- Created: January 14, 2019 2:21 pm
- Last updated: June 21, 2021 4:58 am
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1. New York
This was our second cruise and also our second cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. We were so excited to be back onboard and to escape winter for an extended cruise to the Caribbean. It was a beastly cold day and we hit the sail away party on deck in full winter gear.
2. San Juan, Puerto Rico
The ship arrived on time in PR at 3 pm but there were issues with clearance with the local authorities so everybody disembark quite late. This was irritating since we were already not going have much daytime to explore Puerto Rico.
We had booked one of the ship excursion around San Juan and the island. We got on a small bus and started driving past Old Town San Juan’s 17th century architecture and historic buildings. We visited Fort San Cristóbal, the biggest fortification built by the Spaniards in the New World. We strolled around the grounds and saw its Main Plaza, “Garitas” watchtowers and authentic mortor balls. The view from the fortification over the ocean was lovely. We continued the guided tour to the New City, including the Condado District, filled with high-rise condos and luxury resorts. We also stopped at the Capitol Building and the famous Plaza Colón for photos. San Juan is a busy bustling town and we enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. We also drove to one of the islands beautiful beaches which was a nice spot to witness the sunset from. Overall we liked Puerto Rico but compared to other Caribbean islands and including the ones on this cruise it was our least favorite.
3. St. Thomas, USVI
We woke up and realized that we had already reached St. Thomas.
Once we disembarked in Charlotte Amalie we took one of the local open busses. We took a scenic ride along Skyline Drive up to St. Thomas' highest peak, Mountain Top, where it offers breathtaking views of Charlotte Amalie Harbour, the Caribbean Sea, the British Virgin Islands and Magen’s Bay, rated by many travel magazines as one of the top ten beaches in the world. We stayed there by the crystalline waters for 2 hours of sun and fun.
We took the same local transportation back to the ship to begin our ship-booked tour to St. John, another one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. We boarded a smaller boat and began the narrated journey to St. John, a fascinating island. Over 60% of its territory is pristine national park and cannot be built on commercially. Though it is the smallest of the three U.S Virgin Islands, St. John's unspoiled beauty is perhaps the greatest found anywhere in the Caribbean. It took our breath away.
Upon arrival in the town of Cruz Bay we Hoppes off the boat and boarded a vehicle for a scenic drive to Trunk Bay. We made three photo stops along the way- these were some of the most incredible views we’ve ever seen. Think of a heavily edited postcard or professionally produced travel guide, only that it is real and right in front of you. We arrived at Trunk Bay and were blown away: it is without doubt the most beautiful beach we had ever been to or have been at since. Secluded and perfectly serene, over a quarter mile of beautiful powdery white sand, untouched vegetation, towering coconut palms and the kind of crystalline blue-green waters and set up I thought you’d rather find in south east Asia.
Snorkeling was part of the tour but we were so blown away by the beauty of Trunk Bay that we decided to skip it and just sit on the beach, play in the water and use the snorkeling equipment for ourselves rather than following the trail.
If you go to the USVI I strongly recommend that you visit St. John - it’s extraordinary and absolutely worth the extra effort to make the trip.
4. Philippsburg, St. Maarten
I was born and bread in the West Indies and was curious to visit this Dutch / French Island. Turns out that despite what the legacy of colonialism may suggest this island is very much an English-speaking Caribbean island made up of a West Indian population.
We had booked a short tour through the ship. Once we disembarked in Philippsburg, the capital of the Dutch side we boarded a bus and met our guide. She was lovely, warm and hilarious. Our bus drove through the countryside, past the Great Salt Pond, through the French side’s capital of Marigot with its quaint charm, before stopping at one of the islands most popular beaches: Orient Bay. We got some rum punch from our fantastic guide and hung out on the beach for a few hours. It’s a gorgeous beach with crystal blue water and plenty activity. We didn’t take the ride back to the ship but instead jumped on a taxi to check out the famous Maho beach.
Maho beach on the Dutch side of the island is located right next to an airport and known for all the low-flying airliners, which fly insanely close to the ground, so much that people can actually be blown into the water because of the jet blast (or that’s at least what the local government signs warn you about).
Local Princess Juliana International Airport is not only really close to the beach, but also has an unusually short runway of only 7,150 feet (2180 meters). In order to complete a smooth landing, the aircraft gets as close to the beginning of the runway as possible – and ends up flying right over the heads of eager tourists, directing their cameras towards the impressive sight. It’s an incredible experience and we had a great time chilling at the beach bar and waiting for the big Airbus 380 to arrive.
The plane spotting at Maho Beach has become so popular that the local residents have developed a whole system around it: the beach bar owners put up boards with timetables of arrivals and departures; one of the bars even broadcasts real-time radio transmissions between the airport’s control tower and and the aircraft. A really fun and unique experience.
5. Castries, St. Lucia
My wife and I had been particularly excited to go to St. Lucia so we booked the 6.5 hours Soufriere by Land and Sea Tour. We gathered by the bus and met our tour guides who were phenomenal- professional, personable and fun.
We left the pier for a scenic drive to the Marigot Bay viewpoint. Great view! We continued through the fishing village of Anse la Raye, with a brief stop at Horizons offering views of the island's west coastline and lush tropical landscape. We stopped at a lovely small shop selling local items and snacks like rum, banana ketchup, Accras and Bakes. After that we drove through the town of Soufriere with the magnificent Pitons, the island most famous landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Side. It was a truly breathtaking sight. We drove to Toraille Waterfall and took a cool dip in this cascading 50 foot waterfall. Shortly after we reached the enchanting Morne Coubaril Estate, a 17th century plantation. It’s a working estate, growing cocoa, coconuts and manioc, is open to tourists who want to see traditional agriculture methods or ride horses around the 250 acre property. Guides showed us how coconuts are opened, roasted and sent off to be made into margarine, soaps, oil and animal feed. Cocoa is fermented, dried on racks in the sun, oiled, polished through the art of dancing on them, crushed and then formed into chocolate sticks. Manioc roots are grated, squeezed of excess water, dried over a fire and turned into farina and tapioca pudding also called kassava. The grounds also house a re-creation of a farm worker’s village.
After our guided tour we enjoyed a fantastic Creole buffet lunch on site. After the plantation the bus dropped us at the Soufriere docks and we boarded our catamaran for a cruise along the rugged west coast. We stopped at one of the secluded bays, hopped of the boat and took a swim to the beach. We had a great time on the catamaran watching the scenery and dancing to soca music with the tour guide ladies. We cruised through Marigot Bay before returning to your ship.
6. Bridgetown, Barbados
Before arriving in Bridgetown I had arranged to meet up with an old friend from Trinidad and Tobago who’s been living in Barbados for many years. She picked us up from the cruise terminal and drove us all over the island. Always best to experience a destination with someone local!
First we drove to the historic center of Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and saw the the cultural and historical sights in and around Bridgetown like Nelson's Statue, Parliament Building, The Old Synagogue, and St. Michael's Cathedral.
After that we took a stroll on the gorgeous Barbados Boardwalk. Situated less than 4 miles south of Bridgetown, this mile-long coastal boardwalk connects Accra and Camelot beaches. In addition to the scenic ocean vistas, turtles and crabs are known to visit the adjacent waters. Barbados has picture perfect beaches! After a brief tropical rain shower we stopped at the side of the road and bought a fresh coconut which my wife drank. We drove to the Concorde and took the official tour to visit this retired supersonic plane.
Afterwards my friend drove us to Crane Resort, a luxury beach resort set on the incredible Crane Beach. We had lunch at their L’Azure Restaurant which serves a traditional Bajan Lunch Buffet with flying fish, coucou, fish cakes and sweet bread. The restaurant also has phenomenal views of the Atlantic Ocean and Crane Beach. We hung out there after lunch and enjoyed the coral shore beaches of fine white sand stretch along a blue-green sea.
7. Basseterre, St. Kitts
Today was out 3rd Wedding Anniversary so we were looking forward to spending a great day in the islands.
We had booked a 4x4 excursion taking us all over St. Kitts. We boarded the vehicle the pier and travelled inland, through villages and then up into cool mountain rainforests. We drove through the lush rainforest with its exotic tropical flora and fauna. Unfortunately we never saw any of the green monkeys that St. Kitts is famous for. We stopped at a private mountain top property, 1,000 feet above sea level, and enjoy panoramic views over the island’s rainforest and quilted coastline. From there we saw the Kittian capital Basseterre and sister island Nevis. We got back onto the vehicles and continued the drive through the mountains to the opposite side of the island through quaint villages and the countryside of St. Kitts. We drove along the windswept Atlantic coastline and headed towards the beach. We stayed here and relaxed for a few hours before heading back to the port. St. Kitts has a lot of dramatic scenery - it’s not the traditional Caribbean island and fascinatingly unique. We spend a nice day relaxing which ended with a great anniversary dinner back on board.
8. New York
It was really hard to come back home from such an amazing trip. NYC is great but was freezing when we returned. We would have loved to stay down south for a bit longer