One of the greatest things about the cruising lifestyle is the opportunity to experience all of the different cultures, idiosyncrasies, histories and peoples of the various islands and places we travel to. And according to my lovely wife Virginia one of the other benefits (depending on your cruising budget) is to be able to get off the boat for any length of time and check into a resort or nice hotel where you can: 1) take a bath, 2) not be concerned about how much water you use, 3) flush a toilet with the toilet paper in it instead of placing it in a plastic zip lock baggie for disposal later, 4) have someone else clean up after you, 5) run the AC as long and as cold as you’d like, and 6) not have your husband scowl at you if you are leaving the fridge or freezer door open too long! And every island we’ve been to in the almost two years we’ve been out here cruising has presented itself with wonderful opportunities of this nature.
In 2015, we spent the hurricane season in Marina Puerto Bahia, Samana, Dominican Republic. We explored just about every square mile of that amazing country and had so many wonderful adventures along the way, memories of which we will cherish forever.
In 2016, we waited out hurricane season in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, where we were blessed with great weather. We were only one of three vessels in the harbour with people aboard. We thought July and August were hot here but September was close to brutal, even to an old Southwest Florida boy like me. So, for the price of a rental car for a few days ($35 USD per day) and a plethora of resorts and hotels to choose from, we began taking ‘weekend vacations’.
We are not frugal nor cheap but we certainly do not like to overpay for anything, especially comfort outside of our own very comfortable vessel. So the key for these get-a-way excursions is my wife. Once she’s determined she needs a break from the vessel she is on the computer constantly shopping for deals. Looking for the biggest bang for our dollars. Scanning all the travel websites for specials. E-mailing resorts and hotels asking about ‘Weekend Anniversary Packages’ (I had four anniversaries in six weeks!). Thank goodness I did not have to buy presents for any of them. But seriously, there are many good options for you to choose from as the summer months in Antigua are considered by most to be ‘off season’. So there tends to be more deals and special offers. Especially if you ask. Not every place is willing to do this so you must ask and be patient as you search.
One weekend I booked a car from Friday to Monday and my girl booked us at The Verandah Resort and Spa. A four star high end all inclusive resort located on the eastern shores of the island not to far from the Devils Bridge. All inclusive meaning all meals and beverages are unlimited and included in the daily rate. She booked us an Anniversary Weekend special. Imagine that. So off we went Friday at 1030 hours, onward to a new adventure. And what a great adventure it turned out to be. The resort was everything their website promised and more. They assigned us to a cottage called The Tortola. It sat on a hillside over-looking one of the bays. It was spacious, clean, and had a huge tub for us to soak in. It had a big balcony from which we watched beautiful sunsets.
The food was really, really good. Plentiful, tasty, well displayed and delicious. The drinks were all made with Top Shelf liquors. There was no skimping on anything. Even their Champagne was a high end French Champagne. I was very impressed as a lot of the all inclusive resort charge a premium for premium spirits. Not this place. All inclusive meant all inclusive. We spent our days on one of their two pristine beaches. We’d spend the mornings and through the late afternoon hours playing on the beach indulging in all of the water toys they offered: Paddle boarding, kayaking, taking the Hobie Cats out for a spin, and we did a lot of snorkeling on our own. We would then head up to the huge central pool to chill out as the heat of the day cooled down. It was so refreshing, so invigorating and such a welcome change from the confined space aboard the vessel. All of this for the cost of a few good meals in town if we stayed aboard.
My advice to cruising sailors is this: Treat yourself every once in a while to a small ‘vacation’ within your permanent vacation aboard your vessel. Get out and explore all of the offerings the particular island you are at has to offer. Indulge, Live, Enjoy …