Cruising the Caribbean …

1 October 2020    Marike Bredenhann

9 minutes reading time

Cruising is the best value for money. If you have ever been on a cruise, you will agree with me. I do have to add in that taking a cruise is not the ideal vacation for every body. I will share with you my secrets of cruising and why I love to cruise.

There are so many beautiful places all around the world and there will never be enough time in my little life to see every single place. Cruising has been my time saver. You can find cruise ships all around the world. Although it can only take you to the port you have the freedom to book a tour suited for your needs and be back in time to sit down for a 5 course meal.

Cruise ships are floating hotels and has been the number one vacation choice for the majority of the American population. Cruising started on 29 June 1900, Prinzessin Victoria Luise was a German passenger ship of the Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG). Since then the industry has grown considerably. With a choice of over 40 cruise lines, I can promise you that you will find one suited for your needs.

With the outbreak of covid-19 the cruise industry has taken a tremendous hit. The cruise lines will have to re-think the entire cruising concept. Health and safety of the guest and crew are of utmost importance, and measurements are taken to ensure that a safe and healthy ship is maintained. That is why the cruise lines have assembled the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of the best minds and leaders in public health, biosecurity, epidemiology, hospitality and maritime operations. Their insights and recommendations are helping drive the way forward as the cruise industry work to strengthen their current procedures and create new ones across the entire cruise experience. Make sure to visit the cruise lines website for all the details and speak to your local travel guide for insider information.

Caribbean cruise

The best time for a Caribbean cruise is December to April. The weather is at its best, typically hot and sunny, relatively dry, with low humidity and pleasantly cool nights. Cruising in the Caribbean will commence closer to the end of 2020 as most of the regular cruiser are from America.

Cruise Lines that have opened their sailings thus far: Dream Cruises sailing in Taiwan,
TUI Cruises sailing from Germany and Greece, MSC Grandiosa in Italy, MSC Magnifica also in Italy, Costa Cruises has also started cruising again. Slowly but surely the industry is opening up again and “cruise lovers” such as myself, cannot describe the pure joy we are feeling.

Here is some of my favorite ports in the Caribbean, they have the most to see and experience and have never had a high number of covid-19 cases.

Berry Islands, Bahamas

The Bahamas

Bahamas is not a single island but comprises of 700 islands scattered over 100,000 square miles (160,000 square km) of ocean. An ecological oasis, boasting the clearest water on the planet. Andros also known as the “Big Yard” is the largest island of The Bahamas at 2,300 square miles. The fast open deserted beaches and freshwater lakes play host to countless species of wildlife, marine life, flora and fauna. The Tongue of the Ocean is a 190 mile long reef that drops to about eight feet on the island side and plunges over 6,000 feet on the ocean side. The Tongue of the Ocean is unique in this region because of its size, lush coral growth, and minimal coral disease.

Andros has a considerable number of ocean and inland blue holes or else known as sinkholes. They are the home of a vast amount of unique cave fish and invertebrates, some not found anywhere else. Local legend has it that these blue holes are occupied by two mystical creatures, the large bird-like ‘Chickcharnee’ that lives in the pine forests, and the ‘Lusca’ sea monster that could suck you into the hypnotic blue holes.

The Bahamas has the largest protected area, this area includes five national parks; the Blue Holes National Park, Crab Replenishment Reserve, north & South Marine Parks, and the West Side National Park.

Although Andros is the biggest island in this country, the capital of The Bahamas is Nassau. It lies on the island of New Providence, with neighboring Paradise Island accessible by Nassau Harbor bridges. A popular cruise-ship destination. This city thrives on tourist attractions. You can find the well know, Atlantis Casino here. The Atlantis Casino also has a water park available with many fun water rides to choose from. All around the island you have wide open beaches and clear stretching waters with beautiful coral reef. If sunny warm beaches are not for you, you can take a stroll down the bustle filled streets towards the down town shopping district. The entire island retains many of the typical pastel-colored British colonial buildings, like the pink-hued Government House.

The Bahamas offers so much beauty together with years of history, you will find that one day is not enough to experience what these islands have to offer.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a Spanish settled island that is part of the family of Americas. The Americas consist of North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is the second-oldest European-founded City in the Americas. San Juan is the beating heart of the beautiful Puerto Rico, full off history and amazing culture. A city where the Old World meets the New World in magnetic ways, San Juan is also the core of more modern pursuits such as; shopping, dining, and nightlife.

San Juan is filled with exciting excursions. Whether you’re into tropical beaches, historical sites, arts and culture museums, salsa music, or something else entirely, San Juan provides it.

The Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristóbal are standing guard over the Old City, two National Historic Sites, a great place to get your footing in the city’s captivating history. Discover the city, the walls, the tunnels, and the dungeons, explore the garitas/retenes (guard look out boxes), and inspect the original cannons that these forts still hold. A tour is available that explains the deep-seated history of San Juan.

Quaint and charming pastel painted buildings blend harmoniously with the cultural landmarks and the striking monuments that tell the story of Puerto Rico. Be sure to visit La Fortaleza, the oldest governor’s residence in the Western Hemisphere. For added context and local color, consider taking a walking tour of the city with a local guide.

Want to discover more of the Puerto Rican history, Casa Blanca Museum, a home built for the Spanish explorer, Ponce de León. You can also stop at the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art. Close by you will find the Sports Museum of Puerto Rico, these museums will give you an immersive journey into the island’s past and present.

If you find history a slight bit boring, then San Juan has more options for you. San Juan is home to the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, Plaza Las Américas, where you will surely find what you are looking for (and then some). With a wide range of department stores, chain retailers, specialty boutiques, a movie theater and so much more, a mall true to its slogan: The Center of Everything. There is also the Mall of San Juan, a hub of high-end shopping with a mix of international brands, local designers, and upscale department stores such as Nordstrom and Fifth Avenue.

When the lights come on the city starts pulsating with nightclubs, bars and lounges where you can drink world-class cocktails and dance salsa with total strangers until the sun comes up. Join the street party at La Placita de Santurce, a marketplace by day and the hottest bar and restaurant scene by night. Nearby is Calle Loíza, a restaurant-rich neighborhood that is quickly becoming a major nightlife destination. And in Old San Juan, streets such as South Fortaleza (SoFo) and Calle San Sebastián are lit up by stringed lights after dark, there you will find the best and most unique bars in the world opening their doors to visitors from all over the globe.

Barbados

Barbados

An island in Caribbean that does not form part of the Americas. Barbados is known to be the wealthiest country in the Caribbean. This island has become a hot spot for the world’s rich and famous, thanks to its iconic beaches and tourist attractions. Sugar, rum, and molasses used to be Barbados’ main sources of revenue. It has been a recent decision to change this over to light industry and tourism. Since the shift started, Barbados has become the vacation attraction of the century.

Barbados is most famous for; Rihanna (the singer), the abundance of Flying Fish, the annual Crop Over Festival, Surfing and Kite boarding and of course the National Dish, Cou-Cou or else Coo-Coo, consisting mainly of cornmeal and okra. The Flying Fish is one of the national symbols of the country, even a French Missile is named after them, Exocet (french for flying fish).

The Crop Over Festival, traditional harvest festival, started in the 1780s and it is the time of year that celebrates the harvesting of the sugar canes. This was the predominant income for Barbadians for many years, this festival still continues on today. The festival has grown into a festival full of bright colored costumes decorated with colorful feathers and striking jewels. Masquerade Bands make their way to Spring Garden Highway dancing behind music trucks and moving bars.

Barbados has become increasingly popular for the great waves. The biggest waves are found on the South and east coasts of the island, you might even come across a surfing competition or two. The best time of the year will be November to June. A little secret surf spot known only by locals can be found near the town of Oistins. Freights Bay is a beautiful sheltered little bay on the South coast that is beloved for the offshore winds. Branden near Bridgetown is also a good spot, ideal for surfers of all skill levels. The Soup Bowl, Bathsheba on the East coast has earned its fame, as has Surfing South Point, on the South coast. Batts Rock and Tropicana on the West coast, and Maycocks on the North west are also worth a spin.

These are only my three favorite Caribbean Islands. There are so many of them and all unique in their attractions. Have a look at the cruise ship websites and learn more about the incredible destinations available.

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