Friday, January 29, 2016

DCL Port Adventure Review: Tour to Virgin Gorda (TT23)

Disney Fantasy Trip Report So Far:
Vacation Video
Hotel Review: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort 
My Tween's Review of the Edge on the Disney Fantasy

DCL Port Adventure Review: Tour to Virgin Gorda (TT23)

Part of the reason we booked our last cruise with the Eastern Caribbean itinerary was for the stop at Tortola, British Virgin Islands. I had read about the famous Baths on the nearby island of Virgin Gorda and knew they were a must-see! The Baths are a national park and feature caves made from large granite boulders along the beach that create little pools or baths along the shore.

We signed up for the Disney Cruise Line official port adventure "Tour to Virgin Gorda" (TT23). This was the shorter of DCL's two excursions to the Baths and cost $59 for adults and $42 for kids. (The other tour was only one hour longer but cost almost twice as much with lunch). The cost included the boat ride to Virgin Gorda, taxi to the Baths, admission to the Baths National Park, and fruit punch on the boat ride back. Our excursion tickets were waiting in our stateroom on embarkation day. Note: this port adventure did sell out early; we booked it 90 days prior to sailing and it wasn't available for some cruisers who tried to book it later.

First of all, look at how gorgeous the port of Tortola is! This photo was taken by my fellow-cruiser. The Disney Cruise that docked there two weeks before us also had a rainbow.



Our meet-up for the excursion was in The Tube (adult night club on the Fantasy) at 12:45 p.m., so we had the entire morning on our own. We were able to take towels off the ship with us from The Tube. The entire group walked off the ship together and right onto a waiting catamaran a few yards away: 


The catamaran had seats downstairs and upstairs. We sat downstairs for the trip over to Virgin Gorda island.

The ride to Virgin Gorda took about 30 minutes. The dock at Virgin Gorda:


We were ushered to some open-air taxis for the 15-minute ride to the Baths:


I estimate there were about 100 people on the excursion.




We arrived at the top of the baths area and had a briefing from our tour guide. He said we would walk down this path together to the bottom of the hill to the Baths (which took about 10 minutes), and we would meet at the top of the hill again in about two hours. We could enjoy the beach at the bottom and look at the caves, or walk through the caves to the other side to Devil's Bay Beach. He offered a guided tour through the caves at a certain time if we wanted to walk through with a group.

The path down was a little slippery in places with wet rock and sand, but it wasn't too bad. Note: you definitely need water shoes for this excursion, flip-flops are not gonna cut it!


My 5-year-old slipped a little and Daddy carried her part way:


Soon we reached the beach. It was gorgeous!


So picturesque! There were rocks to the right of the beach and to the left (where the official path was to Devil's Bay).


We could have stayed at this beach a long time! It had strong waves but they were short/shallow.


After about 20-30 minutes at the beach, we decided we should head through the caves to the other side. We didn't want to wait for the tour guide because we wanted to make sure we had time to hang out at Devil's Bay beach on the other side. (Note: Devil's Bay beach does not have any facilities, so take care of your needs before you start through the caves).

The tour guide told us that the maximum water depth in the caves would be up to our knees, and if we started to get into deeper water we went the wrong way. This was good advice! We ran into two families coming back from the caves who said the water got too deep and they turned around. We noticed that at one area there was a yellow arrow painted on the rock that told us the path turned to the left, and not straight. The folks who went straight got into the deep water.


We also ran into 2-3 families who turned around because the path through the caves was too strenuous. It's definitely not for anyone with a bad knee or bad back. We had to crouch down in several places and walk on wet, sandy rock holding a rope. I don't recommend taking large backpacks--my husband brought his thin backpack for all of us to share, and we only grabbed 2 towels to keep our load light.

This spot here was probably the most difficult...we had to squeeze through those rocks to get down using the rope. This was the one area in the caves where we carried my daughter.

The kids thought it was a great adventure!


Several spots had wooden stairs.


It wasn't very crowded in there--we only ran into a few other families, and sometimes had to wait for them to pass by since the path was so narrow in certain areas. I am slightly claustrophobic, but walking through the caves did not bother me at all.


This is one of the crouch-down areas. I'm amazed I fit in there! Taller people had to get on their knees.



Almost to the other side!


After about 20 minutes, we made it to Devil's Bay, which was another great beach area! We spent our remaining time at this great beach.






We had to watch the time to make sure we made it to the top of the Baths to meet up with our tour. We walked back up on the Devil's Bay path, which was a longer walk but not as steep as the way down. We saw a lot of great nature (giant caterpillars, crabs and lizards) on our walk to the top. My son cut his leg on the walk up, and we saw that a few other people got some scrapes from this excursion, so bringing band-aids is a good idea.

We enjoyed the gorgeous view at the top:

Soon, we boarded the taxis back to the dock:


On the return boat trip, we sat up top to enjoy the view:




Heading back to Tortola with a view of the Fantasy:

My entire family loved this excursion for the adventure and the great beaches! It is such a unique, beautiful area that I'm glad we had a chance to visit.

My only wish is that we had more time there--two hours is not enough! But the alternative was going on our own, which would have involved a 15-minute walk to the public ferry, getting ferry/taxi tickets on our own, paying separately for admission to the Baths, and hoping that the return ferry wasn't full so that we could make it back to the ship on time. And I think for most people, it's not a problem to do this excursion on your own. With our three kids, I just didn't want the stress of going on our own and the risk of a full ferry. If we had no kids, or if our kids were older, I'd do it on our own so that we could spend a longer day there. The cost of the public ferry was $9 cheaper for adults and only $2 cheaper for kids but we would also have to pay a few dollars each to get into the Baths on our own, so it wasn't that much of a savings for us to forgo the organized DCL excursion.

If you are going on a cruise that stops at Tortola, British Virgin Islands, head over to the Virgin Gorda Baths! They are so worth the time and expense to see.

3 comments:

  1. Looks beautiful. The Baths are on my bucket list for sure.
    Visited Tortola in 1996 on our honeymoon.

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  2. We are going in a few weeks and booked the longer Baths Excursion including lunch. My kids are 9 and 6! Thanks for a great review!!!

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    1. Have a great trip! I hope you enjoy the excursion. We loved The Baths.

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