It’s safe to say that this was easily our favorite stop on this cruise. When researching options on things to do in our ports, what I kept seeing in Barbados was snorkeling with sea turtles. I noticed that the cruise line had a tour for this, but I also noticed that a lot of people in the Cruise Critic forums recommended other companies, and one of those companies is called Cool Runnings.
There are definitely some considerations when choosing an excursion through or not through the cruise line. If you go through the cruise line, then if your port gets canceled for some reason, you get a refund. If the excursion is running late, the ship will wait for you. Those are good guarantees, and not to be dismissed. However, these excursions are going to cost a lot more too.
If you can find a tour through a reputable company, you can do the same tour, or possibly better, for much less cost. The reviews of Cool Runnings were excellent, and so we decided to go ahead and book our trip with them.
And it was fantastic.
I cannot say enough good things about this trip. We were picked up at the port by a shuttle bus, then rode for a whole 5 minutes over to the dock, where we were directed onto one of two catamarans. These are nice boats. I’d never been on a catamaran, but I liked it.
They motored away from the dock, with the bar open immediately (in the Caribbean, it’s perfectly fine to drink rum at 9:30 in the morning), with island music playing. We sat on the front of the boat, enjoyed the sun and the breeze. During the first part of the trip, they walked around with a tray of banana bread. After a big of getting out to sea, they put up the sails and we sailed to our first stop.
The first stop was snorkeling with the sea turtles. It was pretty cool. There were other boats there too, it wasn’t just us, but the guide led us down the steps and off the catamaran where we guided over to a sea turtle that our guide was feeding. It swam around with us, and at times I was literally inches from this turtle. It was amazing.
Once we were done with the sea turtles, we were guided back to the catamaran where we then sailed to a second destination, which was an underwater shipwreck. We snorkeled out to it, and it was super cool. There were fish and other things swimming around. We snorkeled for a good bit, then were guided back to the catamaran and set sail again for another destination.
At every stop, an announcement was made that, “The bar remains open.” It was hilarious.
The next stop was anchoring near a beach, where we were served a fabulous lunch. Seriously, was delicious. There was some kind of lasagna, salad, potato salad, chicken, fish, and rolls. They also served wine with it.
We took our plates, ate up on the front of the catamaran and relaxed in the sun to the island music. We were encouraged to feel free to go for a swim if we wanted after eating, and to even swim over to the beach. They had noodles to use if you wanted them. You were also allowed to cannonball off the side of the boat, which was a lot of fun.
We swam out to the beach for a bit, then swam back and did some jumps off the side. Eventually we were guided back onto the boat where we set sail back to the dock. The bar remained open. The music got louder, and eventually some of the crew came out to the front of the catamaran to lead the dancing. It was a great time.
The crew was absolutely fantastic. Every person was amazing. They were all nice. They made Kiddy Cocktails for the kids, they happily refilled your drink (this was all inclusive, by the way), they even walked around offering to bring you whatever you needed. During the sail back, they walked around offering carrot cake to everyone.
It was a longer sail back, since we were farther out and didn’t stop, but it was so relaxing to sit in the sun with the breeze and music. My daughter danced her way back and everyone had a fantastic time.
Other than one 2-year-old baby, my kids were the only kids on this trip. The crew was fantastic with them. When it was time to eat, they pulled them out of line and hand walked them through the line, helping them fix their plates. They made special drinks for them. And both times we stopped, one of the crew took the baby that was on board out and swam around with her.
What I really liked about this trip was that the crew really seemed to be having a good time. I really dislike paying for a tour and feeling like I’m irritating or annoying the tour guide, or that they just hate their job. Every person on this trip was having fun, or at least pretending to have fun, and it made it super fun for us.
I would highly, highly recommend this trip if you are going to Barbados. (They pick up at hotels too, not just cruise ports.)