Starting Our Cruise In Miami
It was a bitterly cold Christmas season in Toronto. We were so happy that we had a cruise to the Southern Caribbean booked for right after the holidays. Flying out of Toronto in the winter is a long process. Luckily the snow had ended the day before. But it still meant a stop to be de-iced before we were on our way. We waved to the snowy landscape as we climbed out as the sun rose.
We considered heading south for a few days before our cruise to the southern Caribbean. We have cruised from Miami before and enjoyed the city before boarding our ship. But we ultimately flew into Miami just one day before our cruise. This did not let us escape the cold soon enough. Nor did we get time to get a base tan or acclimatize to the hot weather. We would regret this on our first few cruise stops.
This visit, Miami was cool and wet. We did not venture far from our hotel. It was great opportunity to connect with a fellow blogger Heidi (@HeidiSiefkas). Over a drink, we learned more about Heidi’s travels and her specialty Cuba. As Canadians, we have travelled to Cuba freely for years. But it has been years since we visited. Heidi sparked an interest to return and visit some new spots.
The morning of our cruise departure, we called an Uber. The cab we got from the airport was a run down car with a surly driver. The Uber was a nice big SUV, impeccably clean and with a professional driver. Even with traffic and construction delays, the ride was much cheaper than a taxi. It still amazes me at how many cities want to keep Uber away. Every time we take an Uber, we are further committed to staying away from cabs.
Starting Our Cruise
We were back on Insignia, one of Oceania Cruises smaller ships for this cruise to the southern Caribbean. When we hit the cruise terminal, there was a band and champagne at reception. It was only then that we realized that we were boarding Insignia at the start of its around the world cruise. About 200 people were starting their 180 day voyage. We have friends who are doing this trip in 2019. But we are not yet sure we are ready for an around the world cruise.
We soon met many staff members that we had cruised with before. Hugs welcomed us “home”. It did not take long to see that the management at every level on this ship was committed to customer service. We have written about the customer service on Oceania Cruises before and it was great to see it shine through so early.
The first two days of our cruise was a run south at sea. The weather was a bit rough but settled down as we neared our first port. We took advantage of the days at sea to relax. A little time on deck, a comfy spot to read and lazy slow mornings. We were ready for a vacation.
First Stop In Aruba
Our cruise to the southern Caribbean stopped first in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). The first island we visited was Aruba. We wandered the town of Oranjestad in the morning to check out this new port town.
In the afternoon we took an excursion to the tourist sites in Aruba. The first stop was a disappointing semi-submersible ride over a shallow water wreck. Shadowy images showed a large boat in the murky water. Not the underwater experience I expected on a visit to the ABC islands.
The second part of our tour of Aruba took us around the volcanic island sights. We saw the California Lighthouse. A stop at the Natural Bridge took us along the rugged volcanic shore. A final stop at the rocks at Casibari was another reminder of the volcanic history of the island of Aruba.
Aruba was a great start to our cruise to the southern Caribbean!
Wandering In Curacao
On our visit to the ABC islands, our second stop was Curacao. It was a return visit to Curacao for us. We spent a week on Curacao scuba diving some years ago. Our disappointing underwater experience in Aruba discouraged us from doing a water excursion in Curacao.
It was a short walk from the cruise dock into the main part of town. From the pedestrian bridge we got a great view of the colourful port town of Willemstad. On our walk back, we just made it on the bridge before it started to swing to let boats pass.
It was Sunday and the town was largely all closed up. Wandering in town we found some colourful street art and a surprising amount of Christmas displays still up.
This visit to the deserted port of Curacao was less interesting than our first trip. But then we did not get in the water to try the great shore diving. Curacao is a great port on a cruise to the southern Caribbean, but hopefully you will arrive on a day when everything is open. Or have great weather for water sports or underwater exploration.
Finishing Up The ABC Islands In Bonaire
The last stop on our visit to the ABC islands was in Bonaire. We did not pre-plan water activities before we got to the island. But there were lots of options available once we landed and saw the crystal blue water.
A trip to the nearby island provided us with a great snorkelling experience. The coral reef was a short swim from shore. It was inhabited with lots of fish. The coral was colourful although some of it was covered in a fine layer of sand from the high winds.
We were glad to finally get underwater in Bonaire on our visit to the ABC islands. This was one of the highlights of our cruise to the southern Caribbean. The ABC islands are well known for the water activities. We will definitely plan a return visit to Bonaire.
Back At Sea
On our cruise to the southern Caribbean, it was a long haul to get from Bonaire to Grenada so we had one more day at sea. We continued to eat well on our cruise. Oceania Cruises is known for its food and wine. And we never failed to try all the delicious food onboard.
It was warmer now and many people headed outside to enjoy the pool. Our balcony was a great place for us to catch some sun without fighting for a deck chair. We used the time to get caught up on pictures and blog post work. Even on a lazy vacation, the blog work never really ends.
We did a great Italian wine tasting course onboard our previous trans-Atlantic cruise from Miami to Cape Verde. This trip there was a European wine tasting course offered so we signed up to do that. We learned a lot more about the wine industry in this large region and got to taste 5 different red wines. David did not find another red wine he liked. It was a good things his favourite Barolo was available to buy on the ship!
We planned this trip to help David celebrate his “big birthday”. It was a chocolate trip from start to end. His first chocolate celebration was onboard the cruise ship. He then got chocolate treats on our stay in St. Lucia. And even got to spend a day at Hotel Chocolat in St. Lucia.
A day at sea on our cruise to the southern Caribbean gave us a chance to get ready for our final cruise ports. We again headed back into the water on our final two stops.
Underwater Sculptures In Grenada
When we planned this cruise to the Southern Caribbean, we reached out in advance to Grenada Seafaris about an excursion to see the underwater sculptures in Grenada. We were met at our cruise port and walked to the 10 person boat.
We got a great boat ride to explore along the shore. There was an informative running commentary that gave us information about both life above and below the sea.
Kimmie was our guide when we hit the snorkel spot. He did a great job of taking us around to see the wide variety of underwater sculptures in Grenada. It was very interesting. The sculpture park continues to grow. It will be interesting to return again and see the progress.
We were glad we booked a tour to see the underwater sculptures in Grenada. We saw the Ocean Atlas underwater statue in Nassau that was also created by Jason De Caires Taylor. It was great to see another example of his work.
Our exploration of the underwater sculptures in Grenada was probably the most interesting things we did on our cruise to the southern Caribbean.
A Catamaran Adventure In St Vincent
We arrived in Kingstown port in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We had a great catamaran adventure in this port. We sailed to Bequia Island and stopped first at the Moonhole. This was a massive arch formed in volcanic rock through which the setting moon is sometimes visible.
The catamaran dropped us in a quiet bay for 2 hours to snorkel and enjoy the beach. We found lots of coral and fish on our underwater exploration on Bequia Island.
We had one final stop on Bequia Island. The catamaran pulled up to the bay at Port Elizabeth and we had some time to wander in town.
We enjoyed our day visit to St. Vincent on our cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Sailing on the catamaran was a great way to see a little more of the islands from another perspective. And the trip out to Bequia Island for snorkelling provided the underwater experience we wanted.
Saying Goodbye In St. Lucia
The next stop on our cruise to the Southern Caribbean was St. Lucia. The cruise itinerary did not finish until the ship reached Barbados. We visited Barbados twice before on cruise ship voyages. We planned a luxury resort stay at Sandals Resorts in St. Lucia to finish off David’s birthday trip. After looking at options, we finally came to the conclusion that it was cheaper and easier to give up a night on the ship and leave the cruise one day early when it docked in St. Lucia.
We enjoyed a lazy day on the ship in port in St. Lucia. We planned to leave the ship at the check-in time for Sandals. I can’t report that it was an easy experience to leave the ship a day early and get checked into our new resort. It took far too much time and balls got dropped all along the way, But we finally settled into the Butlers Lounge at Sandals. We moved from one luxury spot to another.
We Enjoyed Our Cruise To The Southern Caribbean
The cruise to the Southern Caribbean gave us a great set of destinations. Some were spots we loved and returned to. We visited several islands that had been on our travel wish list for a while. And we found new spots we had not even considered before.
We did a long island tour when we visited Aruba. In Grenada, St. Vincent and in Bonaire we headed underwater. We found vibrant sea life and the most interesting underwater sculptures in Grenada. The snorkelling was amazing in St. Vincent when we took a catamaran adventure. This prepared us for our scuba diving in St. Lucia. We enjoyed lazy days wandering in ports. And took full advantage of the full facilities onboard our cruise ship.
Our cruise to the Southern Caribbean was a great start to David’s birthday celebration. We looked forward to continuing it when we departed the ship in St. Lucia for a week.
Have you done a cruise to the Southern Caribbean? Which was your favourite stop? Did you do islands that we missed?
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