One of the most magical experiences in the Caribbean, to me, is swimming with turtles in Barbados. I’ve been blessed to have this experience on three occasions – all completely magical! Read on for my review of Tiami Catamaran’s swimming with turtles trip!
We awoke to find Adonia still out at sea and ate breakfast while we sailed into Bridgetown under bright blue skies.
I’ve only ever really seen Barbados in transit, so it’s exciting to have 3 full days on the island on this back-to-back cruise. It would be nice to come back and spend longer here; perhaps staying in a villa like these: https://www.exceptionalvillas.com/barbados
Today we’d chosen to go on one of P&O’s shore excursions, ‘Cat, Caribe & Turtles’ – this was a trip along the coast of Barbados with Tiami Catamarans.
The ship’s shore excursions team pointed us to our meeting point through the terminal – it’s well worth getting off the ship a little early if you’re going on an excursion. Bridgetown cruise terminal is full of shops to have a look around – there’s the standard souvenir shops, a Diamond’s International, a very friendly and helpful Tourist Information office and of course a duty-free liquor store to stock up on your allowance of gin. I highly recommend the New Amsterdam gin – great with a slice of orange! There’s also some free wifi in the terminal which is always useful!
We had a short bus ride to the Tiami Catamarans office, where we got aboard the Excellence.
As is the theme with P&O’s boat trip, the catamaran was significantly less crowded than the one next to it, crammed with Royal Caribbean passengers! It was quite a big catamaran, with plenty of shade over the bar area as well as space to lounge in the sun – I later found my favourite spot on the ‘trampoline’ netted section that you find at the front of catamarans.
After crew introductions, we set sail along the west of the island, enjoying the scenery and admiring the expensive looking houses along the west of the island – some neighbourhoods, including those in the exclusive Sandy Lane, charge eye-watering rental prices – oh to be in the 1% of the 1%!
We came to our first snorkelling
This first spot was the place where we were hoping to see turtles…and so we did! I’ve done snorkelling with turtles in Barbados on previous visits but this encounter was incredible – the turtles came so close to us – it was truly magical.
It’s important to note that turtles are of course wild animals, so you are never guaranteed to see them. We’ve heard as well that 2017’s hurricanes disturbed their habitats so sightings have been somewhat reduced. When you go on the turtle trips, the crew of the boats are incredibly protective of them. Anyone chasing the turtles or touching them usually gets ordered out of the water.
Not that we needed to chase or follow the turtles this time around, I’d been trying to keep my distance but one little guy swam right at me and in front of my camera! As well as the turtle, we saw plenty of fish and I finally caught a glimpse of a stingray lurking down on the seabed!
After our magical swim (and a lot of excited squealing!) we got back on board for a buffet lunch. Once again, I was perfectly safe with the Caribbean offerings of chicken with rice, salad and sweetcorn. They were offering fried fish as well, but separate tongs were used by the staffand two days later I can’t feel any effects of cross contamination – all good!
While we ate we moved along the coast to another area – some swam to the beach, whilst some of us swam over to a nearby reef. It really was bursting with life, with lots of different fish, corals and urchins.
After our second snorkelling session the sails went up and it was time for a leisurely sail back to port, with the bar open for rum punch, wine and beer – catamaran trips always look after you very well on the drinks front, and there is of course water, juices and fruit punch for those not drinking. They also don’t serve alcohol before snorkelling for everyone’s safety!
It was another wonderful day, and I’d certainly recommend booking this shore excursion if you are visiting Barbados with P&O Cruises.
How to Book Tiami Catamarans
Disclaimer: Whilst I am gluten free and sensitive to cross-contamination, I am not coeliac and cannot guarantee the above food would be risk-free and safe for those with Coeliac Disease. For more information, please visit my full disclaimer.