Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cruise Review: Ports of Call

One cool thing about going on a cruise is that you can make it as relaxing or jam packed with adventure as you'd like it to be. M and I agreed to do a bit of both. I'd recommend researching each port beforehand and picking out a few sights/activities you'd like to see/do. Or, live on the edge and rent a taxi driver for the day and ask to see all the best parts of the island. Just do not, I repeat, do not book excursions through the cruise line, if you care about expenses. They are a complete ripoff and you'll be charged at least twice the price compared to if you arranged the same tour yourself.

Here's how M and I spent our time on each of the 5 ports:

1) St. Maarten
This island is famous for its shopping - jewellery stores EVERYWHERE. It's a little overwhelming, especially for a non-shopper, like myself! M and I walked around a while on the two main streets - Front and Back, then headed to the beach to rent some chairs. A while later it started to rain. We frolicked in the water, jumped around on the floating trampoline, then took a water taxi back to the cruise ship. A nice, relaxing day! The locals here were very gracious and kept asking us to come back soon - tourism is their main (only?) industry.
2) Dominica
This was by far my favourite port because we set up an amazing tour with a local guide, Levi Baron. Our first stop was Titou Gorge, which happens to be where Pirates of the Caribbean II was filmed. We swam through this cave and eventually reached a waterfall.
A few of us climbed up the waterfall and reached another one. Holy moly, the second waterfall was so strong it hurt, but sitting behind it was awesome. The only way to get back down was to jump - so exhilarating! Next we went to Trafalgar Falls which has two huge waterfalls. The one pictured below is the "Mother".
Because Dominica is a volcanic island, there are tons of sulphur and hot springs. You can see me below, sitting under a mini waterfall in the hot springs. The water was 90 degrees, plus. Ahhhh, I can't even begin to explain how wonderful this was. M's bathing suit got stained orange here because of all the iron and minerals in the water! You can slightly see how the rocks are orange at the bottom of the picture.
Dominica is so lush and full of rainforests. Levi kept pulling over to grab things off trees for us to smell or look at because basically anything and everything grows on this island. It was amazing.
We also went snorkeling at Champagne Reef. Volcanic gasses seep through the ocean floor causing little bubbles to float up to the surface, resembling champagne bubbles. You could float over top of the bubbles and when they hit your skin it was utterly fantastic! Here's a pic I found on the internet of what the reef looked like.
This post is getting rather long so I'll continue with the next three ports tomorrow.


  1. Its minus 22 today in Ottawa with the wind chill - these pictures look amazing :)

  2. Ugh, I hear ya, Marina. Is it spring yet?
    Going from +30 to -20 was quite a transition!

  3. Very nice pictures... it sure would be nice to be enjoying that weather now....