A Caribbean Christmas
Every Christmas I say I’m going to get a away next Christmas but it doesn’t happen. 2017 was the year I was going to achieve it. We decided as a family (my Mum, Sister and Stepdad) to book an 11 day Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean for Christmas and New Year’s. Below is my day to day account of my holiday or vacation as they say in the America.
Day 1 – London Heathrow to Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The day is here and the excitement is finally kicking in. Our flight to Miami is at 9.40 so we have a very early start waking up at 4am. The flight is a lengthy 9hrs 40mins. It dragged; every time I looked at my watch I’m sure the time was going backwards instead of forwards.
We landed in Miami and picked up our transfers to the Courtyard Marriott in Aventura. There was so much traffic on route to the hotel and a car crashed into the side of the coach which was an additional delay. The fire brigade witnessed the accident and called the police who took an hour to come. Once the police came we could finally continue our journey to the hotel. The hotel was lovely with comfortable double beds that swallow you up. We arrived at the hotel dumped our suitcases, freshened up and went to the mall for some retail therapy. We decided to go to Sawgrass Mall which had a wider variety of shops compared to the Aventura Mall which was round the corner. I picked up a couple of outfits and my family bought trainers. By the end of the shopping trip we were all shattered and our beds were calling us.
Day 2 – Boarding the cruise ship
It’s cruise day. The coach to the cruise ship was coming at 12.45 so we thought we would quickly check out the Aventura Mall. The mall was smaller than Sawgrass Mills but we managed to grab some bargains at Victoria Secret and H&M.
The coach was delayed picking us up. Embarking on the ship was exciting. It was massive with a cinema, a theatre, several restaurants, a choice of swimming pools and jacuzzi’s, a gym, a spa/beauty salon and they even have a night club called Vortex. We were all staying on the 9th floor but our rooms were at different ends (my sister and I were sharing a room). Everyone on the ship were advised to go to deck 5 and stand in the designated area which was located on your room card for the test emergency drill. An alarm was activated and we were advised what to do in an emergency. This lasted about half an hour and then we were free to do what we pleased. We went to our rooms and our suitcases were outside our door. The room was basic but cosy with 2 twin beds, a small bathroom with a shower, a decent sized wardrobe, a fridge that felt like room temperature and a flat screen tv.
Day 3 – Cruising
I had an amazing sleep and I was ready for the day ahead. We went to the Windjammer Restaurant for breakfast which was buffet style. They had everything from eggs and bacon to porridge and stir fried rice. I could feel the pounds going on me just looking at the food. After breakfast we decided to go for a walk around the ship to explore. There was a wide choice of activities to participate in such as movie trivia and rock climbing. Mum and I watched ‘Going Out in Style’ in the cinema which was a funny and heartwarming film. To end the day we watched the sunset and relaxed in the Centrum where they played live music.
Day 4 – Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas
It’s Christmas and what a way to spend it then exploring the delightful island of St Thomas. We decided to book the ‘Scenic Harbour Cruise and Shopping Trip’ which was basically a water taxi from the cruise port to the market area which lasted 15-20 minutes. We could’ve just jumped in a taxi which costs $5 each way but we weren’t to know. It was very hot but it rained a couple of times throughout the day which was refreshing. The locals were friendly and I found a bar with free WiFi (yay!). I decided not to purchase WiFi on the boat as I wanted to have a break from my phone and would only use it when I found free WiFi on the islands which was rear.
Day 5 – Basseterre, St Kitts & Nevis
The day began with a panoramic drive of St Kitts. This entailed being driven around in a coach and the driver pointing out significant landmarks. We stopped at a stunning cottage called Palm Court Gardens Guest Cottage with an awesome view of the sea and cruise ships at the port. The next stop was a view overlooking the beach and hills. St Kitts is a small but beautiful island.
Day 6 – Castries, St Lucia
We booked a ‘Scenic Drive and Batik Creations Tour’ for St Lucia. When we arrived at the coach we were told the tour guide had called in sick so we had to make do with the booking staff. We stopped at a tourist shop which sold cushions, spices and souvenirs like magnets and key rings. I bought a magnet to add to my collection on my fridge. The next stop was a beach where we tried fried bread and salt fish which was delicious. A guy trying to sell me a coconut bag asked where my husband was and grabbed my hand and started singing I’m sexy and I know it. My sister found this hilarious. I declined the bag and made my escape to the coach. Once we got back to the cruise port my Mum’s friend Teresa was waiting with her son. She moved to St Lucia from England 4 years ago. She took us for lunch and we walked around the town exploring the markets and shopping malls. We got caught in the rain and had to run and find shelter. My Mum and Stepdad got bitten by ants whilst we found shelter under the trees. The rain cleared within minutes and we made our way back to the ship. Onto the next stop, Barbados.
Day 7 – Bridgetown, Barbados
Barbados was my favourite stop as we got to meet up with my Mum’s friend Sharon who has lived in Barbados for 7 years; she’s originally from England. We all jumped in her car and she drove us around taking us to the expensive Limegrove Mall and The Fisherman’s Pub for lunch. We got to try the local food ordering rice with lentils, baked chicken and mac and cheese pie. We visited the up and coming restaurant in town Nikki Beach which was swanky and I felt like a VIP. The highlight of the day was getting on a speedboat. It was amazing and I couldn’t stop laughing as the driver kept going faster and splashing us all with the waves. It was a day to remember and we didn’t want to leave Barbados. I wish we could’ve stayed for a couple of days but we’re planning to come back next year. We visited Barbados a few years back but this year was different. Until next year Barbados.
Day 8 – St George’s, Grenada
We didn’t book any trips in Grenada as we thought we would do our own thing. We started off the day with breakfast then relaxed in the jacuzzi which was empty as most people had departed the cruise ship. It was cloudy and overcast but humid with temperatures of 28 degrees. As soon as you enter the cruise terminal shops you are bombarded with people asking if you want a taxi. There were several shops selling alcohol and souvenirs inside the shopping complex. There were chairs with tourists sitting down glued to the phone using the paid WiFi. We walked outside on the streets and looked at the different market stalls. I bought some colourful tea towels and another magnet to add to the collection. The visit was short and sweet. I will have to visit Grenada again to explore the island and see what treasures they have. The next and final stop is Antigua tomorrow.
Day 9 – St Johns, Antigua
Today was a great day. We were given a tour of the island for only $20 each. The driver was friendly and stopped at some amazing picture risqué locations. Antigua is a beautiful island with friendly and welcoming people. We stopped to look at some breathtaking harbours and beaches with clear blue sea. There are a variety of posh and modern hotels such as Tamarind Hills Hotel sophisticated and located on the beach. The largest hotel on the island is Jolly Reach Resort which was the last stop of the day. We had the opportunity to go on the beach have lunch (jerk chicken with rice and peas; delicious).
Day 10 – At Sea
It’s New Year’s Eve. There are a variety of New Year’s parties to choose from chilled music on deck 13 to Latina music on deck 11. The dinner in Reflections Restaurant was delicious and we were all given Happy New Year party favours. I had Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli for starters, Filet mignon with Roasted Potatoes and Red Velvet Cheesecake for dessert. We started off the festivities on deck 4 where we counted down to Midnight and an array of colourful balloons were dropped from the top deck. Everyone hugged and cheered with their complimentary glass of champagne. Next stop was deck 11 where the party was well on the way. The DJ played a mixture of current hits, latin music and reggae. Mum and I retired at 2 and left the others to enjoy.
Day 11 – At Sea
Happy New Year! It’s the last day on the cruise. Today was a day of relaxing and packing. After breakfast the Cruise Director hosted a Flag’s Parade which represented all the Crew Members countries. It was such a great atmosphere and all the guests cheered their countries. The countries raised from Moldova to Thailand. The top country was the Philippines with over 200 crew members.
Day 12 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Rain, rain and more rain; this is the perfect time to leave. It was a long day as our flight wasn’t until 17:35 and we arrived at the airport after 12. I was saved by a Dulce De Leche doughnut from Dunkin’ Doughnuts and I was able to use my mobile data as it’s part of my mobile tariff. I used this time to catch up with all my messages and come back to reality.
Day 13 – London, UK
Home Sweet Home. It’s such a nice feeling to get into my own bed. Also, to have a bath as we only had a shower on the cruise. The turbulence on the flight was crazy. I felt like I was on an amusement park simulator ride. The lady next to me was scared but I distracted myself by watching the new Spiderman movie.
Overall, I had an incredible vacation. The cruise ship was great but I was happy to get off; 11 days was more than enough. I feel that Royal Caribbean Cruises are more for the older generations. I prefer Carnival Cruises as they are aimed at the younger generation and are more lively.
I hope you enjoyed.