• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry
GO
Honeymoon

First Time Caribbean Cruisers, Help Narrowing Down

I did read the very helpful sticky by @CMGragain first: thanks for that info by the way!

This is not for our honeymoon, but my fiancé and I are considering a Caribbean cruise for a March 2016 warm weather vacation.  Neither of us have been on a cruise before, and some of the deals we've seen for a March 7 day Eastern/Southern Caribbean cruises are far cheaper than 4 nights at an upscale all inclusive in Mexico/Jamaica.  

He's much more of an all inclusive relax, beach bum, maybe one or two excursions but mostly chilling type of traveler, and he hasn't been many places.  I'm an independent traveler who likes far flung places, adventure and culture (going solo to Patagonia and the Atacama in early December for example).  He likes more budget friendly options, I'll balance my trips between out of this world splurges and nice but affordable B&Bs/hostels/boutique hotels.  (This is one reason we can agree on a destination wedding in Hawaii, we get the best of all worlds.)  So our travel styles are very different, and I think he's more likely to be completely cool with cruising, whereas I have reservations about it all.

Using Cruise Critic, we narrowed down to a few options on Royal Caribbean leaving out of San Juan, all in the $2K range, but I'd consider other lines/ships with Eastern/Southern itineraries in the $2 - $2.5K total range. What do you think would be the best fit itinerary for first time cruisers with widely divergent interests?  Or is there a different itinerary you might recommend for me. 

I'm very interested in the more lush Windward Islands so I ranked the itineraries with St Lucia and Grenada a bit higher.  

Option 1 - San Juan, St Thomas, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada, cruising, San Juan

Option 2  - San Juan, cruising, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, St Croix, San Juan

Option 3 - San Juan, St Croix, St Kitts, St Maarten, Martinique, Barbados, cruising, San Juan

Option 4 - San Juan, St Thomas, St Kitts, cruising, Aruba, Curacao, cruising, San Juan (too many cruise days for a first timer/me?)

Thank you for any thoughts/advice!!!

Re: First Time Caribbean Cruisers, Help Narrowing Down

  • dalm0mdalm0m member
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited November 2015
    Cruise critic is the best.  I was going to recommend a port intensive cruise. You won't like sea days.  Some people find them relaxing; I feel liked a beached seal -- too many people squished together by the pool deck.  

    RCL is good for active folks as there are many amenities on board, rock walls, zip lines, flow riders etc.  

    If you are used to AIs, if you buy your drinks as opposed to get the drink package, depending on how much you drink. . you could be surprised by a a big bar bill.  Assuming individual drinks are at least $8 each, do the math on the daily rate for the drinks package to see if it's worth it for you.  On a port intensive cruise, you won't have that much time to drink. 
    NotATotalBetty
  • You state that you have reservations about cruising.  What bothers you?
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I can definitely understand this. I can sit on a beach for a week reading a book, but that would drive my H insane. But, I also love adventure and days at sea on a cruise ship can be torturous for me.  

    Ditto what a PP said - pick a cruise that is port heavy, and a ship that has a lot to do. Be wary of drinks as they're not included, and they can really add up by the end of 7 days. 

    NotATotalBetty
  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    I think you can't go wrong with any of those. We just did San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Marteen, St. Lucia, Barbados. We loved all of them seriously!! We did a lot of non-beach days so if you like a bit of history and adventure you could try the places we went....

    St. Marteen- Maho beach- it's where the planes land right overhead

    St. Kitts- took a private taxi to Brimstone Fortress, it was amazing to hike around.

    St. Lucia- took a private taxi to Pigeon Island Nation Park- again an old naval fort that you hike up to and around- so cool!

    San Juan- fortress tour with airport dropoff- only official excursion we did, very neat and worth it

    I gotta tell ya- growing up my parents always brought me on RC so I thought it so great. But my mom's a travel agent and she told me that Carnival has really stepped up their game and they are basically the same level as RC now but with a cheaper price tag. I trusted her and we went with Carnival and it was fantastic. There was only one single restaurant that was additional charges, everything else like the burger bar, taco bar, pizza bar were all included. She said on RC it's split about 50/50 between included and extra cost. So that's not cool with me, especially for the higher price of the cruise. We were able to get a balcony on Carnival for what an inside would have cost on RC and we were really pleased with it.

                                                                     

    image

    princessleia22NotATotalBetty
  • Thank you all so much for the advice!  I definitely need to look into the drink packages: we are not big drinkers and aren't needing to have soft drinks, but we would like to be able to have say orange juice at breakfast, so we'll have to see what makes the most sense.

    @jenna8984 I will check out Carnival and see what options they have in March too, for price and inclusion comparison.  Thanks for the tip!  

    @CMGragain  My normal travel style is to spend a bit longer in a city or area, usually at least 4 nights per location.  When I've done slightly faster travel, I have enjoyed it less.  So I'm concerned that the little tasters of places means I won't fully appreciate all of them?  And even for beach vacations, my interest would run closer to Hawaii than a Mexican AI, so I worry that the best merits of cruising might be lost on me.  And I'm more of a smaller hotel/resort person than a big super jumbo resort type, so being "trapped" at sea with 1,000+ people kind of gives me willies.  The one cruise I would really want to do is an Antarctic cruise with fewer than 100 people to do the land camping and such, but that is waaaaaaay out of my price range at the moment, and I wouldn't want to do a quad share.

    Thanks again for helping get me on the right track.  My fiance loves the idea, and I suppose I'll never really know if I like cruises or not until I go on one, so I may as well take the plunge!


  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Thank you all so much for the advice!  I definitely need to look into the drink packages: we are not big drinkers and aren't needing to have soft drinks, but we would like to be able to have say orange juice at breakfast, so we'll have to see what makes the most sense.




    Not sure about how RC is now, but on Carnival all juice, lemonade, coffee, tea were included. Since we don't really drink alcohol or soda either we didn't get a drink package and the only purchase we made was like 2 red bulls.

                                                                     

    image

  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited November 2015

    @CMGragain  My normal travel style is to spend a bit longer in a city or area, usually at least 4 nights per location.  When I've done slightly faster travel, I have enjoyed it less.  So I'm concerned that the little tasters of places means I won't fully appreciate all of them?  And even for beach vacations, my interest would run closer to Hawaii than a Mexican AI, so I worry that the best merits of cruising might be lost on me.  And I'm more of a smaller hotel/resort person than a big super jumbo resort type, so being "trapped" at sea with 1,000+ people kind of gives me willies.  The one cruise I would really want to do is an Antarctic cruise with fewer than 100 people to do the land camping and such, but that is waaaaaaay out of my price range at the moment, and I wouldn't want to do a quad share.

    Thanks again for helping get me on the right track.  My fiance loves the idea, and I suppose I'll never really know if I like cruises or not until I go on one, so I may as well take the plunge!


    They are very careful when they plan those big cruise ships.  You would never know that you are with that many people.  Spaces are divided up so that it just doesn't feel that big.  Royal Caribbean has the biggest ships.  For every annoying person I meet on a cruise ship there are 100 others that are very nice and interesting, too.
    St. Lucia is the island that is most like Hawaii.  It is very lush and tropical.  Aruba is just the opposite - dry and sandy.  Many islands, like Aruba and St. Thomas, are over developed, and have little local culture left.
    You might check out the Holland America cruises to Norway.  I just did that in September, and it wasn't touristy at all.  We saw a beautiful northern lights display.  The Rotterdam is a smaller cruise ship.

    http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=22602

    http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=22619

    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited November 2015
    CMGragain said:

    @CMGragain  My normal travel style is to spend a bit longer in a city or area, usually at least 4 nights per location.  When I've done slightly faster travel, I have enjoyed it less.  So I'm concerned that the little tasters of places means I won't fully appreciate all of them?  And even for beach vacations, my interest would run closer to Hawaii than a Mexican AI, so I worry that the best merits of cruising might be lost on me.  And I'm more of a smaller hotel/resort person than a big super jumbo resort type, so being "trapped" at sea with 1,000+ people kind of gives me willies.  The one cruise I would really want to do is an Antarctic cruise with fewer than 100 people to do the land camping and such, but that is waaaaaaay out of my price range at the moment, and I wouldn't want to do a quad share.

    Thanks again for helping get me on the right track.  My fiance loves the idea, and I suppose I'll never really know if I like cruises or not until I go on one, so I may as well take the plunge!


    They are very careful when they plan those big cruise ships.  You would never know that you are with that many people.  Spaces are divided up so that it just doesn't feel that big.  Royal Caribbean has the biggest ships.  For every annoying person I meet on a cruise ship there are 100 others that are very nice and interesting, too.
    St. Lucia is the island that is most like Hawaii.  It is very lush and tropical.  Aruba is just the opposite - dry and sandy.  Many islands, like Aruba and St. Thomas, are over developed, and have little local culture left.
    You might check out the Holland America cruises to Norway.  I just did that in September, and it wasn't touristy at all.  We saw a beautiful northern lights display.  The Rotterdam is a smaller cruise ship.

    http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=22602

    http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=22619

    Norway sounds like an amazing place - and though I'm usually opposed to European cruises on big ships, this one interests me.  Doubtful it will fall in the OPs budget of $2.5k total though.
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    There are some smaller ships, though not many.  The one we took in the Med (Pacific Princess) was only about 600 people.  We only ever saw the same 20-30 people cos of where we hung out.  (Yes, there were more, but these 20-30 stuck out to us and we seemed to see them everywhere)
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
  •   I definitely need to look into the drink packages: we are not big drinkers and aren't needing to have soft drinks, but we would like to be able to have say orange juice at breakfast, so we'll have to see what makes the most sense.

    Complimentary juice is available at breakfast but you will pay for it the rest of the day.  There will be coffee, tea & either flavored water or lemonade & ice tea throughout the day but you  may have to go to the buffet to serve yourself.   The tap water is safe to drink but bottled water is expensive on board.  The tap is actually better due to the desalination process. 

    Except at maybe embarkation & disembarkation you shouldn't feel "trapped" because the ships are well designed but the areas around the pool will be wall to wall people. 



  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    There are some smaller ships, though not many.  The one we took in the Med (Pacific Princess) was only about 600 people.  We only ever saw the same 20-30 people cos of where we hung out.  (Yes, there were more, but these 20-30 stuck out to us and we seemed to see them everywhere)
    I took the Pacific Princess  round the Med too!!  

    Although, I was on the original one  (aka The Love Boat).  The one I was one has been decommissioned though.  The Love Boat is not scrap metal.  :(






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    WinstonsGirl
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards