Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. We hope this series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. First was the kick off, then Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Chile, Patagonia, Antarctica, Argentina, Brazil, The Amazon and now the next stop in their Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage (next voyage January 2018).
This is the point in our journey, where many of the guests disembark and a new set of travelers will join us for the remaining portion of the voyage in the Mediterranean, after our next 8 days at sea.
As a fun recap (read all of our posts above), here are some highlights from 17,638 miles:
1- Antarctica will always be the number one attraction of this Voyage. We had incredible weather, an outstanding navigation team, and an adventurous Captain who wanted us to see it all.
2- The unexpected natural beauty of Isla de la Providencia, a pleasant surprise.
3- Robinson Crusoe Island – Freshly grilled octopus and a local brew at our favorite small port.
4- The dunes of Concón, Chile – our reward for going off the regular tourist path in Valparaiso.
5- Five glaciers in one hour as we sailed through Glacier Alley.
6- Our intimate tango show in Buenos Aires, marked by our chance encounter with our old friend Juan from three years ago on this ship.
7- On the Amazon, our always favorite Boi Bumba show and our wonderful river ride and village visit out of Boca de Valeria.
And finally here’s how we made the most of our final days with some in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.
Here we had an organized Cruise Specialists group tour to the Natural Wonders of Barbados. We got to see a good deal of the island, just driving to the main stops.
Our favorite place was the town of Bathsheba, where constant wind and heavy surf have eroded the rocks to form beautiful rock sculptures along the shore. Use your imagination to see a sitting lion or a frog!
We also visited the Andromeda Botanic Gardens, where our guide Victor knew every plant. We then stopped at a farm to see the unique Barbados Black Bellied Sheep. You would swear they were goats, but Victor explained the differences. Victor had a voice like James Earl Jones and was very entertaining. In this case, the guide made the tour. No time to visit the town of Bridgetown, but fortunately, we have been here several times and didn’t feel like we missed anything.
Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe was a new stop for us. It’s part of France and so the native language is French, but fortunately, many also speak English and happily accept American dollars.
Heading out from the port, we passed through the city streets with colorful outdoor markets selling spices, rums, flowers, and lots of clothing. We followed the shore road, coming upon a gigantic metal structure that turned out to be both a contemporary art museum and a memorial and museum dedicated to the history of the slave trade in Guadaloupe. We climbed a long staircase that took us up to a very long metal bridge and walkway and a wonderful viewpoint over the harbor. Continuing on along the coast, we discovered a small but beautiful beach, the water was clear and calm and the sand white and clean.
Then it was on to the Fort Fleur d’Epee, built in the 1760’s to defend the bay of Pointe-à- Pitre. It’s situated at a very high point and had a great view across the city to the port. Although many of the buildings we saw were in severe need of renovation, the city was surprisingly neat and clean, even in the seemingly poorest areas.
Our last port of this voyage was Phillipsburg, St Maarten.
We headed out of town by taking an excursion called Mountain Downhill Trek. There were 14 of us, driven in a van to the French side of the island, to a lovely resort called Loterie Farm. From there we rode the rest of the way to the top of the mountain in an open truck with wooden bench seats. It was an incredibly bumpy ride, quite jarring and uncomfortable. We were glad we were walking down!
This place we reached was called Pic Paradis. Our guide escorted us to several spectacular lookout points before we started down. It took about two hours to descend back to the farm. The trails were rocky, uneven and full of tree roots, but not wet, so it was a relatively easy walk. We were offered a rum punch to finish off our excursion.
Learn about next Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage >>
Cruise consultant Sharon Whiting can help answer your questions about cruising Antarctica or a Grand Voyage!