We landed in Puerto Rico Saturday morning and headed to our
hotel - Ciqala Luxury Suites. Alpha had managed to find this place
which was pretty cool. It reminded me of the boutique hotels
we stayed at in Barcelona and Rome. Very classy. But the
best thing was it had three bedrooms. Plus at the top of the
building was a terrace you could go and hang out on and
they'd serve you breakfast in the morning.
Once we settled in we
headed to Old San Juan to wander around. This was our 2nd
time here and both times it was at night. Which sucked as
the fort which while pretty lit up was always closed. After walking
around for awhile we ended up at Senior Frogs for dinner. It
was a fun place. Things were just starting to get rowdy when
we left. We were all pretty bagged so decided to call it a
The next morning we headed to the ship. It was the
usual shit show but because we had a suite got to go to the
front of the line. We were literally the first people to get
Our first stop didn't start well. The night before I woke up
in the early morning with my guts in knots. It felt like
someone had stuck a knife in there and was turning it. So I
spent the next several hours in the bathroom.
We met everyone for coffee after we docked to discuss our
plans for what to do on shore, but at that point I didn't
want to be far from a bathroom. So Chris and I stayed on the
ship. Alpha had given me some Immodium and that seemed to
work well enough that a few hours later I felt good enough
to go ashore.
Chris and I took a sea taxi across the bay to the shopping
area and met up with everyone. We decided to go check out ?
Beach. The cool thing about this place is that the airport
runway is next to the beach and planes landing end up flying
only a few feet above everyone's heads. And when planes
depart everyone will line up to get blasted by the jet wake.
There was a bar there and e spent the afternoon hanging out.
On the way there the main road was blocked by an accident
and it was total gridlock. For that reason we had our Taxi
guys bring us back well before the ship left. It was a good
thing we did as it took forever to get back as the main road
was still closed. So that sucked. We probably spent around
90 mins total stuck in traffic. Our drivers - Sonny and
Buddy - made it entertaining though swearing up a storm and
cursing the stupid Dutch drivers (the island is split
roughly in half with one side French and the other being
Dutch). Not to mention getting to experience the white
knuckle thrill of Carribean driving as our lives flashed in
front of us several times.
It ended up being an ok day, but I was in a pretty crappy
mood by the time we got back.
This is the one stop Chris and I were most looking forward
to. We were supposed to have gone there for vacation a
couple years ago, but Chris' accident forced us to cancel.
This was also the only excursion we had booked - an all day
Catamaran tour. Unfortunately the ship was late arriving and
when we got off were informed that our tour had left without
us (we get our money back).
So at this point I'm fuming and we decided to go to Pigeon
Island instead. Pigeon island is a national park full of
ruins and beaches and even an English pub that has been
there for xxx years. After paying to get in I ask the ticket
lady where the pub was, only to be told it was closed. Are
you frickin kidding me??? So we grab a beach and some
loungers and I stayed behind with all our stuff while
everyone else went to get something to eat. While they were
gone I did some swimming and relaxing. After awhile though I
was wondering if they were coming back and was getting
pissed off that I was stuck behind while they were living it
up. Finally I said screw it and left to explore the island.
But Chris had the camera. So I went and found them, grabbed
the camera, expressed my displeasure, and left.
It's funny how the worst days can end up becoming the
The island was beautiful and I was in my glory hiking up the
peaks and taking pictures of the scenery and the various
ruins. After exploring the entire island I returned to the
beach and spent the rest of the day swimming (drinking) in
the ocean with the gang. At one point we flagged down a boat
selling fruit and while standing in the ocean feasted on
mangos, bananas, and sugarcane. It was a pretty surreal
experience. Sadly it couldn't last forever and we had to
head back. We had fun joking with our cab driver and we got
him to teach us how to swear in Creole.
St. Lucia is beautiful and we'll definitely be back.
We hadn't really planned anything for Grenada. Which was
good as I was hurting a bit from the previous night. Damn
you Rum punch! It was also a short day as the ship was only
there until 2pm. So we wandered ashore at our leisure. Chris
and Kim did some shopping, Alpha went off on his own, and
the girls and I hiked up to the fort overlooking the harbor
and took a bunch of pictures. It was stinking hot and a
river of sweat was pouring off me so we came back and hit
the pool and lounged in the shade watching the island shrink
into the distance as we pulled away. All in all a nice
This was the only stop of the trip Alpha hadn't visited
before so it was new for everyone. Bonaire is famous for its
snorkeling and a number of people had suggested doing drift
snorkeling. For this, you take a water taxi to a nearby
island called Klein Bonaire, get off and dump your stuff in
the beach, walk for 30 mins or so, get in the water and then
drift back with the current to where you started. Alpha
hadn't wanted to do this so he stayed behind on the ship.
was pretty cool. On one side towards the beach is a massive
wall of coral and on the other side is a huge drop off (past
what you can see). I've seen coral before, but never so much
at once. It was also interesting when you'd swim out over
the drop off how much the temperature would drop. My only
issue was that I had no escape route if I ran into trouble.
I couldn't get to the beach because it was blocked by coral
(until I got to the end where there was a gap in the wall)
and unlike our Sting Ray snorkel in Grand Cayman there was
no boat to swim to. So I had a couple panic moments. Still,
I'm amazed that I spent about 45 mins snorkeling in the
ocean proper (not just in waist deep water along some
We had a lot of fun here. Alpha had been here many years ago
and had come across a secluded beach called Baby Beach. So
we rented som jeeps and headed out. Aruba is pretty neat.
It's basically a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. But
unlike the other places we visited it was more desert than
tropical. There were cacti everywhere and little lizards
running across the road. The beach was beautiful and the
snorkeling was the best I've seen. There were fish
everywhere! At one point I had dozens brushing past my arms
The other cool thing was except for a few spots
the water was shallow enough that you could stand up. We
spent most of the day here and then went exploring in the
jeeps for a bit before heading back to the ship. All of us,
despite slathering sunscreen on several times got burnt a
little bit. Next to St. Lucia, Aruba was my favourite stop.
When we were done we took the taxi back and hung out at a
bar on the water's edge until just before we had to board.
We were originally supposed to fly back the day we docked,
but it got cancelled so we had to spend an extra day in San
Juan. After getting off the ship, which was relatively
painless, we went to the airport to get our hotel vouchers
from Westjet. Except they didn't open for a couple
hours....so we waited. No one ever did show up so Chris
called them and we got the hotel arrangements made. The
hotel much like the other one we stayed at was pretty nice.
Again, it had that boutique hotel feel. It was also located
right on the (very busy) beach. After getting settled we
went to get something to eat at a restaurant that served
local dishes. Most of us tried the island favourite -
Mofongo - which was mashed plantains. It was pretty good.
We then headed to Old San Juan and set up base at Senior
Frogs. Chris and Kim hung out there while the girls went
shopping. I headed up to the Fort. When I reached the
plateau it was stunning. That area is essentially their
version of Stanley Park. It was full of locals enjoying
themselves and flying kites. There were literally hundreds
of kites in the sky. I made my way to the fort and was in my
glory exploring it and taking pictures. Unfortunately, I
forgot my camera at the hotel and had to use Chris' crappy
camera instead. The views from up there were amazing. Easily
the most beautiful scenery of the entire trip. Yet another
place I want to visit again. We finished the night drinking
yard tall drinks and having a ball.
This was my second Princess cruise and it only reaffirmed my
view that of the three cruise lines we've been on -
Princess, Carnival, and NCL - that they have the best ship
design. My favourite place to hang out was the back of the
ship which was terraced with two pools, a hot tub, and bar.
All shaded from the scorching sun by the Skywalker nightclub
above. I had no issues with the food, service, our
Stateroom, or the entertainment. They also seem to have the
most unique itineraries and this was no exception. We've now
done the Western, Eastern, and Southern Caribbean. We bought
some art (again) and I won around $500 at the Casino -
although I'm sure Chris lost an equal amount :)
On our last
night, Chris was already asleep and I looked out the balcony
as the moon was shining and the ocean looked beautiful in
the light. The back of the ship was also lit up and I saw
this fluttering in the light. At first I thought it was a
bat, but then I heard a 'thump' on the window right in front
of me and looked down and saw that it was a pigeon. There
was no land in sight, so who knows how far this thing flew
obviously following the ship. I was worried he might have
been injured so I kept getting up every few hours to check -
but he just stayed perched on the balcony railing. Finally
at about 4am I looked and he was gone. It was an odd
And so ended our trip. It was easily the most beautiful of
all our trips to that part of the world. Despite some issues
and annoyances it was a great vacation, but I'm looking
forward to being back home.