One way I picked up eight countries on my country count was on a seven day cruise to the Southern Caribbean. This cruise can be done without a passport as well.
I booked my cruise on Carnival cruise line on March 7th for a July 20th sailing. At that time, I was able to take advantage of an upgrade promotion. The cost I paid for two people (my son and me) for a balcony room including all port charges was $2195; almost $1100 a person. I will admit, it’s quite pricey and I could have saved a lot had I booked an inside cabin instead of a balcony. When one breaks down the cost, it comes to $157 a day per person for hotel, transportation, meals and entertainment. Even with a balcony room, I think that’s a pretty good price.
A word to the wise, our cruise departed on July 20. That time of year, the Caribbean is extremely humid and hot. If you really don’t like this type of climate, you may want to consider an Alaskan cruise instead. Believe me, I found many days on this trip to be insufferable which resulted in me having to drink more beer than I intended. Take a coozie along to slide your beverages in because in that weather, nothing stays cold for long.
I booked the airfare on American Airlines on May 14 (just over two months prior to departure) for $362 a person. The flight left from Detroit at 5:00 a.m. with a stop in Charlotte, NC arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 1:13 p.m. From there, we took a transfer to the cruise port for around $20 a person. We arrived at the San Juan port around 2:30 p.m. The cruise port was VERY busy at this time and the lines were a bit long. We were finally on the ship by 4:00 p.m. with six hours to go before we set sail. No problem; there were many activities in which to partake on the ship.
Here is our itinerary:
Puerto Rico-So I’ve been here a few times before, but for a new traveller, this counts as a country. I go by the Traveler’s Century Club’s guidelines for what counts as a “country.” Some will argue that since Puerto Rico is a US Commonwealth nation, it doesn’t count. I count it and so does the Traveler’s Century Club. A more detailed post on Puerto Rico can be found here.
We awoke the next morning while the ship was docking at St. Thomas. It was beautiful. This is one reason I like a balcony room-I was able to have my morning coffee delivered by 6:45 and enjoy it while I watched the ship come in to port from my private balcony. When we disembarked, we walked to the gift shops. I bought a beer to take with me. There are no open container laws in St. Thomas so strolling around with a beer in hand is ok.
We boarded the local taxi bus to Frenchtown to see the old fort.
From there we walked into the downtown area where we were greeting a steel drum band make up of about 10 local youths. I wish I had made of video of them for they were really good. When I returned to St. Thomas over year later, they were still playing in the town square so there may be a chance they are a local fixture.
We slowly made our way back to the ship, but not before stopping to see the replica (one half scale) of the famous Copenhagen mermaid. Click here to see the real one. (link coming soon)
If one is interested in St. Thomas for a weekend getaway, here is a link to learn more. (link coming soon)
On the fourth day of our cruise we were docked in Barbados by 8:00 a.m.
Again, it was VERY hot and humid. We were hit with a torrential downpour so I sought shelter in a restaurant and waited for the storm to pass then we set out to explore.
The area around the water was lovely.
We stopped for a rum punch at a little bar next to the screw lift where I was educated on the rums of Barbados; especially the Mount Gay rum.
Right next to the bar, was the screw dock. You can see the black and white photos in the picture below how it was used. It was really a neat site.
We ventured off the beaten path into the living area. I have to admit that it was a bit seedy and I felt a bit anxious about being there. I was happy when we made it out. I’m not one to be a scaredy cat, but I did not feel safe in this area.
Country 4 was St. Lucia. Not much to do there. We got off the ship and walked around a bit, but there really wasn’t much to see. We took a ferry to the other end of the island where I was ripped off on the cost of a drink. I think it was so hot that I was so happy to have something cold to drink that I didn’t even bother to pay attention to the cash being exchanged until I was back on the boat. After some cold drinks, we decided that it was insufferably hot so we went back to the ship to take refuge in the air conditioning of our state room. Here a just a few shots of St. Lucia and I would be the first to admit that it is beautiful.
St. Kitts was the fifth country of the cruise. I did throw around taking the ferry to Nevis, but I was I afraid I wouldn’t make it back to the ship. Looking back, I probably should have been more of a risk taker and went. Who knows if I will ever get back and have a chance to go?
When we arrived in St. Kitts, upon exiting the cruise terminal, there is a shopping/restaurant area. We stopped for a few cold drinks to put together a plan for the day. We decided to hire a taxi to take us out to the beach. He dropped us off at the beach shown below and returned for us two hours later. Again, it was so hot we were happy when he arrived so we could benefit from the AC in his taxi.
Countries 6, 7, and 8
We arrived at St. Maarten and took at taxi to the French nation, St. Martin.
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in St. Martin before embarking on a ferry to Anguilla. That was one of the roughest boat rides of my life. The ferry was a small boat filled with locals and their packages which made the boat very crowded. There was no toilet on board and we weren’t allowed to get up for the duration of the 25 minute trip from Marigot, St. Martin. Make sure you have your passport with you or you won’t be allowed to board.
There isn’t a lot to do in Anguilla. Many passengers from the cruise ships go there for the dolphin swim experience though.
Here are a few shots of Anguilla.
We arrived back to St. Martin and strolled around the market stalls for a bit.
Then a stroll around town.
Then we hired a taxi to go back to St. Maarten.
A few street shots of St. Maarten.
The beach and strip of St. Maarten.
The beach at St. Maarten.
There you are eight countries in a week.