When you plan your next vacation, you don’t actually know, where will you go. You can decide by the cheapest deal or you can have a fantasy that you really want to transform to reality. Well, Caribbean islands were my fantasy because I never thought I will be actually flying to Miami, board on the cruise ship and sail away to the tropical destinations.
For those who are interested in cruising or are willing to try it, here’s something from my perspective – A CARIBBEAN CRUISE VACATION.
LANDING IN MIAMI
We were excited to land in Miami again. Teja and I have experienced Miami the year before, in November 2014. We stayed at our ‘Miami family’, as we like to say, that was very welcoming and helpful so the vacation was that much better.
And that arrival in Miami, in November 2015, was also welcomed by Judi and John. We were excited to see them again.
We spent a couple of days at their family celebrating Thanksgiving together and then… boarding time.
DAY ONE – BOARDING – MIAMI, FLORIDA
When you book a cruise, it’s good to know a few information about that type of traveling. We booked it at the local travel agency in Ljubljana, Slovenia (no worries, you can also book it online, there are plenty of good deals). When you book a cruise-type vacation, you actually know where are you going to sleep (the ship was MSC DIVINA 5 stars), you can eat onboard as much as you can, there are plenty of things to do and plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy.
Our passports and tickets are ready so off we go. Boarding a cruise line is quite similar as boarding the plane. You have to have your ticket and passport ready, you go through a check-in security process and of course, you cannot bring your own food or drinks on board. Entering our room nr. 13175. We were happy because we had a free upgrade confirmation so our room was on the higher floor.
SAYING GOODBYE TO MIAMI AND 1 DAY AT THE SEA
We sailed away at 7 p.m., had a cocktail and just explored this big ship so we had as much information as we could.
The second day was a day at sea so we spent some time just catching the sun by the pool.
DAY THREE – FALMOUTH, JAMAICA
Welcome to Jamaica. We already checked the programs Divina offered, so we decided to go zip lining in the Jamaican jungle. The minibus was already waiting for us so we boarded and drove into the jungle. It was our first time taking the zip line but we were not worried because our tour guides Tashika and Shevon were very professional and calming. They were there every step of the way.
My impression of Falmouth: the port is very expensive, they are promoting Bob Marley because this is all they have, the locals are mostly poor and fighting for survival so it’s understandable that the tourists are all they have. But the Zipline was a great experience! Ya man!
DAY FOUR – CAYMAN ISLANDS
Because there was nothing interesting in Divina’s trips program, we decided to go off the ship and maybe find the trip with locals. And we were surprised! There were at least 50 locals that were offering different kind of tours – from a helicopter ride to swimming with stingrays. Can you guess what did we choose? Stingrays of course.
The van drove us to the small port where we embarked this boat which sailed away deep into the ocean. There was nothing there so we couldn’t imagine how will we be able to swim with stingrays if the water is so deep and dark?
But… in a few minutes, the picture was totally different. All of the sudden there was this small spot in the middle of the ocean – light turquoise blue water that was quite shallow (you could touch the ground). When you jumped into the water, there were stingrays everywhere. The guide just told us not to be scared. If the stingray comes to you we could just hold our hands forward and stingray came like he wanted to hug you or kiss you. And the legend says if you kiss him, that brings you luck. So I did give him a kiss.
Wanna know how much did this cost? It was only 25 $ per person.
It was a great day. We still had time to buy some souvenirs and take few photos before we boarded again.
Every time you board, you have to go through customs security. They make sure you don’t have any food or drinks from the port.
DAY FIVE – COZUMEL, MEXICO
One day before we came to Mexico, we checked a weather prognosis. It looked like it will rain in Cozumel. We checked the trips that were organized through Divina and we found one both were interested – island Playa del Carmen. Why not? We booked the trip and off we go to the island. We took a ferry that took us to Playa del Carmen. There was a local tour guide that showed us around, took us to a shopping street and to the beach where we could just relax and drink a Margarita that was included in the price. The beach was nice, the water was warm and the most important thing – it was really sunny. When we looked across the sea to Cozumel, we saw dark sky and rain, so it was a good choice to visit an island.
Playa, in general, was cheap. You could do lots of shopping there – from souvenirs to clothes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time because we had to go back to the ferry.
My impression: when you come to the Mexican port, the customs and guards there are very strict. You must not bring any food from the cruise ship, they have police dogs everywhere – you actually feel like you’re going to prison. Also on the island – there was a police around the port but not that much in the streets or on the beach – at least that was calming so you could walk freely.
DAY SIX – NASSAU, BAHAMAS
What can I say about Nassau? We were in Nassau the year before – we were actually in Atlantis Water Park on Paradise Island. This year, we took a guided tour with a limo. The guy took us through the island and give us some information about the city. The last couple of hours we bought some souvenirs and just walked along the shore of the port part of the Nassau.
My impression of Nassau: nothing special – I prefer Atlantis so you can enjoy the water and the private beach. You can stay there all day and can relax or enjoy the waterpark. But in general, I think Nassau is not that interesting as the name ‘Bahamas’ itself.
DAY SEVEN – ARRIVING BACK TO MIAMI – THE EVERGLADES
When we were in Miami a year before, we actually didn’t’ have time to visit Everglades National Park. I visited it in 2009 but it was a very dry season so we didn’t actually get to experience those air boats that drives you through the swamp. So, we decided to visit the Everglades on day 7.
It was a rainy day but we didn’t mind. It was 1-hour drive to the Everglades. We put on our raincoats and boarded the airboat. Our guide vas young and super funny. He was experienced, but when your driving through the swamp which is a natural habitat for alligators, I think you can’t trust anyone who’s ‘driving’ the boat.
The experience with air boat was one-of-a-kind! It was scary but it was also so positively frightening, the words cannot describe. The only calming information for us was, that the alligators are predators by night when they’re most active.
When we arrived back to Miami, we had some time to stay in Downtown Miami. We went for lunch to a famous restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp. Delicious and awesome ambient. You can watch a movie, Forrest Gump, all day long.
Because we booked B2B cruise, we headed back to Miami port. It’s time for the second part of cruise vacation with MSC Divina.
Day seven – saying goodbye to Miami again.
The second part of the cruise started with 2 days at sea – we did some relaxing, ‘cocktailing’, dancing and… eating.
DAY TEN – CHARLOTTE AMALIE, VIRGIN ISLANDS U.S.
When we arrived in Charlotte Amalie, we decided to take a ferry which took us to the next paradise island – St. John’s. Taxis on the islands have flat rates so the can’t actually rip off. We were driving through the jungle, up and down through the hills. Finally, we made it to our final destination – the beach.
We practically spent all those hours in the sea because it was so hot outside you could not stand the heat. This was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen at that time. Just a few people, white sand, crystal clear light blue water. I also swam to the coral reef – I didn’t see much fish though because the water was too deep, but it was still worth a swim.
My impression: you can describe destination itself with one word – paradise. The weather is mostly sunny, the air is fresh because of all that greenery, beaches are breathtaking. But the Virgin islands are quite expensive. They charge for one magnet also up to 10$ (1 piece!). Taxi fares are always per person (usually flat rates).
DAY ELEVEN – SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
We didn’t book any tours onboard, we did it like in Caymans – booked a tour with locals. We took a tour of San Juan in an air conditioned van. The guide took as to the market – I tried my very first coconut with coconut water. We drove through the streets. There was some kind of good energy in San Juan. People were dancing, smiling, everything was very relaxed.
My impression: I liked San Juan. Like I’ve mentioned, there was really positive energy. Everything was very cheap – even Starbucks.
For the last day of our B2B cruise, according to the itinerary, we were supposed to visit a Bahamian island. We wanted to rent a cabana and just relax on the beach, but…
There was an unfortunate situation. One of the passengers needed an urgent medical attention so the ship had to go back to San Juan in a hospital. We were there for a few hours and then headed back towards the Bahamas. The Captain informed us that he will sail with full speed so we can follow the itinerary. But the power of the ocean was not on our side. We were too slow so we couldn’t make it on time so the Captain decided for an alternative – we arrived in Nassau at 2 p.m. but had to leave Nassau at 5 p.m. In that short time, we just went for an ice-cream in McDonald’s and free WiFi. There was not much to do in less than 3 hours.
DAY THIRTEEN – BACK TO MIAMI
When we came back to Miami, the sun was shining. We took a trolley that took us from the port to the first bus station. We came to our »Miami family«, they were happy to see us and so were we. Judi said that it was raining every day since we were on the cruise and that day when we returned, the sunshine was greeting us.
We had a couple of days more in Miami, so we spent it on the beach, just relaxing. As hard it was, we had to say goodbye to our Miami family, to the Sunshine State, to our Miami and of course to our paradise vacation. But we promised we will come back as soon as possible – when the time is right.
So the memories won’t fade (well, I know they never will), I also made a video referring this article.
Thank you, be happy and enjoy your life.