Shore leave – excursions on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas

One of the best things about cruising is the sheer variety of activities offered by this sort of holiday.  As well as enjoying all the amenities a massive ship like the Liberty of the Seas has to offer (theatre shows, water-based fun like the FlowRider, ice spectaculars, fine dining, parades, a casino, climbing wall – I could go on), there is the added bonus of stopping off in different places (indeed, countries) along the way.

Of course there are hundreds of different cruises to choose from, but our itinerary was pretty typical of a five day Caribbean cruise:

Day 1: Embark (pm), then at sea

Day 2: At sea

Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

Day 4: Falmouth, Jamaica

Day 5: at sea

Day 6: at sea, then disembark (am)

Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private peninsular, Haiti

Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private peninsular, Haiti

Cast away on Malfini Beach

I’ll be honest, geography not being my strong point, I’d not heard of Labadee.  I had, however, heard of Haiti, in fact, I’d raised money for it three years ago when it was struck by a horrendous earthquake and 1.5 million of its inhabitants were left homeless. Royal Caribbean has done sterling work with the people and infrastructure of Haiti (something it’s too modest to let me talk about), and Labadee is basically RCI’s  own private part of Haiti.

There were all sorts of shore excursions: snorkeling, sightseeing, zip lining… but we finally decided on ‘Castaway at Malfini Beach’ costing a bargainous $65 each and lasting three hours.

The Liberty of the Seas at Labadee

The Liberty of the Seas at Labadee

It was absolutely incredible disembarking and getting our first real look at the mind-boggling size of the ship, without all the bits and bobs it was surrounded by at Port Everglades.  We were also struck by just how strong the sun is (us bloggers are a pale bunch – we started sizzling pretty much instantly). After a short walk to a small pier (see what I did there?), we climbed aboard a motorboat and headed out to Malfini, a tiny, privately owned stretch of beautiful white beach, azure water and lush green shady spots.  We lazed, swam, drank Malfini Punch out of coconuts, and basically had the most glorious beach day imaginable.

Sadly all too soon we were heading back towards the harbour, where we were treated to possibly the best barbecue ever (the logistics of feeding thousands of passengers at a beach barbecue make my head spin, but as usual the chefs had everything under control and everyone was fed delicious, hot food (with some AMAZING sticky ribs.. mmmm).  Of course, you don’t have to join an excursion, and the beach at Labadee is lovely if you just want to swim and sunbathe.

Getting ready to ride into the sea

Getting ready to ride into the sea

Riding horses in the sea and climbing Dunns River Falls in Jamaica*

I have to say that this was by far my favourite day of our cruise.  We disembarked relatively early and headed through a nice shopping area (making a note to come back later and grab some delicious jerk spices) to rendezvous with our guide and driver. Our guide Wilana was wonderful and soon had us all speaking Patois (Erica was best at this as Jamaica is her spiritual  home, mon) and en route told us all some of the history of Jamaica.  Our first stop, Papillion Cove, was where we saddled up and took an amazing horseback ride through old plantation land.  Our guides were great fun and after a break and saddle-change, we rode our charges right out into the amazing Listerine-coloured waters.  The best experience I’ve ever had.

My view as we headed away from the shore

My view as we headed away from the shore

After a scrummy jerk chicken lunch we were ready to get back in the minibus and head to Dunns River Falls, a 600′ high range of cascades and waterfalls that flow straight into the Caribbean.  Climbing the falls was exhilarating, sometimes scary, but incredibly rewarding!  You need shoes with a decent amount of grip (don’t worry, they hire them there if you don’t have any) and you need to be prepared to get VERY wet, but it’s the best fun.  We often had to help each other up steep ledges, and there were areas where we dipped under waterfalls or where the guides had us falling backwards into the cool water.  Just beautiful.

I scraped my leg, but when we got to the top about an hour later, limbs aching, looking like drowned rats and rinsing pebbles from our shoes, we were all absolutely beaming.  It was akin to the best team bonding exercise ever and we drove back in the minibus chatting happily and even singing a few Bob Marley songs with Wilana.

Erica climbing Dunns River Falls

Erica climbing Dunns River Fall

Of course if you’re not into horses, or don’t fancy climbing the falls, there are lots of other things to do in Jamaica too.  Some of the best excursions include tours of old plantation estates (including ruins of the great plantation houses), dolphin encounters, foodie adventures and plenty of different beach breaks, most with food included. My Jamaica experience was incredible: a wonderful, wonderful day that I’ll never forget.  I’m determined to go back with my family so we can all experience it together.  Thank you, Royal Caribbean.

*The Dunns River Falls/Papillion cove horseback ride, including bareback riding in the Caribbean sea costs $139 including Jamaican lunch and lasts approximately 7 hours

3 replies
  1. Liz Farmer
    Liz Farmer says:

    Hi there,
    just reading your blog…our family are cruising for the first time in February, and i haven’t a clue what to do/what to wear/formal/informal nights etc.
    Is there a web site i can view to get information please? your cruise sounds like the one we are doing. It looks fabulous, thanks for the photos!
    Liz

    Reply

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  1. […] course, there are loads of excursions you can choose from (I highly recommend horse riding in the sea if you get the chance).  If you want to relax, there are plenty of lovely places to chill, or you […]

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