We have booked a southern cruise aboard the Dawn Princess in November, I sent my wife on a western cruise two years ago as a present. I have never been nor really had a desire to cruise. Is one direction better than another?
My vote is going with the southern too and have heard a lot of good things about "Dawn Princess". Definately port intensive, but worth it to me, you don't always have to get off the ship.
Here is a members review from a recent Dawn cruise, not sure which itinary you will be on, but its worth checking out, enjoy:
Depends on what you like to do and see. The Eastern is more of a shoppers cruise as there are so many places that provide great duty-free shopping. The Western is for those more active in things like watersports where there is great snorkeling and diving, adventures in Cozumel and Jamacia. The Southern, (my favorite) is wonderful is you are into visiting new and unusual places with differant cultures.
We went on Dawn to the So. Caribbean 2 years ago and thought it was amazing. The ship is just fantastic and always gets very high marks, esp. for the food! St Lucia is by far the nicest island in the Carib. IMO. It is not touristy, has character, incredibly lush forests and waters so crystal clear you can see for 100 feet. St. Maarten is great for shopping and just enjoying the colorful caribbean atmosphere. St. Thomas is my least favorite since it is so "Americanized" but many love it for the shopping. We are going West on Grand Princess next week so we will see how it goes. East, I can't help you with, but we have been to the Bahamas at a resort and it was okay; nothing too special (warm waters, nice weather, etc, but that is par for the Caribbean anyway). Be careful about going in Nov. since it is bad weather time, if there is such a thing. Katherine
We just got back, last week, from the Grand's Western cruise. Second cruise there, but different ship, the Dawn. We didn't go to Jamaica this time and I don't think most ships are due to an economic unrest... that's what I was told. We went to Princesses Princess Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. We were suppose to go to Costa Maya but the dock was damaged. Then we were suppose to go to Cileca, but the Captain decided on Playa del Carmen because not many cruisers were taking tours and the rest of us would have had to take a taxi ride 20 minutes to town... so the tour cruisers got to take the taxi ride. Good move and choice by the Captain as the local tenders brought us right to the town dock and a beautiful white sand beach.
As an addicted cruiser, my only complaint with the 7-day "Southern Caribbean" itineraries out of San Juan is that they only one day at sea and the rest of the week calling at various ports -- but you might prefer that, especially if you are unsure about the cruise experience. In fairness, though, all of the ports of call in the southern Caribbean itineraries are wonderful.
MV Dawn Princess (and her three sisters) have a much better layout than MV Grand Princess or MV Golden Princess -- and that would be the decisive factor for me, rather than specific ports of call. You will find great beaches, diving, and snorkeling, plenty of fascinating attractions for a couple days of sightseeing, and decent shopping on any Caribbean island.
BTW, I would not bother to do an "Eastern Caribbean" cruise since the two principal ports of call on that itineriary -- St. Thomas and St. Maarten -- also appear on various "Southern Caribbean" itineraries. The "Western Caribbean" itienrary does not duplicate ports of call from "Southern Caribbean" itineraries, so it might be worth doing separately in the future.