Jamie-Just got back from the Southern Carribean and were in San Juan, Aruba and St. Thomas (of the Ports you mentioned). Aruba is a small island with wonderful beaches. Inland is dry and arrid, much like Arizona. Great shopping. May be a good place to just hang out on a beach and do a little shopping. Not many sights to see on the island itself. We spend have a day in San Juan and hung out in the part of the city called, "Old San Juan". Easy to walk, just seven block by seven block area. We tried some of the Puerto Rican food and loved it. Walked around some of the old forts. St. Thomas is, of course, famous as a Carribean mecca for shopping. We took a trip to St. Johns, a neighboring island and did some snorkeling. Two thirds of the island is a national park and very pristine. I would highly recommend doing some snorkeling on at least one of your islands. Have a great trip!
If you have enough time while in St. Thomas, I would recommend you taking a tour to St. John. It is absolutely beautiful.....over 2/3 is National Forest.
Then when you return to St. Thomas...shop, shop, shop.
In Aruba we loved the jeep safari followed by snorkeling off DePalm Island. In St. Lucia we really enjoyed the land/sea excursion. Saw the whole island by land and then catmaraned back to the ship. Great time. St.Thomas has great beaches. San Juan has shopping. rain forrest, and beaches. Cuacao we just walked around town. It''s a cute little place.
In old San Juan, there are some neat bakery/cafes that you might want to try. They specialize in Puerto Rican dishes, like their version of paella, or beans and rice, and the desserts are quite different.
Try visiting the rum factory stores too. There's one, also in old San Juan, that gives you generous samples. Can't for the life of me remember the name...
Aruba has a very nice beach, called Baby Beach, good and relaxing for non-swimmers.
We did the ship's tour Land & Sea on Celebrity cruise line and it was great. The roads are bad and narrow, so don't plan to drive yourself. Our land portion was first stopping to pet green monkeys, tour the Diamond Springs Gardens and Volcano area as well as the drive throughout the countryside. Our tour included lunch at a lovely plantation house, then we were onto Souffrie to board the boat. From the sea you get a fabulous view of the Pitons and the many pristine bays. We stopped for swimming in one of the bays which was wonderful. Even though the tour was all day, the ship waits for your return and there is little else to do on one's own in St. Lucia unless you took an independent taxi tour. Palm Beach is beautiful on Aruba and can be easily reached by city bus (apx. $1) just across the main street or taxi ($2). Curacou is even more arrid than Aruba, but it does have a fine aquarium which is right next to their man-made beach. You can do this one on your own, too. Just take a taxi to Aquarium beach, pay admittance and have a great time lounging in the sun. When you return, have the taxi driver leave you in town for strolling the historic buildings and streets. In San Juan, you can hop on the free green trolley which is sponsored by the merchants. Ride up to El Morro and then after touring this famous fort, you can walk downhil and tour many famous old landmarks. Get a good walking map so you are sure to see the sites. Maegen's Bay at St. Thomas is absolutely beautiful, as is Sapphire Beach. A taxi ride there plus entrance fee at Maegan's is all you need to enjoy yourself. Snorkeling is better at Sapphire than Trunk Bay on St. John's, but if you are not into all that much shopping on St. Thomas, you may wish to travel to St. John's but besure to get a tour around so you can appreciate this tropical paradise.
In Aruba, I highly recommend one of the Catamaran excursions. Absolutely beautiful island to see from just off the coast. Went in 2000 and planning to go again in 2002. St. Thomas is quite "Americanized" and has wonderful shopping. If you enjoy shopping, be sure to check out AH Riise Companies. Anyone can tell you where they are ... they're huge in St. Thomas. San Juan has some beautiful churches if you're just out walking around, and the fort is worth an hour or two. Curacao is a charming little island. We just did some more shopping and a beach. We were in St. Lucia on their independence day, so no shops were open. We paid a taxi driver $20 and he gave us a three-hour tour of the island. We saw all the highlights, but it was interesting to have a "native" show us what they thought was worth seeing -- their community college, governors mansion, banana farm -- actually quite charming in an innocent sort of way.
Hiring your own personal driver, I think, is actually the best way to see just about any of the Caribbean islands. There are drivers at every port, so don't worry if you don't book an excursion on the ship. Transportation is never a problem.