reading the recent reviews I decided to pass – too crowdy, no bubbles, difficult access, no facilities. Instead, I found a place called Bubble Beach Spa, located near the Scotts Head Beach. For transportation, I booked Master Taxi and Tours that agreed for a roundtrip for ~$100.

The driver sent his photo over WhatsApp so it was easy to locate him in the port. The driving time is ~25 minutes, but the last part is a one-way road with two-way traffic, so our driver had to honk regularly to alert others. He dropped us near a local church with a clear sign to the Bubble beach and off we went. The walking to the beach is perhaps a 100 yards from there, and on the beach you get a wooden shack for a restaurant, a wooden bench under a canopy, and a room with a lockable door to change clothes. No bathroom though, but we found a bathroom later on in a nearby diver shop (again $1 pp).

So we changed our clothes, and firstly attempted the “bubble spa” – a fenced by stones sea area near the beach. The water was indeed warm. Then we started swimming to the right (looking to the sea), and there was a pretty decent snorkeling, corals and fish. The water there was warmer than usual, perhaps because of the geothermal activity. All of a sudden, we encountered large fields full with raising bubbles. Much better than what was reported for the Champaigne reef. Be forewarned though about a rip current away from the beach.

Bottom line: pretty good snorkeling, uncrowded beach, but challenging road to get there.

Martinique

We hired a private guide there, given that this is French overseas territory and practically no one speaks English. Our guide first took us to the snorkeling beach (Les Anses d’Arlet) located in the South of the island, approximately 50 minutes from port. We changed the clothes in a large public restroom available there. This is an automated establishment and requires 20 eurocents to enter.

The beach itself was pretty crowdy, but the snorkeling was OK. There are 4-5 places for snorkeling located about 100 yards from shore and indicated by hat-looking buoys; nice corals and fish, but nothing extraordinary. After the snorkeling and changing our clothes back (another 20 eurocents pp), we had a tasty lunch in a local restaurant.

Finally, we went to the best boulangerie in the island and also bought some French cheese and wine in a nearby store.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia is known for its scenery and windy steep roads. The snorkeling should be good in the south of the island whereas the ship docks closer to the north. Initially, I thought about Resort for a day that offered a pass to a hotel located in the North of the island with some snorkeling. However, after reading reviews about that resort, I decided not to (crowdy beach, not tasty food, bus with stairs for transportation).

Following a recommendation of @reedprincess I decided to go to Soufriere Beach Park, a relatively new establishment. For the transportation, I booked with St Lu Taxi and Tours that offer a private taxi for ~$190 over 5-6 hours. The driver was waiting for us with a sign, he had a pretty large minivan just for two of us, and perfectly delivered us to the Park. We arrived at ~11 am, and the beach was almost empty. There is a small restaurants with wooden tables and benches under a canopy (free to use). Loungers and umbrellas were also available for rent. There were also huge and clean bathrooms ($1 pp) and a shower (also $1).

No stairs anywhere, but the beach’ sand was not a powder. We are using snorkeling boots, so did not care. For snorkeling, we swam to the right if looking to the sea, there were spectacular corals along the cliff and surprisingly many crustaceans right on glassy beach bottom near the shore. The view of a Piton was spectacular, too. So, a pretty good space if not for the windy roads to get there.

St. Thomas

I thought I knew St Thomas pretty well as we rented a villa there for a week following the fiasco with Caribbean Princess in 2012. However, at that time I was not interested in snorkeling. Searching for accessible opportunities for this cruise, I ended up with the Secret Harbor beach. Following the advice of CC, I reserved two chairs and umbrella at AA divers, part of the resort.

Transportation, however, was a failure I must admit. I communicated with one of taxi companies recommended on CC. They quoted $100 each way. I thought that was steep for a ~20 minutes drive and hoped to find a taxi in the port. Indeed, there were numerous shared taxis (minitracks with benches), that DW could not climb onto right near the gangway. The dispatcher suggested that a private taxi would be expensive, at ~$135 one way. At that time, I did not realize we could walk to the Havensight Mall and catch a taxi there. So agreed and the dispatcher summoned a taxi, a pretty large minivan for us. The driver insisted we use him for a roundtrip ($135 each way). “No thank you” I thought while reluctantly entering his number into the WhatsApp. On arriving, I gave him $140 and suggested I would call him later. In reality, I asked the resort’s front deck to call for a taxi, and it arrived quickly with ~$70 fare to go back to port.

Back to the beach. We easily found AA office, paid for the reserved loungers/umbrella, changed clothes in a nearby bathroom (free, and accessible), and off we went. The water was spectacular, crystal clear, no waves. The sand was pretty good too. Initially, we went to the right where a good snorkeling was promised by many reviewers, but did not found anything noteworthy within 25 minutes of swimming. We turned then to the left, and this was a good decision. Large underwater gardens with live corals, fish (we saw a barracuda) and not many people.

Grand Turk

This one was a major disappointment. The advice was just to go to the right from the pier where the beach becomes stony and snorkel there. There are large and free bathrooms and also a shower and a faucet to clean the sand off. But, the entrance to the water is challenging to say the least. And, we did not see any live corals. Perhaps we did not get to the proper place?

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