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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Southern Caribbean Cruise: Departing and Tortola

I am finally getting around to writing about our Southern Caribbean Cruise from the middle of February! What can I say... travel posts are more work due to all the pictures and the story but better late than never :)

We went on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas departing from San Juan, PR on Feb 11 with our trusty travel partners/family, Keith and Megan (Eric's brother and his wife). Eric and I flew down to San Juan on the 10th originally planning for a day before the cruise and a buffer for travel. Unfortunately I ended up coming down with a cold a couple days before we left so we didn't do anything in San Juan other than rest but fortunately I did not let having a cold ruin our trip at all.

Here was the schedule for our cruise:
Feb 11 Depart from San Juan
Feb 12 Tortola BVI
Feb 13 St Maarten
Feb 14 St Kitts
Feb 15 Dominica
Feb 16 Barbados
Feb 17 Cruising
Feb 18 Disembark in San Juan

Eric and I arrived at the ship right after noon on that Saturday and were on the ship less than 20 minutes later with our ship cards and all.

The rooms weren't ready just yet so we went and had lunch in the buffet area called the Windjammer.

out the window of where we ate lunch

Then we went back to the room to relax and unpack and our 1 large suitcase arrived shortly after.

Once Keith and Megan arrived later that afternoon we did some exploring around the ship which was good to figure out where everything was and enjoy the serenade. Then it was about time for dinner.

We did My Time Dining which is a really nice option and usually you can just tell them your time for the next night as you leave the dining room but since there was a large group of like 500 on our ship as part of a company rewards program they must have booked all the MTD slots around 7pm so our options were usually either 6:30 or 8. Not a big deal since those are better than 6 or 8:30 (first and second seating times) but now we know how it really works. Next time I will book them all in advance and just change them later if needed.

Eric's chocolate mousse dessert

We then had the muster drill but sadly they don't make you wear your life jacket for it so we didn't get any fun life jacket pictures.

The ship left around 8:30ish (it was a little late leaving) so we went up to the highest deck on the front of the ship and sat in lounge chairs enjoying sail away.

One of the forts all lit up

The other fort which was not as well lit and you can see a cruise ship that left right before us in the distance.

Sunday was Tortola. I had researched (YES I did lots of research for this vacation too just like Italy since being better informed really pays off making the best of your time and money based on your interests thank you cruisecritic) our options and we decided on a trip to the Baths in Virgin Gorda on our own which many said was easy to do.

Shortly after ship docking, we walked to the Tortola ferry dock to purchase round trip ferry tickets on Speedy's ferry. It included a round trip open van ride to the Baths upon ferry arrival in Virgin Gorda. The ferry trip was around 30 minutes and 10 minute taxi ride.

At the Baths we wandered down through many rocks on this trail. We had read comments about it being wet and cave like which did not match what we saw.

Once we got down through that trail there was the beach, bathrooms, and a little restaurant. We saw a sign to some more rocks that said to Cave and Devil's Bay and decided to check that out since the first trail was a bit of a disappointment.

Well this certainly was not a disappointment and must have been the cavernous waters we read about so don't be turned off by the first little trail to get to this. We heard a guide from a group that was there explain that this is where a photo shoot led to Tyra Banks really making a name for herself. With the rocks and water it would be a gorgeous but difficult place for a shoot with the mixed dark and bright lighting due to the caves.

 It was beautiful and magnificent to see how the rocks had formed and how there were ways to get through albeit hunched at times back out to the beach but further down with many more rocks to climb on.

Megan and I climbed up on some rocks and sat and enjoyed the ocean view while the boys did a little snorkeling. They said there wasn't a ton to see there and the rocks made it harder. Later we went back to the beach/restaurant area to sit in the shade and have some snacks.

Knowing what time our ferry back was (there are only a couple of ferry trips each day) we left time to hike back up to the road and catch the taxi van back and board the ferry. We arrived back in Tortola around 2 and headed to the Windjammer for a late lunch.

Sunday night was one of the formal nights so we got all dressed up for our dinner in the dining room.  Even with MTD you usually get the same server each night which is nice. Ours was okay, not the easiest to understand or talk to. Before dinner we took a ton of picture of course.

This is Eric's "I'm so hungry" pose while I was adjusting camera settings.

Of course we took plenty of posed shots but we really got some great candid ones that I think are so cute.

And I think this is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip since it has all 4 of us looking fabulous... as I was trying to set up my camera to do the timer, a nice man offered to take it instead :)

I will leave you with a couple of food shots from dinner. We always ended up with great appetizers and meals but the desserts really could have stepped it up a notch. There were a couple of good ones but the rest were not good and few of those were even really bad. If only they had offered chocolate lava cake every night!

Next up will be St. Maarten and then St. Kitts!

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