It is so easy to cruise from Baltimore when our retirement community is only 8 miles from the Cruise Terminal. We set off on a 12-day cruise to the Lesser Antilles on December 22, 2016. I loved it for the 6 sea days. We sailed on the Royal Caribbean, Grandeur of the Seas. This was our first time on this ship.
Day 1 – 3 At Sea
We had three days at sea before our first port. That meant we had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at sea. The ship was nicely decorated for the season.
Day 5 – St. Thomas
After three days at sea, our first port was Charlotte Amelie, St. Thomas. Since we have visited there before, we opted for the Sky Ride on this trip.
Day 6 Antigua
Our second port was St. John’s, Antigua. We did the tour Amazing Antigua. We drove on the All Saints road to the Blockhouse Ruins (British Fort), Shirley Heights (guardhouse for the four cannons protecting English Harbor down below), and Nelson’s Dockyard (preserved 17th – 18th-century Boatyard.)
Day 7 – Barbados
We did the Coast to Coast tour of Barbados with stops at the Highlands for a view and a rum drink Then we were off to see Bathsheba beach where there is a major surfing competition every November.
We also visited St. John’s the oldest church on Barbados.
The view from the churchyard was amazing.
Day 8 – St. Lucia
We were delayed getting off the ship for our tour, Best of St. Lucia. There were five flights of stairs filled with people waiting to get off for their tours. We waited another half hour standing in a line before our bus was available.
Since St. Lucia is a volcanic island, it is very hilly. The first part of the tour was going up a steep hill with hairpin turns to get to the top to visit the Inniskillen Fusiliers monument at Fort Charlotte. The Inniskillen Monument is part of the Morne Complex and is a tribute to the battle that ended the conflict between the English and the French in 1796 where the English were victorious.
The monument is at Morne Fortune Historic area. The Morne Complex is in a beautiful area with fantastic views of Castries Harbor, the Pitons, and Martinique. The two-year community college that is now located here is named after Arthur Lewis, Nobel prize winner for economics.
Day 9 – St. Maarten
This is our last port before heading back to Baltimore. We toured both the Dutch and French side of the island. Although it is warm, there was a nice breeze in the shade. There were 6 ships in port today.
We vaguely remembered parts of the island from our visit years before. I remember the border. We experienced two countries, two currencies, two languages all in one day.
Day 10 – New Year’s Eve at Sea
I always enjoy sea days which we spent in the adults-only Solarium pool area. The Park Cafe is there also so we had lunch without leaving the area. It was the second formal night, so we dressed up. After the show at 11:23 p.m., we waited on the Deck 8 Atrium with what seemed liked half the ship for the countdown.
The orchestra was playing; the cruise director was shouting into the mic while counting down, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, etc until the final second. There was a countdown clock mounted on the balcony. The crowd went wild when the clock turned to 12:00 and the black and white balloons dropped. We watched the countdown again and the ball drop in Times Square back in our stateroom since we were an hour earlier at sea.
Day 11 – New Year’s Day at Sea
It was another relaxing day at sea with reading, naps, dinner and showtime.
Day 12 – The Chesapeake Bay in the Fog
We are heading up the Chesapeake Bay in the fog with the fog horn blowing. A rescue boat came alongside the ship earlier to take a person off. The person has been sick for a few days but apparently did not warrant an earlier medical evacuation. The waves are reflected in the glass ceiling tiles.
We have cell phone service now and the packing begins. It was another lazy day onboard with our usual reading and lounging. We take turns with the iPad to read the Washington Post.
We enjoyed drinks before the Parade of Nations. We watched the Captain introduce crew from sixty countries.
Day 13 – Disembarkation at Baltimore
Everything worked out fine getting off the ship. I had set the alarm for 7:30 but I noticed when I woke up before the alarm, I noticed the alarm was set for p.m. rather than a.m. We made it to breakfast by 7:50 a.m. in the main dining room.
We were number 19 and we heard them announce that they had called the numbers from 1 to 15 so we didn’t have long to wait in the South Pacific lounge. We are off the ship by 9:30 a.m. with a fast run through customs and getting our bags. The only wait was for the shuttle. It’s been pouring rain today. Our suitcases were out in the rain for about 20 minutes so some things were a little damp. It was a good cruise, but it is good to be home.