Hello everyone.  I’m back again and today I want to talk about some of the destinations we sail to and obviously that means talking about the Caribbean where most of our ships sail year-round.

A friend of mine returned recently from a land based vacation in the Cayman Islands. “So how was it?” I asked, expecting to hear about the food, the hotel, the beach etc. But no. Instead he told me he’d seen something called Jay Z……..which I think is a tropical bird? Seriously, though, the Caribbean is so beautiful even the stars spend their vacations there.

Columbus said it first. When he reached the Caribbean in 1492 (he was looking for India but the West Indies got in the way), he wrote this in his journal: “I saw so many islands that bugger me I hardly knew to which I should go first.” OK, I added the “bugger me” bit but you can understand how he felt.

Today, first-time visitors face the same problem. They’re often uncertain about which dot of land to head to. It’s no wonder. One of the great attractions of the Caribbean is its diversity, but for the uninitiated, the amount of choice can be overwhelming.

So, I thought I might list some of my “must see” places in the Caribbean that can all be visited on a Carnival cruise which allows you to travel to many different destinations and only pack and unpack once as I discussed in my recent packing blog post.

Some of the below include specific shore excursions available from our ships and some are things you just should do. So, here in no particular order are some of the things that I look back on with fond memories and some of which I hope you get to experience for yourself very soon.

Visit Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman 
Men and women with beards will point out that Seven Mile Beach is actually 5½ miles long.  But, in any case, it’s long and there is little need for early morning towels placed on sun loungers to hold your spot as there is room enough for the entire population of Germany along this enormous crescent of white sand. It’s on the western shore of Grand Cayman, home to most of the island’s luxury resorts and hotels, so there is no shortage of things to do. Remember that if you are not specific, your cab driver will take you to a hotel/resort where you will have to pay at least $10 to enter. Therefore, either take our ship excursion to a private area of the beach which includes lunch or ask for Seven Mile Public Beach where there is no entrance fee. Remember, there is little or no snorkeling here as Seven Mile Beach rests on a huge sandbar. So, you can take a snorkel and mask with you if you have a foot fetish as that’s all you will see………..other people’s feet.

Swim with Stingrays in Grand Cayman
Stingray City trips will take you to a sandbar where you can feed and interact with dozens of southern stingrays. Interacting with these creatures is simply extraordinary. They love to taste the salt on your skin from the water and will on occasion start sucking on your thigh. Therefore, you may see some people getting back onto the boats with hickeys the size of Texas on their legs.

Seriously….this is a great experience and you will be standing in the middle of the ocean in the bluest water you have ever seen lapping gently around you. Remember you can ask your cruise director or the dedicated shore excursion team on the ship and they will be happy to tell you more.

Snorkel…………….anywhere in the Caribbean.
The sea is a deep blue and crystal clear, with thousands of fish lazing around – being entertained by the amateur snorkelers pointing at them and trying to speak to each other in bubbles: “Lkkkk is mpror fsh.”

But what a view. I remember the first time I went snorkeling in Trunk Bay on the Island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This was the first time I had snorkeled and I am sure the look on my face when I spotted all the beautiful Caribbean fish was surely priceless. I spent a sublime hour drifting past schools of trumpetfish, angelfish, squirrelfish and an occasional barracuda along with multicolored things whose names I couldn’t tell you. Eventually, I waddled back to shore and flopped down on the sand to spend time taking in the extraordinary view. All was perfect until a few local citizens tried to drag me back into the water as I shouted:  “Stop! I’m not a whale!!”

Travel beneath the waves – take an Atlantis submarine tour in St. Thomas, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and many other locations
The subs, which are specially designed for underwater sightseeing, descend to 120 feet then spend 45 minutes among the coral, fish and sunken wrecks. This is a special treat for non-swimmers and children. Just don’t drink too much liquid before-hand as there are no bathrooms. This is something you will never forget, though. How many people can actually say they went beneath the Caribbean waves in a submarine?

Eat Jerk Chicken in Ocho Rios
Close to where our ships dock in Ocho Rios is The Jerk Center. It looks like a circle of huts with a big hole in the middle and that’s because it is a circle of huts with a big hole in the middle. It is not a five-star restaurant. There are no linen cloths on the tables and no silver service. This, though, is the place to eat jerk chicken. It is very tourist friendly and the people who own it have been serving our passengers for many years. It may look slightly intimidating but really it is as friendly a place as you can imagine. The food is cheap and is absolutely ethnically brilliant. So, next time you are in Ocho Rios, buy a box of jerk chicken and wash it down with a Red Stripe Beer or a bottle of local soda called Ting………this place is, as they say in Jamaica, “Irie mon.”

Ziplining
OK, I haven’t done this as me and heights go together like me and kale salad. However, everyone I have spoken to tells me it is just astonishing. The excursion takes you through the forest canopy, 30 to 50 feet above the ground, on 500-foot runs of cable. Helmets, hairnets, gloves and harnesses are provided as is toilet paper. Again, speak to the excursion staff onboard who will fill you in with the rest of the details.

Bathe in light in Puerto Rico
I love San Juan and while many of our guests bugger off and go shopping, some head on our kayak tour to Mosquito Bay in Vieques. It is full of tiny bioluminescent orgasms …..ooopps …  I mean  organisms, which dart away from moving objects leaving phosphorescent blue-white trails like microscopic underwater glow-worms. Magical for all ages and honestly it will leave you breathless.

Gaze at the Caribbean Stars
Even when Mars is shining brilliantly in the southeast quadrant of the night sky, when viewing from land, there is so much city light distracting from the view. Not so in the Caribbean when looking up from the deck of a Carnival ship.  I remember once when Mars was shining so bright there was seemingly enough light read by. Everyone was telling me about it so I went outside and there it was — a reddish orb in the inky black velvet drape of night.

And that was just the start. On the opposite side of the sky was the Plough, pointing me to the equally visible North Star. And right overhead, like a dribble of saliva, was the edge of the Milky Way. It was like a Pink Floyd concert and I was out there for hours thinking, like you do at times such as this, about our very tiny place in the spectacular universe. Before giant movie screens, waterslides and all the other iconic features on our ships today, people would always walk on deck at night and gaze at the stars. They are so bright and ooze romance. So, at least once, take a walk on the deck at night and reach for the stars.

So, there you have it. There is, of course, so much more I could write about the Caribbean and indeed I will in future blogs but these are places that will leave everlasting memories on you and your family and I hope you get to experience them very soon.

Cheers.

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.