The sounds of the water whooshing by. The warm summer breeze caressing your face. The suns’ rays shining on your skin. You are on a cruise!
The Caribbean offers some of the best cruising options in the world. From 3-day to 14-day cruises to even 28-day cruises, options are abound.
We decided on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity’s Solstice out of Port Everglades, Florida.
Being my first time cruising, this was an entirely new experience for me, and one I would definitely want to repeat.
There are many benefits to cruising. You are able to enjoy a relaxing time with your biggest worry being what time you will head to the cafeteria for lunch or snacks. You can select one that hits your top ports of call and select from plentiful options of what to do once you get there. Just to name a few.
The Celebrity Solstice is a 19 deck vessel with a capacity for 2,850 passengers. It has been in service since November of 2008. The Solstice is a luxurious ship that features numerous themed restaurants, conventional bars, wine cellar bar, spa and a beautiful lawn club on the top deck.
We departed in the afternoon from Ft. Lauderdale and headed into the open seas.
The first day of our cruise was a day at sea. Some may think a day at sea sounds like a total bore, but I must say there are plenty of things to do on cruise ships, activities for every age and interest.
Entertainment can be found throughout, with live music around the pool deck, around the main staircase and in numerous other places around the ship. You can also choose from several performances at their large theater.
Our second day brought us to San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan is the capitol of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The original settlement in the area of San Juan was established in 1509 by Juan Ponce de Leon.
We chose a shore excursion that would take us through some of the main spots in the city. The Old & New San Juan City Tour took us through el Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), showing us some of the beautiful original Spanish style architecture that still remains in the city. Many of the buildings in the Old San Juan section, although modernized inside, maintain their original facades. The tour also drove us through the more modern sections of San Juan, before taking us to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
El Morro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of the castle/fort began in 1539, but the fort was constantly being updated. Its original purpose was to protect the city of San Juan by protecting its harbor. It was controlled by the Spanish until 1898 when they lost control of Puerto Rico to the U.S. in the Spanish American War. El Morro was part of the U.S. Army’s Fort Brooke until 1961, when it was designated a National Park.
Our third day brought us to the Island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Like Puerto Rico, St. Thomas was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. The island was under Danish control from 1666 to 1917, when it was purchased by the U.S.
The island is just under 32 square miles in size and has a population of just over 50,000 people.
For a day of relaxation, we selected a shore excursion that would take us on a sailboat around the island, snorkeling, then for a barbeque on a private beach. The excursion was an excellent experience and one that we would love to do again. It provided us with great views of the island and some of its surrounding islands, as well as a great opportunity to snorkel in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean.
Day four brought us to our last port of call, St. Maarten. Another of Columbus’ discoveries on his second voyage, St-Martin/St. Maarten is now divided between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is roughly the same size of St. Thomas, and divided approximately 20-13 between France and the Netherlands, respectively.
The tropical look of the port leaves no doubt that you are now in a Caribbean island. Our excursion took us on a tour of the island and allowed us some free time in both Marigot and Philipsburg, the capitols of both sides of the island.
Much like San Juan, you can still find some of the Spanish style buildings of the early days, with very a tropical color pallet. We were also able to enjoy a couple of hours on the beach.
Our final two days were at sea. This was a great way to enjoy a relaxing time and the great services and amenities the ship had to offer, before returning home. The crew of the Solstice were top notch and the experience was one we will no doubt repeat.