by R. Lemont
March 4, 2006
What a great week of fun aboard the Golden Princess.After flying into San Juan we spent the night before our cruise at a hotel in the Condado district of San Juan right next to the beach. We spent the evening walking around the tourist area, which is under many renovations and some new construction.It is highly adviseable to get the transfers to and from the ship included with your package if possible, other wise you may be at the mercy of a short but expensive cab ride to the pier.Ship check in was effortless and smooth.
Our itinerary included stops at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Isla Margarita(Venezuela) and finally Aruba before returning to San Juan.
St. Thomas was the best stop for shopping which we did, and also took a ride on the Screaming Eagle Jet Boat which does high speed turns and stops. It was a fun time and nobody stays dry.
At St. Kitts we did the Mt. Liamuiga Volcano Hike. DO NOT do this excursion if you are not in excellent health. It is extremely strenuous and very demanding physically. My wife and myself are in good shape and workout regularly and we had very sore legs for several days after the excursion. It can ruin any excursions you might be taking on other islands. There were a few people who could not make the climb after we were only a third of the way up. They sat and waited for the rest of us to finish the climb and we picked them up on the way back. But once you make it up to the top of the volcano, there are a couple of observation points you climb out to and the views are what the climb was all about. Spectacular views out to the sea and down in the crater which is 400 feet below you. A truck takes you in to the northern section of the island thru sugarcane fields and up in to the mountain where you start the climb at around 1000 feet above sea level, you hike the rest of the way to around 3100 feet.
On Grenada we did the Mt. Etang Rainforest Walk. Very easy compared to the previous hike. A guided walk on top of a mountain, about 2000 feet above sea level. However, you ride all the way up to the top from the ship, and the walk is narrated by your driver. There were some monkeys there that were vere familiar with the tourists and waited near the entrance for some fruit or a banana handout. The ride up and down the mountain was far more interesting as you wind your way around narrow and twisting roads. Shopping was like being at a flea market lots of local crafts and lots of Nutmeg which the island is known for.
Isla Margarita is a island that is part of Venezuela and lies only 14 miles off the mainland. we tendered to shore the pier was taken up by a Celebrity ship. Apparently only one ship can dock and they take turns weekly for the dock. Mostly beach activities when you reach shore. The main cities are a 45 minute to an hour ride away by taxi and seemed quite expensive, about 50 dollars.
Our island hopping ended at Aruba. A very arid and rocky landscape, where the wind never stops blowing. We did the ATV Adventure, which when all was said and done we covered about 18 miles of Aruba. After a 15 minute ride from the ship we met our tour leader and after explaining the saftey rules for riding we practiced for a few monutes and then set out on our ATV,s. We stopped at an abandoned gold mine, drove thru Arikok National Park up to the second highest point on the island, 600 feet, then down to Ayo Rocks, then finally to the Natural Bridge, which is collapsed, but there is a Baby Natural Bridge there as well. Be advised that ATV's are legal on the roads of Aruba and you spend a bit of time on them as well as off road.
Shopping was the nicest after St. Thomas.
I would definately do this cruise again.