Have you ever wanted to island hop to South America? Yeah, us too. In April, we came close to doing it, stopping just short of Venezuela and the South American continent.
We boarded the Carnival Vista in Miami with an itinerary of visiting four destinations in eight days. Along the way, we passed Cuba and Haiti before reaching Grand Turk and the Dominican Republic. As we sailed into the southern Caribbean, picture-perfect beaches awaited us in the Dutch-influenced Aruba and Curacao, which sit off the coast of Venezuela.
From Miami, it’s 983 nautical miles to Aruba (or a three-hour flight). No doubt, our voyage was more luxurious than most. After all, Carnival Vista features North America’s first cruise-ship brewery—the Pilgrims may have never stopped in Plymouth if the Mayflower had an on-board brewpub.
At night, on our balcony, we felt alone in this world. It’s humbling and exhilarating to be on the sea at night, watching the horizon fade back to black. Dawn usually signaled our arrival at a new island. On those mornings, we would finalize our day’s plan over coffee and croissants on the balcony before getting off the ship.
Each island brought its own adventures. We wandered in Curacao and La Romana, and spent the day swimming in Aruba and Grand Turk. We’ve curated our favorite memories from each destination into a pictorial travel guide, which we hope inspires you to start planning your own Caribbean adventure.
Date: March 27, 2017
Activity: Snorkeling was the name of the game in Grand Turk. We booked an excursion for a multi-spot snorkel, which took us to a couple of locations off White Sands Beach. The water was warm and clear, and the reefs were alive with all kinds of marine life; we even saw our first Manta ray. One surprise highlight for me was “Splashdown Grand Turk,” a free exhibit at the port dedicated to America’s first astronauts and NASA’s connection with Turks and Caicos.
La Romana, Dominican Republic
Date: March 28, 2017
Activity: We visited Altos de Chavón, an authentic replication of a 16th-century Mediterranean village with artists’ studios and eclectic restaurants. Overlooking the Chavón River, the village is surrounded by lush greenery and cacti as tall as trees. Wildlife and birds hang around the steep hillside and complement the village’s amazing views.
Date: March 29, 2017
Activity: Curacao was an afternoon port of call, a first for us. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well, so Beth explored Curacao on her own—swimming and café hopping into the night. The island’s Dutch architecture coupled with its gorgeous beaches made for a unique Caribbean experience, she said.
Date: March 30, 2017
Activity: Whenever we cruise, we like to do one all-day beach day and Aruba was it on this trip. We took the town bus from the port to Eagle Beach and spent the whole day lounging and swimming. The beach exceeded my expectations. I haven’t seen sand this sugary white since the Maldives.
Do you have a favorite photo from our Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Vista? Let us know about in the comments below. And while you are there, tell us about your next adventure!
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.