- 3 years ago
- Wedding: May 2013
We went on a 7 day Carnival Cruise, the Valor, embarking and disembarking in Puerto Rico, with stops in St Thomas, Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia, and St Maarten. After disembarking in Puerto Rico, we spent three additional days in Old San Juan in Puerto Rico!
Day 1: Puerto Rico/Embarkment
We arrived at about 3pm, and took the Carnival shuttle to the boat! The driver gave us a hilarious guided tour on the way. We got to the terminal, and (this is good information), bought our two bottles of wine in the duty free shop between the first and second passport checks! The bottles were pretty cheap, and the wine was REALLY good!
We got lunch after boarding, and then dinner (at 4pm and 5pm, really). We had the joyous experience of finding our Muster Stations (it was so hot outside someone actually fainted). After, we went to the Lido Deck Monster Party–I got featured on the massive 15X25 foot deck screen! Which is when I realized I was the ONLY white person doing The Wobble. Which was very entertaining.
After, we went to the Piano Bar–Carnival still sells the best Pina Colada I’ve ever had! We also went to the ship’s Welcome Aboard show–it was fantastic! The outfits were a little skimpy, but what was I really expecting?
Day 2: St Thomas
We had room service breakfast in bed, and then headed out to St Thomas! Even though the bus was $2/pp, DON’T TAKE IT! There is a beautiful walking path less than a mile long that takes you along the ocean! We emerged across from a small bazarre of EXCELLENT “designer” hand bags, tourist tees, you know. Behind that and to the left was some AMAZING shopping!
We got an excellent deal on Tanzanite (it was the off-season). It was 68% off and we got a free Omega necklace! But the best part–one block behind the Diamonds International near the Cartier (not the one near the Tanzanite International, there are like 10). There’s an ultra-local Restaurant named “Cuzzins”
Get the Conch Fritters! They were INCREDIBLE!
After, we went to the first art auction. Free champagne! TERRIBLE auctioneer!
The second night was the formal night! I wore an evening gown and we went to the Though the Decades variety show. We also saw the comedians– go early, because that lounge fills up VERY fast!
Day 3: Day at Sea!
The day at sea was pretty standard–I brought breakfast to DH, we went swimming, we did the art auction ($900 later…) we had two lunches and two dinners and two desserts.
There was also supposed to be a massive deck party, but it was POURING!
So we saw a professional juggler who was INCREDIBLE. We also went to a shopping on the islands seminar.
If a Carnival ship offers to sell you a coupon book, BUY IT. I got almost $300 worth of free jewelery just for walking in to different stores on the different islands! (DH would like to put a disclaimer that your DH will not enjoy this. He reccomends “special sexual favors” to make him feel better later)
Day 4: Barbados
We decided to walk to the shopping area in Barbados. Don’t do it. Take the cab.
We went through some VERY skeevy areas! On the bright side, Barbados currency is half of US currency, so when I had to buy a bikini for the next day’s volcanic mud bath, it wound up being $10! There was an open air market, but it was about a very skeevy mile away from the port. Not even we felt safe enough to walk there!
On the bright side, I got a gorgeous silk handkercheif dress for $20 on the walk back from the shopping district!
We also did the Catamaran, Sea Turtles, and Swim excursion (through Carnival). It was GREAT! We swam with sea turtles, then drank unlimited (VERY strong) rum punch on the way to the beach to swim, swam on the beach Tiger Woods got married on (all beaches on Barbados are public). Then we drank more rum punch on the way back!
We (mostly me) wound up a teeny bit wasted at 2pm… And I was in plentiful and good company! So we had late lunch on the boat, early dinner, show, late dinner… We had a seriously fattening routine!
Day 5: St Kitts
We did a morning excursion to a volcanic bath! We literally got on a small bus, and traveled 1 or 1.5 hours. It was very interesting and scenic, but I get very motion sick, took a dramamine, and slept through a bunch of it!
When we arrived inside the caldera, we took a short (funny) walking tour, then stripped down to our bathing suits and got in the bath! It was stone-sided, but silt bottom. It was perfectly warm, and SO relaxing! Then we got out the other side, and covered ourselves in the volcanic silt from the bed of the stream. We let it dry, then washed it off in the bath!
My skin has NEVER been so soft! That being said, DH’s bathing suit was destroyed, and any clothing that gets wet with the river water is going to smell forever!
We got back to the port, took a quick walk around the shopping area, and headed back to the ship.
That night was the second formal night!
We had lots of fun going to a magic show, dinner, dessert… Dessert again!
Day 6: St Lucia
We had breakfast in bed, then headed out to St Lucia!
We walked through the okay-sized shopping area, but outside the port gates was VERY skeevy. We didn’t feel safe enough to go more than three blocks out, three up, and completed the square.
On the bright side, there was a free shuttle to the Mariott with the best beach on the island! The casino there was very sad (there was nothing but slots, virtual poker, and one full-sized craps table), but the beach was AMAZING! The sand was white, the water was warm, and there were tropical fish just swimming around!
We did dinner on the boat, followed by trying to see a comedian (we got there too late). So instead we went to Men vs Women, and I wound up team captain of my 300 person team! We answered trivia questions, did word scrambles, and as a tie-breaker, I held a coin between my thighs and tried to drop it into a drink cup. The men won 6-5! But I got a trophy! There was also a free shots tasting!
Day 7: St Maarten
St Maarten was our favorite island! We walked from the boat to the shopping area. It’s less than a mile to walk, and the path was beautiful! The shopping distict was MASSIVE, and the entire thing boardered about a mile on the beach! One side was stores, and across the walk was actually a swimming beach! We went three or four blocks deep into the city, and felt COMPLETELY safe!
The best streets was Old Street or something, all the buildings were like 400 years old, and most were restaurants! We also visited “The Yoda Guy”. The guy who made Yoda owns a small (free) museum one block back from the main street! It was AMAZING, I actually got to shake his hand!
Back on the boat, I finally went on the waterslide! I went down like 10 times since there was no line… The attendant kept laughing at me! After we did our lunch/dinner/comedians/second dinner/dessert thing for our last night on the boat. And after filling a soup bowl with soft-serve (so good…) we watched The Hunger Games on the big screen on the deck until 1am. It was very sweet!
Day 8: Disembarkment and Puerto Rico–El Morro and Marmalade
We our last all you can eat cruise breakfast (aww…), and were off the boat around noon. We walked from the boat to our Hotel– La Villa Herencia. The front door was locked. We called, but the service was out. We tried to find another way in, but there was just that one locked door.
So I ended up knocking on the door (worried I was going to break it, it was clearly historic) until someone showed up. We got let into our room–and it was BREATHTAKING! For anyone considering a stay at La Villa Herencia in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, DO IT!
DH wanted to go for a walk, so we power walked (in 95F, more with humidity) to El Morro, a historic fortress about a mile away. We spent an eternity… I mean, about three hours wandering the fortress. It was beautiful, but it was SO hot.
When DH finally accepted I wasn’t suddenly going to decide that we should walk a mile to the other fotress (I would have killed him first. I NEVER complain about the heat, but I just felt… Off) we went to a Cafe called Cafe Something, across from the Guess and the Coach Outlet.
He got the Plantain Mofongo, and I got the Avacado version. It was very good! Very local. Our waiter was awful, but the food was worth it!
That night, we went to Marmalade! The atmosphere was gorgeous, and the food was INCREDIBLE! Here’s the problem. There’s a menu you can order off, for $25 for a plate, give or take. The portions are EXTREMELY tiny, though. Not even worth it tiny. Not even going to make you satisfied tiny. And I’m 126lbs, so it doesn’t take a lot to fill me up!
That being said, the menu is designed with their multipule course meals in mind. You can get 3 for like $49, 4 for a little more, and 5 or 6 for $89. Then they had a wine pairing option for an extra $30. If you got either of those meals, I’m sure it was TOTALLY worth it! But we had just bought $900 in art on the boat, so I get DH trying to save a little money.
Day 9: Puerto Rico–San Salvador
We woke up bright and early for our 8-hour rainforest expedition, the Eco Quest San Salvador Rappelling and Ziplining expedition. We walked to the pick-up area, about 8 blocks away. We picked up one other couple, and drove to a CVS near the San Salvador rain forest! They advised us to use the bathroom, and we all got power bars! Then we drove the rest of the way to the rainforest. After getting out of the bus and putting on our climbing gear, we picked up an additional tour guide (his family owns the section of the rainforest that Eco Quest uses for their tours), and headed up the biggest hill I have ever climbed. The tour guides joked that it was the hardest part of the tour–if you can get up the hill, you’ll be fine for the whole excursion!
When we got near the top, our tour guides turned off, and we started walking up river. It was about knee-deep, SO refreshing, and just the right temperature. There were NO bugs, and the water was PERFECTLY clear. SO clear, in fact, that it was okay to drink! We climbed for an hour, up river and up rocks, then stopped for a quick dip in a 15 ft waterfall! I was the only one who went all the way under, and one of four (out of nine) who went in!
After, we climbed for another 30 minutes or so, before reaching the “peak of the tour”–a 90 foot waterfall we had to rappell down. The first 30 feet were straight down, but then there were jagged rocks, to we had to jump into the waterfall, and rappell the rest of the way down in the waterfall.
I volunteered to go first, and when the guide went “Now JUMP!” 30 feet down, I went “…Are you sure?”
I jumped in, and it was AMAZING. The water was only splashing waist deep, so I could see straight ahead, and down. But I was so focused on rappelling down, I never looked down until I heard the other tour guide cheering twenty feet from the bottom! When the guide unhooked me, I gave him a hug and took a dive in the pool under the waterfall! DH went next, and we ate bananas and papaya at the bottom while everyone else rappelled down! As the tour guide said “The waterfall, it makes the papaya taste better!”
Once everyone was at the bottom, we hiked for another half an hour, until the tour guides said “So, how do we get back? I give you a hint. ZIPLINES!” So we took three ziplines back. I freaked out on the first one, used too much brake, and had to sloth-crawl the remaining 20 feet to the other side! The rest went fine, though, despite that I screamed louder than anyone else on each zipline. After the last one, we hiked another 30 minutes down the murder hill and back to the bus.
The family that owns the land gave us a place to change into our dry clothes, and fed us a very local meal! There was a deep fried appetizer, half a chicken (the pieces were HUGE), and some incredible rice! Then there was flan for dessert. It was amazing!
After getting back to the hotel, DH realized he’d hurt his ankle. When an advertisement for Pizza Hut came on, I walked there (four blocks or five), and got us a $10 dinner box. Pizza, breadsticks, cinnasticks… Wonderful!
Day 10: Puerto Rico–The Bacardi Factory and Verde Mesa
On our last day in Puerto Rico, we slept in, had leftover pizza for breakfast, and set out for the ferry! We took it ( 50 cents per person each way… Big spenders!) to the taxi that brought us to the Bacardi factory. The taxi was $3 per person, each way. The Bacardi tour was free! And they give you two free drink coupons.
When you get your drinks, do the bartender’s choice! I’m still not sure what I had, but it was the best drink I’ve ever had! On the way back, we stopped at a deep-fried food vendor near the ferry! I paid 3.25 and got five assorted food things. They were INCREDIBLE! One of them had a hot dog in it.
In the afternoon, we found the birthplace of the Pina Colada! And it was HORRIBLE. Absolutely disgusting. The single greatest waste of money ever. They poured it out from a slushie machine. It wasn’t even frozen! And the fake coconut taste was sickly. Shame on you, Ron de Barrilito!
For dinner, we went to Verde Mesa. It was the single most beautiful restaurant I have ever been in! There was only 12 tables, and six servers. You had to ask permission to take a picture! That is how out-of-control beautiful it was. The food was all local and organic. It had an INCREDIBLE vegetarian and fish menu. It was easily better than Marmalade, half the price, and the portions were five times larger! It was definitely the best restaurant I have ever been to! One thing–they don’t take reservations, to get there early-ish! They open at 6. Bizarre side note: the owner of Verde Mesa was one of our San Salvador tour guide’s BIL!
Days 11-15: Staycation
Our flight home was very rough… Or so I thought. I felt nauseous for days after!
We went to Ikea for a china cabinet (classy, no?), and I cried about a fake plant (I was so sad it wasn’t real!)
Then I got it… OUR BFP! We are expecting our first LO on February 13th, 2014!