Planning to take my first cruise - was wondering - which is better - the eastern or western Caribbean?
I know, I know - it depends on what you want to do at the ports.
I guess for us us, it's not really shopping. It's maybe swimming with the dolpins, seeings interesting things (not ruins - that's not interesting). Good scenery, bike tours. Nothing obnoxiously touristy. Variety in the island stops (they're not all the same).
I'm leaning toward the east. Am I leaning the right way?
Thanks for your response - here's my attempt to answer your questions...
More info - this would be a honeymoon cruise for us...
1) Do you like hearing foriegn voices/ languages, watching people???
It's nice to be able to have English available to take care of business, buy things, etc. But we both enjoy new cultures, new people, listening to foreign languages. (I used to travel in the Mid-East - pretty much all foreign language over there - I liked it!)
2) Are you more into nature hikes or maybe snorkeling???
Nature hikes, scenery.
3) Are you into scuba diving??
No. Maybe someday, but not for the honeymoon.
4) Does it bother you to see poor people?
No it doesn't. But, to have them surround you and beg and beg non-stop as you try to see the island - that doesn't appeal to me at all. That was my experience in Egypt - drove me crazy.
5) Do you like pub crawling?
One day might be fun, but getting tanked every day isn't really the goal. The goal is to experience different things every day, different cultures, see new things, and not be limited to just water sports and shopping.
Here's why we're debating -
Either we take a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, or...
A Celebrity Cruise to the Western Caribbean.
I really appreciate anyone that's willing to take the time to help me out. Thanks in advance!!
Okay!!! Great response...helped a lot and here's my vote:
Royal Caribbean /Eastern.....
You will enjoy meeting people from different cultures...Sint Maarten is a perfect stop for French, Dutch and other Euros....very cool....romantic things to do there:
Charter a daysail...???
Nature hikes: St. John ...your ship will drop you at St. Thomas....skip the shopping ...take a cab to Red Hook and catch the ferry to St. John (four dollars each way I think...)
When you get to St. John, tell the cab driver you want to do a hike ....they'll know where to take you and drop you off...they will also come back at a predetermined time to pick you up so be sure to make your rendezvous with him....
On the way there, you'll get some great info from your driver about the island, history, etc.
Poverty: you won't see as much of it in the eastern carib. Of course, the "poor will always be with us", but you will not be mobbed by lots of pitiful children....you really have to go inland in the eastern islands to see the poverty....The western caribbean (Jamaica, and Mexico most notably) are indeed very poor and it is common there to feel "guilty for existing"....btw: I've also spent time in the Middle East so I totally know what you meant and that's why I'm urging you for that reason alone to go eastern.
Pub/partying: You will have a chance to do that anywhere you go in the Caribbean...it doesn't really matter east or west, I just threw it in to see what you would say!!! !!! Good for you that you don't have to drink and drive on a cruise....in the eastern caribbean, you will find many nice places to stop and have a "cold one".....you don't have to get sucked into the "Carlos and Charlies" crowd which is very prevalent on western itineraries.....you will find lots of nice little bars tucked away in the eastern caribbean...Have a great cruise!!!
i love both east and west. If you want beautiful beaches and good shoping go east. If you want awesome snorkeling, waterfalls, stingrays and nice beaches go west. Sure there is a bit more of a culture shock when you do a western cruise, Jamacia mostly, but Jamacia is a gorgeous lush truly beautiful island.
We didn't see any children begging in Montego Bay. In Cozumel, we only went shopping. In both places the vendors were a nuisance trying to get you into their shops etc. but simply ignoring them was enough to get them to leave you alone. We did see obvious poverty when we go out of the shopping area, but, again, no begging children. There are enough things to do that you can avoid too much hassle. We haven't been to the eastern side yet. That will be our next cruise after we go to Alaska this year. But we were able to enjoy the western Carribean. We will go again someday.
My choice would be the Western Carib. That is where we went on our honeymoon. However, you Royal Carib is our favorite line, although I have heard Celebrity is nice. I don't think you could go wrong. Look at what each port you stop at and read up. As far as western carib, you are wise to stay away from the ruins. Very hot , and waste of a day. Grand Cayman is very nice for the swimming with the stingrays and the beautiful water. I highly recommend snorkeling there. Don't waste too much money on souvenirs there though. Its expensive. Jamaica is very interesting but can be very intimidating. Although 2nd time there we got used to it. I think you get more for your money in the western carib but eastern is RCI. SO you make the call.