*I’m picking up right from where I left off. If you haven’t been following my most recent posts you may want to scroll down a bit.*
Our day in St. Maarten ushered in four back-to-back port days (St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, Barbados, Martinique), which was a little much. I’ve found that there are two types of cruisers:
- The type who cruise solely for the sake of cruising and find port days to be a momentary distraction.
- The type who cruise because they find it to be an enjoyable, carefree way to visit new places.
I should be counted among the latter of these two groups. That said, though, I found that four days of back-to-back ports was slightly exhausting. I realize how terribly lazy that sounds, but here’s the thing–disembarking the ship isn’t quite like getting in and out of the car. You have to check, double check and triple check your day bag to make sure you’ve got everything you need for the entire day (think along the lines of sunscreen, camera, beach towels, ship ID, government issued ID, cash or credit card, etc). And when you’ve got a gaggle of children like we do you have to multiply that stuff by six. Once you’ve got everything gathered, you make your way to a dining room and make sure that you’re heading off the ship with full bellies–trust me, it simplifies things. Then you have to head down to the gangway and line up to disembark. The security officers scan each and every person on or off the ship so as to make sure everybody has been accounted for once the time comes to pull up anchor and sail away. And that, my friends, is just the beginning. Once you’re actually off the ship you’re then met with the challenge of navigating your way through unfamiliar cities, where, mind you, you may or may not find an English speaking populous. It can be a lot of work. Which is why those four back-to-back port days left me weary.
The second stop on our holiday cruise was Guadeloupe, a French island in the Lesser Antilles. Because it is French (and they, therefore, speak French) and not an island often visited by cruise ships, it was definitely challenging to plan an excursion for my family. For that reason, we opted to let the experts do the planning and booked an official Disney excursion. It was the first Disney excursion we’ve ever done, and likely the last.
Have I ever mentioned my aversion to crowds? Because, um, crowds? So not my thing.
The particular excursion we booked was one of the few options available to families traveling with kids under 5. So we were really left with no choice. And neither, it seems, were a bajillion other families. There were two (TWO!) giant busloads of us, all booked on this one excursion. Neither of the two destinations we visited were equipped to accommodate that large a group.
Truthfully, the excursion didn’t sound terribly fantastic when we booked it. It was described as a visit to a zoological park followed by a stop at a waterfall. There was mention of wild raccoons and the opportunity to swim in aforementioned waterfall. As it turned out, the raccoons were not the least bit free-roaming (there were five or six of them in a zoo-like habitat) and there were so many people on our tour that the vast majority of them couldn’t even see the waterfall in the distance through the throngs of people.
Not my idea of fun, unfortunately. And far from worth the $334 it cost for the six of us to go.
There were some highlights, though:
- The view as we pulled into port was absolutely gorgeous
- Exploring a French island is a pretty cool thing to add to our list of “done thats”
- Our bus arrived at the waterfall before the other one, so we were some of the lucky few with the option to swim
Oh, and. AND? Jeff and I enjoyed our “couples choice” spa treatment that afternoon, once we got back to the ship. The package included 2 hours of total bliss. A hot tub overlooking the ocean? Check. A relaxing foot cleansing ceremony? Check. A soothing stone massage? Check. Hot tea and fruit while we gazed across the deep blue sea? Check and check.
It was a splurge, for sure. But, um. Worth. Every. Penny.
As for the Disney sponsored excursions, we’ll skip those from here on out. I felt compelled to do this one based on my inability to speak french, or read french websites in order to plan something for us on my own. In hindsight, I don’t know what we could have done differently, but overall, I wouldn’t consider our visit to Guadeloupe a standout. It’s all good though; you win some, you lose some.
Here are some photos. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory, but I have to give two disclaimers.
- I made good use of my mad photography skilz and did a heckuva job avoiding the throngs of people in these photos. Believe me. They were there.
- The kids are wrapped in towels at the zoological park not because they were wet, but because it was just a tad chillier than we’d expected. Oops.