Originally Posted by You
Just booked the Crown S. Caribbean cruise on Mar.3. Would like some advice on tours. We like beautiful beaches, snorkling, and I remember seeing some tour with animals, but can't remember where. Any suggestions would be helpful. Our stops are: St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba. Any good shopping areas? Not straw markets, but nice shopping.
In St. Thomas
, I agree completely with Lisa's recommendation of the Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John
. This excursion is well worth the price. The catamaran picks you up right at the end of the cruise ship pier and takes you to a nice secluded beach on St. John with a decent snorkeling (gear and instructions provided) nearby. After a couple hours, the crew serves a buffet lunch aboard the catamaran. There's more time for swimming before the catamaran sets sail, returning to the cruise ship pier around 3:15 or so. The whole time, the crew of the catamaran also serves beverages of your choice. The selections include champagne, rum punch, beer, soda, and jucies. Upon returning, you can browse the shops in a shopping center right next to the pier or return aboard te ship in time for afternoon tea.
, there's also an excellent excursion called Sail, Snorkel, Barbecue, and Beach
. Here, a sail catamaran picks you up at the pier and takes you to a couple prime snorkel areas (gear and instruction again provided, or you can just swim if you prefer) -- a reef and a wreck, both teeming with marine life. The catamaran then goes to the operator's pier, where there's a barbecue lunch in a shack on the pier. After lunch, you can go swimming at a gorgeous beach right next to the pier or browse the shops across the street before the catamaran brings you back to the cruise ship pier.
I don't have recommendations for beaches in your other ports of call, but I do recommend the tour of the highlights of St. Kitts. This excursion visits the famous Brimstone Fortress, known as the "Gibraltar of the West Indies," and a historic estate that houses the Batik factory and magnificent gardens. This tour is quite interesting, and you might find it to be a nice change of pace from all of the beaches.
Finally, with regard to shopping, Grenada
is the place to stock up on spices -- which are also great souvenirs for your friends who like to cook or bake. The spices there are so bountiful that you can smell them simply by stepping out on deck while the ship is at anchor in the harbor at St. George's.
I can't say that you'll find anything special or unique on any of the other islands, but there is an additional duty free allowance ($400 per person IIRC) for goods purchased in the U. S. Virgin Islands. If you are planning to buy goods worth more than your basic duty free allowance (now $800 per person), you'll save duty by buying the goods in excess of the basic limit in St. Thomas.
Have a great cruise!