Caribbean for Spring Break

I got the spring fever. And the cure turned out to be, a cruise to the Caribbean with Royal Princess, which also is the best spring break so far. The Caribbean islands had not been high on my list and the only other time I had been there was a cruise to the Bahamas almost 10 years ago. Nice scenery is always desirable but a place is more interesting if it is also rich in history, beautiful architecture and cultures. While the Caribbean pales in some of those areas in comparison to Europe, it makes up with distinctively sunny, warm climate, gorgeous turquoise water and smooth beaches. Its beauty, if not as sophisticated or cultured, is warmingly pristine, unspoiled and pure.

Our seven day cruise with Royal Princess included port days at Princess Cay, Bahamas, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands and St Maarten/St Martin. If the latter two islands carried a bit more weight in my choosing this itinerary, all three port days proved to be equally delightful.

Princess Cay

The day we boarded Royal Princess at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it was rainy and gray. Luckily, the next morning we woke up to an absolutely gorgeous and exhilarating day at Princess Cay, Bahamas. Princess Cay is a resort located on the southern end of the island of Eleuthera and privately owned by Princess. It is designed to accommodate Princess passengers exclusively. Lunch buffet is served on the island for no extra charge, beach rentals, store purchases and drinks are purchased with cruise cards. I ran out of sun lotion way too sooner than I’d like it to be and was very happy to find one at a store on the resort, albeit a pricy one.

It is commercial but nonetheless a beautiful spot. Its stretch of beach opens up to a vast body of water that turns from turquoise near the shore to sapphire further where the ship berths. Many water activities are provided. We did snorkeling and all three of us loved it, absolutely loved it. We could have done snorkeling at the beach but we choose one that goes out to a reef further off the shore via a boat and it was a fantastic reef, wonderfully varied corals and a rich enough variety of fishes. It is an excursion for “experienced snorkeler”, which I am not, with only two other counts of snorkeling under my name, I however managed to make it very successful. The secret was a surf board, safely and skillfully “piloted” by my husband. Have you tried looking sideways when snorkeling? It produced such a broad and open views of the reef, it sent tingling excitement through the whole of me. My husband credited that to the board and I agreed.

Princess Cay 1

Princess Cay 1

Princess Cay 2

Princess Cay 2


Princess Cay 3

Princess Cay 3


IMG_2877rs

St Thomas

We know that Christopher Columbus sighted St Thomas on his second voyage to the New World late 15th century and that US bought it from Denmark in 1917 for $25millions in GOLD. Did you know that its first known settlement was established around 1500BC? Quite fascinating.

Our semi-guided tour of the island was essentially transportation along Skyline Drive to Magens Bay, with a couple of photo stops on the way overlooking St Thomas’s Capital Charlotte Amalie, its harbor and Magens Bay. After a two hour stop at Magens Bay we were taken to Blackbeard’s Castle up on a hill. Our driver left us free at that point. Admission to the castle was included and views atop the castle were fantastic. A tour guide/actor by Blackbeard’s enormous statue was our first stop there though and he greeted our group with an enthusiastic telling of Blackbeard’s story. A historic walking tour was also included and even though we were left on own to roam the path, it was well marked out and easy to figure out. In addition, there were staffs staged along the way, who, although all seemed quite lethargic, would answer questions if you asked. In contrast, the little old lady at Britannia House was friendly and livelier.

It sprinkled on and off during the walking tour, while the sun was out the entire time, but not a show stopper. Later, when we reached the waterfront town center at the foot of the hill, which is packed with stores, it turned totally gray and started to pour. After browsing through a few shops, we caught a taxi, an unique open-sided mini Safari bus, and returned to the ship.

Rainbow over St Thomas

Rainbow over St Thomas


Charlotte Amalie from Skyline Drive

Charlotte Amalie from Skyline Drive


Magens Bay

Magens Bay


View from Blackbeard Castle

View from Blackbeard Castle


Pirate or not, I am gonna drink on

Pirate or not, I am gonna drink on


View from Britannia House’s balcony

View from Britannia House’s balcony


View from Haagensen House’s balcony

View from Haagensen House’s balcony


Fantastic palm

Fantastic palm


Amber Waterfall

Amber Waterfall


99 Steps

99 Steps

St Maarteen /St Martin

This island is an interesting destination. You get two in one, Dutch St Maarteen, the southern part of the island, and French St Martin, the larger northern part of the island. This is an easy going island, it is convenient, easy to find taxis in the places we tourist go and US dollars are accepted all over the island. There is no fuss crossing the borders either, the only things you see at the borders are a couple of signs and you just go straight through it.

The day started with rain but thank goodness, it stopped in time, was decent in the morning and beautiful the rest of the day. Today we toured the island on our own since I had not find an excursion that fitted.

With three cruise ships docked abreast and all passengers going through the same piazza, the port at Philipsburg, St Maarteen was buzzing. Good thing it was organized and efficient. Taxi vans came in one after another. We shared one with several others heading towards the French Capital Marigot, a thirty minute or so ride at $7.50 pp. The views from Fort Louis in the heart of waterfront Marigot were fabulous, not to miss if you are in Marigot.

The destination after Marigot was Orient Bay. We were dropped off at the dividing point between the nude part of the beach and the rest of it. A quick photo of the of nude beach sign, we steered clear of it and continued on to the “normal” part of the beach. The sun so bright, the water so turquoise, the sand so fine, Orient Bay was breathtaking on that day. It is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever beheld. No wonder it is voted the top ten of the world.

Philipsburg’s waterfront town center is within walking distance of the port and packed with hotels, restaurants and name brand shops. There is also a beach right there. We walked through the area before returning to the ship. All was delightful but the highlight of the day was Orient Bay.

On Fort Louis overlooking Simpson Bay

On Fort Louis overlooking Simpson Bay


Orient Bay

Orient Bay


Fresh coconut juice and meat, yum yum

Fresh coconut juice and meat, yum yum


Ships Ahoy (From Philipsburg)

Ships Ahoy (From Philipsburg)


Philipsburg Waterfront

Philipsburg Waterfront

Sea days

And there were three and half of them. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale the night before and boarded Royal Princess about 2pm. The ship was christianed by Duchess of Cambridge merely one year ago and it is Princess’s “Flag Ship”, largest of the Princess ships. In any case, I could use one less sea day and visit one more island. But while at sea, we did the best with it. We did treasure hunt, winning a $50 onboard store certificate which we used to buy goodies like Rum Balls. I visited the most beautiful shop on board multiple times, the jewelry store, but decided against everything I tried on. We went to each and every one of the art auctions there were, got champagned and bought some art works. Between those and shows, movies, music, people watching, prancing around on formal nights and eating, lots of eating between breakfast, lunch, snack, afternoon tea and dinner, days slipped by, happily but all too quickly.

Piazza on board

Piazza on board


Skywalk hangs over edge of the ship

Skywalk hangs over edge of the ship


Skyline Deck

Skyline Deck


Art Auction

Art Auction


Snacks

Snacks


Lobster for dinner

Lobster for dinner


Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington


Scotch Egg at English Pub Lunch

Scotch Egg at English Pub Lunch

Bon Voyage wherever you are sailing and see you next time.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for this review of the caribbean islands! Looks like you enjoyed St-Martin/St-Maarten 🙂 *Check my blog about the Friendly island!*

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