Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Our Caribbean Cruise // Pt. 3
Our fourth stop of Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas was the lovely island of St. Lucia. Having done my research ahead of time, I knew St. Lucia was known for its lush rainforest, mountainous landscape, and mud baths and sulphur springs at the only drive-in volcano in the world. Beau and I set up an all-day excursion that would give us a taste (and smell) of what St. Lucia was all about.
We booked our excursion through a lady named Charkar after reading great reviews on Trip Advisor. Our tour started with a private car and a friendly driver named Rodney. He stopped several times along the way to give us some great views of St. Lucia's coast, as well as a taste of their culture. We stopped at a banana stand for a fresh banana right from the tree, a taste of banana hot sauce, and a shot of fresh banana liquor and rum. I bought a coconut shell necklace from a street vendor, and Rodney shared a coconut sweet roll with me. Soon, he asked us to close our eyes as he ascended up a steep incline and came upon a perfect view of the Pitons, two of the highest peaks in the Caribbean.
The Pitons were once one giant mountain, but a volcano erupted inside and formed a crater in the structure. Now, these two matching peaks provide a distinct view that sets its country apart from other similar islands. Soon, we would learn that the other thing that sets this country apart from the other islands we had visited was most definitely its smell. The smell of sulphur, that is, which smells like a thousand eggs in the bottom of a shoe you'd been wearing on a really hot day. Thankfully, the experience was worth the smell!
Our next stop took us to Sulphur Springs in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Sulphur Springs is home to a dormant volcano that last erupted in the 18th Century, but continues to produce hot, steamy water and bubbly black mud for tourists to not only see, but experience its healing powers with a mud bath. We hopped in, lathered ourselves with mud, and became quite the tourist attraction ourselves when Rodney told us to wash everything off but our faces. Not really knowing what he was up to, we went with it and hopped back in the car, with dry clothes and now, dry mud on our faces. We drove for another five minutes or so before parking in a parking lot and walking by a number of tourists who clearly had yet to have seen the mud baths! One lady even asked to take our picture! We soon understood why Rodney told us to keep our masks on when we came upon a beautiful natural spring waterfall. And after soaking in a hot mud bath prior to this, we were both willing and eager to jump right in this cool, refreshing, and absolutely beautiful waterfall pool. We washed our faces in the waterfall, waded around for awhile, and felt like we had been to the spa all day as we climbed out and headed to lunch.
We had lunch at a little restaurant operated by the tour owner's mother, and feasted on authentic cuisine of fish, rice and beans, plantains, creole chicken, and a guava drink that was as refreshing as the waterfall bath. We descended down our mountain, ending on the coast of Soufriere, where we said goodbye to Rodney and hopped on a catamaran that would give us a different view of St. Lucia and ultimately take us back to our bigger ship. It started to rain shortly after our catamaran set sail, however, we stayed dry under the rooftop and had fun sipping rum punch and meeting other travelers. The rain created an unbelievable experience for us as we stopped by a coral reef and got to snorkel, and I hope I never forget what it felt like to be under the sea while the rain fell from the sky. I prefer blue sky and sun for my island adventures, but this experience was pretty romantic!
We hopped back on our big ship just in time for showers, cocktails, and a perfect view of the setting sun as we waved goodbye to other cruisers on neighboring ships and set sail towards Barbados, our last stop of this trip.
Our last port day took us to the lovely island of Barbados, home to Rhianna, sea turtles, and some of the prettiest beaches we had seen yet. Barbados was noticeably more flat that the rest of the islands we had been to so far and since it was our last day on land before heading home, we booked a catamaran and snorkeling tour with friends from Farm Bureau. We set up camp on the front nets and enjoyed the sunny skies as we made our way along the coast, spotted Rhianna's condo, and ate a delicious lunch on the boat. We stopped to snorkel at two places, once to feed sea turtles (amazing!), and another time to see some gorgeous fish along a pretty coral reef that Beau said rivaled the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Then we stopped at a beach, took in our last pretty views of the Caribbean, and had one fun and much faster ride back to the cruise ship, where we proved to have the best (and most wet) seat of the house as the boat (and our lungs) took in some waves!
The rest of our cruise was a wind-down of our whirlwind days visiting five different islands five days in a row. We lounged in beach chairs during our last day at sea, ordered onion rings and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets on the top floor of our ship, honored Beau at an award's banquet, laughed at a comedian in the main theater, FaceTimed the kids, and said goodbye to the amazing cruise staff before packing up our cabin Saturday and heading home to dry land and sea legs!
What a full, unique, and memorable experience this was on our first All-American trip! We make it eight days without our kids, slept on a larger-than-life ship in the middle of the ocean for seven nights, explored five different countries, zip-lined through the rainforest, swam with sea turtles, bathed in volcanic mud, and had more pina coladas and red beans and rice than I care to count! We weren't sure if we'd like cruise life, but now we're officially sold! We even think it'd be a super fun way to travel with kids. But for now, summer and gardens and trampolines and weddings are in store for this blog. Get ready for more pretty picture explosion soon enough. :):):)
Visit here for Part 1 of our cruise, and here for Part 2!