I have never been to the Caribbean before. My original plan for next year was to journey once again to my favorite European city, Paris. I planned to go with a group of ladies, but couldn't get the girls group together. So, I decided instead, to treat myself to some relaxation and take a cruise. IMO there is No Better Way to pamper yourself and travel in luxury.
After much deliberation, We decided on a 14-day Exotic Southern Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Cruise Lines. The itinerary includes stops in the ports of St Thomas, St Maarten, St Lucia, Aruba, Grenada, Antigua, Barbados and Curacao (not in that order).
This will be my 3rd cruise and this time, I decided to do something a little different. We are always interested in meeting new people and finding other like-minded people to hang out with during our cruises. So Instead of leaving it all up to chance once we're on-board the ship, I did some research and joined an on-line cruise community through Cruise Critic.
Cruise Critic is a cruise review community website which also has information for cruisers written by editors, news on cruising and a forum. They offer over 225 reviews written by editors and members of the site, and information on cruise ships and over 135 ports of call and includes information on specific cruising styles niches, including low-carb cruising, fitness cruises, disabled cruising and gay cruises.
I highly recommend it!! You can find people signed up for your cruise and chat and get to know each other prior to your trip, In addition, the group I joined includes some very seasoned cruisers (some with 16+ cruises under their belts)Originally started in 1995 as a feature of America Online, it has now become one of the brands operated by TripAdvisor
Someone on the forum will know the answer to any and every question you might ask. I used the forum to help me select the location of best stateroom. I booked early so I had a lot of cabin choices, however many in my group had booked this cruise 2 yrs in advance and have been cruising together on other trips. So far our group members come from England, Canada, FL, TX, VA OR and WA to name a few. (I actually think they cruise for a living!)
Cruise Critic also sponsors a Connections Party or Meet & Mingle.
We are also going to do some fun things like - a slot pull (everyone puts in set amount of money then we go to the casino where each person has a turn at the slot machine. All winning will be divided evenly). We'll do a cabin crawl (selected cruisers offer their staterooms for open house so we can get a chance to see what all the staterooms and suites look like) And we'll do a gift exchange and some other fun things."A Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle is a gathering of members who have chatted with one another within our community prior to their cruise. Meet & Mingles are hosted by a variety of cruise lines, usually on all sailings that are 7 nights or longer in duration."
There is also a roll call where you can make plans with others who will be on the cruise. You can share things like excursions other people are taking (which helps in figuring out what you want to do). At this point there are about 40 people in the group but we still have many months before we cruise so I am sure it will get bigger.
We all know that the Caribbean Islands are some of the most beautiful in the world and a perfect oasis for water lovers. I'm not much for lying on the beach so my focus will be on seeing the islands and doing some exploration around the impact slavery has had on these islands.
In the coming days (and months) I will be researching each of our ports of call. So, I might as well share the information here with you, right?
So, stay tuned. First up, Barbados.