S: My Caribbean Cruise
BC: My Caribbean Cruise
FC: My Caribbean Cruise | By Rory Gilheany
1: About The Cruise:
4: Day One | I arrived in Caracas International Airport, Venezuela at 10 am on January 15th. My family flew here because our 5 day cruise is departing from the Port of La Guairá at 12 am. We took a taxi from the airport to the port which was around a 35 minute drive. When we arrived we ate lunch at Amarena Deli Cafe where I had a tuna sandwich and the traditional Venezuelan chips. After breakfast was the first time I set eyes on the massive ship and it was love at first sight. Even from land I could see waterslides, sports courts, and rock climbing walls – it was a dream come true. Our bags were loaded onto the ship but we still had some time to wait before boarding. It was very hot which made the wait a lot longer but eventually it reached 11:45 am and we could finally board the ship. Stepping into the main lobby the first thing I noticed, other than the cool breeze of air conditioning, was how luxurious and lavish everything looked. This was a lot fancier than any hotel I have ever stayed at and seemed a lot more fun too. It wasn't until I walk on the main deck that I realized this was my dream, waters slides twisted into perfectly blue water, pools bars catered to your very needs, rock climbing walls stood tall in the sky, and ice cream bars waited to cool you down. I was in paradise. Our rooms were very nice and comfortable and it was hard to believe that we were on board a ship. We were greeted by the captain who welcomed us on the ship and introduced us to some of the crew. The cruise departed at 12 pm as we set off for our first port of call, Trinidad and Tobago.
5: We were all settled as the ship sailed, so I decided to go for my first swim under the hot Caribbean sun. It was amazing and was definitely something I would be able to get used to. I met a few people my age that seemed cool; it will be good to know them as there are a lot of adults onboard. The whirlpools were very nice and warm but I feel like they will be a lot more relaxing tonight when the air is cooler. I went to the sport’s court with some of the kids I met for a game of basketball, it was really fun but we couldn’t keep up for long due to the hot sun. We cooled off by getting an ice cream at Sprinkles and went down to the Studio B entertainment complex to play video games. It was soon time for dinner so I met back up with my family and we ate at Portofino Italian Restaurant where I ordered Shrimp and Scallop Alfredo which was extremely tasty. We then rushed to the La Scala Theatre to catch the phenomenal show called “In the Air”. As the performers soared through the air above the crowd it really dawned on me how much effort the crew and the planners put into ensuring that we have a good time while on board. When the show was over the rest of my family went back to our rooms but I decided to go and relax in the whirlpools underneath the stars. After 30 minutes of pure peace I returned to my room and went to sleep, anticipating what was to come over the next 4 days.
6: Today is the first day we get to spend on land and I couldn’t be more excited. My friends had described Trinidad and Tobago’s beauty to me before but it has even exceeded their expectations. We got an early start to the day as we set foot on the island at around 7:30 am, after eating a quick breakfast of French toast and bacon on the ship. Our goal was to get as much as we could done in the time had on the island and we started at Fort King George. Our tour guide here was very helpful as she informed us of many interesting facts about the fort. The fort was built in the 1700’s and now holds a very cool museum of old weapons, maps, and huge cannons, although with the sunny, tropical surroundings it is hard to believe that this fort was ever the site of military action. Our tour was done by 10:00 am and we set off towards Caroni Bird Sanctuary. After we arrived it took me quite a while to pick my jaw up off the floor as we were drifting through narrow rivers with many types of colourful birds flying directly overhead. As pointed out by our extremely knowledgeable guide we saw many different species of birds such as the White-tailed Sabrewing, Aplomado Falcon, and the beautiful Scarlet Ibis. I had seen so many different species of birds in one single rainforest before and what amazed me most was that it seemed as if every bird was distinctly different. On our way to the location we would spend most of our day, Maracas Bay, we stopped at what truly was the definition of island paradise, Argyle Falls. We met up with our tour guide Benny and traveled up the rocky terrain to view the ten magnificent Argyle Waterfalls each with their own pool to swim in at the bottom. The journey to the falls was amazing due to our great Tour Guide, Benny who showed us many things along the way. He pointed out animals we saw along the way, interesting types of flowers unique to Trinidad & Tobago, and he even showed us how to eat raw cocoa. When we finally arrived at the falls it was well worth the journey as the refreshing pools, mixed with the cascading waterfalls, and the lush surrounding flora and fauna helped make this easily one of the highlights of my trip. | Day 2: Trinidad and Tobago
7: My day did not end there as we reached the destination that we stayed for the remainder of the day, Maracas Bay. Maracas Bay, which is located between two overlooking mountains, is a very peaceful and relaxing beach filled with activities that tourists of any age can enjoy. We first ate lunch at the King’s Bay Cafe located on the beach, where I ordered a tuna burger and a fresh homemade brownie – both were delicious. The first activity I took part in was scuba diving, and as I was able to explore the very colourful Buccoo Reef which is populated by clouds of colour that I found hard to believe were fish. My family and some other the other families from our cruise played a game of Beach Volleyball, which was a lot of fun...even if my family didn’t win. Jet Skiing was an intense activity that I had never experienced before and I can tell you know it will not be my last time blazing through the waters on a Seadoo. With all these activities and the bright blue waters, time truly flew by at Maracas Bay, so much so that we almost forgot about our dinner! We ate Aspara which was a delicious Indian Restaurant located close to our port. I ordered the best Tikka Masala I have ever eaten and it didn’t hurt that the meal was served with an abundance of Na’an bread. We watched the very talented live band play before making our way back to the ship. We arrived on board at 9:00 pm which was just enough time to go to Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar before heading to Studio B Entertainment Complex where they were showing the new Harry Potter movie for kids and teenagers. I returned to my room early as I was exhausted by the long and adventurous day and wanted to get rest for out time on Barbados tomorrow. Trinidad and Tobago was a truly magnificent place to visit and I really do not know how it will be topped but I guess I will have to wait and see.
8: About Trinidad and Tobago: | Trinidad and Tobago is located in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of north-eastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. Although two separate islands, they are part of a republic which links them together. Trinidad's capital is Port of Spain while Tobago's is Scarborough. Trinidad and Tobago is well within the tropics which means it enjoys a tropical climate with an average maximum temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. The landscape is very mountainous and because it was once part of South America it has an assortment of tropical vegetation and wildlife. Although its origin is volcanic there are no active volcanoes.
10: I woke up 7 am today, only to realize that we were still travelling to our destination, Barbados. I didn’t really mind that I had to wait because I was on this huge ship that still had many activities that I am yet to do. The first thing I did was get a quick breakfast at Island Grill where they were serving pancakes! I let my food settle and then hit the rock climbing wall and it was surprisingly challenging – which just made it more fun. To cool off after climbing for over 45 minutes and I went for a dip in the pool which was absolutely perfect, but I still found it hard to comprehend the idea that we are in water while travelling on water. I met some people around my age while playing soccer at the ship’s sports court, and went down with them to the arcade in Studio B Entertainment Complex. This was one of the biggest arcades I have been in and time truly flew by playing there. Before I knew it our cruise had arrived at our port in Barbados. Stepping onto the dock at 9 am, I was greeted with the view of tall palm trees, white sandy beaches, and a complete island paradise. My family had to get moving as we had less time on Barbados compared to our time in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday. We spent some time taking in the tropical views from Allamanda Beach Boardwalk visiting some of the local stores along the way. We had an appointment made at Dread or Dead Surf School, which we barely made as we did not want to leave the tranquil beach. We met up with our surfing coach Russell, and as someone who had never surfed before by the end of our lesson he had taught me how to stand up and surf the (smaller) waves. He taught me about the board, rails, proper positioning, and the forever important "pop-up” in his own unique, knowledgeable way. Without Russell as our coach I can confidently say that I would not have ever made it off my stomach. The next part of our trip was a visit to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve where we made it just in time for the 2 pm feeding time. This was a fun interactive experience in which we got to feed little turtles, monkeys and many other animals. The baby Green Monkeys feeding time was hilarious and they would even climb on you and eat the nuts and seeds right out of your hand. | Day 3: Barbados
11: This fun, little activity was followed by a stop at Kendal Sporting for a variety of sports. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived but I was quickly excited by the prospect of shooting a gun. We had to work our way up by first practising archery, this was very fun and I was surprised by how accurate the bows were. Next was shooting a 9mm pistol at pigeons (the clay discs, not the bird). | This was very fun and was obviously a first time for me so it took a while to get used to and while I wouldn't call myself a sharpshooter, I was not half bad. My mom who is very against gun use had a surprising amount of fun due to the fact that it was done with safety in mind and in a controlled environment. We escaped the deadly heat to have a late lunch at 4 pm at the restaurant at Kendal Sporting where my family shared crab cakes and shrimp. We arrived at Carlisle Bay at 4:45 and spent time scuba diving, exploring Harrison’s Cave, and just swimming and enjoying the blue glistening water. Time flew by and it was finally time for dinner, and I was starving. We ate at The Tides which is a fantastic Caribbean seafood restaurant, and everyone enjoyed their meals greatly. I ordered pork with jerk sauce and fresh vegetables with names that I had never heard before. For desert I had The Tides famous toffee pudding which really lived up to its title. It was 7 30 pm and was time to head back to the ship. I went for a refreshing swim with some of the other teenagers I had met on the cruise as the sun set in the Caribbean sky. I met back up with my family in the La Scale Theatre to watch “Invitation to Dance”, a fun, upbeat show that had all of the guests dancing in their seats. At 12 pm I headed to my insanely comfortable bed for a good nights sleep after enjoying a wonderful day in Barbados.
12: Barbados is an island country located in the Southern Caribbean in the Lesser Antilles. Barbados is 34 km in length and 23 kilometres in width, amounting to an area of 431 km2. Barbados which was previously a British colony became an independent nation under the commonwealth in 1966. It is one of the Caribbean’s leading tourist destinations and because of this is one of the most developed countries in the region. Barbados is only 400 km north-east of Trinidad and Tobago but is very flat in comparison. Barbados is a coral island and has a nice tropical year round average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius and experiences a “wet season” from June – November. The English influence is more noticeable in Barbados than other Caribbean islands highlighted through their national sport: cricket. | About Barbados:
14: Today was my final full day on land and of the trip, so my family woke up extra early at 6 am. I went for a morning swim to help me come to my sense and then we had a filling traditional English breakfast and set off on St. Lucia when the ship docked at 7 am. We only had 8 hours to explore St. Lucia before we had to board the ship again for our final stretch back to Caracas, so we had a lot planned. First, I desperately wanted to see St. Lucia’s famous Pitons, and they certainly lived up to my expectations. The pitons are two large, very steep hills located on the coast of St. Lucia, and thank god we had a guide because it looked like it was going to be a tough climb. It was a very long and strenuous hike up the side but the view and feeling of accomplishment at the top was completely worth it. Going back down was a lot less tiring but I had to remember to watch my step. I was glad when we finally reached the bottom as we could travel to an attraction that really interested me. Our Planet is an interactive learning centre based on the effects of global warming – sounds boring I know, but really the way they present it makes it very interesting. I learned many things in unique such as a tunnel which brought me through a timeline of the creation of earth, and interactive view of our world from outer space, and my favourite experiencing extreme weather through special effects. Our planet showed that something can be both informative and still be very fun. The next tour we took part in was a drive into the middle of a volcano. As it is known to be the only drive in volcano in the world, this was a very unique opportunity to have as we literally sat in the centre of a volcano. Although it has obviously not been active for over 400, 000 years it was still just weird to be at the centre of something that’s temperature was once over 1000 degrees Celsius. Although it was not a very long tour it was memorable because it is unique to St. Lucia. We had already accomplished a lot in our time on St. Lucia, but it was not even close to being over yet. | Day 4: St. Lucia
15: We just barely made our appointment for a session of treetop trekking at Treetop Canopy Adventure due to having a hard time finding the place. Once we got our gear on and we ready to go we embarked on one of the most exciting tours of my life. We worked our way through over 20 different tree top trails, 12 exhilarating zip lines – each one more exciting than the last, and a constant view of beautiful St. Lucian panoramas. This was one of my favourite activities from the trip so far as it had something for everyone; beautiful trails for those looking to relax and take in the sights and extreme zip lines for those who want high speed excitement. We had a 12 pm lunch at the Gros Islet market while their traditional street party was taking place. The bustling streets were filled with dancers as they showed their pride for their island and its culture. For lunch I had a freshly made mahi-mahi pita, which is a type of fish, which was absolutely delicious. We only had another hour and 30 minutes left on the island so we knew we couldn’t waste it; and what better way is there to not waste it than to do absolutely nothing. For our last stretch on St. Lucia we spent our time lounging on their beach and just soaking up our last ounce of island sun. We boarded back on our ship with only fond memories of St. Lucia as we experienced many beautiful, exciting, and relaxing activities on the island. I spent my time on the cruise ship playing “golf” at the Golf Simulator, speeding down the water slides at Adventure Ocean, and mostly just in the water making the most of my final day. My family, as well as most of the other families had their final dinner on the cruise ship in the La Boheme dining room. Fresh salmon with rice was served and it really topped off the great food I have had on the trip. After dinner the kids went down to Studio B while the parents spent their final night at Scoreboard sports bar. I went to bed early as I was just exhausted from the whole trip,and was sad to know that when I woke tomorrow we would be arriving at our original port.
16: About St. Lucia | St. Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary of the Atlantic Ocean. Located North-West of Barbados it is part of the Lower Antilles is one of the Windward Islands. St. Lucia is a volcanic island and is more mountainous than most other volcanic islands. The Pitons are St. Lucias most well known landmarks and climb to over 2.3 km tall. St. Lucias capital is Castries and the country has a population of 173 765. Its average maximum temperature is 32 degrees Celsius but the tropical climate is moderated by North-East trade winds.
18: " | Day 5: The Return | When I woke this morning I wished that I would wake up and I would be boarding the ship again for the first time about to embark on a journey of a lifetime - but I wasnt. It was the end of a trip that I will remember forever. We woke up, got ready, and packed our things and left the room that we would probably not see again. They served a special breakfast in the dining room which was pancakes, sausages, bacon, eggs, and almost anything else you could imagine. It was the perfect way to end the streak of delicious food I had on the trip. We all stood out on deck as the boat pulled into Port of La Guairaá and as we stepped onto the Venezuelan dock I was overcome with a bittersweet feeling; I was sad that the trip was over but I was grateful that I got to experience all that I did. The cruise ship was paradise and become a floating home for me, and I truly loved each island we stopped at. Trinidad and Tobago, my first stop, was home to a seemingly out of place fort, a series of 10 astonishing waterfalls, and the most beautiful beach I have ever visited, Maracas Bay which included fishing, scuba diving, beach sports, and even jet skiing! My second stop, Barbados was a magnificent island paradise where I learned to surf and shoot a gun, explored tropical gardens, underwater caves, and the ruins of sunken ships. The ships final port of call, St. Lucia I traveled to the top of the famous Pitons, through the treetops of the rainforest on a zip line, and into the middle of an inactive volcano. As I fly back home I will never forgot the great times I had onboard the cruise and exploring each of the three islands; it was truly... | ...The Trip of a Lifetime.