Honeymoon Discussions

Help - $2500budget, beach bride, non beach hubs

I'm drowning over here. There are so many options and the two agents I started to work with were not helpful at all. I cut my budget in half so we can save for a house. New budget is $2500. Here are my wishes:

 

- Originally wanted all inclusive, but I'm open to either at this point

- hoping for no kids (we have a 5 year old, and I don't want to feel guilty the whole time we are gone.. so no atlantis please)

-budget is 2,500 for flight, hotel, and hopefully some food

-hubs is not a beachy guy, so I need to get him in the rain forest some

- Excursions I'm interested in: horseback riding, ATV tour, snorkeling, canopy tour, MAYBE repelling(only bc the bachelor episode was so awesome last night lol)

- we like mountains, so I'm trying to stay away from flat places... like Nassau and cancun

 

Help me... thank you :)

Re: Help - $2500budget, beach bride, non beach hubs

  • I am probably no help because $2500 seems a little tough for me. I am assuming you want to go for about a week and honestly I am not sure you can do all inclusive and adding on additional activities, unless you find a resort that already has them.

    I would try book it.com.

  • Puerto Rico?
  • Where are you located?  That makes a big difference in flight costs.
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  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Are you open to cruises at all? They do have kids BUT they include food for cheaper than most AI Resorts. And there's a lot to do besides just "beach". 
    Also, maybe don't rule out Cancun...we went for a destination wedding last year. We took a day tour that went to a cenote (underground river you can swim in, literally the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life) and it went to Chitzen Itza, the famous Mayan Ruins which was amazing. There are also excursions to other places even though it's not rain foresty. You may have to compromise there with your budget. Here's a pic of that cenote I was talking about...we stayed at the Gran Caribe Real for 6 nights and with flights from Boston it was $2200 

                                                                     

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  • You sound like my husband and I. I hate the beach, my husband could spend all day in the water. Our happy medium? Cruises. The time on the ship offers my husband that relaxation/pool time as well as some beach time at ports. I get to have fun on the ship and see the sights at the ports as well. We did a ten day honeymoon where we were in Puerto Rico for two nights prior to our 7 night cruise (balcony room). We had free airfare but our cruise was about $1,600 and the two nights in PR were about $300 plus meals. Our cruise we have booked this November is currently $1,322 and we'll pay about $600 for the two of us so I think we'll end up coming in about $2,500.


  • We had an awesome time on our cruise last year (Nassau-St. Thomas-St. Martin on Royal Caribbean "Allure of the Seas"). Just enough beach/pool time with plenty of other things to do, and the food was amazing. Flights are much cheaper since you only have to get to Florida.

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  • For $2500, you will probably have to limit the number of excursions if you go the AI route.  I second checking bookit.com or cheapcaribbean.com.  My parents went to an AI in Riviera Maya for a week last summer, and it was only $2000 total including flights from PHL on bookit.  Excursions will usually run about $100 per person per excursion.

    I will say I have been watching prices for a trip this summer to an AI, and the prices recently spiked.  I'm thinking it's probably because valentines day is coming up, so you might want to check prices after that if prices seem high right now.

  • I've been researching the southern Caribbean cruise out of PR, so I'm happy a few of you suggested cruising. It goes to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Barbados. I can get my airfare for free, and will pay about $450 for my fiancé. The cruise is about $2k total for a balcony, and then I'll have to save a little extra for a couple of excursions. I think it will be doable. Has anyone been to any of the places I just mentioned. Can you recommend excursions? I feel like you can do most sea excursions any where, so I'm more interested in land excursions.

     

    Thanks!

  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited February 2014

    I've been researching the southern Caribbean cruise out of PR, so I'm happy a few of you suggested cruising. It goes to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Barbados. I can get my airfare for free, and will pay about $450 for my fiancé. The cruise is about $2k total for a balcony, and then I'll have to save a little extra for a couple of excursions. I think it will be doable. Has anyone been to any of the places I just mentioned. Can you recommend excursions? I feel like you can do most sea excursions any where, so I'm more interested in land excursions.

     

    Thanks!

    I've done that cruise before and it is awesome!!!!

    Since there are so many ports, consider only getting an oceanview cabin to save money for excursions.  You spend so much time off the ship on that route that it is an easy way to save money without making a huge sacrifice.  :)

    Excursion Recommendations:
    St. Thomas--Sapphire Beach is beautiful and has great snorkeling from the beach.  They have a hut where you can rent equipment and the beach "next door" has some motorized sports like parasailing.  If I remember correctly the taxi fare was about $10 per person one way and most taxi drivers will give you a mini island tour on the way back to the ship.

    St. Martin: I've been twice, the first time I did a snuba excursion through the ship.  Unfortunately I got sea-sick and didn't get to actually try the snuba.  The second time we did Bernard's Tours (island tour and substituted beach time for the butterfly farm).  I normally don't like island tours (I need adventure) but I really enjoyed it!

    St. Lucia:  I've been twice and went ziplining with TreeTop Adventures that I highly recommend.  The cost includes transportation and on the way back the tour guide will have different fruits to taste and other agriculture products to touch and smell.  The second time I went river and ocean kayaking with Dive Fair Helen.  It was a little more expensive and a lot longer tour, but it was fun (hard, but fun).

    St. Kitts: There is this WONDERFUL little place up on a hill called Palm Court Gardens.  When I was there there was a $10 per person entrance fee (day pass) to use the infinity pool and the grounds.  They had lounge beds, hammocks, gardens, and a gift shop.  There was a bar (drinks not included).  The infinity pool overlooked the pier so you had a spectacular view.  When we were there we were the only ones who did the day pass.  Every now and then a tour group would stop by for 10 minutes or so to take pictures and then leave again.  It was an amazing (and cheap) day.

    Barbados:  Go swim with the sea turtles.  Don't even consider anything else.  :)  I've been there twice.  The first time I did a full day catamaran trip with Shasa and the second time we went to the beach (I can't remember the name) and then bought a turtle snorkel trip from one of the beach vendors).
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    jenna8984
  • Our Southern Caribbean cruise left out of PR and went to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbados. I don't know what cruise line you're looking at but Royal Caribbean is offering $150 on board credit right now so that would cover an excursion or your tips or even a few drinks! Also, if you book directly on RCCL's website you can always check back to see if the price drops. Our cruise we booked in November randomly dropped a few weeks ago for one day so I got $182 off! Woo! We only did a formal "excursion" in Barbados as we wanted to save money. The rest of the time we either paid a cab driver $20/person for a tour of the island or just wandered around ourselves. In Barbados we did two rum distillery tours. My husband got hammered. :)


  • theartistformerlyknownastheartistformerlyknownas peaced out. member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers First Anniversary
    edited February 2014

    I've been researching the southern Caribbean cruise out of PR, so I'm happy a few of you suggested cruising. It goes to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Barbados. I can get my airfare for free, and will pay about $450 for my fiancé. The cruise is about $2k total for a balcony, and then I'll have to save a little extra for a couple of excursions. I think it will be doable. Has anyone been to any of the places I just mentioned. Can you recommend excursions? I feel like you can do most sea excursions any where, so I'm more interested in land excursions.

     

    Thanks!

    We went snorkeling in St. Thomas, and both got miserably sick so we didn't end up seeing any of the island/city when we got back. The tour itself was super fun (like a pirate ship, and the people running it were awesome!) but truth be told, the snorkeling just isn't great there. Mostly just sand at the bottom, and a little brown coral. Not the awesome colorful reef with lots of wildlife you expect. I had a saltwater reef fish tank so I was super excited to see some of it in the wild, and it's just not the case there. (I got seasick after, so that wasn't what tarnished my opinion of the snorkeling.)
    St. Martin was awesome! The French side was a little scammy and kind of slummy, but I like the "local flavor" so whatev. Long story about getting scammed into ordering super expensive red snapper at a dive restaurant on the French side. Beach on the Dutch side was really nice though. Lots of bars with great drink specials which we didn't indulge in since FI (BF back then, lol!) doesn't drink but it looked like a fun time otherwise.
    We LOVED our balcony room! It doesn't seem like it, but it adds so much to the perceived size of the room. We ate room service breakfast out there, and I'd go out to read a book. Nice to have "another room" to get out to. Totally worth it, IMO.

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  • pinkcow13pinkcow13 The Concrete Jungle member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Have you looked into Costa Rica?
                                 Anniversary
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  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2014
    This is what is NOT included in your cruise:
    Hotel stay the night before sailing, just in case there are problems getting there.
    Alcohol
    Stay out of the "special" restaurants onboard ship.  They cost extra, and the food in the dining room and Lido deck is already paid for.
    Tips: expect $24 per day of your cruise.  They will be charged to your credit card.
    Excursions average $80 per island, per passenger.   Some are more.
    Stay out of the casino.
    Don't buy anything on the ship!  OK, you can get a tee shirt.
    Don't expect the ship photographers to take your pictures.  Their prices are outrageous!  Take your own photos, and ask other passengers to take pictures of the two of you together.

    I have been on 17 cruises.  I love them, but you do need to be realistic if you are on a budget.

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    jenna8984Knottie37373131
  • CMGragain said:
    This is what is NOT included in your cruise:
    Hotel stay the night before sailing, just in case there are problems getting there.
    Alcohol
    Stay out of the "special" restaurants onboard ship.  They cost extra, and the food in the dining room and Lido deck is already paid for.
    Tips: expect $24 per day of your cruise.  They will be charged to your credit card.
    Excursions average $80 per island, per passenger.   Some are more.
    Stay out of the casino.
    Don't buy anything on the ship!  OK, you can get a tee shirt.
    Don't expect the ship photographers to take your pictures.  Their prices are outrageous!  Take your own photos, and ask other passengers to take pictures of the two of you together.

    I have been on 17 cruises.  I love them, but you do need to be realistic if you are on a budget.

    This is incorrect about tips. The policy varies by cruise line. I had the tips removed and tipped individuals personally. The rest is true, good advice.


  • Not sure how many days you are considering. We went to Costa Rica for our HM. We were gone 9 days and spent about twice your budget but we did not go the economical route. We had private transport vs shared which is so much cheaper. I planned everything myself and found dicsounts for tours. Hotels were nice and on the more expensive side for the more remote places we went - Tabacon Hot Speings resort (Arenal), Ylang-Ylang beach resort (Montezuma, beach bungaloo - $180 or so a night but includes breakfast and dinner). Airfare was kind of high at ~750 pp. But depends on where you live and any deals you find
  • I'm still looking at my options. 50% of people say go on the cruise and the other 50 say go AI for the honeymoon. I like the cruise itinerary, but I'm worried about Carnival being the "walmart" of cruising.. which I keep reading, not my personal opinion so please don't be offended. I'm also stuck on the fact that cruises are family oriented and something we can do in the next couple of years as a family. I would never take my 5 year old to an AI though.. Plus if we go on a cruise, there will be no dinners on the beach among other things.

     

    Before I cut our budget, I had planned to go to Sandals Halcyon. I love that its small, secluded, near mountains, and very lush. Does anyone know of something similar in Punta Cana or Costa Rica? I had my heart set on the sandals, so finding something that is similar is difficult.

  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers

    I'm still looking at my options. 50% of people say go on the cruise and the other 50 say go AI for the honeymoon. I like the cruise itinerary, but I'm worried about Carnival being the "walmart" of cruising.. which I keep reading, not my personal opinion so please don't be offended. I'm also stuck on the fact that cruises are family oriented and something we can do in the next couple of years as a family. I would never take my 5 year old to an AI though.. Plus if we go on a cruise, there will be no dinners on the beach among other things.

     

    Before I cut our budget, I had planned to go to Sandals Halcyon. I love that its small, secluded, near mountains, and very lush. Does anyone know of something similar in Punta Cana or Costa Rica? I had my heart set on the sandals, so finding something that is similar is difficult.

    I just got back from Punta Cana on our honeymoon and while we had a wonderful time I would not describe the area as "lush".  We could see the mountains back in the distance, but the landscape was very flat and almost barren.  The beaches were lovely and lined with palm trees, but unless the resort does a fantastic job with the landscape you won't get the lush, tropical feel that you want.

    The islands on the southern cruise route will give you that feeling, especially St. Lucia.

    Check prices on Royal Caribbean (they offer a similar itinerary), they are usually very similar as Carnival on the southern routes.
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  • No one else runs the same itinerary during the time frame we want to go. The flights to St. Lucia from Baltimore are too pricey for our budget.

     

    I think I need to look into Costa Rica a bit more. Trying my best to find rain forest meets beach.

  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers

    No one else runs the same itinerary during the time frame we want to go. The flights to St. Lucia from Baltimore are too pricey for our budget.

     

    I think I need to look into Costa Rica a bit more. Trying my best to find rain forest meets beach.

    Puerto Rico (minus the cruise) may fit the bill.  They have resorts, rain forests, beaches, history, zip lining, a bio-bay kayak trip that is amazing (assuming the timing is right with the moon) and a cave system that I would like to explore one day.  I'm not sure they have an all-inclusive resort, but if you spend a few nights on each end of the island it might be a good option for you guys.
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    jenna8984
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    @katiereider

    What dates are you looking at?
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  • Looking at June 23-28, but can be flexible. Do you know of any hotels that fit the description of what I'm looking for?

  • Summer is rough with higher cruise prices. Personally, I have no desire to ever sail on Carnival. I just did some digging and unfortunately prices don't drop until August 24th and after... We waited almost a month to go on our honeymoon and that was the best decision I made. It was nice to have the break after the wedding so we could really enjoy our honeymoon... June, however, is rough with prices.


  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers

    Looking at June 23-28, but can be flexible. Do you know of any hotels that fit the description of what I'm looking for?

    Yeah, for that week Royal is double the price of Carnival.


    I haven't been there but it is a reasonable price.  Downside is it is far away from San Juan but may be close enough to the caves and rain forest to make a good 2-3 night stay before moving closer to Old San Juan.


    This one is a little closer to the activities of San Juan but far enough away to get a lower room rate.
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  • @katiereider you should be able to do Punta Cana within your budget. One of the resorts that was top of our list was the Iberostar Grand Bavaro - AI and adults only. But it might be just out of your budget range. Check out Excellence in PC, or search on the boards here to see other PC Adults Only recommendations. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2014
    This is incorrect about tips. The policy varies by cruise line. I had the tips removed and tipped individuals personally. The rest is true, good advice.


    No, I am NOT incorrect about the tips.  Yes, you can remove them if you request it.  This means that any money you personally give to room stewards or other ship's employees MUST be returned by them and put into the pot with the billed tips.  They will not be allowed to keep the money UNLESS you also pay the daily charge.  Ask a room steward, if you don't believe this!
    These people work long hours that no American would tolerate, and they do it with a smile.  They are not well paid by our standards.  Only a churl would remove the tips from their bill.  Unless you remove the charges at the last minute when you are leaving the ship, your room stewards already know that you have removed the charge, and they are not happy about it.  You might as well wear a big sign around your neck that says "CHEAPSKATE".  Those people need their tip money.  Most of them are supporting extended families back home in Indonesia.  They need it more than you do.
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  • Check out Norwegian too. If you sign up for their newsletter, it's a free upgrade to a balcony right now, I believe. I think a cruise would be your best bet. Check out vacationstogo.com - I booked 2 of my cruises from there.




  • CMGragain said:
    This is incorrect about tips. The policy varies by cruise line. I had the tips removed and tipped individuals personally. The rest is true, good advice.


    No, I am NOT incorrect about the tips.  Yes, you can remove them if you request it.  This means that any money you personally give to room stewards or other ship's employees MUST be returned by them and put into the pot with the billed tips.  They will not be allowed to keep the money UNLESS you also pay the daily charge.  Ask a room steward, if you don't believe this!
    These people work long hours that no American would tolerate, and they do it with a smile.  They are not well paid by our standards.  Only a churl would remove the tips from their bill.  Unless you remove the charges at the last minute when you are leaving the ship, your room stewards already know that you have removed the charge, and they are not happy about it.  You might as well wear a big sign around your neck that says "CHEAPSKATE".  Those people need their tip money.  Most of them are supporting extended families back home in Indonesia.  They need it more than you do.
    If it didn't vary so much there wouldn't be this lengthy of an explanation. http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=266


  • AI: Food not so good, more island time, larger rooms
    Riviera Maya: Great beach, but close to pyramids (to climb) and snorkeling
    Jamaica: Friendly people, hiking and loads of excursions

    Cruises: less beach time/island time, great food, without drink plan $$ for alcohol, get to see more
     Celebrity (favorite): better food and entrainment (IMO)
    Royal Caribbean: felt more "walmart" but could have been the ship I was on





  • @mlg78 The amount of the auto-tip varies.  Yes, the amount of the tip can be adjusted.  The tip can be altered or removed at your request (usually).  What they do not tell you is that this affects any cash tips you give to employees.  If you alter the auto-tip, they are required to give back any money they are given, and that money is redistributed to the people who would have gotten it if you hadn't adjusted the auto-tip.  If they do not turn that money in, they will be immediately fired.  They all know this.
    In other words, when you asked for the auto-tip to be removed, and then gave cash tips to some employees, they couldn't keep it, and were less than pleased with you.  This practice is industry wide.  They don't like to advertise it. 
    Ask your travel agent.  They will know.
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  • Costa Rica is exactly that: rain forest meets beach. Volcanoes, waterfalls, white water rafting, surf, good vibes.... just a beautiful tropical paradise. Another great place is Roatan, in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras.
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