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Valor Vacation Review Dec 1-8 (+2 days in Old San Juan) PHOTOS!


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CRUISE DAY 4 - BARBADOS PART 1

 

We woke up and had some breakfast in Rosie's. I generally like to have my breakfast and then watch us come into port. I noticed Mom appeared to think the same. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It was looking to be a beautiful day. As the ship started pulling into the harbor, we came in really close to a smaller freighter that was having its cargo swapped around. The port workers were doing it so fast and efficiently it was pretty neat to watch. Almost like a symphony of sea containers moving around.

 

Neat watching the activities around this ship.

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As the ship's mooring lines were being tied, we noticed a steel drum band setting up to play for the ship's guest. They started playing right before we left to go ashore. The music was really a treat for my ears it was great to listen to them playing. We had plans though so we headed ashore.

 

Once ashore we noticed this yacht was in port with us. It was pretty nice, but something was a little off... It had fire damage! Near the top of the yacht, part had caught fire, doing extensive damage to the upper decks and starboard side. Some of the yacht's crew were doing clean-up. I don't really have any photos of this. I'd not like somebody taking photos of my expensive misfortune.

 

For Barbados, my mom had decided to get a day pass at the Hilton for the resort beaches, pools, and restaurant. We had originally talked about going to the Atlantic side to see the rock formations and beaches, but it was a long drive. Our cabbie said he was up for it, but we passed. As we approached the Hilton, our cabbie dropped us off in a slightly awkward location, but we walked around to the hotel lobby. Once inside the Hilton, we purchased our day passes. They included, use of the properties beaches, pools, courtyards, gym, towel service, lunch, and a drink. We started making our way around the property. It was a pretty nice place! Beautiful views! Nicely maintained pools and beaches. Very friendly staff. Very quiet hotel guests enjoying their stay. Mom chose well.

 

Now, here are photos from the Hilton in Barbados. No photos of the hotel itself, but it was a pretty nice place. Trust me.

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We stayed at the Hilton for a few hours. I spent a lot of time on their nice beaches and Mom happily spent most of her time under a pool umbrella to stay out of the sun. Lunch was served by the poolside restaurant/bar. Mom had a salad and I had mahi mahi tacos. Both were awesome! I didn't want booze at this point, but I had to order a drink to get the included lunch. I opted for a coconut to drink out of. I cannot remember our waitress's name, but she was very nice to us. While I finished my coconut, Mom bought a bracelet from a local vendor who the hotel allowed to setup on their property. A while later, we turned in our passes and checked out. Our cabbie returned to bring us back to the port. I snapped a couple photos of places we passed. One warehouse in particular was very photogenic. While stopped at a traffic light, our cabbie made conversation with an ex-girlfriend of his who was waiting in a bus stop along side the road. Normally I'd be like 'WTH?" about it, but this was different. She had gone blind over the years and he checks up with her whenever he sees her. She seemed like a nice person too. It was actually nice to see this interaction. Now feeling a little humbled, we continued making our way back to port.

 

Photogenic old warehouse.

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CONTINUED BELOW...

 

Barbados AND St. Lucia tonight... What have I committed myself to?! haha

Edited by seannyice81
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CRUISE DAY 4 - BARBADOS PART 2

We arrived back in port. I felt a little bummed though as I wanted to experience more of Barbados, but time was just a little too much on the short side for us to get anything else in (great excuse to come back and visit for a land vacation, right?). Instead we headed to the shops. Mom wanted to find something for my brother's girlfriend. I was looking for a magnet, t-shirt, and possibly a coffee mug. Touristy stuff, I know, but I wanted something. I stopped in a couple places noticing they mostly all had the same stuff. One store gave me a Caribbean dollar as change. I was happy about it though, another neat thing I picked up. After getting what I wanted, I filled out a port survey (no personal information needed) for a local girl who was having a tough time getting others to fill one out. Basic questions like "what did you do?" "How did you find out about it?" That kind of stuff. Afterwards, I met back up with Mom who was having a hard time finding a sea turtle souvenir that wasn't cheesy. She gave up and we headed over to get our passports stamped at their customs station. At the station we knocked on the door and were met by a friendly official who was happy to tell us more about Barbados. We complimented how nice of a place it was and he gave us some friendly tips in case we chose to come back (I probably will).

 

We headed back to the Valor who was joined by a smaller Bahamian flagged ship.

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The steel drum band was still playing and it was great music to my ears. Thankfully I had a balcony cabin on the side that made port, right above them! I headed onto the ship and immediately bought a pina colada to sip on while I listened to the steel drums and looked at all the scenery. This still included the ballet of sea containers, this time with just the vehicles moving them around since the freighter had departed. It was great to watch everything and I didn't want to move from my balcony. What a great place. Eventually though, the inevitable happened. The band started to pack-up, the mooring lines slacked, and we had to be on our way to St. Lucia.

 

Leaving Barbados. What a beautiful end to a great day.

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I got all cleaned up and met up with Mom for dinner in the dining room. That night we were seated next to a pretty grumpy older couple. I greeted them and the wife acknowledged me. Our head waiter came over to introduce himself and before he could, they barked out their order. Dang! At least let the guy tell you his name. Sheesh. We had to put up with them for a little while but enjoyed the dinner for the most part. I had the jerk pork which was pretty good. I forgot what Mom had, but she thought it was "meh". She was really there for the warm chocolate melting cake, which she cleaned up faster than me, haha.

 

It was great to see my mom enjoy her time in Barbados today, and she was thrilled to have her passport stamped.

 

I wrapped up the evening about 10:30 after a short trip to the casino (lost $5)

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CRUISE DAY 5 - ST. LUCIA - PART 1

 

St. Lucia was a mystery as far as what to do for the longest time. I kicked a lot of ideas around for stuff to do. I read GAPearl's excellent review of her Valor cruise and became a little obsessed on doing something related to the Pitons. GAPearl had booked an independant tour to climb one of the Pitons and it looked really enticing to me. I wasn't too intimidated by the thought of climbing in the heat. I spent most of my summer turning wrenches in a hot/humid shop with no AC. I'm also a good runner and can climb fairly well. I was so set on climbing the mountain. I was going to show it what's up. BUT... Mom was having a pretty tough time deciding on finding something fun and safe that she could do herself. Knowing that I didn't want her doing something she was uncertain of by herself, I had to decide against climbing the Pitons :( (sorry GAPearl, I really wanted to). We looked for things that we could do together and a day-tour became the best option. Mom ultimately contacted Mary (PhotogalMB) on the roll call who was looking to organize a Cosol tour group.

 

The morning began earlier again. We had breakfast in Rosie's. They're eggs benedict with salmon was gross, so I swapped the fish for a slice of ham. After breakfast, it was back to the balconies and secret decks for docking (We had been entering the channel as we ate). What a gorgeous place Castries was appearing to be in the morning. There was this cool fog lifting off some of the buildings in the morning sunlight. There were quite a lot of sea containers next to where we made port. Not too far behind us was Royal's Adventure of the Seas, which had left San Juan the same night as us.

 

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We finished getting ready and made our way off the ship. We walked though the pier duty free shops and out to the street where we were to meet with the group for the Cosol tour. It was jam packed! So many people! We met up with Mary and the others (I'm sorry again, I'm really bad with remembering names). Once we had everyone we split into two vans and the tour began. Ultimately Mom probably could have gone with the group on her own and I could have climbed the Piton. I felt better though, knowing I'd be there if she had any issues.

 

The first part of the tour was a couple scenic stops. One was a beautiful overlook of Castries with the ships. I stopped and took a couple photos. One of the whole area and another with my mom. Look at how happy she is to be there.

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The tour continued and we stopped at the Banana fields. Bananas as far as the eyes could see. We were given some and they were delicious. The irrigation ditches were cool to see. Simple, but neat.

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Afterwards, we made another scenic stop. This one was one of the smaller coastal towns (can't remember the name). There was a guy pretending to be Bob Marley singing Jammin and a couple other songs. He was so bad though, and being a fan of Marley, I was not impressed. I wasn't the only one who noticed. The guy seemed kind of pissed as we left because barely anybody left him a tip. I think he expressed it to one of the tour drivers.

 

Nice view of the village.

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CRUISE DAY 5 - ST. LUCIA - PART 2

 

We continued on our tour with a couple of stops and some information here and there. One van stopped so some could have a photo op with a snake and goats. We passed on the snake (supposedly, a "mellow" boa constrictor). We made our way to our first food stop for a brunch. Cosol pretty much had his entire armada of Toyota passenger vans there all at once which made things crowded, but it wasn't too hectic. The food provided was a mix of local fruits, pastries and desserts. Sweet sop is delicious. One thing that struck me was how big they were on recycling. As people threw things away, they said "please, let me take that for recycling" often. I started taking notice that many parts of the island were fairly free of loose trash. At least more than many others I've been to. Thumbs up, St. Lucia.

 

I also got to sample the local beer

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Outside the house was a cashew tree.

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After brunch we continued towards Soufriere. We had one big scenic stop that was just stunning. The locals knew this and set up shops there as well. One view of the coast, the other of the lush hillsides.

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We got back in the Vans and continued to the town. It was a rather busy town that was undergoing road construction. Once in town, they elected to take us to the beach before touring the volcano/waterfall. We all got on the boat (mom had some difficultly) and headed over. The boat ride itself was fun. It was fairly fast and the view of the Pitons and the landscape from the water was amazing! We arrived on the beach and there was a little dismay about the area we were able to use. I had read about it being small and the very small selection of folding chairs. I was a little surprised though. There were a number of chairs, but many of them were in tatters and useless. The beach area was indeed small, but not that bad. You did have to mind the area near the dock in case of boats. There was a small area for snorkeling and some of the locals would throw in bait to get the fish going. Speaking of the locals. A little while into the beach stay a funny smell began to linger... Somebody was smoking weed! haha! I suspect one of the locals had gone into the woods behind the beach to "take a smoke break" but didn't go quite far enough. A couple others in our group noticed it too and we joked about having munchies.

 

Here is the beach we share with the resort. *NOTE* You can't use any of the chairs or structures on the resort side. Nicely situated between the Pitons.

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Edited by seannyice81
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Wow! What a great review. I love your writing style and your attention to detail. I've been on the Valor twice; she is a great ship. Can't wait to read more of your experiences. You photos are very vivid. Thanks for posting this wonderful review.

 

Thank you.

 

I'm enjoying sharing my experience as well. I've read many great reviews here and wanted to try one myself.:)

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CRUISE DAY 5 - ST. LUCIA - PART 3

 

Our stay at the beach was only an hour and a half (booooo), but we had a lot more to see though (yesssss), so our guides had to get us to hustle to get as much in as possible. We got back on the boat and headed back over to Soufriere. When we got there, they had a booze bus waiting for us. I had another Piton Lager and most of the ladies had the mixer which was supposedly pretty good and was also "supposed to make us guys good in bed." Seeing as how I had no girlfriend this cruise, I was happy with the beer.

 

Heres a shot of a couple cars in Soufriere. [cargeek]I love the re-badging... Front to back, we have a re-badged Toyota Camry, Lexus IS300, and Toyota Corolla. All of which are slightly different looking for the Caribbean market.[/cargeek]

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We piled back into the vans and were taken to the currently inactive volcano. The closer we came to the volcano and caldera the power of the sulfur smell increased. Rotten eggs or egg fart smell as I call it. They had us walk with another guide for a little bit and take some photos. Because nobody wanted to smell like an egg fart, everyone declined on the mud bath. Immediately after the volcano we rushed into the van and were taken to the waterfall. It wasn't as impressive as I had hoped, but it was still a very nice place regardless. People had the ability to bath in the pool at the base of the waterfall.

 

Volcano caldera (one side slid away hundreds of years ago). "Whats that smell?"

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Waterfall and vegetation around it.

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After the waterfall we hurried back into the vans because we had to grab our lunch. Our driver picked up his pace a little and man, did he need to. All that sight seeing we did on the way over, I didn't realize just how far we had come and how long it was going to take to head back. We were running so far behind that they pulled the vans over and brought the food to us in the vans. They gave us each a freshly baked roll (literally seconds out of an oven) and some delicious local cheese to put inside so it could melt. The roll was in the shape of a turkey leg. They also brought around more drinks including beer (which I had, again), the "sex" mixer, and water. We got back on the road and our driver hurried us back to port. Once back we, had roughly 45 mins before we had to be back on the ship and a little over an hour for sail-away. I took the time to get a magnet for my tool box. Whilst doing so had some great conversation with a local girl. Wish I remembered her name, she was pretty nice (and easy on the eyes). She worked in one of the stores with her grandma. After buying my magnet from her, I headed right back on the ship after no success from getting my passport stamped.

 

My mom and I were beat from running around most of the day so we made it an easy night. We watched as our ship and Adventure of the Seas sailed away from Beautiful St. Lucia.

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We had dinner in Rosie's that night. It was elegant night again, but neither of us felt up to dressing nice. We wanted to keep it simple for the rest of the night. My mom was particularly tired and headed back to her cabin and relax. I stayed up to watch the 80's show in the Ivanhoe Theater. It was actually pretty good and I think it might be missed when Valor gets Playlist Productions. Afterwards, I called it a night.

 

Tomorrow, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

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I am really enjoying your review. Am I the only one having problems with the pictures. It seems like in every one of your posts one of the pictures only shows the top part. Very strange.

 

Thanks!

 

I think I fixed it... Photobucket is being wonky.

Edited by seannyice81
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You are a good son to give up what you wanted to be with your Mom. I hope to go to St. Lucia some day. Thanks for the review.

 

Thank you. She's been a wonderful mom to my brother and I

 

I highly recommend you make it to St. Lucia. It is gorgeous with amazing views and culture everywhere you look.

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CRUISE DAY 4 - BARBADOS PART 1

 

....Our cabbie returned to bring us back to the port. I snapped a couple photos of places we passed.

One warehouse in particular was very photogenic.

 

Photogenic old warehouse.

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You're forgiven for thinking the structure shown above is an old warehouse

but in fact it is an old Theater, which then converted into a Cinema

which worked until the mid-1980s, when it was abandoned and left to the elements.

 

It is/was The Empire Theater -and there are now plans for it to undergo a massive renovation

into a sort of Cultural Arts venue, starting next year 2014.

 

.

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You're forgiven for thinking the structure shown above is an old warehouse

but in fact it is an old Theater, which then converted into a Cinema

which worked until the mid-1980s, when it was abandoned and left to the elements.

 

It is/was The Empire Theater -and there are now plans for it to undergo a massive renovation

into a sort of Cultural Arts venue, starting next year 2014.

 

.

 

And I have to apologize! It really is much more than just a warehouse.

 

It is a really cool looking building. I really hope they are able to do the massive renovation without changing too much of that.

 

The island you call home is a beautiful place. I'll be back to visit it again.

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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CRUISE DAY 6 - ST. KITTS PART 1

 

As I sit here typing this, news is on in the background. I'm sure many of you can agree with me when I say that "the news" is one of the things I missed the least.

 

That tiny rant over with... Friday morning I woke up 630-ish. Mom called my cabin not to long after seeing if I was up and wanted to get some breakfast. We headed up to deck 9 again, grubbed, and headed back to the cabin to get ready. On the way back, we could see St. Kitts was pretty close and we had already slowed to arrive into port. Looking Aft, another ship was approaching behind us (we were always the first large cruise ship into every port). We got ready in our cabins. We watched as we arrived and they tied the ship to the pier. At 8 we made our way off the ship to make our excursion, ATV Adventure, that we booked through Carnival. Once we found the person with the sign, Mom realized that she forgot her ticket. She then had to go all the way back onto the ship and into her cabin to grab it. She returned a few minutes later, much faster than I thought. In minutes all the waivers were filled out and we were on our way. As we left the other ship was docking. It turned out to be Emerald Princess.

 

About to making port in St. Kitts.

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While on the way to our excursion location in St. Kitts, I noticed something felt a little different about the place. It was sort of a US West Coast feeling, yet because of the grassy hills and mountainsides it reminded me of where I spend most of my childhood, Montana. Obviously it was still tropical with occasionally more lush vegetation, but the majority seemed grassy. It was quite a contrast to St. Lucia from the day before. I liked it quite a bit. BTW St. Kitts gained their independence 30 years ago, this past September. Happy (late) Independence Day!

 

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Our group's van arrived where we were to start our ATV tour. There were 8 of us in the group and 2 guides. The guides got us all together, told us the rules, and asked who hadn't been on an ATV before. Only a couple hadn't. The guides went over some operating instructions and had us all drive in a few circles to make sure we were good. Mom did excellent. A few months prior, I took her out on some other ATVs back here for some practice because she had never been on one before. Because of this practice back home, she was good to go in St. Kitts. One thing I should point out too, is that the ATVs we were using were pretty new. They were pretty much automatics with High and Low drive gears, reverse, and neutral. They were also fast, but not overwhelming. Very controllable. After the circles, we got all lined-up and headed off to do our tour. Once underway, we picked up some speed fairly quick. This was a lot of fun. Mom (who was in front of me) was going faster than I thought she would (I was impressed). We sped along, stopping a couple times for photos in the grassy areas. At one point we ascended into a lush forest and it rained for a couple minds before the sun came out again. It was occasionally difficult trying to ride the ATV while looking at all the cool surroundings. I did take some photos at some of the stops, but none really came out the way I wanted them to. We continued through the forest and again through the fields. Since this was the Carnival excursion, we didn't get to make it to Romney Manor or a couple of other sights. When the tour wrapped-up we were able to spend a little time on a resort property. We were treated to some juice and cake as well. Afterwards we headed back into Basseterre

 

Before heading back, I took a couple photos on the property.

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CRUISE DAY 6 - ST. KITTS PART 2

 

The trip back to town took a little while. Because of the ships taxis and cars were all over the place. Tourists and locals were flocking around intersections. We made it back to the main shopping area by the pier, tipped our driver and headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we dropped some stuff off in our cabins and headed back ashore. Mom wanted to do some shopping and I wanted to see about hitting up another part of the island. I could never decide on what to do though. I wound up looking around some of the stores myself and bought a magnet for my tool box. One thing I must warn you about here... EVERY STORE has the exact same stuff. Most islands have stores with a lot of the same junk, but ST. KITTS so far, has the most stores that all feature the exact same stuff. After that buzz-kill, I decided to get my buzz back on and had a few beers at a couple different bars, running into all kinds of folks. One bar in particular had a lot of crew from the ships having some food and drinks while using wifi. I chatted with a couple of them, asking where they were from, what they were into, asking if I could crash a crew party, etc... It was all pretty good conversation. I've always had some respect for what crew do, but after the Behind the Fun tour and hanging out with them, I appreciate what they do quite a lot. They're very friendly people off the ship. Many miss home very, very, much. Most of them were using the wifi to get in touch with family and loved ones.

 

After hanging at the bars for a while, I walked around for a bit looking at the sights. Outside the main duty-free shops were markets and people grilling all sorts of things.

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It was getting a little later in the afternoon, and with not quite enough time to really do much else on the island, I headed back to the ship. Mom was already back on board, hanging out on her balcony. I returned to the ship just in time too as the horizon grew VERY, VERY, dark. A storm was approaching from the Northeast. I knew it was going to get interesting, so I took a shower and then took a seat on my balcony to watch the stormy events unfold. Boy was I in for a show.

 

As predicted it was a pretty nasty storm. The Carnival Valor and Emerald Princess were facing the direction of the storm and the pier passage between the ships became a wind tunnel just prior to the storm. Wind gusts blew over hand sanitizer stands, signs, golf cart roofs, and blew tourists hats into the water. Umbrellas were turned inside out. Then the rain came WITH FORCE! It was absolutely torrential. People sprinted to the gangways with umbrellas inside out, shouting. Some tried to cover themselves with their beach towels, you could see the sheets of rain just blowing buy between the ships. I had to keep stepping back into my my balcony wall. Many of the passengers waited the rain out in the shops and the building at the entrance of the port. Lightning flashed and very loud thunder quickly followed, the storm was right over us. Eventually it began letting up and people who were sheltering themselves made their way back to the ship for sail away.

 

Now. I'm one for relaxing on vacation, but what I experienced next was disgusting. When there are two ships next to one another, people are always going to be looking at the ship across from them. I'm not nosy, but I like people watching too. Right before the Emerald Princess began it's sail away, a heavyset guy stepped out onto his balcony completely naked. FULL FRONTAL. I just about barfed. I told Mom, who was looking around not to look in the general area of the guys cabin. A few minutes later he came back out AGAIN! DUDE! ***?!? Another Carnival passenger on their balcony shouted at the guy "Dude, put some clothes on! Some of us have children!" The guy headed back into his cabin. He came back out (clothed this time) when his ship started sailing. The Carnival passenger who shouted at him earlier exchanged some unhappy words with him from their balcony. Not much longer after Emerald Princess departed, we left St. Kitts behind as well, in light rain.

 

Emerald Princess leaving St. Kitts. (No naked people!)

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Us leaving St. Kitts

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After leaving St. Kitts, Mom and I headed to the buffet for dinner. It was a busy night for Rosie's. Lots of people eating there. While eating we could see St. Kitts, off the side of the ship. It had grown dark and was storming again. All of a sudden, lights went out across half the island. They had a power outage! Wow! Then more lights went out! It was odd to see! After finishing dinner Mom walked around deck 5 and then to her cabin. I walked around the rain-soaked outside decks and watched as we sailed away from stormy St. Kitts. It was quite a sight. I called it a night a little past 9.

Edited by seannyice81
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I'm doing the ATV tour in St. Kitts but through a private vendor. Do you remember the name of the vendor Carnival used? I'm curious if its the same. Did you enjoy it? How long was the tour? Did you enjoy the scenery? We did ATVs in Roatan last year and it seemed we just went in circles in the back yard. I want to make sure we actually go somewhere this time.

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I'm doing the ATV tour in St. Kitts but through a private vendor. Do you remember the name of the vendor Carnival used? I'm curious if its the same. Did you enjoy it? How long was the tour? Did you enjoy the scenery? We did ATVs in Roatan last year and it seemed we just went in circles in the back yard. I want to make sure we actually go somewhere this time.

 

I'm sorry, but I can't remember the name of the ATV tour company. I feel safe saying that the company that ran our tour in St. Kitts was local to that island. I very much doubt affiliation with the one you had in Roatan, other than the Carnival endorsement.

 

I wouldn't say the tour was a disappointment, but I felt we could have done a lot more. We mostly looked at landscapes (which we did enjoy) and were given history/culture lessons along the way. It lasted almost 3 hours. This is the port where you have the most time off shore so the ATV adventure could have been longer, taking us to Romney Manor, beaches, a full lunch, etc... The price would have been more expensive, though I would have gladly paid it.

 

The ONLY reason we didn't go independent was because Mom knew the Carnival excursion used automatic ATVs. We couldn't get a straight answer from the independent companies and Mom is terrified of using a clutch on anything motorized.

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I am really enjoying your review. We live in Red Lodge, Montana, just south of Billings. I was wondering where you vacationed in Montana when you were younger?

 

Hello to you in Montana, 2 cruzen. :)

 

I was actually born in Missoula. I lived there and in Bozeman until I was about 10. My parents had family here in the DC Metro area so we moved here in December 1990. Seeing the grassy hills and mountains in St. Kitts reminded me very much of Bozeman. Because of that, I feel like I'll be visiting Montana in the next couple years to catch up.

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