“Discover Barbados” tour gives overview of Bridgetown

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY SEVEN- We are docked at Bridgetown, Barbados. So it seems is every other cruise ship in the world.

Also here are Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Pullmantur and a few others. It’s going to be a BUSY day at the port. As first-time visitors, we are going on the “Discover Barbados” tour.

Prior to docking, passengers were told two “don’ts” about the island: Don’t smoke in public places (OK – we don’t smoke) and don’t wear any camouflage clothing (we don’t own any, but huh?). Our tour guide later explained that the only persons authorized to wear camouflage are the military defense forces. Mystery solved.

Enjoying the view at the Highland Adventure Center

It’s a little bit of a hike getting to our tour bus, so we hop aboard a waiting shuttle that will take us to the terminal, where we are instructed to follow the red line. Pam already has her eye on the duty-free shops as we head for the bus.

About the bus: It’s very nice except for one thing: The width of the seats. Be sure you like the person you’re with because for the next three hours or so, you’re going to be very cozy.

Unlike the volcanic islands in the Caribbean, Barbados is mostly flat and hilly. The highest point is just over 1,100 feet. The former British colony is also among the wealthiest islands, with the west coast a haven for the rich and famous (you probably know singing star Rhianna is from Barbados).

Our first stop is St. John’s Church, an historic church and cemetery perched on a hill with sweeping views of the coastline. The weather today is bright and sunny, and the trade winds are doing their thing. Just another day in paradise, as they say.

With all the ships in port, tourists are swarming like ants from a steady stream of buses, both large and small, everywhere we go.

It’s a cruise ship traffic jam in Barbados

Next stop is Bathsheba, a striking beach area dotted by a series of large rocks in the surf. The breaking waves and swaying palms make it especially scenic as island vendors sell their wares along the beachfront.

The last stop is Highland Adventure Center, where the main attraction is the stunning views from its hilltop location, and refreshments. The buses here are literally packed in like sardines and leaving was a bit of a challenge.

Our tour guide, Rose, was an encyclopedia of information, even pointing out one of the more unusual local businesses: A combination funeral home and taxi service. They serve you coming and going.

After spending time in the duty-free shops, we boarded a shuttle back to the ship. And promptly got right in the middle of an altercation between two passengers. The best we could tell, something about a delay caused by a man’s missing swimsuit. Tempers flared, there was shouting and the ship’s security had to briefly intervene before it died down. Here’s hoping they don’t get seated next to each other in one of the restaurants.

A sundial on the grounds of historic St. John’s Church

Back on board, there’s been a change in tonight’s entertainment. One of the vocalists has  taken ill, so they have canceled the tribute to Burt Bacharach, “What the World Needs Now,” and will instead feature a comedian and magician.

Our main event for the evening is the Captain’s Private Cocktail Party, honoring Oceania World Club members. Repeat guests are recognized with bronze-gold-platinum pins. Among the passengers on this trip are two couples that have cruised with Oceania over 300 days. We also learn the majority of the guests on this cruise come from the United States, with the UK second and Canada third, and 22 different nationalities altogether.

The late night music offering in Horizons is Duo Essenza, a couple from Brazil who have been playing at the sailaways. It’s Latin Night, and suddenly I wish I had paid better attention when taking those dance lessons.

Tomorrow: We are at the spice island of Grenada, and we try out a new specialty restaurant.

Stay tuned.

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