~PUERTO RICO-EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE - July 2012~

 

A spectacular 7 day, 6 islands cruise with Carnival, our second, and 2 days in Puerto Rico. The cruise was amazing. The ship was awesome, the food was spectacular. The ship provides its guests with the royal treatment. The turn down service was awesome and they would leave us towel animals on our bed every night and chocolates. And the islands we visited were unbelievably beautiful. Every morning we would wake up in a different island and every evening we would come back to the ship and see it leave the dock before dinner. We only had one day at sea, which provided us with a chance of spending more time getting to know the ship and all its amenities.

 

Our amazing hotel "La Concha" in Puerto Rico. Ocean front room with a terrace with a Jacuzzi. It was gorgeous! The hotel has 3 amazing pool areas and its own private beach stretch.

 

Our first day in Puerto Rico, we spent in the old side of town called Old San Juan. Old San Juan has two Forts guarding it, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal, which stand on opposite ends of the city. They are beautiful buildings built in the 16th Century that hold a lot of history. They defended San Juan from conquistadors and pirates alike for centuries.

 

An exlposive sight! Andrea sitting on a pile of cannon balls.

 

Chad looking out to see from one of the fort's towers.

 

Andrea in one of the other fort towers.

 

A high view of one of the forts corners. To the right you can see the circular cannon tracks on the top floor and the cannon holes facing the ocean.

 

This ramp was used to move down cannons, equipment, etc.

 

 

Our second day in Puerto Rico we took a tour to El Yunque, Puerto Rico's famous rainforest. There, we saw beautiful waterfalls and waded in swimming holes.

 

 

An interesting fact about the Puerto Rican rainforest, to prevent erosion, they started planting bamboo in certain areas of the rainforest. Everybody knows bamboo is a very invasive species, but we were told they planted a kind that doesn't spread. The areas thick with bamboo offered a cool and different view.Another fact about their rainforest: they don't have any big animals or poisonous ones.

 

 

This is a picture of the "departing party". This evening we boarded the ship, got acquainted with our cabin and headed over to the deck to join the party and see the boat pull away from the dock. Spectacular! On the way out to see, we passed by the San Juan Forts.

 

 

St. Thomas is the first island we visited. We walked from the ship's dock to the center town. It's not very big, but the first thing that caught our eye is the thick window coverings of wood or metal, to protect from hurricanes. Another interesting thing, is they have lots of jewelry stores. We took a cab ride to a beautiful beach, where this picture was taken, Morning Star.

 

 

St. Thomas is known for iguanas. Here Chad is standing by a medium size one. We saw several around. They like to hang out in lawns and sunbathe. Puerto Rico also has iguanas, and on the way to the El Yunke Rainforest we saw one run over on the road. The guide told us they like to sit on the hot pavement to sunbathe and that could be deadly if they fall asleep.

 

 

This is the ship's deck on the day at sea. People would sunbathe, play in the pools and waterslide, while watching a movie in the big outdoor theatre screen. The day at sea is an excellent opportunity to enjoy all the great food the ship has to offer. You can eat until you explode, and we did!

 

 

Here we are hanging out in the hot tub in the Serenity Club, the "adults only" part of the ship. It was nice to have a place where little kids couldn't get in, to relax, read a book or watch the amazing ocean views. We also saw a ton of flying fish flying away from the ship, as the ship was sailing and we saw a ship worker make an ice sculpture, we saw shows, the ship offers so many activities to keep you busy all day.

 

 

This morning we woke up in Barbados. After a good breakfast we hit the island. This island has hands down the best beaches.

 

 

The water is so clear and blue and the sand is the whitest you can find.

 

 

We decided to rent a small sailboat and sail around. Here Chad is getting his skills tested before they release the sailboat to us. Interestingly, they sailed around a few minutes and they capsized the boat, so the guy could see if Chad had the skills to right it, should that happen to us when we were sailing together.

 

 

The sailboat was not very stable but Chad was able to sail it. I had to learn to shift my weight around, as we learnt the hard way that it mattered greatly: it was a very gusty day and the little boat required quick and frequent adjustment of the sail and our weight in the hull. We did capsized once and I lost my earring :( but it wasn't a big deal and we did great. It was a lot of fun.

 

 

One of the beaches near Bridgetown, Barbados' Capital, has some sunken ships where we experienced the best snorkeling ever.

 

 

There were tons of fish and they were not shy!

 

 

The next day we woke up in St. Lucia. We had hired a tour to take us to a beach where we got on a tandem kayak and kayaked to an island called Pigeon Island. Pigeon Island is in the corner where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic meet. We went to that corner and saw the two seas merge. The Caribbean is a calm sea, and the Atlantic is very rough.

 

 

When we were ready to go back to shore, had a snack and headed up the mountain to the remnants of Fort Rodney. This very small fort was an added adventure here at this island.

 

 

The next day we woke up in St. Kitts. This is the view of the docked ship and Chad ready for another exciting day!

 

 

At the Harbor, we were greeted by locals with African Green Vervet Monkeys. These gorgeous monkeys were introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis by the Conquistadors in the 1600's when they were brought to the islands as pets and now huge populations roam free in the islands. They say there are more monkeys than people. I had two two-month-old babies in my arms and a one-year-old on my shoulder. No doubt this island provided the best reception! Holding a monkey was a dream come true, which I didn't even expect here in the Caribbean!

 

 

We hired a tour guide, who took us around the island. She told us fascinating stories and took us to a botanical garden/bed and breakfast. This is their swimming pool, with a view of the bay and our ship.

 

 

This place was such a paradise. Too bad we couldn't spend too much time here, as we had other places to explore!

 

 

She took us to another botanical garden in the rainforest. Another awesome stop.

 

 

Lastly she dropped us off at a gorgeous beach at South Frier's Bay where we did some snorkeling before she took us back to the ship.

 

 

This beach has black sands, like we've seen in Hawaii. Breathtaking!

 

 

A snorkeling treasure I picked up, but don't worry, I left it behind. This beach had shallow parts off the coast where you could stand in the middle of the ocean. It was wild.

 

 

That night we took a picture before dinner on the side deck on the floor directly below where the lifeboats are hanging. The lighting was an interesting blue hue, that makes for a cool picture.

 

 

Having breakfast the next morning. Not only was the food unbelievably good, but look at the views!

 

 

St. Maarten provided new adventures. Here we took the advice of another couple from the ship. They told us you can rent scooters and go around the island. And that is exactly what we did. We walked the center town for a bit and then rented the scooter. These islands aren't that big, so going around doesn't take that long.

 

Our main goal at this island was to make it to Maho Beach. This paradisiacal beach is famous for being a short distance from the St. Maarten's International Airport (a single road separates the beach and the airport runway). Planes as big as 747s land here and to do so, they have to set up their approach way in the ocean and fly only a few feet over Maho Beach to make the landing. The runway starts right up against the beach and ends abruptly against a mountain. So planes have to land as close to the beginning of the runway, by the beach, as possible, or they may not stop in time before the runway ends at the mountain. Similarly, takeoffs have to start right up against the beach, and when the pilot blasts the engine, the force is so huge you can see people being flown into the water. It is loud, the sand hits your skin till it hurts and the blast pushes back and can make you lose your balance. If you don't have good footing, you go flying into the water. And so do any unattended bags sitting on the beach. It's such a big attraction, tour boats bring people to watch landings and the beach cafe offers the airport's landing and departures schedule, so people can plan to watch them.

 

 

The couple of hours we were there, we saw several planes land and take off, with the biggest being an American Airlines 747. Pretty wild!

 

 

 

We have lots of other pictures but couldn't post all of them. The trip was fabulous and we will always remember our Eastern Caribbean adventures!