2021 CAPTIVATING CARIBBEAN
On this 14-day winter escape, watch the hustle and bustle of daily life melt away as you surrender to the rhythms of island life.
* Witness the life cycle of butterflies on a fascinating tour of a butterfly farm in Aruba
* A massive salt water lake near Kralendijk, Lake Gotomeer is where you can see the largest populations of flamingos in the Southern Caribbean
* Learn about the history of the spice trade on an aromatic tour of a spice garden near St. George’s
* Keep an eye out for herons, frigate birds and turtles on a thrilling kayaking adventure through a mangrove forest near Fort-de-France
Day 1, Tue – Miami (Embark 1PM, depart 6PM)
Fly to Miami and board the RIVIERA.
Day 2, Wed – Cruising the Old Bahama Channel – day 1 of 5
Day 3, Thu – Cruising the Caribbean Sea – day 2 of 5
Day 4, Fri – Santa Marta, Columbia (8AM – 5PM)
From the mangroves of Ciénaga Grande to the beaches of Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta offers a multitude of thrilling adventures. The oldest city in Colombia, it abounds with Spanish colonial charm, including one of the first basilicas built in Latin America, the Cathedral of Santa Marta. To learn of ancient history, explore the Ciudad Perdida, or “Lost City,” believed to have been founded 650 years before Machu Picchu.
Highlights Of Santa Marta (STM-001) 3 ½ hours 99/74.25
Explore the landmarks of Colombia’s oldest city, delving into its storied history and alluring culture, which have helped fuel the rebirth of Santa Marta. Depart from the pier and begin a leisurely drive through Santa Marta, a colonial city that the Spanish established as a base of conquest. Founded in 1525 at the foot of the world’s highest coastal mountain range, Santa Marta is considered the oldest, still-inhabited city in Colombia.
When the Spanish arrived, the indigenous people were skilled goldsmiths, and you will see the kinds of objects they made in the Gold Museum. An impressive model of the main city of their empire, Ciudad Perdida, is also on display, along with pre-Columbian pottery.
Continuing on, you will explore Santa Marta’s magnificent whitewashed cathedral, which is thought to be the oldest church in Colombia, although construction wasn’t finished until late in the 18th century. Its floor plan is in the shape of a Roman cross. Simon Bolivar was buried in the cathedral until 1839 when his remains were moved to Caracas, his birthplace.
You will discover more about the Great Liberator at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Bolivar died. Now a museum, the butterscotch-yellow hacienda beautifully displays many of his personal objects and a large statue of the revered Bolivar lords over the grounds.
To delve deeper into Santa Marta’s cultural history, you will watch a folkloric performance and enjoy a beverage at the Santa Mar Resort before returning to the pier via the modern El Rodadero district.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of easy to moderate walking/standing. Weather appropriate clothing (knees and shoulders should be covered to enter the cathedral); sun cap; sunglasses are recommended. In the event the Town Hall Museum is not available, it will be replaced with a visit to the Sacred Art Museum.
ALTERNATE: Quebrada Valencia Ecological Expedition (STM-002) 4 hours 89\66.75
Marvel at the unique ecology within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park as you walk through the forest to its spectacular Quebrada Valencia waterfalls. Depart from the pier and drive east toward the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, a massive piece of land containing part of the world’s highest coastal mountain range. The mountains are the source of the Quebrada Valencia River and countless other streams that wind through the pristine countryside. The park is so revered for its ecosystem and cultural content that UNESCO declared it a Biosphere Reserve of Man and Humanity.
Upon arriving, you will begin a guided walk through the forest and over rocky terrain into a land still inhabited by several indigenous Indian tribes. Wildlife abounds, including Sierra parrots, tapirs and Paramo deer. A variety of exotic flora also flourishes, and you may pass in the shadow of towering wax palms and ceiba de leche trees.
It takes approximately a half hour to reach the waterfalls, and it’s well worth the effort. Emerging from the dense forest, the cascading waterfalls from the Quebrada Valencia River form a series of small, crystal-clear pools. The tropical setting couldn’t be lovelier or more serene. You will enjoy quite some time here to relax and wander about as you please, perhaps taking a quick dip in the refreshing waters. Tropical birds abound here so you may see some squawking in the treetops above. Afterwards, you will retrace your route back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 1-hour of moderate to strenuous walking, plus any additional at the guests’ discretion during time at the waterfalls. There will be uneven and natural terrain to negotiate as well as some inclines and steps. Standing at the waterfalls will also be on uneven, natural surfaces and could be slippery if wet. If there has been significant rain, it will be necessary to cross running water that can be knee-deep.
Day 5, Sat – Orangestad, Aruba (10AM – 11PM)
Distinguished by its colorful Dutch colonial architecture, Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba, first settled in 1796. Named as a tribute to the Dutch king William of Orange, the city today attracts tourists searching for duty-free bargains and strolling around the beautiful streets.
Aruba Sightseeing & Ostrich Farm (AUA-005) 4 hours 109/81.75
This tour offers a bit of the traditional scenic highlights of Aruba as well as something unique. From the pier, you will first travel to the oldest lighthouse on the Island, the California Lighthouse which is located on Aruba's windward coast. En route, you will pass by the area of tourist resorts that dot the coastline. After a stop for photos, you will continue on across the island's arid terrain which is the home of cacti, divi-divi trees, iguanas and wild goats.
Your next stop is the Casibari Rock Formations, a group of large diorite and granite boulders found nowhere else in the Caribbean. From here, you will drive past the Bushiribana Gold Smelter ruins, which are located close to where gold was discovered in 1824. Next it's on to your third stop, an island ostrich farm. Enjoy a guided tour of the farm and get acquainted with these interesting, flightless birds during your visit.
Before returning to the pier in Oranjestad, you will make a final stop at the beautiful Baby Natural Bridge, situated next to the former Natural Bridge, which was Aruba's premier attraction until its collapse in 2005. This spot vividly demonstrates the powerful forces of the sea, which over the years has carved through coral and lime stone, creating amazing formations and arches in the rocks.
Please note: This tour involves limited walking, mainly at the guest's discretion. Feeding the ostriches is permitted, but please use caution when doing so. It is recommended that jewelry and sunglasses be removed prior to feeding the birds. Some of the venues on this tour charge for use of the restrooms.
Day 6, Sun - Kralendijk, Bonaire (8AM – 6PM)
Go for a hike in Washington-Slagbaai National Park and look for birds, lizards and iguanas. Snorkel in the sapphire seas surrounded by a rainbow of tropical fish. Visit a butterfly garden, go sea kayaking through mangroves, see the famed saltwater lake Gotomeer, watch the fishing boats along the Playa Pabou waterfront, or enjoy a quiet moment on Pink Beach or at the Lourdes Grotto.
Bonaire Highlights & Cultural Explorer (KRA-011) 3 hours 69/51.75
Discover the immense diversity of Bonaire on this mostly panoramic driving tour that encompasses highlights to the north and south with an enlightening visit to a culture center. Depart from pier and settle in for a picturesque drive along Bonaire’s coast. The farther north you travel from Kralendijk, the more hilly and arid the terrain. Along the way, you may spot huge candelabra cacti and mesquite trees that can reach as high as 30 feet. To the west, lies Klein Bonaire, a flat undeveloped island that rises barely six feet above the sea.
After approximately an hour, you will reach the Rincon Valley, once home to the Arawak Indians. At the turn of the 15th century, the Spanish founded the village of Rincon somewhat inland, out of the reach of cannons from buccaneer ships. You will discover more about the history of the area while driving through the village and touring Rincon’s outdoor venue Rose Inn. Relax under a shady tree and get a taste of the island with a sample of the locally produced Cadushy Liqueur which is made from cacti and lime.
For a different perspective of Bonaire’s past, you will visit the Culture Park in a landmark building called Mangazina di Rei, meaning Storehouse of the King. It’s the second oldest building on the island and centuries ago, seeds that priests had blessed were stored here before being distributed to the rest of the island. It was here that every Saturday, the island’s slaves would meet to receive their weekly provisions. A guided walk of the park allows you to hear stories of the area’s history and its importance to modern day Bonaireans.
Rejoining your coach, you’ll make your way back to the pier, passing Bonaire’s remarkable salt ponds, where flamingoes often congregate to dine on brine shrimp, a diet that endows them with a beautiful rosy hue.
Please note: This tour is mostly panoramic with limited optional walking at the stops. The tour sequence may vary.
Day 7, Mon – Cruising the Caribbean Sea – day 3 of 5
Day 8, Tue – St. Georges, Grenada (8AM – 11PM)
You can smell the cinnamon and nutmeg well before you dock in St. George’s; a tour of the spice estates on Grenada is almost mandatory. You can also take in a visit to a distillery to see how the island’s sugarcane juice is first turned into syrup and then into rum. A ferry trip to sister island Carriacou offers fantastic diving opportunities, and romantics can climb the waterfalls or just relax on the sun-kissed beaches.
The Spice Of Our Lives (GND-001) 4 hours 89/66.75
Enjoy this tour that gives you a nice overview of Grenada's quaint old city of St. George along with an introduction to why the island is referred to as the Spice Isle. Setting off from the pier, you will first travel through St. George, getting a taste of the town's highlights before heading to the De La Grenade Industries. Located just a few miles outside of town, this family-owned company produces jams and jellies and the prize winning Nutmeg Syrup and De La Grenade Liqueur, which are both made from nutmeg. Before leaving, you will also be treated to a taste of their delicious rum-punch.
From here, it's on to the Laura Herb and Spice Garden. Arriving, you will find yourself engulfed in the aroma of every spice that is grown on the Island. Within the garden you will find a wide variety of herbs and medicinal plants, some of which are exported for use in patented medicines and in Caribbean and International cuisine. Some of these local medicinal plants sport fun names like Shado Bennie and Jump Up and Kiss Me. Amongst others, you will also find aromatic spices such as cocoa, nutmeg, mace, pimento, cinnamon, vanilla, tumeric and cloves.
Your final stop is at Westerhall Estates which produces the Island's leading rums. After a brief tour here, you will have a chance to sample their exotic rum blends before it's time to return to the pier. Please note: This tour involves approximately 60-minutes of easy walking.
Day 9, Wed – Kingstown, St. Vincent (8M – 8PM)
NEW Known as the "City of Arches," this town is filled with old world charm and accented with rich, rolling green hills. Kingstown's cenotaph is a beautiful monument atop a granite pedestal that honors soldiers who died in the first and second world wars. Built in 1820, St. George's Cathedral houses exquisite galleries, and the city's botanical garden is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.
Best Of St. Vincent (KGN-002) 3 ¼ hours 99/74.25
An excellent introduction to St. Vincent, this excursion traces the island's history at Fort Charlotte and presents its natural beauty at the botanical gardens and in a fertile valley. Depart from the pier and begin driving through Kingstown, the volcanic island's energetic capital. Before long, you'll arrive at Fort Charlotte, which the British started constructing in 1763. Named for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III who was the reigning monarch of the time, the fort stands on a ridge 600 feet above sea level, offering an unobstructed view of Kingstown and beyond.
Interestingly, the cannons point inland over the moat, as the fort was built to protect the English from the indigenous Indians and their allies, the French, who were more inclined to attack from land rather than the sea. The Fort houses a collection of paintings which depicts the history of the Black Caribs and a tour of Fort Charlotte provides a unique glimpse into the tumultuous founding of St. Vincent.
Another short drive brings you to the Botanical Gardens, which are among the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, having been established in 1765. An oasis of serenity, the gardens contain countless exotic species and rare items such as a breadfruit tree that's the third generation of one donated by the infamous Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty.
Continuing on, you'll venture through the Mesopotamia Valley, where much of St. Vincent's fruits, vegetables and spices are grown. As scenic as it is fertile, the emerald-green valley is crisscrossed by streams and dotted with farms. After departing the picturesque valley, you'll stop at a beach bar for a cool drink and then return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 1-hour of easy to moderate walking and there will be some slopes to negotiate. Due to a weight restriction on the draw bridge at Fort Charlotte, you will travel there by minibus. Following this stop, you will travel by motor coach for the remainder of the tour.
Day 10, Thu – Fort de France, Martinique (7AM – 6PM)
Tucked along the island's western shore, Fort-de-France is a Francophile's tropical dream city. French architecture such as the Cathédral St-Louis graces the downtown, the beaches exude a joie de vivre, and several French-built forts perch atop the promontories. All roads lead to La Savane, a serene central park overseen by a statue of Empress Josephine.
Historic Clement's Plantation & Balata Garden (FDF-002) 4 ½ hours 169/126.75
Delve into some of the attractions that have come to define Martinique, including a rum-producing plantation, banana fields, a historic church and Balata Garden. Drive east toward Martinique's economic hub of Lamentin to Clement's Plantation House, an historic home surrounded by sugar cane fields. Decorated with period furnishings, Clement's gained new significance in 1991 when U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and France's President François Mitterrand met there to discuss international affairs. During your visit, perhaps enjoy a stroll through the home's park and samplings of sugar cane and rum.
Continuing on, you will stop briefly in a banana field, where your guide will explain the crop's immense importance to Martinique.
Don't be surprised to hear French spoken throughout the island, as it's the official language, and Balata Church certainly solidifies the relationship between France and Martinique, an overseas department of the country since the mid-1940s. This charming church is a scaled-down version of the revered Sacré-Coeur Basilica in France.
Your final stop is at the peaceful and relaxing Balata Tropical Gardens. The garden's shaded paths are lined with tropical species such as torch gingers, parakeet flowers, hibiscus and an abundance of orchids. What's truly amazing about his fecund wonderland is that in the mid-1980s, it was farmland with very few of the colorful and fragrant plants that now grace its acreage. Created by landscape gardener Jean-Philippe Thoze, the garden is a fine example of the island's fertility, as it is flourishing after having been planted a mere two decades ago. Following a visit of approximately 45-minutes, you will rejoin your coach and transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2-hours of easy to moderate walking/standing and includes negotiating a significant number of steps and uneven ground. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.
Day 11, Fri - Basseterre, St. Kitts (8AM – 11PM)
With more than a quarter of the island set aside as a national park and a rainforest that is growing rather than shrinking, St. Kitts is a stunning tropical island escape. Soar through the Valley of the Giants on a thrilling zip line, hike to Sofa Rock, which is the cap of a still smoldering volcano, or simply spend the day relaxing on one of the many beaches protected by major coral reefs.
Best Of St. Kitts (SKB-002) 4 ½ hours 99/74.25
Explore the scenic beauty and history of St. Kitts during this picturesque orientation tour of the island. Depart the pier with your guide for the drive through Basseterre, the Eastern Caribbean's oldest town. Here, the elements of French and British colonization have been carefully preserved. Along the way, you will see Berkeley Memorial, the former slave market of Independence Square, and the impressive architecture of the buildings surrounding it.
A stop will be made at the Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as the Gibraltar of the West Indies, the Brimstone Hill Fortress protected British interests in this part of the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th centuries, and is a tribute to the skills of British military engineering and African slave labor. From atop the citadel, you will take in stunning views of the National Park and neighboring islands.
Continuing on, you'll travel to Caribelle Batik where you can observe local artists transform Sea Island cotton into stunning Batik fabrics, and learn about the secrets of this ancient art form. Afterwards, you will proceed to Romney Manor, originally owned by the great-grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president. Nestled amidst expansive and meticulously maintained grounds, this 12-acre botanical paradise is truly a wonder to behold. During your visit, you will take in spectacular views and photo opportunities of tropical blooms, exotic palms, flowering shrubs and delicate orchids, and observe the hummingbirds, egrets and green vervet monkeys.
Next, you'll visit Fairview Great House. This stately house provides a true representation of a colonial era St. Kitts Great House with the Great House rooms furnished in authentic colonial style. The Great House contains an historical information room where you can learn more about previous owners of the property, life on the island in colonial times and the process undertaken to fully restore this historic gem. From the cobble stone courtyard view, the original kitchen with its volcanic stone and brick oven; the original bathing room with its large sun warmed volcanic stone bath; and stone bridge leading from the rear veranda of the Great House to the rear area of the tropical botanical garden, this home embodies the best of a bygone era. While in the courtyard you won't want to miss a visit to the old stone cellar where you will find a gift shop offering unique Fairview gifts and souvenirs for your shopping delight. You may also want to stroll a bit in The Great House's meticulously landscaped tropical botanical garden which features settings and plants from the 1700s – 1920s that includes a wide variety of fruit trees, palms, shrubs and flowering plants.
Your final tour stop will be at the top of Timothy Hill where you will be treated to breathtaking vistas of the Frigate Bay resort area. From this marvelous viewpoint you can see long stretches of golden sandy beaches, foaming crests of Atlantic waves to the north, the tranquil Caribbean Sea to the south, an 18-hole golf course, and stately homes on the slopes of the majestic hills in the background. Afterwards, re-board your coach and travel back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of easy walking with a few steps to negotiate. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.
Day 12, Sat – Gustavia, St. Barts (8AM – 5PM)
Tour this beautiful island and marvel at the rugged coastline and its unspoiled, upscale atmosphere, unique in the Caribbean for its Swedish and French heritage. Enjoy the spectacular beaches and resorts, snorkel or dive in the crystalline waters, or see underwater wonders from a semi-submersible marine vessel. Yet another stop here. Darn.
As expected, there are NO excursions of any interest offered here.
Day 13, Sun – Cruising the Atlantic Ocean - #4 of 5
Day 14, Mon – Cruising the Atlantic Ocean - #5 of 5
Day 15, Tue – Miami (8AM)
“Back in town” and head for the airport.