Caribbean Cruise and Las Vegas

Susan Hegarty on 14 April 2007

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This was our first cruise and we were excited to be seeing some beautiful Caribbean Islands. We were combining it with a trip to Las Vegas which was another first.

We flew to Miami and spent the night at the Sofitel Miami, it was a perfect for a stopover before a cruise as it was so close to the port. Located right on the water with a lovely pool and beautifully appointed rooms we enjoyed our brief stay.

The following day we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Explorer on the Seas. This gorgeous ship has something for everyone with lovely pools, hot tubs, a first class spa, rock climbing wall, basketball court, mini golf, an ice skating rink, kids club and a huge selections of bars and restaurants. The highlight for me was the indoor promenade that ran the length of the ship and had shops, a pub, and a 24 hour snack bar, this area came alive in the evenings with parades and entertainment as well as being at the location for the captain’s cocktail party.

It’s hard to imagine what a cruise is like until you have been on one. The range of facilities and top class entertainment, the variety and quality of the food, the attention to detail, the friendly staff and the fantastic ports of call really make it a dream holiday.

During the cruise we stopped at Nassau in The Bahamas where we took a city tour and visited the local market before heading to the famous Atlantis Hotel which has to be seen to be believed with its massive aquariums, shark reef and fantastic waterpark which we loved.

The following day we arrived in Puerto Rico. This American island has a rich heritage and the cruise port is ideally located in the centre of the capital, San Juan. We spent a lovely day exploring the old fort that offered wonderful views and has a very interesting history. We stopped for lunch in a local restaurant which was very reasonably priced where we sampled delicious local dishes and we took advantage of the excellent tax free shopping; there is a large selection of stores as well as an outlet mall nearby.

St Martin was another treat. Half Dutch and half French the island has a distinctly European feel. It boats friendly people, a rich heritage and power white sand beaches. It is also possible to take a trip to the exclusive island of St Barts, playground of the rich and famous. We walked into town from the ship and after enjoying a stroll along the lovely waterfront we took a tour of this pretty island.

St Thomas, in the American Virgin islands was our last stop. Another duty free island it is great for shopping and boasts one of the best beaches in the world. Water sports enthusiasts are well catered for. You can also take a tour of the island and visit the infamous pirate Blackbeard’s castle before sampling some delicious local rum.

Before we knew it we were on our flight from Miami to Las Vegas. We spent 7 nights in the Mandalay Bay Hotel which was stunning. As with most Las Vegas hotels it has a large selection of bars and restaurants, our room was huge with a panoramic view of the strip and a marble bathroom that featured a Jacuzzi bath as well as a TV and telephone.

The weather was perfect in April, in the mid-twenties, we spent lots of time enjoying the spectacular pool area which boasted a wave pool, lazy river and an artificial beach.

We took a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon landing in the canyon for a champagne toast and lunch before rafting on the Colorado River. It doesn’t get much better than that! Photos of the Grand Canyon really don’t do it justice, it was incredible and a once in a lifetime experience.

During our stay we also visited the architectural marvel that is Hover Dam. We explored the strip, immensely enjoying stopping at all of the hotels each of which has its own theme and seeing what they had to offer. We shopped in the outlet malls, enjoyed great food and visited trendy bars and nightclubs.

This was a great trip, the combination of the cruise and stay worked very well for us and it was lovely to enjoy some great weather while it was still cold at home.

If you would like expert advice on cruising, please contact me.

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