The summer and early fall of 2017 will long be remembered for the tropical storms and hurricanes that barreled their way through parts of the Caribbean. Some places will need more time to recover than others, but amazingly enough, most ports of call that cruise lines utilize are open for business and ready to serve visitors with a big dose of hospitality! Recently, we enjoyed cruising the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Line where we called on four ports – all fabulous and full of Vitamin Sea!
Hey Folks! The Caribbean is Open!
Caribbean islands are mainly tourism driven as far as industry and economy, so it’s devastating when hurricanes destroy their businesses and homes. But, these folks are so incredibly resilient and they bounce back quickly. They want their destination, including cruise ports of call, back to operational as soon as possible.
Following the storms, there were many calls for help from various Caribbean islands. Monetary needs, of course, are plentiful for rebuilding, but there are other ways to help, especially now that most ports have resumed activity. The best way to help is by going! The funds you spend in these seaside port towns allow them to go from being “up and running” to being fully functional again. So by all means, go. . .and one way to get there is cruising the Caribbean with Carnival.
Itinerary on Carnival Splendor
Our Caribbean itinerary with Carnival Splendor included some awesome stops. The last scheduled stop was Half Moon Cay (Carnival’s private island), but the swells were too high to safely tender over to the island (tenders are small boats that carry passengers from ship to shore when docking isn’t available). The captain made the tough decision to move on with a beautiful sea day and had already phoned ahead arranging a for a call in Freeport, Bahamas the next morning. So, we got our four ports of call. . .safely. It’s cool to have so many Caribbean ports of call available to choose from!
We left on a Sunday afternoon from the Port of Miami for seven nights in the Caribbean. Below is the itinerary we sailed:
Day 1: Departure day
Day 2: Fun Day at Sea
Day 3: Nassau, Bahamas
Day 4: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Day 5: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Day 6: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (actually ended up being a Fun Sea Day)
Day 7: Fun Day at Sea (actually ended up being Freeport, Bahamas)
Day 8: Return to Miami
Ports of Call Cruising the Caribbean with Carnival Splendor
Nassau, Bahamas is a place I’ve visited often. The weather was gorgeous and folks were headed out on excursions and on foot to explore this capital city. The Straw Market is a haven for shoppers looking to bring home the wares of local vendors and downtown isn’t far from the pier. Excursions include the ever-popular Atlantis Paradise Island; a myriad of snorkeling, diving and other water activities; Blue Lagoon Island and Crystal Cay.
Amber Cove is one of my all-time favorite ports of call and is located in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Excursions vary from opportunities to volunteer with local needs (teaching English to locals, visiting with schools, planting trees, making water filters, etc.) to exploring the villages and shopping. Adventures like Damajagua Falls and Ocean World Adventure Park are popular options as well.
I have visited Amber Cove many times and enjoyed talking with a passenger on board who was trying to decide what her family (that included mom, dad, grandparents and a baby) could do without spending much money. They had explored Atlantis the day before and were budgeting their funds carefully for the remainder of the trip. I was happy to tell them all about the 30 acres of waterfront property just off the pier where a clean, fun port of call awaited.
There is shopping and a sprawling pool that encompasses a kiddie waterpark, waterslides, a zero entry area and many other places to swim, play or wade. There is a covered bar and grill area, zip lining and kayak rentals alongside the pool entrance. For those with a larger budget, there are lovely, tropical-colored cabanas at the water’s edge as well as hammocks. WiFi is pretty good here (you’ll need to make a food or beverage purchase to receive the daily code) and honestly, you won’t want to leave. (NOTE: in the shopping area, there is a little government hut filled with Dominican Republic fun facts and there is usually someone there to stamp your passport if you ask.)
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands is a small island (six miles long and three miles wide) that did receive some damage from the hurricanes. You probably won’t notice a thing unless you head downtown and even then, it is minimal. Fun excursions include scuba diving and horseback riding on the beach.
Margaritaville Grand Turk is right off the pier with yummy culinary treats, a swim-up bar in the beautiful pool area and pool-side cabanas (complete with a waiter and A/C). The beach is also right off the pier and it doesn’t cost a penny to get a lounge chair, umbrella or clam shell. You’ll want some cold drinks, though, and they will bring them right to your seaside chair. (Please remember to tip these folks and they’ll take excellent care of you while you are there.) There is a little souvenir shop only steps from the beach where I grab Gatorade and water while in port to keep hydrated, and sometimes I’ll find a nifty remembrance to carry back home with me as well.
Our last port of call while cruising the Caribbean with Carnival was Freeport, Bahamas where shopping with the locals was fun and plentiful! Look for the embroidered bags (not the screenprinted ones) and they’ll put your name on it for a fun, personalized souvenir. Wooden, hand-crafted walking sticks are a good find here also.
Don’t want to shop? No problem. Excursions in Port Lucaya include party boats, jet-skiing, windsurfing and swimming with dolphins. There are lots of opportunities for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling and other water sports.
Although they are not ports of call, I have to mention how nice and laid back the sea days sailing the Caribbean are. Carnival Splendor offers fun activities for kids in Camp Ocean all the way up to teen activities. Pamper yourself in the Cloud 9 Spa, enjoy lots of dining options and don’t forget the water slide! Evenings are perfect for fabulous Broadway-style shows, karaoke, the casino, piano bar and the Seaside Theater with Dive-In Movies. You’re only as bored as you choose to be!
Cruising the Caribbean with Carnival
So much has been discussed recently about whether or not it’s a good time to visit the Caribbean. I can tell you first-hand, it is PERFECT! Escape winter’s cold or explore turquoise waters in amazing ports of call for spring break. . .or summer vacation! Whatever timing is calling you to the Caribbean, it is open for business!
Need information on more Carnival cruises? Check these out!
Carnival’s newest ship Horizon will be sailing April 2018, but you can have a sneak peek here!
My cruise was sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line for the purpose of this Caribbean exploration. No funds were paid for this post. Photos and opinions are my own.
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