We are back from our recent 10 day voyage to the Southern Caribbean, onboard Royal Princess. Departing on November 30, 2017, our ship called at 6 ports with 3 days at sea. Here are some of the highlights of the destinations we visited, plus some thoughts on the ship.
Princess Cays, Bahamas
Princess Cays is a beautiful private resort owned by Princess Cruises, and was the first port on our journey. A short tender ride from the ship will take you to a lovely island with an abundance of free beach chairs, a nice white sandy beach with clear water, plus an included island BBQ with a variety of items and fresh fruit – they were even able to cater to a vegetarian request! There was also bar service available, where you can use your cruise card to pay. For those looking for some extra fun, they had water sports rentals available, or for peace and quiet private cabanas were offered for a fee.
We loved this stop, and it was an excellent way to begin our vacation. Next visit we would probably bring some water shoes, as parts of the water have sharp rocks and coral that can hurt when you step on them.
A few months prior to our cruise, St. Thomas was ravaged by a category five hurricane. Although there is still evidence of some destruction, the island is mostly ready to receive tourists, with the shopping areas and most businesses re-opened. We took this opportunity to visit Magen’s Bay, rated as one of the top beaches in the world. Beautiful white sand and clear water, plus no developments in sight, we can see why this rates as one of the best, even after Hurricane Irma. This was our third time in St. Thomas, and it still is our of our favourite Caribbean destinations.
When we had originally booked this itinerary, it included Dominica, however due to unfortunate hurricane damage, Dominica was not able to receive our ship and was replaced by a stop at nearby Martinique. We had both read negative reviews of this port on Facebook and other social media sites, however once we stepped off the ship, we were greeted by lovely local music and dancers. There were also tour guides offering free maps and assistance to cruise passengers. We decided to take a walk around town and found it to have a very French Riviera type feel, with beautiful architecture and a wonderful historic Cathedral a short distance from the ship. It is a French speaking island, and most shops only accept Euros, with a few tourist souvenir shops taking US dollars. Along the pier, close to the ship, there was a ferry service being provided to a beach across the bay. $7 US dollars was the return fare, and it was great for some excellent views of the town, the bay and our ship. The beach was not that impressive, especially after being at Magen’s Bay and Princess Cays earlier in the week, so we took the next ferry back to port, and explored the town a little more. It was overall a nice day, and we both learned not to worry too much about what online reviews say, it’s best just to go and create your own experience. Look for a future post, featuring more about this port!
Living in Toronto, Canada we both have come in contact with people who immigrated from Grenada. They are a very friendly and warm people and have nothing but good things to say about their former home. Needless to say, we were both looking forward to this stop and what it had to offer. Grenada was an island full of beautiful lush vegetation and greenery. We booked a river tubing excursion on board the ship, and as the bus took us away from the port and town, we couldn’t help but notice how spotlessly clean the island was. Even as we got further into the countryside, not one trace of garbage and all the brush at the side of the road was kept neatly trimmed, even the curbs were painted in the country’s colours! The river tubing was a fantastic experience, a good way to experience the rainforest, and rainforest it was!, as we got soaked in a couple of downpours – we didn’t mind at all! The only negative aspect was our ship left port at 1:30 in the afternoon, so we didn’t get time to visit Grand Anse beach, we will just have to do this on another visit.
Having visited Aruba and Curacao, part of the “ABC” islands, on previous cruises, we were looking to complete that and visit Bonaire. Luckily this cruise provided that opportunity. We found Bonaire to be similar to her sister islands in terms of climate and terrain, however, much less commercialised. The shops in town were mostly family and locally run businesses, which was a nice change from Aruba and Curacao. We booked a bike ride excursion off the ship, which took us along the coast line and gave the chance to get different photos along the shore. We also rode by a flamingo preserve and were challenged with some hills and climbs with the bikes. After consuming all those delicious extra calories on board, this was a great way to get some fun exercise and learn a few things along the way. We would definitely visit Bonaire again, and perhaps check out one of their beaches, it was some of the clearest water we’ve ever seen anywhere!
This was our second visit to Curacao, as we visited there on the Carnival Splendor last year. Always a nice destination with it’s European vibe and plenty to do within walking distance of the ship. We found fellow passengers who were looking for a beach and got together and hopped in a cab and spent the morning and early afternoon at the Blue Bay Beach resort. $60 U.S. dollars between the 8 of us for the cab, plus $8 dollars each entrance fee, not a bad deal at all. It was a fantastic private resort for swimming, snorkelling or just enjoying the nice Caribbean sun. Before heading back to the ship, we took a stroll around town to pick up some souvenirs and took some photos with the CURACAO sign. This was our last port, our ship would then spend two days at sea returning to Fort Lauderdale.
We had previously cruised on Royal Princess to the Mediterranean a few years back and it being a port intensive cruise, didn’t have much time to actually enjoy the vessel to it’s fullest. This cruise had 3 days at sea in total, so it was a good chance to explore and enjoy the ship.
As we have come to expect with Princess Cruises, the service and food were phenomenal. Very much enjoyed such features as the Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the huge World Fresh Marketplace buffet, which provided many different foods from all over the world. “The Piazza”, the ship’s atrium, was always a happening place and usually had some sort of live music, demonstration or art auction going on. Our balcony cabin was clean, a little on the small side, but good enough for the two of us.
The only thing that didn’t satisfy us this cruise, was the entertainment selection in the Princess Theatre, the ship’s main show venue. For a ten day voyage, three production shows were offered, which became two, as one was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Some of the guest comedians and musical acts brought on we felt would have been better suited to one of the ship’s smaller lounges, as we, along with some fellow guests, didn’t find them that entertaining. However, the ship’s party band was loads of fun, as was the Disco Deck party held one evening on board, which in a way made up for some of the shortcomings of the Princess Theatre.
We hope you enjoyed this review of the cruise. To enjoy the video of our journey, just watch below!
So concludes another cruise adventure with Chris and Brad – Until we sail again!