Escape the cold dreary winter and travel the Caribbean by ship. So many gorgeous destinations await you!
This post was inspired & sponsored by Princess Cruises. All opinions expressed are my own.
Several months ago I cruised the Caribbean onboard the Coral Princess. I shared cruise tips for introverts and desserts inspired by the trip like strawberry panna cotta, chocolate pistachio dome, profiteroles, and chocolate raspberry cupcakes.
I fell in love with the destinations we visited and was completely heartbroken when several category 3, 4, and 5 storms hit the islands a few months ago. I’m sure you were watching the news and following all the destruction that took place.
A few of the storms even made landfall here in the US and we witnessed firsthand how devastating natural disasters can be.
THE CARIBBEAN IS OPEN FOR TRAVEL!
The good news is the Caribbean expands over one million square miles which means most of the islands were not even in the path of the hurricanes this past August and September.
That’s a great thing for those of us who like to travel the Caribbean by ship.
This cold weather has me dreaming about all the destinations and fun activities I experienced while cruising with Princess Cruises. Here are some highlights from the trip.
Aruba is very desert-like. It’s littered with cactus and divi-divi trees. That’s pretty much all you’ll see on the island’s arid interior.
But the coast is a gorgeous array of sandy beaches, secluded coves, and clear blue-green waters.
We snorkeled the waters where the 400-foot “Antilla” sunk during World War II. It’s one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks and home to many kinds of exotic sea life.
The water is so clear you get a pristine view of the ship just 15 feet below.
Then we ventured over to the shallow waters off Boca Catalina which is what you see pictured above. There is so much sea life to see here! It was simply beautiful.
The Old City is comprised of 12 square blocks filled with attractions, boutiques, and restaurants.
The buildings are so colorful and full of old world charm.
There’s a lot of history to discover here in the heart of Cartagena.
We toured Cartagena’s fortress of Castillo San Felip de Barajas, known as the “crown jewel of the defense network”. It was built in 1600’s and sits on a 130-foot hill looking over the city.
The fortress was built by the Spanish for protection against pirates while shipping gold out to Europe. Over the years it was enlarged and in 1984 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From there we explored the Historical Museum of Cartagena and made our way to Las Bóvedas, San Pedro Claver Sanctuary where we ended the day with shopping and refreshments.
THE PANAMA CANAL
We cruised right through the historic Panama Canal. When I took the Panama Canal Cruise with Princess Cruises, the shipped passed through the old locks. These locks are now closed and current cruises are going through the new locks.
As we were passing through the locks we got a first-hand look at how the locks operate. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience!
The Canal opened in 1914 and stretched 48 miles long. It became a vital component in expanding global trade routes back then.
After passing through the locks, we spent some time in the city of Colon by taking a ride in a domed rail car.
LIMON, COSTA RICA
This was probably my favorite destination of all during my travels through the Caribbean with Princess Cruises.
The Costa Rican rainforest is dense and full of life. Here is where you’ll find an abundance of banana, coffee, sugar cane, cacao, and macadamia plantations.
While visiting Costa Rico we took a tour of the Sloth Sanctuary and learned all about the effort it takes to rescue and rehabilitate sloths.
I toured the full facility, met Buttercup, and went behind the scenes to visit with baby sloths.
I wish I could have brought home a baby sloth!
If you are sloth lover, this is a great way to support the rehabilitation efforts provided by the rescue center.
OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA
Ocho Rios is on the northern coast of Jamaica and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. The mountains are lush with greenery, the beaches are lined with white sand, and the breeze dances across flowery hillsides.
It’s truly a place of natural beauty and there’s so much to do here!
If you’re a coffee lover like myself, I suggest taking a jeep tour to one of Jamaica’s historic Great Houses or plantation estates where coffee is still cultivated today.
The jeep ride was a lot of fun and we got to learn all about the process of growing, harvesting, drying, and roasting coffee beans.
After that, we headed off to Dunn’s River Falls, the world-famous waterfall that cascades 600 feet down a giant rock staircase to the Caribbean Sea.
This tour offers two routes for climbing the waterfall. You can go up the rock staircase where you’ll be in the waterfall or you can take the adjacent walkway.
We decided to stay dry and walk the paved pathway.
These are just a few fun and interesting things to do when you travel the Caribbean. Princess Cruises offers a variety of excursion options suitable for all ages so you truly get a magical experience that customized for you and your family.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TRAVEL THE CARIBBEAN?
Now is a perfect time to visit the Caribbean, and a Princess Cruises vacation is a great way to experience and enjoy one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations.
When you travel by ship, not only do you get to enjoy a relaxing vacation, but you’ll also be supporting these islands since cruising is a vital part of tourism’s overall economic impact.
Right now, 90 percent of the ports are fully open for business so pack your bags and cruise through tropical paradise!
Love the Caribbean. Support the Caribbean. Cruise the Caribbean.
Princess Cruises and its parent company Carnival Corporation are working to provide extensive relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria as part of Carnival Corporation’s pledge to provide up to $10 million dollars in hurricane relief.
If you can’t take time away to go on a cruise, you can still help the relief efforts by making a donation. Princess Cruises Community Foundation will be taking donations until 12/31/17.