I love to cruise. But flying to the cruise port of embarkation is another matter.
For my cruise on Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper I was assigned a 5 a.m. departure to Miami with a tight connection to Barbados. From Chicago’s O’Hare. In December.
Seriously, 5 o’clock in the morning? Might as well not go to bed at all. And I’ve been burned too many times by late flights, missed and near missed connections, especially in winter.
The worst was a flight to Tahiti to catch the former Tahitian Princess. I spent a good part of a wedding reception the night before on the phone with the airline that had cancelled our flight to LAX because and ice storm hit Chicago. The agent worked hard to help us, but our only option was a flight to Orange County because that plane was already on the ground at O’Hare and still scheduled for departure. We took it and booked a ground transfer from John Wayne Airport to LAX. Wouldn’t you know, our luggage was the last off the plane and our driver had to race to LAX. We made it with just minutes to spare. I don’t think my heart stopped racing until we were halfway across the Pacific.
Sure glad we didn’t miss that cruise through French Polynesia. It still ranks as one of our favorites.
So to spare us stress, and my blood pressure, I booked us on a late-morning flight two days prior to embarkation on the Royal Clipper. Instead of a stressful, sleepless slog, we had a glorious day and a half at a three-star hotel at the end of Dover Beach.
As it turned out, I need not have worried. The weather in Chicago was unseasonably spring-like and the arrival gate in Miami was just five away from the Barbados flight.
You just never know.
Still, we have no regrets about our stay in Barbados. The hotel was clean and affordable and well located, just a short stroll down the sand from Sandals Barbados resort. We had a nice walk to St. Lawrence Gap checking out the various eateries for dinner and finally settled on Crave (craverestaurantbarbados.com) because the owner, standing at the entrance, was so charming. I had baby scallops with linguine in a nice cream sauce. My husband, Bill, the fresh fish of the day. Both excellent.
It helped that we arrived in time for happy hour: two-for one drinks. My rum punch(s) hit the spot.
Anyone who knows Bill knows his fondness for beer and he was quite pleased with Banks, the beer of Barbados. In fact, he persuaded the owner to let him keep the glass for a friend whose last name is Banks.
We found Barbados to be among the most pleasant Caribbean islands we have visited. Clean and well managed. It’s the easternmost of the islands, nicknamed “Little England.” Discovered by the Portuguese and then claimed by England, it became independent in 1966.
Another loll by the pool in the morning sun, then off to the cruise terminal. Shops inside are set up in buildings resembling colorful Barbados houses. We had time for lunch before embarkation, but were disappointed to find only one outdoor bar with a limited menu. One good point: more Banks Beer.
Can’t wait to board the Royal Clipper, our home for the next week.
Photos by Katherine Rodeghier