Let’s start with the highlights, shall we? Copious amounts of bagels and lox for breakfast, check. Friendly monkeys eating apples on my shoulder, check. Bathing in glorious volcanic mud baths, check. Making friends (not) with jellyfish in Antigua, check. Riding on a Spanish Galleon to a UNESCO World Heritage site, check… Y’ALL. That’s just the beginning. I cannot say enough good things about our time on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas and the Southern Caribbean islands we visited! (Minus the jellyfish incident, more on that later).
First off. if you’re wondering if a cruise is for you, I’ll save that for another post and just go ahead and get to the bottom of my opinion – DO IT. Unless you hate delicious food, gorgeous views, hassle free travel, and having your every whim taken care of, you will not regret cruising! And the Adventure of the Seas is an INCREDIBLE boat to try it out on. From ice skating to rock climbing, surfing and swimming on the ship, playing mini golf, hilarious trivia games, all the way to guided behind the scenes tours and seriously funny comedy shows and entertainment – you will. never. be. bored. Plus, with such a big boat, there’s plenty of quiet places and spaces for you to simply chill out – like the adults only Solarium pool (quiet and comfy) or the spacious library, if your room starts feeling a little cramped.
Hubs and I tried a little bit of everything and managed to feel like we had a well rounded trip with plenty of relaxation plus endless fun. When we weren’t enjoying the amazing meals and entertainment on board, we were island hopping! Over the course of 7 days, we visited St Maarten, St Kitts, St Lucia, Antigua, and Barbados (plus a few extra days in Puerto Rico, where the ship departs from!) Each island is unique and breathtakingly beautiful in it’s own way. St Maarten has two countries peacefully coexisting on the island, St Lucia offers the World Heritage UNESCO Piton Mountains and volcano, Barbados has endless beaches and St Kitts has incredible food! Please note, the only reason I’m not raving about Antigua is because I’ve got a vendetta against a certain jellyfish who decided that I was in his way. I managed to live at the beach my entire life and avoid getting stung by jellyfish – then Antigua decided to introduce me just for the heck of it.
I digress – every island was incredibly beautiful and absolutely worth a day exploring. Here are a few of my favorite things at each one:
The Maho Beach experience. You know that video clip that floats around on YouTube and Facebook, where an airplane looks like it’s landing 10 feet above sunbathers heads and right at the edge of the ocean? Not photoshopped. Yes, even you can stand dangerously close to an active runway while peering out at a gorgeous, seemingly harmless sea of blue. I was nervous about Maho Airport (especially since there was a fatality with one tourist just a week before) but as long as you stay clear of the areas clearly marked “danger zone”, all in all it is a really fun and (mostly) safe experience!
Our day in Antigua was overcast, a bit gray, and we were “winging” it for the day without a planned excursion through the cruise line. We took a taxi over to a private beach (which was right next to the Sandals Antigua) and though it really was beautiful, most of my memory of that day is overshadowed by the jellyfish incident (see beginning of post). So. I’m going to leave it at that. Beautiful place, painful memories!!!
St Kitts is a bit more rugged and less developed than St Maarten was so we had a tough time choosing what to do; plus, we wanted to be sure it’d be memorable since the day we were visiting there was actually our one-year anniversary! So, we went with what we know best – food! We did a Caribbean Cooks tour at the Grandview Plantation House. Once upon a time, it was a sugar plantation that stood through hurricanes and fires and was left abandoned. However, some entrepeneurial spirits put the time, love and work into rebuilding and restoring this incredible Caribbean estate. After a guided tour and stories about the home, we got to watch a live cooking demo and then enjoy the yummy results! On the way back, I got to stop for a photo op with the famous monkeys that live on the island and are ridiculously friendly. After the photo, I realized it was wearing a diaper. Which at first creeped me out, but after I considered the alternative and heard some other folk’s stories, I was thankful the owner planned ahead! Plus, it really did make the monkey extra cute ;-)
This day was picture perfect and definitely postcard worthy. It was the Hubs favorite island of them all and who could blame him? Literally endless beaches, pink sand, crystal clear water, yummy food, and fun activities abound. We taxi’d over to a little beach/recreational area that had a restaurant and changing rooms, and rented chairs with an umbrella for a super relaxing day. We also booked a little trip on a catamaran out onto the ocean, right off the beach, to swim with sea turtles and go snorkeling! Barbados is a perfect place to just wing it and ask a local to take you to a pretty beach. Just be sure to pick a driver/company that is reputable, gives you their number, and has an established relationship with the beach/location they’ll be taking you to.
By far, my favorite island of the entire trip. I’ve been wanting to visit St Lucia ever since I first came across a photo of the majestic Pitons on a Pinterest travel board years ago. We sailed on a Spanish Galleon complete with “pirates” all the way to Soufrierre, where a tour guide drove us through (yes, through) the Pitons volcanic area, and let us take a dip in the world famous thermal mud baths! While I didn’t get any pictures of us in the hot springs, we did capture a few of some unsuspecting souls later as we stood from a bridge overlooking the area. I will say, if you’re going – prepare yourself. Seriously. That water is SO hot (I know you’re thinking, duh, Ashley it’s a volcano) but I’m serious – the guides said it wasn’t above boiling but I promise you it was. Essentially, you dip into this EXTREMELY hot bath before going over to the mud area and rubbing mud all over your skin. The mud is known for it’s healing minerals and skin softening power.! Then, you stand in the sun and let it “bake”. Y’all. After cooking like a lobster in the first water dip, putting mud all over myself, and going into the hot spring one last time to rinse it off – I’m not sure if the minerals made my skin softer, or if the volcanic water just literally melted off my outermost layer of skin!!! Either way, though a bit uncomfortable, it was a really unique experience. On our trip back from Soufrierre aboard the Spanish Galleon, the ship stopped so we could take a dip in the gorgeous blue ocean. Jumping off the side of a boat from the section that once held cannons? An experience you cannot miss!
And finally – once you’ve hopped through all of these gorgeous islands, a day of rest on the ship comes just in time. We spent the day exploring different parts of the ship, swimming in the pool, and taking a tour through the galley and learning how they manage to feed thousands of people every day! (Plus, a yummy brunch afterward, too!)
I know this has to sound like a sponsored review or post – but it’s not. These are just my takeaways, my opinions and my recap of what was an amazing trip that I’m happy to share with others!
Do you have a favorite cruise ship, cruise line or itinerary? I’d love to hear about it below in the comments!
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