Suite Life On Deck
I went on the most epic college Spring Break (read: only college Spring Break) trip of my life and this is what happened.
Day 1: Old San Juan - Puerto Rico
My first official day of Spring Break was spent roaming the streets of Viejo San Juan. In my opinion, it's one of the prettiest Caribbean towns because of its Spanish colonial style. You can hit every major sight/spot within one afternoon. Trust me, I've done it. You can read about what I did and where I recommend you go in my "A Day in Old San Juan" post.
Day 2: St.Thomas
Each U.S. Virgin Island has something special about it, but my personal favorite is St. John. Two-thirds of the island is recognized as a national park, so the beaches are in pristine condition and it's much quieter than St. Thomas. I wrote a blog post about some of my favorite snorkeling experiences a while back and St. John was actually featured in it. That being said, you can understand why I chose to book the snorkeling excursion that taxied me to St. John's, dropped me off at Trunk Bay, and then taxied me back just before the boat left port. It had been years since I visited with my family, but it was exactly as I remembered it. Unfortunately, a Nor' Easter had just blown through, so the water was a little murky, but you could still see to the bottom.
Basking in the sun and unknowingly getting burnt to the bone, I received news that it was snowing back home.
That must've sucked.
Day 3: St. Kitts
Unable to decide exactly what to do and unwilling to spend more money than I had to, I ended up spending a day on St. Kitts listening to the crashing waves at a black sand beach. Day 3 was the day I was 100% unprepared for the whole day which is very unlike me. I forgot to bring sandals with me, so I had to trek across fiery-hot black sand in bare feet. I felt like I was Michael Scott when he accidentally burnt his foot on his George Foreman grill (see video below for reference).
Day 4: Antigua
Did you know Antigua has a beach for every single day of the year?? Seriously, they have 365 different beaches. It's also the home of Stingray City, the worst place to go if you have crippling anxiety over getting stung by a sting ray (@ me). Naturally, that's exactly where I went. It went about as well as you can imagine:
To make matters even worse, the dude responsible for my life with these creatures was a Dookie (aka a Dook fan, aka a fan of the worst place on earth: Duke University). Nevertheless, I persisted and made it out alive. The staff thought this picture was so funny that they actually halted picture printing to laugh at it, print a second copy, and hang it up on their office wall for ALL future visitors to see. Peep my friend trying to hide her laughter in the background.
I reveled in this moment of conquering one of my biggest fears by celebrating with a henna tattoo. Needless to say, I slept really well that night.
Day 5: St. Lucia
I’m not the biggest fan of St. Lucia. I stayed there once before and had a nice time, but I wouldn’t choose to vacation there again for several reasons that I’m not going to get into here. However, I will say that St. Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands I’ve seen … from the water. I don’t particularly like it from land, but from the water St. Lucia has some of the most stunning land formations and vegetation - the most notable being the Pitons. For our day in St. Lucia, we took a catamaran cruise to the pitons that stopped by the famous Marigot Bay and a popular snorkeling destination.
Of all of the excursions we did, this one was my favorite. We met some really cool people (some even our age!!) and listened to some great music while taking in the amazing views. I ended up losing one of my beloved hats, but thankfully it wasn’t my most treasured one, and it can be easily replaced.
Day 6: Barbados
The birthplace of Rihanna did not disappoint. I’ve seen a lot of blue water in my life, but this has to be some of the bluest. We did -surprise!- another snorkeling excursion to two shipwrecks and a popular sea turtle sighting location. The shipwrecks were crawling with sea life, including jellyfish! Fortunately, they were not the stinging type. The sea turtles were cool, but we had an afternoon excursion and they often get the turtles to come out by feeding them, so we only got to see two or three, but it was still really cool to be within touching distance of them.
Sadly, they didn’t sell any Rihanna paraphernalia (not even Fenty!!!). We were also total idiots and didn’t even think to look up potential *historical* Rihanna locations on the island to go visit. We ended up finding out through friends we made on the ship that you could actually go visit the house she grew up in. Tbh, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not thinking about it sooner, but I guess I have a pretty good reason to go back now.
Barbados was cool and all, don't get me wrong, but the best part about Day 6 happened on the ship. That night we played Battle of the Sexes and The Quest with the Entertainment Staff. The women lost Battle of the Sexes, but my team came in 3rd for The Quest. Both of those games borderline PG-13, mostly R-rated, so I won't go into detail, but if you ever find yourself on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, you need to make sure you go to these two events. You don't even have to play; it's just fun to watch!
Day 7: Day At Sea
The final day aboard the ship landed on St. Patrick's Day. I would've completely forgotten if hadn't been for the decorations scattered all over the pool deck, the obscene amount of definitely-not-Irish people wearing shirts proclaiming the exact opposite, and the serving trays full of green beer. The Cruise Director even wore a full leprechaun suit!
I've taken a fair amount of cruises in my time, and I honestly think the days at sea are some of the best. The only entertainment that comes from those days are the people around you, the books you brought with you, and the music you pre-downloaded. You're completely cut off from the rest of the world. That's what vacation should be. It's a time to just appreciate where you are and focus on what's happening in the moment.
I was incredibly sunburnt by that point even though I religiously applied sunscreen, so I kept myself covered in a pool towel (pictured below) and watched the activities from the upper pool deck.
I don't know which game was more entertaining. They had everything from Minute to Win It and Officers vs. Guests Pool Volleyball to an International Belly Flop Competition and the World's Sexiest Man pageant. One of my favorite parts of the day was the International Parade of Flags, which was when the crew got to share their pride for their homeland with all of the guests on board. There were so many different cultures and countries represented, it was almost hard to wrap my mind around it. Each country got it's own shout out, and some even got traditional music played after its name was announced, and some of the crew would do the dance associated with that song.
The evening was spent on trivia, lip sync challenges, and packing. The next morning was going to be an early one, and it was going to be an even longer day.
Day 8: Puerto Rico - Otra Vez
Determined to maximize the vacation while trying to fill the gap between an 8 am disembarking time and a 4 pm flight, the last day of the cruise was spent as should be: drinking. We booked an excursion that took us on a Bacardí Rum Distillery tour and then promptly dropped us off at the airport. I had been before and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to go again.
I'd had the best daiquiri of my life there, so I knew exactly what I wanted to do when we rolled up. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the fact that since I hadn't had breakfast, this one drink was rather strong once it reached my blood stream. Thankfully I sobered up before going through security, but as soon as we made it to our gate I tracked down the closest bar with a Medalla - a Puerto Rican beer - and drank until we boarded.
Cheers to the best spring break trip of my life.