From golden beaches with crystal clear waters, snorkelling in the tropics with rooftop refreshments, and leaving my heart with a random Cuban man, who took more than a liking to my novice salsa moves, this post I will cover my TOP PORT ESCAPADES on my first cruise contract.
TWO SHIPS, TOO MANY PORTS
That's a lie, there could NEVER be too many ports!
Ports are the pinnacle of all cruises, together with the incredible on board entertainment (unbiased opinion obviously), they are the reason why people cruise time and time again, and after having a taste for some of the most exotic ports myself I can clearly see why.
I experienced two different ships with both hit up different ports each with their own wonders to explore, and shore excursions to enjoy (at an additional cost of course).
When I joined in January I was lucky enough to be on a Journey's cruise, which is slightly different, it's longer, (14 days) visiting more exotic, "special" ports. The clientele on board tend to be slightly older meaning less kids for the youth staff on board (..can make shifts quite boring).
On this cruise I hit up:
St Thomas (didn't get off at as hadn't gone through US immigration yet)
After that it went back to its usual run that was 7 days long hitting up 3 different ports alternating between Eastern Caribbean and the Bahamas:
Princess Cays (own private Island)
The second ship did 5 and 4 day cruises around Western Caribbean, Havana (snazzy overnight stay) & Key West
Roatan, Mahogany Bay
TOP 5 PORT ESCAPADES
5) Welcome to Antigua
The burning sun, crystal clear waters, & golden sands.
Irresistible to resist.
This was my first port of my contract.
And although it wasn't necessarily the one I did the most "exciting" excursion at or anything it was as I had to navigate myself to the beach to meet everyone else.
Having been stuck in trainings in the morning and got off later than everyone else it was up to me to get myself over to Mystique beach to meet everyone else. My first attempt at being an "explorer" meant jumping in a taxi in a country I knew nothing about, with a guy I didn't even know was a taxi driver.
Probably wasn't the "safest" move for a 5ft 2, petite, blonde girl. But I picked out the car with the Disney air freshener lopsidedly hanging from a rather dusty mirror, and hopped right on in.
Have you ever met an unfriendly Disney fan? Do they even exist?
I'd never seen a beach like it. The colour of the sea, the fluffiness of the sand, the cocktails at the bar. Everything was perfect and we had the best afternoon splashing around and topping up my sunburn.
A brilliant start to my rocky adventures.
4) Underwater Sculpture Parks in Grenada
Grenada was another port on the Journey's cruise.
My cabin mate was so clued up on all these incredible sites and activities to hit up at ports, as well as being a massive sea baby like myself. She'd come across this underwater sculpture park (which I regrettably don't have pictures of since I don't have a GoPro!) It is one of Trip Advisors top rated excursions to do so if you're around that neck of the woods hit it up!!
This was such a serene excursion, and organising it ourselves had meant we could escape the crowds of guests and have the day to ourselves.
It started with a beautiful catamaran journey taking us out of site (and mind) of the ship, left to lie back with a complimentary rum punch (yes you can drink on your down time guys!) soaking up the sun and stunning scenery.
We were given (questionable) snorkel equipment and let loose to explore the sites below sea before being whisked away to a rooftop bar where we lay back on the couches, nibbling snacks and of course snapping up those once in a lifetime pictures.
The sculpture park is awesome, I still can't get my head around the underwater ruins.
3) One Way Ticket To Hell And Back in Grand Cayman
A full on day out!
We booked onto one of awesome #ChooseFun shore excursions and jetted off for a day tour of Grand Caymans top sites...Hell being one of them!
Who knew Hell was actually in the middle of Grand Cayman? A very enjoyable place to visit!
Our tour guide was incredible! The funniest guy, who sat me and my mate up front as we bumped and sped across the Island visiting turtle farms, rum cake factories, sea views, 'Hell', and then finishing with the finale boat ride to sting ray sand bank swim and snorkel!
Who'd have thought "Hell" is only half the size of a football pitch! Named after the jagged shaped limestone formations deposited over 2.4 million years ago. Whilst there is not much to do there, other than explore the bright red gift shop where you can be sold many comical souvenirs by the devil himself.
But the main event was the stingrays, and boy oh boy they are beautiful!
Swimming around naturally in this unusually shallow part of the sea to avoid the sharks.
When told they are sharks favourite food I definitely felt my heart rate increase a little more than usual, and the boat looked like an appealing place to observe from.
But no way.
These big creatures swooshing around our feet were far too spectacular to move from, and very safe despite what Steve Irwin's tragedy may have led you to believe.
As you can see from the pics below, they are HUGE, and silky soft to touch.
The stingray our group had was also pregnant and we were able to rub its belly and feel the little stingers inside tossing around.
A magical day that ended with an unexpected 20mins snorkel around the coral reef before collapsing into my evening shift.
2) Roatán's BIG Pussycats
Me and a mate escaped to a private island reached only by catamaran.
This island had it all; from paddle boarding, to bars in the middle of the sea where you could sit on swing seats sipping GnTs, before running and diving from the cliffs into the warm waters.
The ambience of the place was serene, calm. There were a few other staff members as well who had chosen this remote location to escape to which made for a cheerful atmosphere.
After playing in the sea and couple of GnTs it was onto the main event; the leopard swim.
Now these leopards are kept on the island for breeding purposes, so the are not drug induce, but they have been raised there and are tame (...well tamer) than your usual wild leopards.
That's what I was lead to believe anyway as 90 pounds worth of "baby leopard" (baby my arse) swam into the sea and was put in my arms to cradle.
Too stunned to take in that should this big pussycat decide not to be such a pussy anymore, it could definitely maul my face off.
All being sad it was an incredible experience, directly followed by a guided snorkel around the coral reef seeing some of the most stunning fishies, and a swing over the pier swaying away as the sun began to dip behind the distant hills.
The mermaid in me was very satisfied.
drum roll please for numeró uno....which is of course
1) HAVANA oooh nana
Of course it's numero uno.... half my heart is left in Havana.
This country is breath taking and I loved the European architecture, the old fashioned cars, the forts, old quarters and courtyards.
By day we had only an hour to speed walk the sites but by night was when Cuba came alive.
In an underground Cuban nightclub after sampling what was apparently "the worlds best Mojito" in a place I can only describe as being like a Turkish petrol station (..wasn't a bad cocktail I guess). we danced and danced.
I left half my heart with a Cuban salsa dancer who apparently took a liking to my novice dance moves, and grasping my hand tried to sneak in a cheeky kiss which I politely refused before asking me to move to Cuba after my cruise.
Ummm tempting, tempting... but not this time.
Leaving the club we carried on exploring the streets by night and seeing Havana lit up. Then walking along the waterfront and back onto the ship at 4am, just enough time to sober up and get a few hours good sleep before setting sale in the morning.
ENJOYED THIS POST?
Don't forget to follow my adventures at sea as I set sail again this AUGUST
WANT TO EXPERIENCE CRUISE LIFE YOURSELF?
Well here's the good news, YOU CAN.
There are SO many cruise companies looking for staff, and loads of roles to choose from, you will definitely find something to suit you.
Go back and have a look at my first blog in the Come Crews With Me series which explores life at sea and provides some useful links to help you to get started!