Excited To Be Back Caribbean Cruising In 2021
After a long break from cruising, we are excited to be back Caribbean cruising in 2021. Albeit, we squeezed this trip in at the last minute in December. A fun way to wrap up our travel for 2021.
This Caribbean cruise leaves from Miami and takes us back to some of our favourite Eastern Caribbean Islands – St Barts, St Maarten, St Kitts and St Lucia. We return for a day in San Juan in Puerto Rico. And we finish with a new stop at the Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.
We booked some fun excursions in advance. And are looking forward to enjoying time onboard the Oceania Cruises Riviera. We know we will have no trouble filling our 10 days at sea.
Heading Back Out To See
Since we began cruising, we spent over 300 days at sea onboard cruise vessels. Our cruise trips took us to 180 ports and 76 countries. In the early part of 2020, we cruised around South America with Oceania Cruises for several months. And sadly just as our cruise was getting ready to end, we were stranded at sea by Covid-19. The Oceania Cruises leadership and staff responded with excellent customer service and we ultimately made it safely and healthy back to Miami with no incidents onboard.
For the South America cruise, Oceania Cruises issued passengers with future cruise credits. We booked a Caribbean cruise in March 2022 and figured the pandemic would be a thing of the past. But we all learned differently. When we needed to finalize our March 2022 cruise, we felt there was still much uncertainty about travel more than 4 months away.
We were delighted when we were able to switch our booked cruise to an almost immediate departure. With such a short runway, we had clarity about the Covid requirements. Some quick planning ensured we could book the needed flights and hotels. So we were happy and finalized Caribbean cruising in 2021.
We loved cruising and missed so much about cruising while the Covid pandemic roared. We found lots of ways to remember our cruising days. But it was not the same. With less than 2 weeks to wait, we started planning our cruise.
A Short Stop In Miami
Our Caribbean cruise will start in Miami. On previous cruises from Miami, we stayed in the city and enjoyed Miami as a cruise port base. We always found lots to see and do in Miami.
On this trip, we booked at the last minute and had other appointments on our calendar. So we really could not head to Miami too early. But we were not those people who flew in the day of the cruise. Especially with winter conditions in Toronto. And the changing and growing Covid-19 requirements.
We booked a direct flight for the day before our cruise left. And booked one night to return to the lovely JW Marriott Marquis Miami in downtown. This was the same hotel we used when we left for our South America cruise. With our Marriott loyalty status, we even had a free night certificate that covered this stay!
It was great to have one night in Miami to start our Caribbean cruising in 2021. And we knew the view of the Oceania Cruises ship entering the harbour at dawn was always a sight to behold.
Relaxing Days At Sea
Our cruise started with two days at sea as we moved south in the Eastern Caribbean. We were definitely excited to enjoy all the activities onboard. And to look for so many of the great people we met sailing on Oceania Cruises.
We looked forward to time spent lounging on deck or on our balcony. But we did plan to walk the deck for our daily exercise.
There was always lots of entertainment and education activities on board. And more were set up for full days at sea. We were sure to find something to keep us engaged. Although I was happy to find a quiet spot and read.
And no cruise with Oceania Cruises trip was complete without enjoying the Finest Cuisine at Sea. On board, we never waited long for our next opportunity to be delighted from breakfast through Afternoon Tea and onto the many dinner venues.
It was exciting to think about two full days lounging at sea when Caribbean cruising in 2021.
Fun Excursions Booked Caribbean Cruising In 2021
Before we even boarded the ship, we booked some fun excursions for port days. Our first port stop was in Gustavia on St Barts. On our first visit to St Barts, we enjoyed an ATV tour around the island. Our second visit found us exploring the great beaches. On this cruise, we planned a boat trip for snorkelling. We were always happiest in the water.
On our first cruise visit, we had an amazing zipline adventure in St Kitts. For this return visit, we booked a day that allowed us to enjoy the open top scenic train around the island. And then return to the pier on a catamaran. We knew we would see more of St Kitts and have fun too.
Before we started Caribbean cruising in 2021, we knew we had several fun activities scheduled.
Some Return Port Stops Are Still Being Planned
On this Caribbean cruise, we returned yet again to St Lucia. We visited St Lucia by cruise ship several times. And have stayed on St Lucia and enjoyed all three of the Sandals Resorts. So this was a port stop we knew well. Unfortunately we were waitlisted for a snorkel trip but hoped our status would clear. We knew how great the underwater world was in St Lucia.
We are also returning to St Maarten. On our first trip to St Maarten we loved the chance to crew one of the America’s Cup 12 Metre racing sailboats. There were several excursions that interested us on this new cruise. But we wanted to talk with the Oceania Cruises excursion specialists before we committed.
The port in San Juan, Puerto Rico was also one we visited several times. On our first visit, we explored the old town and marvelled at the beautiful statue art we found in the lovely Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis spot that overlooked the water. The second visit found us wandering around Old Town. On this Caribbean stop we really wanted to head into town and enjoy the great coffee shops.
We were happy that Caribbean cruising in 2021 we returned to some of our favourite Eastern Caribbean port stops. While we loved to explore new ports, returning to well known spots ensured we knew how to plan a great day visit.
One Brand New Port Stop
The final port stop for our Caribbean cruise was in Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. This was an island owned by the Norwegian Cruise Lines and it reminded us of Mahogany Bay in Roatan in the Honduras on a cruise around the Western Caribbean. The islands are set up with such a multitude of fun outdoor activities.
For our stop in Great Stirrup Cay, we saw that snorkelling was close by the port. And we definitely planned to take our snorkelling gear on this cruise. There was stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and lots of kayaks to rent. We knew we could fill a full day with fun and did not need to firmly schedule anything in advance.
We loved that we finished our Caribbean cruising in 2021 in the Bahamas and had a short cruise back to Miami. And what a fun day it would be!
Changes On Board Caribbean Cruising In 2021 During The Covid-19 Pandemic
As the Covid-19 pandemic raged, we followed the changes in cruising procedures and requirements. A robust set was put in place to protect passengers and crew. But we know these were subject to change as the world learned more about this new virus.
We were both fully vaccinated. Which was good since this was a primary requirement to cruise. And to fly on Air Canada from Canada.
We will take a Covid test to enter the U.S. and Oceania Cruises will provide the PCR Covid test we need before we fly home to Canada.
We expect to find masking and social distancing requirements on board the ship. And we know that strong processes will be immediately implemented in the very rare instance that Covid finds it way onboard.
We expect that each of the cruise ports in the Caribbean may have slightly different rules. And we fully expect to be briefed early by Oceania Cruises. This meant we were not totally sure what policies might be in place for us to wander on our own in port. And we have already learned that two ports have changed from docking to tendering. But we accepted in advance that for some ports without booked excursions, we would enjoy the empty ship with delight!
With cruising just re-starting, we believed the Covid-19 risk was manageable. Even for older and maybe a bit higher at risk individuals. And we sure could not wait to be Caribbean cruising in 2021.
A Great Trip Planned For Caribbean Cruising In 2021
When we started our travels in 2021, we were not sure we would do any cruising. We enjoyed local travels, a road trip to Eastern Canada and then a long road trip to Western Canada. But as we headed towards the end of the year, the only cruising we did was on ferries.
When the chance to head out for a short trip Caribbean cruising in 2021 presented itself, we were ready to jump on board. And we are so excited to share our trip with you! You can follow our social media channels as we travel for updates as we go. And watch the blog for new cruising travel posts!
Have you been Caribbean cruising in 2021? What was your favourite part?
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