St. George’s, Grenada — the Spice Island

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY EIGHT — Our island hopping continues. This morning we have hopped over to St. George’s, Grenada — the Spice Island. We also have reached the southern-most point in our cruise, 90 miles from the South American coast. Docked beside us and looming large is MSC Poesia, with a passenger capacity almost three times ours. But unlike Barbados, we appear to be the only two cruise ships here today. Since we have stopped at …

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Day 6: A taste of France

You know you’re in a department of France as soon as you explore downtown Fort-de-France, capital of Martinique. The buildings with wrought iron balconies remind me of New Orleans, the beaches the French Riviera, the bakeries the boulangeries of Provence and the perfume shops the boutiques of Paris. The city even has a Galleries Lafayette where you can buy French scents and fashions and pay for them in euros. Bear in mind, though, that this French enclave …

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“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 …

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Day 5: Swimming with stingrays and sports on board

A stingray feels a lot like a yoga mat in the fitness center on Oceania Cruises’ ship Insignia. And the females would be big enough to plant myself in downward facing dog if only they didn’t skitter away so quickly. Bill and I were booked on the Swimming with Stingrays shore excursion in Antigua, a worthwhile experience that we probably could not have done on our own. Eleven of us met our driver at the pier in …

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Tropical rain forest experience in Balata Botanical Garden in Fort de France, Martinique

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY 6 – It’s hard to believe we are already six days into our cruise — it goes so fast. This morning we wake up to a view of Ft. St. Louis, which means we are docked at Fort de France, Martinique. Weather-wise, the winds are still around and periodic rain is roaming the area. But overall, mostly bright and sunny. This is our inaugural visit here, the capital city of this French island …

Read moreTropical rain forest experience in Balata Botanical Garden in Fort de France, Martinique

Day 4: The pros and cons of a shore excursion in Puerto Rico

ABOARD THE OCEANIA INSIGNIA — What an interesting mix of culture Puerto Rico presents. Pulling into San Juan, the pretty pastel buildings of the old city rise from the piers, their Spanish colonial architecture testifying to the island’s long history. But on closer look, we spot a CVS pharmacy, a Foot Locker store, Starbucks and a Subway. As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is very Americanized. Our tour guide, Tony, told us the island has 14 Wal-Marts. …

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After two windy days at sea, we take an overview tour of Antigua

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY 5 — After two days at sea in a wind tunnel, we are docked at St. Johns, Antigua. Population 80,000, it and its sister island, Barbuda, are part of the Leeward Islands, or the Lesser Antilles if you like. This is our first visit, and we have opted to take the “Best of Antigua” excursion and get acquainted. Oceania has this shore excursion business down to a science. We traded in our tickets …

Read moreAfter two windy days at sea, we take an overview tour of Antigua

Day 2: Our first holiday at sea….Santa and all

ABOARD THE OCEANIA INSIGNIA — Santa Claus arrived at Oceania’s Insignia right on schedule on Christmas morning, but this being a luxury cruise line with no facilities or programs for children, there was only a handful of youngsters aboard. Still, each was called by name to meet the Jolly Old Elf seated in the stairway landing of the great hall surrounded by garlands and Christmas greenery. And each received a wrapped gift and was invited to sit …

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Day 1: Welcome aboard and fab dinner on Oceania’s Insignia

ABOARD THE OCEANIA INSIGNIA — Because Bill and I were confirmed on our cruise fairly late, our choice of flights to Miami for embarkation on Dec. 23 was quite limited–and expensive so close to the holidays. I made our air arrangements for us and found more flights, at less expense, flying into Fort Lauderdale on the day before. We decided to spend the night in a hotel near the airport, then transfer to the Port of Miami …

Read moreDay 1: Welcome aboard and fab dinner on Oceania’s Insignia

Christmas day at sea: Festive inside, but blustery outside

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY 4 — Today is Christmas — our first time to celebrate this special occasion at sea. Santa has already made a surprise visit to the atrium on Deck 5, and actually stopped by our room as well. There was a wrapped package on our bed, compliments of Oceania. Inside was a colorful glass ball and stand commemorating our cruise and marked with the date. Thank you Santa, and thank you Oceania! Later in …

Read moreChristmas day at sea: Festive inside, but blustery outside

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