With recent hurricanes devastating some of my favorite small Caribbean islands, all the memories from different trips to the Caribbean are recalled. My prayers are with everyone dealing with this terrifying and incredibly destructive natural phenomenon. Stay safe, Caribbean. You are not forgotten.

My first Caribbean cruise was on Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess. In researching for this article, I went back through old emails and found the Excel spreadsheets I used in planning, which then reminded me of the personalized bi-fold dossiers I made for each person in our group. I was able to find the dossiers, and I am posting mine here so you can either a) think I am amazing or b) slowly back away and decide never to be my friend or travel with me. I’m actually not this crazy anymore. I just really like planning. And details. And dossiers.

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As you can see, it was a pretty great trip. I actually booked all the tours independent of the cruise line, which is not something I would necessarily do anymore, but I was a newbie. You can sometimes save money by booking your own tours, but if your ship has to miss a port, you are out of luck and not going to get that money back. On this trip I learned that I’m never going on an ATV again, that I really want to go back to Bonaire for the excellent snorkeling and surprisingly good gelato, and that I could not get five minutes to myself on the beach in Grenada without being asked if I wanted to buy something or get my hair braided.

I think my most memorable day was my day in Dominica. (Day 2, if you refer to your dossier.) We were a fairly large group – 8 to be exact – and we booked a shared group tour that included a short hike to the Emerald Pool & Waterfall with time to swim, a stop at a local fruit stand run by a colorful local character named Mr. Nice, and a 1-hour river tubing adventure.

The hike was easy, and the swim in the waterfall was refreshing. If you haven’t been to Dominica, it is very lush, and much of the island looks like a dense rainforest. The scenery is so beautiful. After the hike, we got to try local produce from Mr. Nice, such as sugar cane, coconut, pineapple, and mango. I’d much rather stop at Mr. Nice’s hut than an air-conditioned, westernized building designed to create an inauthentic tourist experience.

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The river tubing portion of the trip was a total blast. We never felt unsafe, but at the same time were able to get just the right adrenaline rush from the alternating calm and fast currents. From now on, every time I see a river tubing trip as an option on a cruise, I will jump at the chance.

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The last part of our day was unplanned but possibly the most memorable. One member of our group, a friend in his twenties, had already been going bald for several years. He decided that instead of holding on to the final strands of hope, it was time to shave it off. We asked our driver if there were any barber shops within walking distance of the cruise pier, and he dropped us off at one. In we walked, 8 people who looked very out of place, and we crammed into a tiny one-room barber shop while our friend bid adieu to his hair. Because if you’re going to shave your head, you might as well have a fun story to go along with it.

I will always have fond memories of the Caribbean island of Dominica, and I hope one day to return.

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