Barbados was the final stop on our southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas. Compared to the other stops we made, the port at Bridgetown was far more industrial, with several docks and several container ships.
We had a busy schedule of things we wanted to see and do in Barbados. To start, we decided to head to the Mount Gay Rum Tasting Room for a tour and, of course, to taste some delicious rum.
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Mount Gay Rum Distillery
We had planned on just walking to the tasting room, since, according to online maps, it was only a half-hour walk. We figured out pretty quickly it would be a miserable half-hour, so quickly grabbed a cab. The fare was $10 each way. Not cheap, but would not break the bank either.
We arrived just after a tour started, so spent a bit of time perusing the gift shop looking at the various products and comparing prices while we waited.
Pro tip: most cruise ports have duty-free shops right next to the dock and Bridgetown is no different. I checked the prices of the various Mount Gay Rum products there and took pictures with my phone. The prices were actually cheaper at the dock.
The tour takes you through the basics of the history of the distillery, how the rum is made (which is elsewhere on the island) and a brief tour of the mixing and bottling plant. Then the fun part: tasting the rum!
Rum Tasting Before Lunch… mmm Rum!
Confession time: I am much more of a whiskey fan (especially Scotch and American craft whiskey) than a rum fan. That said, Mount Gay has some very nice and very smooth rums. Color me impressed.
In all, we had a great time at the distillery and it was well worth the $15 per person price of admission.
On the way back, we stopped at the duty-free shop and picked up a couple of bottles of Mount Gay XO (or Extra Old) rum, which was easily our favorite of the bunch, though we enjoyed the Black Barrel as well.
Pro tip: when traveling to the Caribbean, you can bring back one liter of alcohol per person duty-free. But, in Caribbean Basin Initiative countries, you can bring back an additional liter of locally-produced alcohol duty-free.
4×4 Adventure and Green Monkey Encounter
After dropping off our loot with the folks aboard the ship and grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, we headed back out to catch our shore excursion: a sight-seeing trip across the island in the back of converted old Land Rovers.
Interestingly, Bridgetown had basically a shore excursion terminal, much like an open-air bus station, where you wait to catch your excursion. We piled into the backs of the vehicles and went cruising through the Barbadian countryside.
We got to see churches, old sugar plantations (a staple on any tour in the Caribbean) and new high-end developments on the way to the wildlife preserve. Did I mention we saw Rhianna’s house? We saw Rhianna’s house. The folks there are very proud to say she is from Barbados.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve
The wildlife reserve basically had two parts: an area for the green monkeys and an area for some of the other wildlife found on the island which had monkeys as well.
We spent a little bit of time watching the monkeys play and torture the local rooster, before heading to the other part of the reserve for a guided walk. We got to see small deer, birds, iguanas and tortoises. Our arrival coincided with feeding time, so the animals were pretty active.
The reserve had a bit of a zoo-like feel to it, but it was nice place to walk through and see the critters.
The Atlantic Coast of Barbados
Hopping back into the trucks, we headed east across the island toward the Atlantic Coast. Our guide did a good job explaining the sights along the way, including one of the few working windmills from an old sugar plantation left in the Caribbean.
The Atlantic Coast was both rugged and beautiful. The water is much rougher on this side of the island, so it is not a good place for swimming, but it was quite beautiful and much quieter than the Caribbean side of the island. I could easily see renting a small house for several days if I wanted to get away from it all.
We stopped briefly to stroll along the beach and grab a tasty beer. Our guide told me I should try Banks, a local brew. As a big proponent of drinking local, I was happy to make a point to get one… Only to discover the nearby bar had stopped carrying Banks in favor of Stag out of Trinidad. Oh, well. Next time.
One of the reasons we chose this tour was the ability to get out and see large parts of the island away from Bridgetown. We really enjoyed that aspect of the tour. The only disappointment, at least for me, was the 4x4s never actually left the paved road. I would have loved to go on some dirt roads to some obscure places.
Thanksgiving on the Adventure of the Seas
Our visit to Barbados was actually on Thanksgiving. So, we were looking forward to dinner that night in the dining room. While we were traveling without our families, at the least we enjoyed a delightful, traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
The menu had turkey with gravy, stuffing, greens, and, of course, pecan pie for dessert. While it was not as good as homemade, it was still a well-done meal and we enjoyed it. Now, if we could just get them Bonnie’s bourbon pecan pie recipe.
I know we have said this with every island we have visited: we simply must come back. We enjoy cruising every now and then. That said, the visits to each of these islands are simply too short to really see everything we want to.
For more from our 2016 southern Caribbean cruise, be sure to read our overview, tips on staying healthy on a cruise, pros and cons of staying in an aft cabin, as well as our port reports from Saint Martin, Saint Kitts, Antigua and Saint Lucia.