As a newly retired teacher, I was able to take a vacation for the first time in the month of January. My college age daughter was on her winter break and we took this opportunity to travel to the Caribbean because we have a mutual disdain of winter, especially the month of January. Our cruise started on January 4th, but we went to Puerto Rico for a couple of days to get a head start on some sun. January 2nd was a perfect day because that was when Christmas break was over and teachers and students returned to school, making it bittersweet.
My daughter had us on a 5AM flight which I thought was kind of crazy, but we were checked in and on the beach before 11AM. The funny thing is the first thing we did was order Coronas. The beach was great and the hotel still had up all their Christmas decorations which was a very different experience for me.
Our cruise started early on the 4th and it was like we had an extra day at sea, but we were docked. It didn’t matter at all that bon voyage wasn’t until 8PM, we were all in on Day 1 festivities.
Day 2 had us in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We chose the Juanillo Beach excursion which turned out to be breathtaking. The beach had the white powdery sand that I love, and I couldn’t stop talking about how great the sand was the entire excursion. The water was calm and a perfect blue too. There was a bar that had swings as seats which everyone there just had to try and take pics on. Margaritas and rum punch were my chosen drink here which made the day even better. I joined in for some volleyball which was fun and kind of made me feel pretty youthful for a retiree. There was a mixup with the pickup time and tendering was kind of shaky, but I tend to always remember the positive.
We went to Secret Sands Beach in St. Thomas on Day 3. We probably should have chosen the Magens Bay Excursion, but we had a good time. The beach was quiet and pretty small as its name suggests. We were provided with chairs, rum punch, and a great host. It did rain on and off a bit but we still enjoyed the water and it was definitely better than winter in New York. Our guide took us to some roadside shops and we got to take a picture with a donkey we had seen the last time in St. Thomas. We don’t know his name, but we call him Banjo. All in all we had a great day and it contributed to one of my retirement goals to see one beach at a time.
We switched it up in Martinique on Day 4 and skipped the beach. We did some local shopping and then went on a rainforest hike excursion. We like to do one hiking excursion on every trip we take, and you never really know what to expect. Well, we hit the jackpot on this hike! Our guide was a seasoned local who was really into his job. He really took the time to point out the unusual way some of the plants grew. He share stories from his home about the different wood like how mahogany is used. He pointed out the unique beauty of the forest that you may not see as a casual visitor.
The best part though was that the hike was pretty challenging, not just a stroll through the woods. Our guide really took pride in his country and showed us how to eat fruit right off the tree and took us to a local church on the way back to our ship. It was a really great day! Like I said, you never know what to expect on these hiking excursions.
Back to the beach on Day 5. This time we were in St. Lucia. We had been there for a week vacation and saw all the big highlights before, and since it was January we chose the Reduit Beach Excursion. Shopping and going to the beach are 2 things my daughter and I really enjoy so that was our plan for the day. They had some great shopping right at the port and once again it was great to see how different cultures decorate their Christmas trees. Reduit Beach was my least favorite excursion. The beach was super small and crowded, and the ocean waves flooded the entire beach. The people at the bar weren’t very kind when I tried to redeem my drink tickets, and sent me on an adventure to figure out how exactly I could do that. Eventually we figured it out, it was a beach in January, but not the greatest experience. The shopping was much better.
We went Beach Hopping on Day 6 in Barbados. This was a fun time and a place I would go back to and spend a week. This was an open air bus ride that was run by two fun guys who knew how to have a good time. The island music was playing as we learned about the history of Barbados and hopped from beach to beach in a 4 hour period. The rum punch was flowing too as we soaked up the sun on Worthington, Rockly, and Carlisle Bay’s Pebble Beach.
The bus ride back was very festive thanks to our great guide who really did know how to give people a good time. It was fun learning about the island sayings and seeing and hearing about the island. One beach was nicer than the next and it was a really laid back feel, and upbeat at the same time. I can see an all inclusive Barbados vacation in my future.
Day 7 was a Day at sea which my daughter and I enjoy very much. We love the lazy days by the pool watching all the events and activities organized by the pool. We really like everything about cruising. We like how we were able to go to 6 different islands in a weeks time. We like not worrying about how to get to and from places, and we love dressing up which you get to do if you are on a Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Cruising is fun and I hope that the cruise industry bounces back quickly from this ordeal. We love waking up each day and heading out to take photos and set out for new adventures. I have been on many cruises and I can say first hand that there’s always workers walking around and cleaning surfaces. People are always encouraged and reminded to wash their hands and hand sanitizer is available everywhere. There are workers whose job it is to distribute hand sanitizer as you enter food areas and when you embark on the ship. I know cruising is not for everyone, but there’s many a people like me rooting for their recovery!