Barbados

Excursion Focus: Tyrone Griffith Barbados Tour

In:
08Nov2013

Exploring the beautiful island of Barbados is no easy task so on a recent cruise to the island on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas we wanted a tour to see the highlights of what the island offers. For this reason, we tried Tyrone Griffith tour.

Description

Tyrone Griffith is a man that runs a small bus tour of the island of Barbados.  He's one of those guys that has generated a small following on the internet thanks to a number of favorable reviews from recent cruisers.  Essentially, it's the 21st century equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising.

We were suggested the tour by someone in our Cruise Critic mix n mingle group (a collection of Cruise Critic members on the same cruise that all decided to meet up) and the premise of the island tour is a 3-4 tour of Barbados.  

The tour originally cost $35 per person but due to our group size (about a dozen people), the price was reduced to $25 per adult (kids were free!).  The tour includes opportunities to see or stop at 

  • Kensington Oval (cricket stadium)
  • Mount Gay Rum Distillery
  • Holetown (site of the first settlers)
  • Oldest church on the island
  • Cherry Tree Hill
  • Morgan Lewis Windmill
  • Bathsheba
  • St. John's Parish Church
  • Gun Hill Signal Church
  • Optional beach stop at Carlisle Bay

Like all group tours I've ever done, the tour offers roundtrip bus service to and from the cruise port.  The buses are enclosed, air conditioned vehicles and offer beer, water and rum punch at no additional cost.

Comments

Given what the tour offers and the price, it sounded like a great value.  Most tours we found to be much more expensive and renting a car or getting a private tour would have easily exceeded the $25 per person cost Tyrone Griffith's tour offered so we gave it a try.

We met our group and the tour right at 9am in the cruise terminal area.  Given this was a tour of people we had never met before, it's always a little awkward at first getting to know everyone but after an hour or so we were all joking.

After a small "paper work" issue (nothing worth reporting here), we all hopped into our van for the tour.  We took this tour in September and it was quite hot and humid.  The van was air conditioned but quite frankly, the air conditioning was weak and while it was better than no air conditioning, it was not exactly cold.  Speaking of the van, we were really packed in and crowded.  Technically the van had space for all of us but sitting in the last row, it felt very crowded and I would not describe it as comfortable.

Another issue was the beer, water and rum punch was not immediately available when the tour began.  We did eventually get what was promised, but it took an hour or so before that happened which bothered me.

As for the actual tour, we did see everything that was listed.  We did not stop at every place, with us driving by some places and stopping at others.  Frankly that's fine with me as stopping at every place would have taken far too long.  The tour driver was sure to announce things and describe them as we passed by and was able to answer the questions we had for him.

We stopped a number of places but the highlight of them was actually a golf course because hidden among the tees were a group of green monkeys that we were able to feed.  These are wild monkeys but it was something none of us had ever done before and it was a very cool experience.  Our driver brought bananas with him and give them to us to feed the monkeys, who were more than happy to take the food right out of our hands.  Amazing.

Barbados is a beautiful island and many of the other stops offered really terrific views and scenery.  By the end of the tour, it was almost like, "oh look, another beautiful view."  

At the conclusion of the tour, the driver gives everyone the option of being dropped off at a local beach or being brought back to the ship.  Beach goers will get a pre-arranged pickup time to be brought back to the ship as well.

Like all group bus tours, it's a different touring dynamic than when you tour somewhere on your own and that's something you have to be prepared for.  You move at the pace of the slowest person in your group and not all stops are going to interest everyone equally.  But if you go with a "go with the flow" mentality, it can be a good experience.

Overall, Tyrone Griffith tour was a fun experience that had some great views.  We managed to make friends with a few of the people on the ship, which was an added bonus.  It's really hard to go wrong with the price despite some of the issues the tour suffered from, including the beverages not being available immediately, the weak air conditioning and crowded bus.

Emailtiatonagi@yahoo.com

Phone number: (246) 233-3168

Royal Caribbean sailing year-round to Barbados once again

In:
13Aug2013

Royal Caribbean will resume cruises to Barbados after removing all of its ships from the Southern Caribbean route last year.  

Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy made the announcement after negotiations with Royal Caribbean that he characterized as "intensive".

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas has been offering cruises back in May, will offer year-round service to the Southern Caribbean island.  In addition, Royal Caribbean's brand new Quantum of the Seas cruise ship that is under construction, will have incremental service starting in November 2014.

Sealy was excited about the news of Royal Caribbean's return, "I would like to think that the leadership of Barbados had something to do with that.  Certainly, the relationship with the port project would be part of it. But we have done our part."

Royal Caribbean had announced in March 2011 that it was leaving the island but then joined into a joint venture with Barbados to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture with Barbados

In:
Category: 
13Sep2012

Royal Caribbean is partnering with Barbados Port and SMI Infrastructure Solutions to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.  The new facility will allow some of the world's biggest cruise ships to dock at the island.

George Hutson, Barbados Minister of International Transport and International Business, announced the two year project at the recent Barbados Port Inc.’s 50th anniversary staff awards ceremony.

“If we are going to remain relevant, if we are going to capitalize on the opportunities available from cruise tourism, we must renew our plant from the basic infrastructure currently existing to one which will accommodate and service the increasingly large cruise ships."

According to Hutson, Barbados is hoping the new cruise terminal will attract more cruise ships to the island, which in turn will lead to increasing revenue generated by cruise passengers on the island.

The new terminal will be completed in two phases, the first phase will cost $300 million and will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots. The development will take involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November.

Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year.  The best year ever for cruise passenger traffic to the island was 2004 when 812,863 people visited the island.

Royal Caribbean leaving Barbados

In:
09Mar2011

Royal Caribbean has decided to end port of calls in Barbados after moving Serenade of the Seas to Europe for the Summer 2012 cruise season.

The move has upset Caribbean officials, namely the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which has expressed concern about the loss.  CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said they are aware that repositioning is a normal course of business within the cruise sector, particularly during the summer months.