I’ve made quite a few stops in the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean cruises. At this point I have only spent short days at each of these islands, so I’ve combined them here and commented only on the highlights. Aruba is in the Caribbean as well, of course, but I’ve spent enough time there that I’ve dedicated a separate blog here.
There’s nothing like a vacation in the caribbean. The sand and the water are so pure. The homes and businesses are colorful and bright.
I’ve only been to Puerto Rico for day trips via cruises. The short time that I have spent there was amazing – it is a truly beautiful island.
You HAVE to venture into the rain forest. It is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see. From weirdly entwined branches to colorful and exotic birds and flora, you’ll feel like you’re in Narnia.
Check out Old San Juan for cute little souvenir shops and American designer shops.
I didn’t spend much time on St. Kitts. What you’ll notice quickly, especially if you’re tackling the Caribbean via cruise ship, is that most of the islands look very similar. You’ll step off the boat (or leave your hotel) and walk into a shopping mecca, one building more vibrant than the next. You’ll take pictures of the rolling hills and/or volcanoes in the background and you’ll buy useless junk from the souvenir shops and t-shirts and nail polish that change color in the sun.
Nevis, however, is an island of its own. Cruise ships won’t dock there, but you can take small boats from St. Kitts. As beautiful as St. Kitts is, I recommend spending your time in Nevis if you only have a short time before your ship leaves. From what I have found, the best way to experience Nevis is through a bus tour. We picked a Royal Caribbean excursion that took us basically all around the island, but the highlight was a natural hot spring (that thing was a natural hot tub – SO COOL). Our tour guide explained the history of everything on the island. As an American, it’s crazy how different the history of a small island is from our 50 states.
The first time I went to St. Thomas, I only had a few hours off the ship. My family and I mostly walked around the shops, but the one really cool thing we did was this skyride. At first glance, you might think it’s a tourist trap, but the view from the top is like nothing you will have ever seen. Plus, there’s a whole little village up there!
The second time I was there, my family and I did (another) cruise excursion bus tour to Magen’s Bay beach. The beach was obviously the highlight and we spent a few hours there, but the drive to and from the beach is almost better than the actual thing. At one point, we reached the high top of the mountain and looked down onto the beach – we saw a rainbow! Even without the rainbow, though, just – wow! A must see.
St Martin/St. Marteen
St. Martin is unique because as small as it is, it is actually separated into two separate territories. One is dutch-owned (St. Maarten), and the other is French (St. Martin).
As with the others, the duty-free shopping brings in most of their business, and the water is as clear-blue as it could possibly get. You can see your feet in the water, which might not be saying much coming from an Atlantic girl, I don’t know.
Curacao might be my favorite. You feel like you’re on the set of an animated Disney movie. There is color everywhere. There are fresh fruit stands and little tents where people sell sun hats and homemade baby clothes, and everything just seems so happy and right.
The Queen Emma Bridge between sections of the island capitol of Willemstad moves, so that’s fun to watch, but definitely cross over and take some pictures while it’s stationary.