Empress Of The Seas (Carib) - Jan 27-Feb 8, 08

Royal Caribbean Cruise
Empress of the Seas

January 27th - February 8th, 2008

Bob & Debe

Ports of calls: San Juan, PR, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Johns Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Margarita Island Venezuela, Curacao, Aruba and back to San Juan Puerto Rico This trip included many ports we have visited several times but never had we been to St. Kitts. Looking at this itenary though, it had some great stops so we decided to jump on it. And who doesn't want to go to the Caribbean during the winter months. lol Royal Caribbean is a great cruiseline and usually has alot to do on the ship so this is one trip we are looking forward to. So, we wished Micah a happy 18th birthday on January 26th, 2008 and off we went, into the wild blue yonder. In San Juan we didn't stay in Old San Juan and the ship was docked at the Pan America Pier so we didn't do any shopping. Just up in the morning and onto the ship.
Our first stop, St. Maarten. We have been here several times, even taking some of the kids there for spring break one year. Matter fact - look close in the right picture and you can see the pink hotel on the beach we stayed in. But new to us was the boardwalk they have built between the hotels/restaurants and the ocean. What a great asset. Even though the boardway doesn't go directly up to the cruise dock - a sidewalk joins it. So an easy walk into town. On this trip we just walked into town, shopped, used the internet and headed back.
Our next stop - St. Kitts in the Virgin Islands. Since we had never been here - we checked online to see what is there. And mostly it talked about the train that pretty much takes you around most of the island. We booked our tour through the ship but it would be in the afternoon so we walked into town, shopped and used the internet. After lunch we were picked up and taken to the Scenic Rail Train Tour. In the pictures below you can see the port entrance, a clock in the center of town, the St. Kitts Scenic Rail we took and a picture of the town right as you walk off the ship (picture taken from the sky deck of the ship) While on the rail we did see most of the island. Virgin daiquris were served. The rail went through villages, coastlines, old sugar plantations, over bridges, thru sugar cane, and around the volcano that hasn't erupted in years. We also went by the beach, the black rock cove, several churches, schools, and the Plantation Hotel which is used by movie stars. At the end we were picked back up by our bus and shuttled a 40 minute drive back to the ship. We went by a Brimstone Hill Fortress and thru a couple towns. Back to the ship we shopped a little more before getting on board. Great day.

The following port of call is St. Johns Antigua. We decided to sleep in and then get off and use the internet. Here you can see Bob at one of the internet shops we use while on this island. But the photo next to it shows that the pier has many shops for the big shopper. Also there are a couple of pictures of the pier and looking from the ship onto the port.

St. Lucia was our next port of call and we had prebooked ziplining here. A first for us both and as usual, I was nervous. With zip lines comes heights - one of my fears. In the below pictures take that ride with us. Do it in photos or go ahead and check out the video of us. It was so much fun and even though there were times that made me nervous and worn out, I would do it again. The first photo shows the ship in dock along with a few others.

This day we will be visiting Barbados. We had booked a scuba diving/snorkeling with the turtles tour but once we arrived at their place, the turtles had been canceled and they changed the dive site so we canceled. Instead we walked up to town and found another tour. (with help from the tourism desk right at the pier in the cruise shopping area) This tour included the turtle swim along with a couple snorkeling sites. So we paid the $50 pp and jumped on board. The water was a little cool and the first snorkeling spot the water was rough. Mostly we didn't see much except coral. The second site we saw alot of fish (photo below) Next would be the most exciting thing - swimming with the turtles. It was a little scary since they were bigger than I thought but we had a great time. We ended up going to another snorkel site but since Bob and I had done it before, we stayed on the boat. Overall, a great day in Barbados as usual. (check out the flying gurnard fish) Nice......
Our next stop we were so excited about. Needless to say, our buddy Hugo Chavez made us "Americans" dock far away from town. You got to love him. We did grab a taxi ($20 pp) and went into Porlamar. (where we were suppose to dock) We shopped, walked around and then headed back to the ship. It was a short day and couldn't plan alot. The island was celebrating "Carnivale" (we call it Mardi Gras) so the town was filled with people. Tonight was lobster night - glad Chavez didn't stop that. lol (below photos show a map of the island, on the streets in Porlamar, and the shopping at the dock we were at)
Our next port was in beautiful, colorful Curacao. We were late getting in and the car rental line was extremely long so we passed even though we had reservations. Ended up walking into town by crossing the floating bridge and finding internet. On the way back we stopped in the fort to shop and have ice cream.
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to - - wait, I had rather just stay in Aruba. My favorite all time island. Today we decided to take on the island via ATVs. What a great choice. The cost wasn't cheap but was worth the $216 for two all day. We headed to Eagle Beach first and on to Palm Beach, California Lighthouse, and around the island. Making stops at the Gold Mine ruins, Natural Bridge, Alto Vista Church, Baby Beach, sand dunes, and many other places. (one photo is from inside the cave looking out towards the ocean.) After an amazing day - we filled up the ATVs with petro & took them back then headed for the ship for a long shower. So much fun!
As we head back to San Juan, PR for disembarkation - let me share a few pictures from the ship. Our cabin was small but we didn't spend much time in it. Also you can see the pool on a sunny day and rainy day. lol And the creative towel animals made by the cabin stewards. The last three pictures are our table mates. (the one with the guy by himself, his wife was injured and couldn't make it to dinner)

This was yet another absolutely wonderful trip. The ports of call were all sunny and beautiful and the ship, shows, and tablemates added to our great adventure. Nothing like getting away from the cold, snow and ice in St. Louis and heading to the Caribbean. Thanks for sharing this experience with us and happy cruising to you all in the future.

The End

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