Second Mate

Hometown: San Antonio TX
Joined: 05/25/2017
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About LaCastillo

Howdy! Married with 2 furry babies, my husband and I are native San Antonians. We took our first cruise in 2010 and are 3-star mariners with Holland America. I'm in college admissions and spend most of my free time planning our next vacation! We are blessed to have the ability to vacation every year.



Ship: Eurodam

Ship: Nieuw Amsterdam

Ship: Koningsdam

LaCastillo's Upcoming Cruises

LaCastillo's Past Cruises

LaCastillo's Tips

Basseterre, St. Kitts - What a beautiful island! We booked an excursion for a beach break. We drove about 30 minutes to Spice Mill beach resort. It was a gorgeous drive to the beach and the beach/bay area was beautiful. Worth the money for sure.
Castries, St. Lucia - The immediate are around the port is not much to look at. The taxi drivers that hang around the terminal are very agressive--and I mean very. We finally found someone to take us to Vigi (vee-gee) beach. It is not far from the terminal, but it is on the other side of the airport, so walking is not ideal. We paid $15 each way for the taxi (we probably should have haggled for a better price) and then paid $20 for 2 loungers in the shade. There were bathing facilities and a cafe near. The beach is very clean and the view gorgeous. Unfortunately the water that day was really rough and not ideal for swimming. The people working there were very attentive and made sure we had everything we needed. They told us that some days the water is just rough like that.
St. George's, Grenada - What a delightful little port! We decided to take the hop-on-hop-off trolley for $19 pp. It takes you all around the port area and makes stops at different places. Entrance to the fort is included as is entrance to the local museum. We saw some great things and took some great pics. We even visited the Grenada Chocolate factory, which was very cool.
Pointe-A-Pitre, Guadeloupe - I wasn't sure what we would do at this port. The excursions were limited but my research also indicated that there wasn't much to do at the port area. So, we booked an excursion that took us to Pigeon island for snorkeling. The drive was about 45 minutes and went through the national park/rain forest. The drive was very nice. We went from Basseterre to the island next to it, gran terre. The beach area was apparently a preserve founded by Jacques Cousteau. Losts of family out enjoying the water. We took a boal and circled Pigeon Island several times, finally stopping to snorkel. On the way back, we stopped at Ecrevisses falls in the national park and it was beautiful. Wonderful photo stop. This was my least favorite port as I felt the excursion was over priced. But without the excursion, I am not sure what we would have done.
Bridgetown, Barbados - Very nice port but the ship was a distance from the terminal. The ship did have shuttles to take us back and forth. The terminal is nice and has plenty of shopping but there is a larger shopping center a short walk away. We booked a beach excursion and when to Harbor Lights beach club, about a 10 minute drive from the port. This was the best beach of all that we visited on this trip. Beautiful, clear water that was very calm. You can swim our for a bit and the water doesn't get past 6 ft. We loved this beach and would return to this beach club on our own if we visit again.
St. John's, Antigua - This was a busy port with lots shops right next to the terminal. We booked a snorkeling excursion that also took us to a beach. Great excursion. Water was really chopping which really freaked out some folks, but the crew of the catamaran were super nice.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Having visited San Juan before, we decided to just walk around the Old Town. We walked the entire length of the Paseo de la Princesa, which takes you along the perimter of El Moro fort. It also takes your right to the door of San Juan. It is very nice. The old town itself looks to be back to normal. There is some damage here and there but you can't tell if it is from the hurricane or not. Several of the business right on the water front (across from the ship's pier) are not operating.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - We went to Coki beach on our own. What a great day! It was a 15-20 minute ride by taxi--about $20 each way for 2. We paid $20 for 2 loungers and am umbrella. Would definately visit here again if we visit St. Thomas.
Veendam Veendam - This is a nice ship but it is a small ship. If you are used to sailing on Royal or Carnival, you will be shocked by the size. Even if you are used to sailing the bigger ships of HAL--like Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, etc. you will still be surprised. But after a few days we got used to the smallnees. It made it a very intimate experience and it was nice that all the crew remembered your names. We very much felt at home.
Oranjestad, Aruba - We did a DIY beach break. It was very easy as the public bus stop is righ across from where we docked. It think it cost us $2 round trip to get to the beach. The beaches are very clean and there are chairs and palapas on some of them. If you do use them, however, someone (I think from the nearest hotel/park) will collect $5 a person for their use. The water was very rough the day we went and I took a major swan dive. It scared the heck out of me!!
Cartagena, Colombia - The ship docks in a very "industrial" port but you do get nice views of the bay. We booked an excursion to the fort and also had a city tour. It was very nice. Lots of begging, which is hard to stomach. But still, we had a wonderful time.
Willemstad, Curacao - What a beautiful port! So picturesque! HAL docks in the downtown area and even passes through the "floating bridge". We enjoyed sitting on the promedade deck as we watched the bridge open and close. We hired a taxi/van driver and he took us all around the island for 3 hours--$15 each, I think. We made several stops, including one to the Curacao distillerary.
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - The port itself is not much, nor is the surrounding area. We booked an excursion to do white water river rafting and it was awesome! Probably the best exursion we've done.
Exit Panama Canal At Cristobal - We left the ship for an excursion. Rather than returning to the ship and exiting the locks, most exursions will end in Colon and the ship picks you up there.
Enter Panama Canal At Cristobal - Amazing! I recommend anyone get up early to see the approach because all the good viewing spots are taken up quickly. From our balcony we could actually touch the sides of the locks. Incredible experience.
Willemstad, Curacao - If your ship is small enough (like those of Holland America), it docks in downtown Willemstad--not the big mega pier. To do this it will pass through the Queen Emma bridge. This floating pontoon bridge swings open about every 30 minutes. It is a delight to watch it open and close from the ship.
Curacao - Don't miss the Curacao Liquor Distillery, where the Senor family created and now produces their world-famous Curacao blue liquor! Mini museum, taste testing, gift shop--all for free!
New York, New York - If you sail out of Manhattan, secure a spot on deck on the starboard will pass right by the Statue of Liberty while sailing down the Hudson. Awesome photo opp!
Willemstad, Curacao - If your ship docks by the swinging bridge, don't forget to get out on deck to see the floating bridge "open" and "close" for your ship. It is quite a sight!
St. George's, Bermuda - A stop at the Lily Bermuda perfumery is a must! This perfume can only be purchased in Bermuda (or on their website). But if you see something you like, buy it because the stores on the island are limited and they don't always have the same fragrances as the perfumery.
Grand Turk Island - This may be my second favorite port because of how close the ship is to the beach. Also, Margaritaville has a huge pool in the port that cruise passengers are free to use.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - We also enjoy St. Maarten. This time we made a point of going to Marigold to try something tasty at Sarafinas. Yumm!
Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I. - Beautiful port! It was so clean and pretty. Did an an excursion to Virgin Gorda Baths. Great experience!
San Juan, Puerto Rico - We enjoy San Juan very much but decided to visit the Barcardi Factory on our own. We winded up spending less than $10 a person to get there and back. Great visit.
Koningsdam Koningsdam - Don't get hung up on how things look or are arranged on their other ships. Koningsdam is nothing like the other ships--enjoy it for what it is.
George Town, Grand Cayman - Take tour (or DIY) of the the Cayman Islands Brewery and the Cayman Spirits Distillery. The distillery makes Seven Fathoms Rum, THE BEST rum I have ever had--I've had rum from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, etc. & this is by far the best. Get a behind the scenes look and samples of the rum & beer

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