Today, the Carnival Valor stopped at Barbados. This is one of the Caribbean islands that I’ve not visited before, and I was anxious to explore it. We learned from our mistake on St. Thomas and booked a tour for the six of us to take a ride on the Jolly Roger pirate ship for five hours ($60pp for adults and $55pp for children).
After a leisurely breakfast, we headed to the port terminal in Barbados to meet our tour. Unlike St. Thomas where the tours all gathered within the secure area of the port, in Barbados, we walked through the port terminal (filled with shops – including a Calypso rum cake shop we noted for the way back) and met our tour on the far side. Were we not taking a tour, there was a separate exit that led to taxis and walking to stores.
Once we found our tour, we boarded a small shuttle bus that brought us to the port where the Jolly Roger was moored. After a quick walk and a stop to pick up wristbands to board the Jolly Roger (in a tavern with a conveniently located gift shop), we were ready to board our ship. Before we got there, a crew member handed each of the wee ones a pirate getup. Little Miss immediately pulled hers out and put it on, while Mister Man is saving his for “later.”
When boarding, the crew member pulled a plastic sword on Little Miss and threatened not to let her board because she was dressed like a pirate, which she thought was highly entertaining. In addition to those of us from the Carnival Valor, the ship contained additional passengers – my husband estimated the total at near 200 – and we struggled to find seats. We ended up leaning against the railing, along with many other passengers. Once we got o our first snorkeling stop, it was easier to manage, but the tour would have done well with 20-30 fewer people aboard.
The crew entertained us as we sailed to our first snorkeling stop, where we were to explore a shipwreck. The fun came when we anchored near the shipwreck. After donning our bright floatation devices and securing our masks and snorkels, we simply jumped off the starboard side of the boat and into the water. The wee ones thought that was an absolute hoot.
We didn’t see a ton of fish near the shipwreck, but there were some, primarily zebra fish with a few others I can’t name. The wreck itself was fascinated to snorkel over, as it was in shallow enough water that you could truly see all the different parts of it, in addition to the profusion of coral now growing on it.
After our half hour snorkel time, we reboarded – climbing either a rope or the ladder – and set sail for our next destination, which was to be a place to view sea turtles. During the sail, lunch was open. It got a little confusing at this point, as some passengers (none from Carnival) had wristbands that provided them with a buffet lunch filled with everything from chicken to steak to salads and pasta and beans and more. Those of us from Carnival and with green wristbands had the option to purchase lunch at $5 for burgers or $15 for the buffet. I would just as soon have had the option to do this when booking with Carnival to avoid the confusion, but it worked out just fine.
Regardless, all passengers had access to an open bar that included the specialty rum punch, along with other mixed drinks and beer, plus plenty of nonalcoholic options. There wasn’t a limit to the number of drinks you could have, and some passengers took advantage of that and enjoyed themselves nicely. The wee ones loved the pineapple juice to refresh them after snorkeling, and that was perfect for me.
The next snorkel destination was an hour where we would be able to swim with turtles, something Mister Man in particular was looking forward to. Before that started, a plank was lowered off the side of the boat and a passenger was “forced” to walk the plank.
After that, everyone who wanted to got into the action and walked the plank. This included the wee ones, my husband, and I. After awhile, it became a diving competition amongst the passengers, and we found some truly competent divers in the bunch. We only walked the plank once given the line, however.
The wee ones were mostly interested in snorkeling and finding the turtles. The sea and current were rough, pushing us toward the ship and behind it. It was work to swim against it, and my husband gave up after just a few minutes, as he was struggling with snorkeling. I stayed in the water for the vast majority of the hour were anchored at the second point, helping the wee ones stay clear of the plank and snorkel in an attempt to find turtles.
It was exhausting for me, as I spent the majority of my time swimming against the current, and much of that time was spent pushing or pulling a wee one with me, as they didn’t have enough endurance to swim against the current for long. I switched off with one child in the water and the second waiting for another turn, but eventually I needed to take a break because I was too tired to keep swimming and the floatation device was rubbing against my arm after so much stroking.
Unfortunately, we never saw a turtle, which Mister Man was disappointed by, but we did run into someone on the ship later who had found one. Shortly after we got aboard the ship again, we headed back to port which was a 45 minute sail from our anchor. The time was spent as a party with loud fun music and the crew encouraging dancing. The also performed a pirate wedding, which was cute.
The views along the coast were spectacular with gorgeous turquoise and green seas and amazing looking beaches. I wish that we would have had more time to spend exploring the beaches in Barbados. I’ve also heard that there are fantastic plantation houses, caves, and other sights to explore. Part of the idea of a cruise is to give you a taste of a location rather than thoroughly exploring it, so I just have more reason to come back again.
On our way back through the port terminal, we stopped at the rum cake shop that we’d noticed on the way in. As promised, they had free samples of their four flavors of cake: vanilla, pear ginger, chocolate, and coffee. I tasted the pear ginger and coffee, and the coffee flavor was a perfect combination with the rum. Needless to say, I bought a few cakes, one for ourselves and two as gifts to friends and family back home.
By the time we made it aboard the ship again, it was almost 4:30pm, and we’re all exhausted. It’s amazing how spending time in the sun and on the sea really wears you out, although the snorkeling we experienced also adds to it. Tonight is definitely an early dinner night, although the wee ones are determined to last long enough to attend the cake decorating class offered in Camp Carnival. We’ll see!
Next up? St. Lucia, another island I’ve never visited but one known for beautiful beaches and a relaxing atmosphere.