The final port stop on our upcoming cruise is St. Maarten which was our favorite stop on our previous cruise. We have decided not to partake in any specific shore excursion this time. For the previous three days we will busy with planned shore excursions on our stops in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. For our final stop we have decided to take it at an easier pace.

There are two things I want to do on this visit: First, I want to go back over to the French side (St. Martin) and spend more time in Marigot. Last cruise our shore excursion only allowed for an hour's time in Marigot. I really enjoyed strolling through the outdoor market...
and chatting and haggling with the friendly, local women over their wares...


The other thing I want to do in Marigot is to go back to Sarafina's restaurant and bakery. I read about this place prior to our last trip, and we did manage to rush in and buy a couple of delicious bakery items. I'd like to go back and get some more!
© www.caribbeanmedstudent.com
©  www.tripadvisor.com)

After spending a couple of hours in Marigot, we'll taxi back to Phillipsburg. There are two places that we know we want to revisit in Philipsburg that I wrote about in a previous post:

First is to go back to the beach on Great Bay. A water taxi travels back and forth from the cruise dock to a pier at the beach...it's a small beach, but it has some of the most beautiful water and softest sand I've ever seen and put my toes in.
The second must-visit is The Belgian Chocolate Box.

This small shop is located on Old Street, a small street just off Front Street, the main shopping street in Philipsburg. We purchased several pieces of both dark and white chocolate here...needless to say, we wished we had bought much more.

Sadly St. Maarten will be the last stop on our upcoming cruise. But once we have returned with many wonderful memories and photographs, I will be writing all about our adventures. And no doubt we will quickly be planning our next travel adventure.

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner
Unless noted, photos were taken by my husband and me during our Caribbean cruise in May, 2014.



Our fourth port stop on our upcoming cruise is St. Kitts, an island we visited on our cruise last year. You can read about our visit to the Clay Villa Plantation here.

Since we toured most of St. Kitts during our shore excursion last year (the visit to Clay Villa Plantation also included a stop at a beach)...

we decided to visit St. Kitts' sister island of Nevis this cruise. Here you can see Nevis in the distance...
The island of Nevis is actually the other half of the country whose official name is the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, a two-island country in the West Indies.
© www.worldatlas.com

We've chosen as our shore excursion: Catamaran Fan-ta-sea & Nevis Beach Break. We did toy with the thought of taking the water taxi from the St. Kitts cruise port at the capital city of Basseterre over to Nevis, but the timetable showed the taxis were so infrequent that we would be cutting the time too close for comfort getting back to the ship. This is one reason I recommend just booking an excursion through the cruise line: you will never be left behind.

The excursion begins by boarding a catamaran like this...
© www.carnival.com
which will sail from the cruise dock down the coastline of St. Kitts. The boat will stop in a secluded cove where we will be able to snorkel for about an hour, hopefully seeing shipwrecks, schools of colorful fishes and turtles.

Afterwards our excursion continues with the boat crossing The Narrows, the 2-mile stretch of water that separates the two islands...seen in the photo below.
© Wikimedia Commons
Our destination is Pinney's Beach, a 3-mile-long stretch of smooth, soft, sugar-fine sand, with a beautiful backdrop of swaying palm trees and the majestic Mount Nevis. From Pinney's Beach we'll have marvelous views of St. Kitts.
© www.explorenevis.com
Lunch and an open bar, with rum punch and Carib Beer, is included in the price of the excursion. From the reviews I have read we spend approximately an hour or so on one of the prettiest beaches on Nevis.

I'm hopeful for a relaxing catamaran ride to yet another new island with many gorgeous views of the beautiful Caribbean and two beautiful islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner
Unless noted, photos were taken by my husband and me during our Caribbean cruise in May, 2014. 



Young Girl with Hat (1892) by Berthe Morisot at the Art Institute of Chicago

A fact of life is there is simply not enough time to do all of the things I would like to do. My goal is to do as many of them as I can with the time that I have. Unfortunately my true life goal (dream) of being a full-time travel/art blogger keeps getting interrupted because of my regular five-days-a-week job.

A few years ago I started an art blog titled: Tutti Capolavori, Art masterpieces and the artists who created them. I love art as much as I love to travel, and I wanted to share my favorite paintings that I encountered during my travels. I wrote a few posts, but my A Great Europe Trip Planner blog and my life caused me to put the art blog on hold. Well, I have decided to recreate the art blog (and correctly title it) as Tutti i Capolavori. 

I hope my art blog will interest you as much as my travel blog does. I will post notices when I have published a new post on the art blog so my travel readers will be aware of it. I have republished my original post in the new version of the blog.

Thank you in advance...A Great Europe Trip Planner.



I love cruising! I think readers of this blog understand that. But cruising can be a tiring vacation. With all the onboard activities and off-ship excursions, I have actually returned home wishing for a few extra days off to recuperate from the cruise. Every cruise we say that we won't exert ourselves with a shore excursion in every port, but somehow we end up scheduling something in every port.

Our third port stop is actually the third new port we will be visiting: St. Lucia. And yes, we have scheduled a shore excursion for this stop, but this time, very relaxing one. We have chosen the Catamaran Cruise to the Pitons.
© www.carnival.com
The catamaran cruise begins from the cruise port of Castries and travels down the western coast of the island...
© www.worldatlas.com
We will see the beautiful lush vegetation of the coastline with the small, picturesque, fishing villages of Anse la Raye...
©  www.ds-lands.com
and Canaries...
©  darrensmith.com
The cruise continues south to Soufriere Bay where we will sail past the Petit and Gros Pitons, those famed mountain spires which rise 2,438 feet and 2,530 feet, respectively.  
©  www.carnival.com

The excursion will finish in gorgeous Marigot Bay, the scene of many battles between British and French for nearly two centuries between the 1600s and 1800s.
© www.marigotbay.com

I am really looking forward to just relaxing on a catamaran, enjoying the spectacular views of sea, sand and green vegetation, perhaps taking a quick dip in the blue Caribbean to cool off. When we arrive back at the cruise port around 2:15, we will head back to the ship. For this first visit to St. Lucia, we will have seen enough.

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner



Fellow blog readers: I have joined Instagram!

Please note I am in the very early stages of learning to post photos, but you can view my photos at: 


Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner


After a day at sea, our second port stop will be Barbados. This will be as far south in the Caribbean we will have traveled since our trip to Aruba in 2002. This stop is one of the reasons we booked this cruise...I have always wanted to visit Barbados.  

We have booked our shore excursion for Barbados: We're going to descend 150 feet under the clear, turquoise Caribbean Sea aboard the Atlantis Submarine.
© www.totallybarbados.com

Stepping down the ladder into the 48-person submarine...
© www.totallybarbados.com
we dive as deep as 150 feet below the surface to view a shipwreck...
© www.totallybarbados.com

and view beautiful coral reefs, colorful fish and various other marine life...
© www.totallybarbados.com

Since this excursion is only 2½ hours long, this should leave us plenty of time to taxi into the capital town of Bridgetown. 

Through the center of Bridgetown runs the Constitution River, The wharf and river walk area at the lower part of the river is known to the locals as The Careenage (where smaller vessels would careen (or tilt) for repairs)...     © http://blog.aircanadavacations.com/beyond-beach-top-10-things-barbados/)
With the colorful buildings and restaurants along the promenade and impressive yachts, this area will provide many photos opportunities.
© http://www.easyvoyage.co.uk/barbados

The pedestrian-only Chamberlain Bridge, a swing bridge, spans the river between Independence Square and the National Heroes Square which features a bronze statue of British naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson.
© http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamberlain_Bridge

Across the street from National Heroes Square, the Parliament Building houses the third oldest Parliament in the British Commonwealth after Britain and Bermuda. It was founded in 1639 and the present buildings were completed in 1873...
© www.barbados.org
Originally consecrated in 1665, and then rebuilt in 1789 is St. Michael's Cathedral just a block from the Parliament Building. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I love old churches so this will be a must-see.
© http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamberlain_Bridge

With the possible underwater sights on the submarine and waterfront sights in Bridgetown, our stop in Barbados is bound to be memorable!

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner



On our upcoming cruise, Carnival Liberty doesn't depart the San Juan port until 10:00 at night. This is a first for us as we are used to departing port in the late afternoon. We arrive in our first port stop just the next morning at 7:00 a.m., a hop, skip and a jump from San Juan: the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This will be our first trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of course being a part of the United States, U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere, U.S. visitors usually don’t pay roaming charges for cell-phone use, and English is spoken everywhere. Since we are docked in Charlotte Amalie until 5:00 p.m., we would have enough time for a shore excursion plus shopping time back in town.

One possible shore excursion would take us to the island of St. John and the Trunk Bay Beach.
© www.St.John-USVI-Information.com

© www.stjohnusvi.thebeach.vi
You can see from these photos why Trunk Bay is considered one of the world's most beautiful beaches. 

There is a 225-yard long snorkel trail...
© www.seestjohn.com

with signs with arrows to point you in the right direction...
© www.seestjohn.com
and give information about what the sealife you may see...
© www.seestjohn.com

Since the excursion is only 4½ hours, we'll have time for some duty-free shopping. Remember: U.S. residents enjoy a $1,600 duty-free allowance here...twice the allowance of other islands. Not that I'll be spending even close to that amount of money!!

A frequent cruiser will be familiar with those stores that seem to be in every port: Diamonds International, Del Sol, Little Switzerland, etc. However there are some other places I have read about that I think we'll visit instead:

Within walking distance from the dock are the Shops of Yacht Haven Grande. With upscale retailers such as Louis Vuitton, BCBG Maxazria, Gucci, fun-sounding stores such as How ‘Bout Your Pet, 1 Eyed Jack’s, Flip-Flop Shops and Pirates of Red Hook, clothing stores such as Aqua Beachwear and Bella Vera and eateries named Da Lime in Da Coconut and Fat Turtle, this mall sounds like a great place to visit. Of course there are also gorgeous waterfront views with the magnificent megayachts docked in the harbor.
© www.yachthavengrande.com

© www.shopsatyhg.com)

A 5-minute taxi ride away is downtown Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here is where you find the usual cruise port shops like Diamonds International. However my research has discovered a store which sells much better, and more delicious, merchandise: The Belgian Chocolate Factory! This is a must-see store!
© www.thebelgianchocolatefactory.com

Now as much as I love Belgian chocolate, one cannot live (realistically) on sweets alone. I have discovered a couple of other restaurants nearby that are possibilities for a late lunch:

Directly across the plaza from The Belgian Chocolate Factory is Greengos Caribbean Cantina:
© www.foodidude.com
They look like they serve up some delicious tacos... 
© www.greengoscantina.com
Directly on the waterfront of Charlotte Amalie is Big Kahuna Rum Shack.
© www.bigkahunausvi.com

Whereas Greengos Caribbean Cantina is a Mexican-style restaurant, Big Kahuna has a variety of burgers, club sandwiches and flatbreads. Check out their menu here

We are really looking forward to our first visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands. After a day at sea, our second port stop is Barbados, an island I have always wanted to visit. I'll talk about our possible plans for our visit in Barbados in my next post. 

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner