Before we even set foot on board, we have been to a lot of places. It’s our mission to try to see as much of the world as we can. This trip added to our numbers. For all of us. It was fantastic having a floating hotel, taking us all around to different countries to explore without having to drag suitcases and car seats and all the paraphernalia that comes with travelling with children.
The Husband – 56
Me – 41
The Big One – 22
The Baby – 14
I know, how crazy at less than a year old the Baby has been to more countries than months old he is! No wonder my boys are so unfazed at boarding aeroplanes….
Travel Round the Caribbean
So just what countries did we add and what did we do on our floating holiday on the sea as we travel round the Caribbean?
After boarding in Barbados we had an immediate sea day before docking in Aruba. Still jet lagged and not really very with it we decided to just go for a little wander around the port of Aruba instead of trying anything more adventurous. We headed down the front, marvelling at the SIZE of the Azura docked and just looked at what was around. Including the beginning of a search for a reasonably priced Tag Heuer watch (we failed) though there are shopping talks and guides on board to help those of you more serious buyers than us. It was all decided on a whim that my husband “fancied” a Tag.
After wandering round the jewellers (and getting the poor shop assistants hopes up trying on 23 different watches) we decided that it was probably best to head back on the ship for lunch. From that moment onwards we also decided that we needed to plan better and be more prepared for the upcoming ports, so as not to spend all our holiday spends (and then some) on a Tag.
The Next Sea Day
Other than hitting the gym, and the Baby soft play we also planned out the rest of our trip. Something which we normally do well in advance, but this time we hadn’t really known what to expect. With a little bit of breathing space, armed with the destination guides that came in the cabin, along with the shore excursion guide book, we sat and schemed. A plan was made for each day with some shore excursions booked for later in the week.
Docking in Grand Cayman we had decided that we were headed to have a beach day. Along with half of the world it appeared! Jumping on an $8 per person bus we headed up to Seven Mile Beach, white sandy beach with clear turquoise waters. Bliss!
Ocho Rios – Jamaica
This was hands down my favourite of all the islands. Jumping off the ship bright and early to go and see what Ocho Rios had to offer we eagerly explored the cruise terminal looking for a taxi driver. All taxi drivers were licensed, had laminated name tags and were not allowed in or out of the cruise terminal without showing ID from both ourselves and the driver. This added security measure made me feel much better rather than hopping into a car with some random man! Our taxi tour guide was called “Music Man” and he was fantastic. First up he took us to the beautiful beach Bamboo Blu Beach in Mammee Bay in to let the boys play in the sea. Something which was fast becoming the Big Ones favourite thing to do.
P&O offer some absolutely amazing sounding shore excursions in Ocho Rios, from Bob Marley tours, to Dunn’s River Falls to Cool Runnings Bob sled, the problem we had was that not many were compatible with children.
The one tour that I really wanted to do was to climb up Dunn’s River Falls. I have a little bit of an obsession with waterfalls, which is probably why the Husband proposed at Iguazu Falls.
When we first got into the taxi we mentioned this to Music Man, as Dunn’s River Falls is a highlight of Jamaica, so instead he took us down to see the Falls, before we were able to meet a local guide to see a smaller version of the main event.
Amber Cove – Dominican Republic
While looking (and oohing and ahhing over so many varied shore excursions available in each port) through on our sea day we had seen a shore excursion for Ocean World which we booked thinking that the Big One would love it.
The dolphin show, the shark show, the sea lion show. The ability to swim with the fish. The cool freshwater swimming pool to splash in. And the ultimate in Caribbean experiences, the ability to go in and have a dolphin encounter.
The husband took the Big One in to meet Luna; at first the Big One was having none of it. Didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to meet her. Touch her. Watch her even. Until he learnt that Luna was also three. Just like him. Then it was a different kettle of fish and we still talk about swimming like Luna today, it made him brave enough to put his face under the water when we got back on the ship.
It truly was magical to watch the utter joy in his face as he got up close and personal with such a magnificent creature. Though we didn’t get any photos as I wasn’t allowed to take any and the ones taken by the photographer just didn’t sum up how magical an experience it was.
From there we went to grab a bite to eat, with a magnificent view of the Azura from our table.
Tortola – British Virgin Islands
After the excitement of seeing Luna the Dolphin, and re-creating dolphin swimming in the Jacuzzi on board we decided that when we headed to Tortola it was going to be a beach day. We headed to the white sandy Cane Garden Beach bay. Where the sand was like sugar, it was that soft and white. The journey there was hair-raising, up and down the winding mountain roads, clinging onto each boy. Well the Baby fell asleep both ways but still, it was hair raising. The view from the top of the mountain?
Well I will let you judge for yourself whether it was worth it.
When we got to St Maarten, myself and the husband went our separate ways. Being the self confessed plane geek he is he headed to Maho Beach. For those of you that don’t know what Maho Beach is famous for, it is otherwise known as Plane Beach. The beach backing onto St Maarten airport, where the aircraft fly feet above your head. With crazy people hanging onto the fence when planes take off, and being knocked to the ground from the force of the jet blast.
Myself, the boys and my mum chose to get a water taxi over to Philipsburg to eat ice cream, people watch, and yep, you guessed it, play in the sea again. My little surf dude.
Meeting back on board, it was like my husband was a three year old again. It was a lifetime dream of his to head to St Maarten to see the planes, and after showing the videos and photos that he had taken to our littlest plane geek, well I think we will be coming back to St Maarten in the future to show the boys the planes.
One thing we discovered about the Caribbean was that there were a lot of chickens roaming freely everywhere, evident as we took a stroll round Castries. The Baby strapped in the pram and the Big One in a back carry in the Ergo. We got rained out pretty quickly and beat a hasty retreat back to the Azura where we enjoyed lunch in the Peninsular restaurant.
Another day and another Caribbean shower. When we arrived in Dominica we arrived to rain, but we had booked the Rosseau by Trolley Train tour via P&O Shore Excursions. So the show must go on. A trip around the town on the Trolley Train to the Big One’s delight, seeing the devastation that has been wrecked by Storm Erika, to the delight of the Botanical gardens. It truly deserves a post of it’s own (and shall have one as soon as my fingers catch up with my brain) but for now here is the Trolley Train at the Botanical Gardens.
Our final day on the cruise, and the last of four port days in a row. And we decided that the time was right to chill. The Azura docked overnight for people to leave, people to board and start their cruise adventure so the ship was very quiet. Well, it seemed a pity not to take advantage of allowing the boys full jacuzzi privileges so we spent most of the day round the pool. Pretending to be Luna. You know. The Dolphin. From the Dominican Republic. Yep all day. It was a wrench managing to actually prise him from the pool to go out to the cruise terminal to have a mooch and a shop. Which is all we actually did, the port is a little way out of town and while there are lots of amazing shore excursions available from P&O we were a little port-ed out. It was our last full day on board and we really wanted to make the most of the ship.
After all it’s not every day you get to relax after two weeks of frantic travel round the Caribbean. I wouldn’t have changed a moment though!
Where would you like to travel the Caribbean?
Disclosure; we paid for the cruise ourselves (well Mum did – thanks Mum!) though P&O kindly provided some on-board credit to use. All opinions are my own.You can follow our adventures from the sandpit (and beyond) over on Facebook, see you there!