Thomson Cruises TUI - Paradise Islands #notforme Campaign

One of the best trips of this year so far was organised by Thomson Cruises. Their NotForMe campaign was accompanied with cool webpage and launched early February. With main focus to bring younger customers to their cruise ships, they hired several photographers, bloggers and other influencers and sent them to a different cruises. Mainly around Caribbean but also in to Greece.

Mine trip was most likely the best one, it's called Paradise Islands and started in Barbados and then we've been cruising for next seven days around Caribbean islands. 

The flight from London to Bridgetown in Barbados was supercool on it's own, we flew in beautiful Boeing 787 Dreamliner and except very comfortable seats we had also champagne served during flight to make it even more pleasant. I had free plus one so it took my colleague and friend Alex with me and in place we met the rest of our influencer group. I was happy to see again Sean, Patrick and to meet finally with Ady and Sophie. Probably mostly because of the bubbles, flight was smooth and fun.

Once landed in Bridgetown, we've been transferred directly from Airport to the Cruise Terminal and for a first time had opportunity to se our ship Thomson Celebration in real life. It's not one of the gigantic Cruise ships but was still with it's 9 decks and capacity of 1250 people big enough :) We got into our suits and then the evening we embarked from Bridgetown towards British Virgin Island. Our suites were the best on Ship and exceeded my expectations. Celebrations is not a new ship but it has been recently refurbished and as Sean said and we all agreed, it had "character". The only issue was as expected with WiFi connections. 

Second day of our trip was on boat, we had chance to look around and as i mention earlier, it wasn't the largest ship but for me it was first time on Cruise Ship so there was a lot to explore. Several restaurants, shops, coffee bars, fitness & beauty facilities and obviously as the sun was shining Sun decks, pools and Jacuzzi. Also i don't normally suffer from motion sickness however after couple of hours on board everything was moving and my stomach wasn't happy. Luckily some sea sickness pills worked well and then i stick with recommendation from staff and i was drinking for the rest of the trip mostly ginger ale. Not sure if it was placebo but it worked :)

Oh i almost forgot to mention dinner with captain as they called it and even actual Captain wasn't sitting at our table, (we met him and was introduced before) we had dinner with lovely Staff Captain Alex. It was spectacular culinary experience and we had lovely chat about ship and our next couple of days on board of Celebration. 

On the morning of day three we arrived to Tortola, largest of British Virgin Islands. We haven't got any excursions for that day so plan was just find beach and light down to white sand. Long Bay beach was perfect fit. Sea was really rough apparently there were some storms in US and that caused quiet huge waves. There wasn't more needed for me and Pat and we jumped straight to the sea. It was really powerful but also a awesome fun. After lunch on beach we had small walk around trip around capital Roadtown. 

Day four and island i was looking forward to visit for a long time, St Maarten. We arrived in Philipsburgh and went first to Mullet Bay beach. Beautiful white sand and blue ocean, still pretty rough. Again, me and Pat jumped straight in but this time Ady and Sean joined us too. It was great fun again, very powerful waves again :) Plan for afternoon was Maho beach, yes, that's the beach where planes are landing and taking of just above your head in incredible proximity while you swimming in the ocean. It's something that's hard to describe with words. The only down was that in the internet age, beach was packed with tourists with every kind of cameras so it was hard to get nice clean view :) I would stay and shoot there for all day unfortunately our ship wouldn't wait. 

Day five, St Kitts and Nevis, weather was a bit overcast so we went to explore capital city Basseterre. It was quiet small and while it was still cloudy, we decided to visit Sand Bank Bay beach, so we jumped to taxi that took us there. On the beach was small rusty shipwreck but absence of sun make it less attractive at least for me. Late afternoon we had pre booked snorkelling trip. Two guys on speed boat picked us together with another few from our ship and we wen't to place where "sometimes" you can spot large sea turtles. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't spot them. This island was probably least attractive for me personally, but i'm sure that sun will makes a big difference. 

On Friday early morning we arrived at Antigua's port St John's. This was another island i was looking forward to visit mainly because we had booked 30min helicopter flight above Antigua and Barbuda! Weather looked promising in the morning so myself, Pat and Sean went for walk around city. People wasn't really willing to stand as models for shots but it was still very bustle and colourful. Back to port and there was already bus waiting to drove us to heliport. Sean, Pat, Ady and Sophie were lucky to go first while there was still quiet sunny. Me and Alex clouds for most of the flight, however it was spectacular experience. It was quiet challenging for me to sit and look through viewfinder for 30min and i won't lie, i was happy when we landed :). We spent some time on Fort James beach but as weather was still against us, we decided to explore island more. Pat used to visit it few years ago so he knew few cool places. We hired a taxi and went towards Dark Wood beach and Shirley's Heights. Quiet spectacular views, be much better on sunny day. I know i'm complaining a lot about weather but c'mon we are in Caribbean :)

Luckily sun probably heard me and we had amazing sunset while we enjoyed private party on the top deck with captain.

Saturday noon we arrived at Kingstown, capital of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This is the island where Johny's Depp Pirates of Caribbean was filmed. Sounds cool, we had also booked catamaran trip to the beaches from movie. Finally sun was out and it was quiet dangerous combination together with Super Strong Rum (85%) that was served on our catamaran trip :) We had great time and visited few beaches, one of them was gorgeous with black sand. Unfortunately we haven't got much time left on island as we had long way back to Barbados.

Our last day was again back in Bridgetown. Last booked trip was also pretty exciting, swimming with sea turtles. Absolutely lovely creatures, and also Barbados is definitely one of the wealthiest Caribbean islands and you can see that. Amazing private beaches and houses that hosted Oprah, Rihanna, Simon Cowell etc. After swimming we went back to ship to pack and get ready to be moved to the airport.

It was amazing sunny day and i shouldn't just sit and wait so used last two hours and went to explore the town. To my surprise it was completely empty, no people, all closed. Finally when i met lonely street jewellery seller and asked what's going on and where is everyone, he just looked at me and with very surprised face answered, it's Sunday, everyone is at the beach having BBQ :) 

Anyway, last thing was to get back to the Bridgetown's airport from where our Dreamliner flew us safely back home to London.