ABOARD CRYSTAL SERENITY_When we return from last night’s show and dinner, the red message light is blinking on our stateroom phone. It’s the shore excursion team, reminding us to make sure and eat a hearty breakfast since there won’t be a lunch opportunity on our Barbados tour today.
Like the previous tour in St. Lucia, we have signed up for the “late risers” option, with a late morning start time. It’s nice not to set an alarm and ease into the day at a leisurely pace — you just have to be ready for a later-than-usual lunch.
Last night we started the evening at Avenue D bar on Deck 6, our favorite pre-dinner, go-to place. Its dark woods, intimate seating and piano musician reminds us of the late, great Bull and Boar, a fixture for many years at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Before we could order, our wait person, Lillia from Hungary, appeared with two Teenie Weenie Lemon Martinis already in hand. “Would you like your usual?” she asked. Wow — how impressive is that? One other note on Avenue D: Delicious hors d’oeuvres are offered on a regular basis. Even the chicken wings and pigs in a blanket get the elegant Crystal treatment.
The show in the Stardust Supper Club is “Sweet Soul Music,” a song-and-dance tribute to some of Motown’s greatest hits, followed by dancing. While the Ambassadors did their usual thing, Pam and I did a little dancing ourselves. After all, we can’t let them have all the fun.
Serenity is docked in Bridgetown, Barbados, along with four other large cruise ships we can see from our balcony. The weather is partly sunny, and the ride over from St. Lucia was a little bumpy — lots of wave motion. We’ll be here overnight, so we’ll have plenty of time to get re-acquainted with this former British colony, which we have visited several times before.
Our tour is “Highlights of Barbados,” and it gets off to a somewhat chaotic start. The usually efficient Crystal escorts are nowhere in sight as we exit the ship, so we and others seek out some help to make sure we’re going the right way to the buses. Once inside the cruise terminal, we are reunited with a Crystal rep and things go smoothly from there.
Because of its location, Barbados has been largely spared the hurricanes that have ravaged sister islands in the region. Our guide tells us the last storm hit in 1955. Fingers crossed and knock on wood, we all hope that continues to be the case. Besides its beautiful beaches, Barbados is a playground for the rich and famous, who pay as much as $30,000 a night to stay in its posh resorts.
While we’ll see where the ultra-rich congregate, our tour takes us to more mainstream attractions, like Orchid World, historic St. John’s Church and St. Nicholas Abbey, a working manor house in a lush tropical setting. The Abbey, built in 1658 and restored in 2007, includes a tour of the house and its priceless antiques. Also on the landscaped grounds is a distillery that produces hand-crafted rum (we are told rum actually originated on Barbados). Other tour highlights include sweeping island views from Cherry Tree Hill and the grounds around St. John’s.
A quick sidenote: The CAMOUFLAGE restriction we told you about previously on St. Lucia is also in effect in Barbados. The reason, by the way, is a good one. Their military wears CAMOUFLAGE uniforms and they don’t want any confusion when it comes to who’s in charge.
The tour over, we catch a Crystal courtesy shuttle from the terminal back to the ship, where a rep is waiting to hand us a cold towel. After a warm and humid day of traversing the island, it’s a welcome sight.
We grab a quick bite to eat at the Trident Grill on deck 12, just something to hold us over until dinner at Waterside.
A few guests have told us they are excited for tonight’s show in the Galaxy Lounge, where world famous organist Hector Olivera will play a concert of music from the great movies. Over in the Stardust Supper Club, the Crystal Dance Quartet will be doing “Sabor Latino,” a dance performance. Decisions, decisions.
Earlier in the day, the Galaxy Lounge was a holding area for hundreds of balloons, bound together and ready to help us usher in the new year tomorrow night. Let the countdown begin!
Cover photo: A sweeping island view from St. John’s Church.