Sea days are great, but port days are the best!
Today the ship was bringing me back to Barbados. I had done this itinerary back in 2013 with my mom and this was her favorite port. It’s very easy to see why and more on that later.
I wasn’t certain, but I think my roommates liked having some background noise in the cabin while sleeping. During the night, I’d leave the channel with the bow camera on with its music turned down low. This way there was some noise and when they woke up, they could see if we were in port. It was also a good source of light in a dark cabin when you were trying to get around after waking up.
I woke up at roughly 630 as the sun was beginning to slowly rise. I could see on the TV we weren’t too far off from port, along the side of the island of Barbados. I threw on some clothes and took my med. I wanted to enjoy some good food and a Banks beer or two in this port. I headed up to lido deck to wait for Blue Iguana Cantina to open for breakfast at 7. God, I love their breakfast burritos. Not many were out on deck at this hour, and it was nice and quiet. A short time later, the big screen fired-up and started showing news from a local Miami channel. Not CNN or Fox News, thankfully. It only seemed natural that Liberty would have a Miami-based station on as it was in Miami for so long, and I believe it should return as it seems to me to be the ships rightful home… but I digress, again. I’ll just have to try a Western Caribbean on it when arrives in Galveston.
Heading back into the cabin, I put on my swim trunks and made sure my ION cam was charged and ready for use. Today I was going to The Boatyard with many others. It looked like a pretty great place to be from what I had seen online. After I got ready, I headed back out on deck to watch us sail into port. It was sunny and seemed a beautiful day was ahead of us. Perfect for the boatyard. Liberty stopped and began to spin for a reverse into port. As it did, I could see the MSC Divina approaching, then begin its turn as well. It was repositioning from Europe to Miami and we’d see it here next to us in Bridgetown today. As we begin to reverse, I headed back into the cabin to get my stuff ready so I could be ready once the ship was cleared.
Before too long Liberty got it’s clearance from the port and we were off. I noticed some buses sitting outside the ship when I stepped off and didn’t really think much of them. It turned out, they were shuttles that run back and forth from the ship to the terminal and vise-versa. I didn’t really pay attention, but it turned out ok anyways as it gave me opportunities to enjoy a nice walk from the ship to the terminal.
I wonder how that railing got bent.
Once at the terminal, I ran into Gerri and her group who were headed to The Boatyard as well. We didn’t pause long as we made our way through. We wanted to grab a cab there and be among the first so we could get some good seats. We met with a cab driver but wound-up waiting for some more people to fill the seats. A couple from the MSC ship joined us before we were also joined by my roommates, Amberly & Stacy, and Marsha who was with us in St. John. Taxi filled, we set off. Traffic was actually pretty heavy in Bridgetown as our driver said it was rush-hour… makes sense. Downtown, we dropped off the MSC couple before continuing on. It was, to me a nice, short, and even somewhat enjoyable rush hour. I had good company and the views, while commercialized, were still better than I had back home.
You can see here the bridge in which Bridgetown got it’s name
It didn’t take very long to get to The Boatyard as it was just beyond Bridgetown proper. When we stepped off the taxi, we were greeted with a very colorful and festive looking facade that led into a bar, stage area, and dining area. Beyond which, you could see loungers, beach, and beautiful turquoise water. For $20, we were given a wristband and access to pretty much all the amenities of the place. You are also given one free “welcome drink” and complimentary return taxi to the cruise terminal when you were done. They strongly advise doing a water-based or motorized tour first as if your wrist band were to come off, you’d be denied access unless you paid for another $20 for a new band. Makes sense I suppose. Once inside, we found we were the first ones there and had our choice of umbrellas and loungers to choose from. They were all nice and inviting. I took a pair in the front row, roughly halfway down. I had a nice view of the water and of the pier where they had the rope swing.
Before we headed beyond the bar, the staff told us generally where to go to see the turtles for “free.” Seemed tempting and I definitely wanted to see the turtles. When I claimed my lounger, a man on the beach approached me, offering to take me to the turtles and shipwrecks. SHIPWRECKS TOO?!.. At first I was unsure but told him I would think about it and come back. I set off with some of the others, walking down the beach to the location where the turtles supposedly were. About halfway there, I got cold feet because I wanted to see the shipwrecks too. I knew that if I lost my wristband it would be another $20 to regain entrance, but I felt it was worth the risk. PLUS, the man selling the tour with the turtles and wrecks told me he would only charge me $20 for the tour itself. Nice! I met him again and told him I was interested. Happy, he asked if I could wait for some more people to join as it was only myself at the moment. While he walked along the beach looking for patrons, I logged onto Facebook. I wanted to make a post on the wall of Carnival’s social media “ambassador,” John Heald. I made a post, thanking him & his colleagues for their assistance with my dining arrangements and providing information to me for the diet need options. I also mentioned that I despite my issues, I was still having an excellent vacation on Liberty.
I didn’t have to wait too long before the man came back to me to tell me he found more people and they were ready. The boat that the man worked for was actually a pretty nice one. It had two double-paned glass bottoms. They were a little leaky but you could still see a good amount under the boat. I introduced myself to the French couple and learned pretty quickly that they could not really speak much english at all. I tried to improvise as much as they did to have conversation. We all found some humor in it and laughed. I found out they were from Marseille, where I will be next year. They were happy for me and if I knew French, I’d have mentioned that I’d like to meet them there at some point. Oh well, c’est la vie. Too bad too, because they were really cool people. I hope they had a good stay in Barbados.
Our boat headed off the beach and headed to a location with a lot of other boats. At first, our crew seemed to maneuvering looking for a good spot or for the turtles. After a couple of minutes, they moved on. Not far along, they mentioned that we would be going over the shipwrecks. When I looked through the glass bottom, it was so cool to see them. Our crew said we would start with the wrecks first. Fine by me! They handed out foam life vests instead of the more common inflatable ones and nice sets of goggles/snorkels. The vests and equipment seemed pretty nice, nicer than I had really used on most excursions. The only downside is that I was not provided flippers (there is reason for this though as you’re not to wear them around the turtles). Especially the vest as it didn’t leak or stink. we entered the water at the back of the boat. As soon as I put my goggles on, I looked in the water and right in front of me was the first wreck. SO COOL!.. and SO MANY FISH! The first wreck I swam along was actually a former large tug, converted into a party boat. It was named Bahan Queen and after it’s life on the water was done, it was sent to the bottom to provide a reef habitat. There were so many cool fish swimming along the boat. If I sat still fish would circle around me. I was never fast enough to reach out and touch one, but there were so many within inches of me. It was amazing. After having my fill of Bahan Queen, I swam over to the next wreck. This one was formerly a small freighter named Eillon. It was a little deeper in the water, and harder to see the marine life that it was teeming with. It’s massive hold was open and unlike the Bahan Queen, Eillon’s bridge was still intact making it that more eerie. This was the first time I had seen such things and I was truly thankful for the experience. It was so cool to see everything.
VIDEO – Swimming with the wrecks and turtles (forgive the filming while swimming).
I climbed back aboard the boat, followed by the French couple. We set off for the nearby area where the turtles were supposed to be. There were 4 or 5 other boats tied in the area with a good amount of people in the water. I got in the water to join the hunt for the turtles. The guides pointed to an area where they might be, but after a minute or two, it turned out to be bad advice. Seeing how people were swarming in other areas, I made my way over and found a group that had a guide with bag of fish. I followed them a little bit. Out of the blue I saw something coming towards me and sure enough, I could make out fins.. A sea turtle! sweet! The guide got out some fish and proceeded to feed the turtle a little so we could get a good look. The turtle was only slightly interested though as he would come and go at his/her discretion. There was another that swam by closer to the sea floor and mostly away from us. I was impressed at just how fast and graceful the turtles swam. Also swimming with me in the water were some of my friends from the ship. They had booked tours and had been taken there to see the turtles as well.
Before too long, it was time to get back in the boat and head back to shore. I really enjoyed the time in the water. I had seen so much cool stuff. I had seen things that made me wish I was scuba certified and had a legitimately good under-water DSLR. I was awestruck that I had only paid $20 for the experience because it’s value to me was worth so much more. When they dropped us off at the shore (down the beach from The Boatyard, thankfully) I tipped them and headed back to my lounger.
It was starting to get close to lunch time, but I wasn’t all that hungry. I was joined by my friend Micheal and we talked about ships and trips for a short while. I offered to go find some of the local Banks Beer and set off with the idea I’d bring one back for him too. When I got to the counter at the bar there, they told me that they didn’t carry Banks, but instead Stag and Carib. I liked both, but had them both before, unlike Banks which I had missed in 2013. I walked to the bar next door which was looking a little dilapidated but friendly none-the-less. They had a sign that said 4 Banks for $10… I was LOVING the exchange rate in Barbados. Instead of the whole 4, I only purchased two since I wasn’t sure if I’d like the beer. I popped one open and began to drink it walking back towards The Boatyard. Before I made it too far a local stopped me and warned me that if I was seen drinking Banks or bringing beer there from another bar, that I’d be asked to leave The Boatyard’s property. I guess I understand, but I was feeling a little frustrated that they didn’t offer Banks to begin with. I wound up talking to a few of the locals and was told that the owners of The Boatyard were night highly regarded among them and vise-versa. I was a little sad about it because the locals really make the island experience more than anything. I mean, they could have worked for competing bars I suppose. but it was hard to tell. Business and politics I suppose. So, instead of bringing a Banks back for Michael, I wound up pounding the first bottle, and then enjoying the second more slowly. All while sitting on a plastic lawn chair that was rotting-away.
After I downed my Banks (which I did enjoy, by the way), I headed back to The Boatyard and decided it was time for lunch. I sat down at the bar and looked over the menu which consisted of lots of the Caribbean/beach staples. I settled for a shrimp basket. When I ordered the food, I was told it would probably take roughly twenty minutes. To my surprise though, it was within two or three. Sweet! The basket was typical but good. Several shrimp, some fries, and good dipping sauce.
Lunch consumed, I rejoined the others at the loungers. I find Michael and told him of my disappointment that I couldn’t bring back a few beers. Instead I finished my Stag and he shared his bucket of Carib with me. We talked for a while about cruising, places we’d been, and people we’d met. I had a great time talking with him about everything and sharing the beer. His wife, Tammy was pretty cool too. We talked some more as people enjoyed the rope swing off the pier.
I decided before to long to get back in the very comfortable water for a while before I thought I might head back to the ship. The water was nice and inviting as usual. I found some friends from the ship and enjoyed their company for a while. Also enjoying the water was Michael from Shore Excursions and some of the other ship staff. I greeted them and wished them well I made a comment about them working hard and the crew member from Guest Services joked with him about it. I just had to laugh because I knew they usually got the shaft more than most others on board. It’s always good to see crew and staff enjoying their time off. They do really work hard and deal with a bunch of crap. Had they been at the bar, I probably would have bought them a bucket of beer.
I got out of the water eventually and decided it was probably time to head back to the ship. I was actually starting to feel tired. I was also starting to feel the effects of the sun. I made a pass through the gift shop and bought a t-shirt before waiting in the parking lot for a taxi to fill for the ride back. Amberly and Stacy had decided they wanted to head back too and we piled in a small van to head back with some others. I had really enjoyed my time at The Boatyard and despite the local politics of the place and its neighbors, would probably go back.
Back in port, I was running low on cash so I didn’t really spend too much time in the gift shops. My roommates headed off to get their passports stamped and I headed beyond the terminal to take some photos of the ships. Also in port this day was Freewinds, a ship owned by the Church of Scientology. Despite any controversy involving them, it really was a nice, older ship that seemed to be from a by-gone era. It looked well maintained and mostly modernized though with nice fittings. The MSC Divina was a larger ship than I had anticipated. It also had nice lines to it, having a classy look. Carnival Liberty in the short distance may not have looked quite as classy, was still an inviting ship though. It was also calling my name. I took a few photos while on the way back to the ship. I walked under the grain elevators that were filling a cargo ship’s hold that moment, and past two large tugs. Cool stuff.
Back onboard lovely Liberty, I returned to my cabin. To my surprise, waiting for me was a gift from John Heald and Felipe, the cruise director. They had sent me a bottle of champagne, a ship trophy, and chocolate covered strawberries. Awesome! Not that my day could get much better, but this definitely was great to come back to! I think that it’s probably nice when people thank them for help and they don’t get that very often. Not nearly as often as they should. While I shouldn’t have had the choco-strawberries, I had a couple anyways and left the rest for my roommates. I enjoyed a much-needed shower and then went off to have some more snacks. In the aft section of the ship, I bumped into Suzette and Keith. We talked for a little bit. She showed me a photo they had taken of a mutual friends catamaran. In this photo was something I wasn’t prepared for and honestly hoped to not see again (I won’t share what it was because you don’t want to know, but thanks to the wonders of the internet things like it exist).
It wasn’t terribly long before sail away, so I headed to the Serenity deck and found myself a nice seat under the awning next to the bar area. A band of rain was coming in and it looked like a curtain of showers was progressing over the island, towards us. I saw a rainbow form over the port area and MSC Divina, took a photo and sent it to my friend Jenna who had sailed on the ship in September and really enjoyed it despite a personal injury. A while later, MSC Divina set off as Guest Services began calling the names of those who had not yet checked in and boarded the Liberty. Another brief shower passed before we too, began sailing from Barbados. I truly had a great day there and would miss staying longer.
I had to take a nap before I could really do anything else. The sun had taken its toll on my energy and I was just ready to cocoon myself in the soft bed sheets. I headed back in for what I thought would be a shorter nap but wound up being near two hours. I emerged from my slumber 7-something knowing that before too long I would need to head to the dining room for dinner. I stopped by the coffee bar and ordered an Irish Coffee, forgetting to ask for decaf. Enjoying my spiked coffee, I headed for dinner but decided to stop at shore excursions first. There I found Michael again. We talked for a bit and then I asked about some good chill excursions in St, Lucia. I didn’t really feel up to anything ambitious, but wanted to at least do something. I chose the rainforest tram ride and then headed off for dinner.
I can’t really remember what dinner was that night, but I was once again a little sad not to see the bitter & blanc. I asked Ivan what night it might be featured and he told me that unfortunately, it was not available on this cruise. Bummer. Once I finished my dinner, I came to realize my coffee wasn’t decaf. Not because I was wired (I wasn’t actually) bit it just occurred I forgot to ask. I was still so tired that the caffeine didn’t make a difference. After I finished my dinner, I made a few rounds of the ship including the forward outside decks. There was some cloud cover so the stars were concealed. Bummer, again, but no biggie. I gave up my fight and retired for the night. I had the beautiful Pitons on my mind!
As I was speaking of my new French friends on the catamaran earlier, I feel that I must dedicate this post to those that lost their lives and loved ones in France. It’s truly an awful and evil thing that happened, yet we must live our lives the way we intend. We cannot let these monsters win. May the light of good drown-out the darkness of evil. Rest in peace.