I'm adjusting to life back home and feeling grateful that I do in fact, live in South Florida. And it is in fact warm and sunny most of the time-- except when the inevitable rain comes. But I am, especially when looking at these photos from our Carnival cruise, wondering when can I make it back to the islands to feel the beautiful breeze, meet more wonderful people, and eat delicious (mostly Rastafarian) food (but more on the food later!).
I'm not sure how my friend Halle and I came together over the past year or two, but I sure am happy we have. You guys probably know her more as my floral friend, who puts together awesome arrangements and things for me. But besides that, she's often gone traveling and working on a boat or island away from us--- which can be hard for us, because we miss her terribly, but you know, awesome for her! Well, our trip worked out perfectly in that, she happened to be on an island not too far from our first stop, St. Thomas. And for us, obvious huge fans of our friend Halle (she's the kiddo's favorite person), this was an amazing way to begin our island experience on our trip.After our first two days at sea (see our first girls trip at sea post here), we were relaxed and excited to experience St. Thomas. With the exception of St. Thomas, I had visited every island on our itinerary prior to this trip, so we really had little idea what to expect. Laura and I were both very pleasantly surprised to pull out to a mountainous (or are they considered hills in St. Thomas? I should Google that.... maybe hills?) lush view. And were happy to be greeted by Halle after disembarking from our ship.
We spent our entire day in the sunshine in St. Thomas. First we took a taxi to Magens Bay. Super helpful tip: if you ever visit--- take a long walk left from where the taxi drops you off. That's where the real peaceful experience is. Unless of course you're looking for a party, in which case stay right there--- you'll find music, tropical drinks, and people celebrating vacation life ;) On the way back to port, we missed the lunch spot we intended to try, but found another delicious spot a few blocks away from the main touristy, shopping streets. And I was congratulated upon arrival, being told not many venture out that far. I laughed of course, and we happily filled our bellies with some of our favorite meals from home. #riceandbeansforever. We then walked around a bit and just enjoyed our time together, knowing we wouldn't see Halle for at least a few more weeks.
I enjoyed St. Thomas most for the fact that Halle was there. Without Halle, without a doubt, hands down, Antigua was my favorite--- which I knew it would be. My first cruise experience was with my dad and brother when I was a little girl and the stop I remember most was Antigua. I remember my dad being so excited to show me the volcano. I remember him bartering with locals about a tea set I wanted. I just remember the people--- so vividly. I was excited to take Marlowe back here with me to experience the island as well. Within hours of leaving Antigua, I was searching and planning for my hopeful return.
We had a helicopter ride planned for the day. I've already discussed my huge fear of flying multiple times (love water travel, hate air travel--- but I of course do it anyway). I was nervous, but planned to join the helicopter trip. Even with my huge fear, I'm a "live now, you only have one chance" sort of person with most things, and I knew it would be tremendously beautiful, so I voted yes. Marlowe however, panicked a bit and didn't want to go through with it. Admittedly, I was a bit relieved. And happy to watch Laura and Katie take off-- while Marlowe and I got to sit back in the shady breeze.
I was excited to see how Laura and Katie would return--- Katie isn't the best flyer either--- but both lady friends were excited and could not stop talking about the stunning views. I'm going to promise to one day be brave enough to do it ;)
Next, we took a ride out to a 'veggie shack' for lunch. I had researched just about every restaurant option, on every island, prior to the trip (like I always, always do)--- but the owners of the place I'd picked were on vacation, so we were bummed to find it closed. Lucky for us, there were many other walkable 'veggie shacks' in the area for lunch. We found one, ordered everything, and sat down picnic style to eat. Afterwards we walked back towards the port, did a bit of shopping (Marlowe and I each got a dress), drank from some coconuts, and excitedly found loads of passionfruit and some mango ice cream too. Antigua was awesome. Color everywhere and the nicest people too.
So I'll be completely honest with you. Marlowe and I didn't get to experience San Juan at all. After almost a week of nonstop adventuring, the four year old was a bit wiped out ;) We hung back and had a cabin day--- filled with room service, a few movies, and me getting a bit of work done, between sunning on the balcony, while Katie and Laura went exploring. They absolutely adored the town. And I absolutely stole these photos from them :)
Visiting Nassau only a few years ago (with Laura) we sort of knew exactly what we wanted to do when we stepped off the ship. The first thing we did was look for my bright rainbow wall. We knew the general direction and headed that way. I stopped a few times to ask residents if they knew the exact location, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about. A few more blocks over, I was sad to find our color wall had been painted over to pink. We grabbed coffee, showed M around a bit, popped into some stores, listened to some music and made our way back to the ship. We wanted an easy, no fuss day since it was the last leg of our trip. And since we had been there before, this made it all very easy to accomplish.
Ideally, I would have liked to visit more places and stay longer in each place--- which I guess is part of the reason why people go on multiple cruises! :) Like I mentioned, I'm absolutely adding Antigua to my *must visit again* list. Maybe Puerto Rico too. And ideally, I'd like to make it back to the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas or otherwise) with Halle one day. We were beyond pleased with each place--- each felt familiar like home, but a million times better since each port day was another exciting, colorful, and delicious tropical adventure.... that I would like to be experiencing again right now :)
*this post was created as part of our collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own. #carnivalpartner