Adventures in the Caribbean Sea: Part II

Adventures in the Caribbean Sea: Royal Caribbean Cruise Part II, Ports


Now that we have the cruise ship all reviewed, we have to get to the fun part, the ports! We chose this cruise for a couple of reasons, one of us had never been to the Caribbean, and this took us to many different countries in a short period of time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ทย 



The cruise departed from San Juan, flying in was a breeze, flying back out was a bit of a nightmare but Iโ€™ll get to that. Old San Juan is unlike anywhere we had been before, cobble stone streets and rainbow hued buildings, every doorway begging Instagram influencers to pose in them. We strolled the streets, shopped, people watched, melted in the heat and then made our way to Fort San Cristobal which was built by Spain in 1783 to protect the old city from land-based attacks. The fort brought incredible views and fascinating history as well as a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the old city center. Do not miss checking out San Juanโ€™s forts.

Upon disembarkation, there was a dock workerโ€™s strike in San Juan, so we were unable to get off the ship and many hundreds missed their flights. Apparently, this can happen, so book your flight for later in the day when you get off the ship. We ended up getting off the ship hours later than expected, fighting for a cab which we shared with 14 people that was made for no more than 7. The small airport was in no way prepared for the amount of people who descended upon it in a rush to make their flights. We waited in line to check in for hours and narrowly made our flight though we had given ourselves almost 8 hours from the time we docked to take-off. The flight itself was unique especially when the flight attendant on our Southwest flight attendant literally sat on me pre-flight. This was followed by the quintessential horror flight experience where the man next to you wet coughs his life onto you so you cover your orifices with your scarf and hold your breath the whole time while praying you donโ€™t get Ebola. We cannot blame this on Puerto Rico though, altogether a place with a lot of heart, color and tradition.

Views: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5 on the GOA globe scale

Greenery: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

People: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Would we return: Probably not. Although Puerto Rico is clearly brimming with culture and resilience from the hurricanes and we very much enjoyed Old San Juan, we are unlikely to return. We think you should support the country by visiting for yourself!


Barbados ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡งย 



What we did: 4×4 Jungle Tour, Bathsheba and Harrisonโ€™s Cave.

Barbados! This incredible island captured our hearts from the moment we left the port on our 4×4 adventure. The vehicle was a truck with the bed lined with seats and outfitted with a serious roll cage (not that it would have helped at all with the way these lovely people drive). We careened around the island while I hung out the back of the open-air truck with my eye in the viewfinder of the camera and the GoPro in the other hand, attempting to capture this vibrant place. I have years of practice making my mom nervous by teetering on the edge of cliffs, canyons, buildings and this was no exception, her soccer mom protection skills are top notch. Local people honked and waved as we flew by seemingly excited by our presence in their home country. As an off-road enthusiast, I appreciated the rough dirt roads though others might not have enjoyed it quite as much. Bathsheba beach was otherworldly with the most giant boulders in the water and the swaying palm trees, the local spiced rum did not hurt either.

The last stop was Harrisonโ€™s Cave, a cave system that was built out as a tourist attraction. There is a tram that takes you through the various rooms of the cave, worth seeing, but beware, you are required to wear a shower cap and hard hat, not a good look. Both of these stops and driving around the island taking in the breath-taking vistas were a highlight of the entire cruise and one of our two favorite stops.


Greenery: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

People: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Beaches: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Overall Experience: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Would we return: Absolutely, just not on a boat.


Grenada ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉย 



What we did: Island tour including spice factory, waterfall and crater lake.

There are three things that were very unique about Grenada, none of which are the highlights listed above on the tour. 1. Grenada is the reason we decided to rate the โ€œgreennessโ€ of each country. 2. Monkeys 3. Tunnel of Terror. We have been all over the world and were profoundly shocked at the depth of the color of green in this beautiful country. We could have driven around this island in circles for days, it was indescribably lush and beautiful.

We were dropped off at a โ€œwaterfallโ€ (Iceland wrecked any other lesser waterfalls) with about 100 other tours. The first thing we noticed was a man standing at the entrance next to some colorful booths promising incredible spices, as this is called the spice island. He held on to a leash with a handsome Mona Monkey attached to the other end, clearly well trained. As the tourists with their zinc covered noses and oversized hats poured out of their buses, they rushed for this man with his monkey. The man would tap his shoulder and the monkey would jump up to pose with the tourist, or the touristโ€™s shoulder, the tourist pays the man, the man yanks the leash and the monkey jumps down and this was repeated probably 50 times during the time we were observing. That sweet monkey is held prisoner and forced to perform hundreds of times a day. You can make this stop. I know you want your picture with a monkey for your Instagram, but when you pay the man, he keeps imprisoning and mistreating them. If tourists are accountable for the choices they make on their vacations and how they affect people and animals, abuse like this can stop. Do you research, if you are interested in animal encounters, as we are, go with a reputable company who contributes to conservation in a positive way. *Stepping off soapbox*. After we left the waterfall stop, we were brought to a crater lake which was fairly disappointing, however, we encountered a free, wild Mona Monkey who we fondly decided to call George. He posed in all of his monkey business glory for some time and made our day.

It is also important to mention that while the port is not far from town, we did not get the feeling that we were very welcome when we wandered a bit. We were told there was a pedestrian tunnel separating the tourist ridden port from the heartbeat of the city and its people. There is a pedestrian tunnel, ITโ€™S ALSO A CAR/TRUCK/SEMI TUNNEL! We discovered this approximately in the middle as local people walked quickly in opposite directions and played some kind of sick game of chicken, randomly deciding who might or might not die a messy and painful death. The other fun tidbit was that as tourists, we were easy bait and were all but shoved into oncoming traffic. If you would like to avoid this potentially life-threatening, panic attack inducing or at least wildly unpleasant experience, take a shore excursion and then head back to the boat in Grenada.


Greenery: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

People: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall Experience: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

Would we return: Yes, to stay at a resort.


Dominica ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒย 



What we did: 4×4 Lost World Tour with Wacky Rollers- Titou Gorge and Botanical Gardens.

Upon getting off of the boat, a class of school children greeted us with singing and dancing, the warmest welcome. Heading into this trip, this was the country I most looked forward to seeing and for good reason. The tour was called the 4×4 Lost World tour, it felt very much like a mix between Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean, two of the best film series ever made. Needless to say, we adored this place. Once again, I sat in the very back of a massive open-air truck so I could film/shoot out the back as we drove. The botanical gardens were not in and of themselves all that special, what was special however, was the landscape, greenery and the sweet stray dogs. We have a long history of me petting and snuggling dirty, stray dogs and desperately attempting to adopt them all over the world, while simultaneously horrifying my mother.

Titou Gorge is where part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manโ€™s Chest was filmed. It started out a little rocky because you arrive to the mouth of this gorge and they require you to put on a life vest/belt to swim in what appears to be a shallow pool in the rainforest at first glance. I am macho and consider myself a strong swimmer and was fairly unhappy with the life belt thing. However, you jump in and swim into this narrow gorge with rock walls jutting up around you and vines and jungle above your head. I attempted to film this incredible experience, and at some point, may share some video as it is challenging to describe. I soon became grateful for the swim belt as it is very deep, and you are swimming against the current until you arrive at the end of the gorge which culminates in an incredible waterfall. This is a do not miss experience when you visit Dominica. Overall, this place is full of joyful people, insanely beautiful sights and the perfect place to create new memories.


Greenery:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

People:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall Experience:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Would we return: In a heartbeat.


ย Maarten/Saint Martin ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทย ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ


What we did: Island Tour-French and Dutch sides, Carousel, island views, walked around Phillipsburg, dipped our toes in the clearest blue water we have ever seen.

Our visit to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin came at just the right time, though the first few ports were beautiful, they were challenging areas to navigate when shore excursions had ended. We took a largely disappointing brief island tour to allow us to see the French side as we docked on the Dutch side, and to get a taste of the flavor of the place. The tour took us to a carousel/ice cream place first which was discouraging. We spent this time walking in the area and observing the hurricane damage and how hard the people were working to rebuild their homes and businesses. The devastation was still very much at the forefront of our visit, boats remained partially submerged, roofs destroyed, windows broken, and cars ruined. What we also observed were people replacing roofs, repairing boats and clearly coming together to restore their beloved island. The best part of this island was the ten-minute walk from the port to the heart of Philipsburg which was incredibly easy to navigate, shopping, tons of food and entertainment options and an alluring white sand beach.

Views:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Greenery: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

People: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Beaches: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Overall Experience: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽof 5

Would we return: Yes, fly in and stay at a resort.


St. Thomas ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ฎ



What we did: Transfer to a โ€œsecret beachโ€, Lindquist Beach, walked around Charlotte-Amalie.

Honestly, there is not much to say about St. Thomas. The beaches are the best we have ever seen, the whitest, softest sand, the bluest, clearest water, warm, salty breeze, the works. Aside from that, St. Thomas feels like the United States, very touristy. Just not our vibe.

Views:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

Greenery: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

People: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ of 5

Beaches: ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ of 5

Overall Experience:ย ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒŽ.5 of 5

Would we return: Unlikely, the beach was incredible, but the rest of the island lacked some of the character that made the others so unique and captivating.