tirsdag 20. mars 2012

Cruise in the Caribbean - Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten

Getting to Puerto Rico..........

One week cruise in the Caribbean is what I call a vacation. So to get a really good start we flew business class with Condor from Frankfurt to San Juan, Puerto Rico. To be a charter flight, Condor business class is not bad at all. The food and wine is good, the service is very good, but there are some things I missed, first of all, there is no "private" tv monitor in each seat. That´s right, you can not choose your own film or when to watch it. For me that is some of the privilege to fly business, watch a good film with your meal. However, it is a bit more comfortable that sitting in economy, seats are bigger and they do lean back a lot (not as much as on business class on a scheduled flight doh), but you also get that foot rest so you can keep your legs up. Also you got a nice rose before your meal................. but thet took it back befor you got of the plane:(

San Juan, Puerto Rico............

Getting from the airport to Old San Juan is only a 20 minutes taxi drive and it costs about 23 usd. We got there in the late evening and we were going on the cruise the next day so we did not have much time to do a lot of stuff. Since we had so little time we decided to just walk around have enjoy the sight of Old San Juan. It is a really nice city and even though there is many things to do in San Juan, walking around is recomended. The bulidings and the small streets are a true beauty.

Even though we had limited time in San Juan we had to make time to taste some of the local food and drink. Seriously, you always make time for that. So if you go to Puerto Rico, get the local beer Medalla and of curse taste the Mofongo. You can get Mofongo with different tastes and meat and we chose one with garlic and beef I think it was. Delisious.......... but you need to like garlic:)

And after that it was time to board the ship that was going to be our home for the next week, the Carnival Victory. It is a huge ship 893 feet long with 1100 crew members, and it can take 2758 passengers. It has a huge restaurant and a big buffet, a sandwich bar, a sushi bar, a wok bar and you can get pizza, ice cream and room service 24/7 just to mention some of it. Of course there is several other bars as well, and loads of entertainment to choose from everyday. What we enjoyed the most was the comedy club and during our week they had four days with different shows. Another place we spent most of our evenings in was the casino:) :) :) Did we win big???? Defo not!

Our stateroom was on deck 8 so we had a great view from our balcony. Of course on top of the vessel the view was even greater. Managed to take a few photos of San Juan befor we left the port.

A bit difficult to see in this picture, but that is the airport of San Juan and there is a plane landing.

St. Thomas.....

Our first port of call was St. Thomas. As we were mostly interested in the beaches we did not book any  tours through the cruise line even though there is so much stuff that you can do at each port. Recon it is very popular to book tours, and it is very handy to have a schedule of what to do every day, but it is also possible to do everything on your own if you want. Well, I am so glad we decided to go to the beach in St. Thomas, it was beautiful. White sand and a turquoise sea. Only minus about the beach we went to is that is was so many people there as there was 3 cruise boats at that place at the same time. Getting there was easy enough as well. When we got of the ship we had no clue where to go, luckily there is so many people at the dock that gets you where you want to go. we just said beach and we were placed in one of those "open" big taxis that could take a few people, almost a little mini bus. Cost you 10 USD one way. Not cheap, but not to bad either. All the tours from the cruise line where rather expensive we thought, around 100 USD per person roughly.  

After our stop in St. Thomas we had a whole day on the sea to look forward to as there were no ports of call on our second day on the Victory. Very smart to to it that way so you get to know the boat on an early stage. We needed it because the firs two days we kept getting lost every time we tried to find our stateroom. There were so much to do that I completely forgot to take any pictures that day. Tell you one thing, it is very hard to get bored on a cruise ship! Did manage to get one though, and that of me and our little trophy that we won on the quiz:)


Second port of call and our third day on the cruise. Wish I had loads of money so I could buy a holiday home here. Did not see too much of the island, but the little I saw I really liked. I´m a beach person so again we took a taxi to one of the nearby beachs. It is so easy to get around everywhere because there is always taxis at the port you can get where you want. it can be a good idea to ask about the taxi price, we asked one of the security people at the port and he said 3 USD, when we go into the taxi it turned our to be 7 USD per person to the beach we were going to. Did not think that is a bad price anyway. However, it is always wise to get a taxi with more people, it will be cheaper that way.  The beach we were taken to was very nice and it was possible to rent sunbeds at the place. 10 USD for one bed and 10 USD for the umbrella, total of 30 USD for two people, that is expensive if you ask me, but worth the comfort. I don't mind laying on the sand but it is so nice with a sunbed so I will pay the costs of it:) Enjoyed the sun so much in Barbados that I forgot to take a picture of the beach! Only got this one where we drove by.

Before we had to go back on the ship we had a little tour of Bridgetown, and one of our fellow ship mates that we shared the taxi with was such a big fan of Rihanna that he wanted to see her dad's house. If it really is her dad's house I don't know:) 

After swinging buy to look at the house we drove through the city centre and saw some of the beautiful and historical spots and buildings.

St. Lucia.....

St. Lucia was our third port of call and the first thing we did when we got here was to go to the bar at the port, ordered a Piton local beer and used the internet. To go inline from your own computer or on the phone on the ship was really expensive and very slow. We paid 63 USD for 120 minutes and did not get as much out of it as we wanted as the internet connection was very slow. I couldn't even access my bank because of it. However, at that bar at the port the internet was free of charge so we could either use our computer or the phone. Was several people who decided to do this as that was very easy and costed a lot less. After checking e-mails and stuff we hit the beach. Surprise surprise, ha ha ha. I have been to St. Lucia before so I knew a little about the place and where we wanted to go. We chose to go to Pigeon Island as the beach there was suppose to be very nice, and it was. There is actually a Sandals resort there as well which is very nice. Recommend that place. When going to the beach in St. Lucia there is two places everybody recommends you to go, either Pigeon Island or Rodney Bay. Seemed like most people went to Rodney Bay so Pigeon Island was a bit more quiet, I liked that. Taxi to Rodney Bay was 7 USD and to Pigeon Island is was 10 USD per person. Here they did not have many big taxis so we just got a normal one. Another thing that make it so easy to get around on your own is that everybody (at all places/ports) offer a return pick up back to the ship. We always made a deal with the driver to pick us up and that worked out perfectly. However, we also experienced that some of the tourists booked a pick up back to the ship and never showed up???? Why would you do that? That is just not very nice to do, if you have made an appointment with the taxi driver to take you back you get back with that driver! Well, anyway, because somebody did this to our driver he had sent another one to pick us up and then go to Rodney Bay to pick up two other girls. Great, that way we got to see Rodney Bay as well.     

The pictures above is taken from Pigeon Island. The last one is from the opposite side of the beach. The beach was very nice and the sunbeds was only 10 easy dollar (Easter Caribbean currency). He wanted 5 USD per bed but as we had easy dollar he was nice and gave us the same price in local currency (that is only about 6 USD). The next two pictures below are from Rodney Bay. It is a bit more lively at that beach and it is full of bars and restaurants along the way. Apparently this is where it is all happening in the evening time.

The little mountain you see in the back is Pigeon Island.

The two last pictures are taken from our balcony when leaving the port.

St. Kitts..........

The fourth port of call and day number 5 on the cruise. No this was one of the nicer places I have ever seen. The island is not big at all and it is really easy to get around it. They even have a railway that can take you almost around the whole island. Did not go on it but I have heard it is a very nice journey and it is worth to go on it. There might also be a way to go to Nevis as well, we did not look into it but I am pretty sure there is a boat transportation that will take you there as it is very close to St. Kitts. Caribbean people are known to be very nice and this shows in St. Kitts. We found a taxi driver to take us to a beach and he was nice enough to ask us if we wanted to pay for the whole taxi our selfs or if we wanted to wait 10 minutes to he could find more people to go with us so it would be cheaper. I think that is a great deal as we did not mind waiting, win win situation for all of us. We paid 8 USD per person and the taxi took us to a beautiful beach with a view straight over to Nevis. That place had one of the most comfortable sunbeds I have ever been on and they were 10 USD each. But that was really, really worth it. And the service there was excellent, ordered beer and soft drinks at the beds (no other places during the cruise had that at their beaches). Wasn't cheap but sometimes you need to pamper yourself a bit:) Pepole there was so nice as well, no naging or anything to buy this and that as you often experience at Caribbean beaches.  

St. Maarten.......

The 5th and final port before heading back to San Juan. This is also a place I have been to before so for our one day here I knew exactly what to do. The ship docks by Philipsburg, and this is the Dutch part of St. Maarten. I have been on the French part before so this was a new part of the island for me. There is one thing you can not miss of you ever go to St. Maarten and that is the small beach right next to the airport, Princess Julianna. Take a taxi to Maho bay (8 USD per person) and be amazed watching the planes land and take off, it is literally on the beach. 

As you can see from the pictures it is a truly amazing that the planes can land at that airport, and the last picture shows how it is when on of the bigger planes go out to the runway to take off. Really do not want to be behind the plane. A lot of people finds is very amusing to do that and it always end up with hats, sunglasses, clothes, lilos etc blowing away, even people get "blown" to sea. Quite funny to watch. Easy to see that this is one beach like no other, but the actual beach is very nice as well and you have everything you need right on the beach. Sunbed 5 USD each, local beer 2 USD! We also had some huge waves that day and that seemed to amuse a lot of the people there, not only the kids as it might have been a little to rough for them some of the time.

There is a lot more to St. Maarten than this beach and I have written about it perviously in the blog. All I can say is that I recommend this island highly. Also this is kind of a hub for getting around to other Caribbean islands and there is a lot of flight going to St. Maarten.

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