First Time Cruiser...which is better, E or W Carribean
My husband and I have never been on a cruise and want to plan one. What would be the best....Eastern or Western Carribean? We are thinking about the first of second week of December 2009. What do you think of this time of year? We are in our late 40's and want a "laid back - eat when we want to" atmoshere on a cruiseline without many kids. We want to see beautiful islands, snorkle and swim with the dolphins. We are active people so want to get off the ship and have fun. Shopping is not a priority, seeing beautiful sites and fun things to do are more important. Thanks for any advice.
I personally find the Eastern more oriented toward shopping. I think the Western has more variety in terms of differences in the islands, their cultures and activities. So, I would say Western.
I love the Western myself but if I am sailing I am happy--one thing about December is watch the dates---We sailed the week of Christmas and there were tons of kids. I love kids but some parents think they can just let their kids run wild while they have fun. Just be aware of the dates as some are out of school for 2 weeks. Either itinerary would be fun. If you can take the jeep ride -I would-----one of the best excursions I have every had.
good luck and enjoy
I think that it may be difficult to find a ""laid back - eat when we want to" atmoshere on a cruiseline without many kids" but it's possible!
If you wants to eat when you want to, NCL will be your best choice but sometimes there will be many kids on their cruises. If it's possible you might consider to choose a longer cruise since longer cruises often means less children. NCL has a 9 nights cruise from Miami on The Norwegian Dawn to the Southern Caribbean December 4, maybe that can be something for you? (I know that you asked about Western or Eastern Caribbean but maybe Southern Caribbean can be an alternative too?)
The first couple of weeks in December are one of our favorite times to cruise. And, not many kids. Besides NCL, some Carnival ships have the option of traditional dining or eat when you want to. We are partial to the Legend out of Tampa, which has this option. And, a great itinerary for the active types, like my hubby, or not so active, like me!
NCL would be my first recommendation to you - eat when, where with whom you want, no formal nights, you can stay in your cabin the morning of disembarking, because tips are automatically added to your bill there is no sob story soliticous behavior the last night of the cruise, there is no nightly entertainment by dancing waiters.
Okay, next I would recommend Princess because they too have a choice of traditional of anytime dining (Personal Choice). They do have recommended formal nights.
Carnival is active and fun and although I know it exists I've not yet experienced their anytime dining. You might want to read a lot of reader reviews for CM experience. They do have the dancing waiters which you either love or hate.
Although every itinerary will have the ships pushing shopping, there is always something else to do. Even in St. Thomas, the shopping meca of the western hemisphere, you can easily get to Meagan's Bay or to St. John's for wonderful snorkeling.
I think the Western Carib is more laid back and has good snorkeling, although I think the Eastern Carib is more picturesque
The earlier you go in December the less likely you are to encounter kids. In our school district the Christmas vacation begins at some outrageous date like the 10th or so.
Other things to consider - air fare to departure points, or can you drive?
If you can more easily get to Galveston or New Orleans you can do the western carib from there. Florida departures will have the opportunity to do either east or west.
If you want to get some good variety of quotes use Cruise Compete which you can link to from CruiseMates. It's an anonymous quote so no one is going to bug you after you receive the quote.
Again, read, read, read the reviews and boards. They have a plethora or information.