I'm looking at a Caribbean cruise for March 2004 and was wondering if anyone has input or opinion on what their ultimate cruise would be port-wise. I'm still hemming and hawwing between Eastern and Western, so any comparison would be great to help me make up my mind! Making up my mind about which ports I want to visit is a little harder... I was thinking of going Carnival Paradise to Belize, Roatan, GC and Cozumel, but then I read a few reviews about Belize City that said it was really scary and unsafe, and neutral feelings about Roatan, so I started looking into Jamaica... but then I read about how it's unsafe and everyone's least favorite port!
Basically, I just want to get an idea of which ports would be the right combination for my group-- it would just be me, my mom, and one of my friends. My friend and I are both in our early 20s and we're looking for ports to have fun in. I don't know how much we'll snorkel or shop, but I'm interested in exploring and going on some ruins tours... and having a good time! My mom and I are both experienced travelers, and I have traveled abroad on my own, so we probably would fall into the "traveler" category.
I don't know as much about the Eastern Caribbean ports but I'm very interested in those as well... so I would really love a pov from someone who has done both Eastern and Western! Thanks!
Well, I think the Southern is by far the best. Some of the islands are Hawaiian-like, very tropical, lush, semi-active volcanoes, etc. Of the S. Carib, I tend to like the French islands the best. Some of my favorites are: Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominique, and French St. Martin
Of E/W, I would do the east if you haven't done that yet. The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin are better developed with more excursions than you will find in many of the W. Caribbean.
When you say ultimate then I would have to agree southern carb. has some of the better islands. But East and west carb. is fun also, I would not worry so much about the ports and concentrate more on the cruise. You mentioned that you are in your early 20's I would say you cant go wrong with Carnival tends to be a little younger crowd. Since you will most likely be spending your nights and some days on the ship make that your main concern. Also most of the islands are pretty safe I was just in jamaca and like everyone said just do the tour threw the ship and there really isnt anything to worry about. GC is kind of quiet and really nice island nice beaches. Cozumel is a lot of fun you have Carlos and charlies in town short cab right from the port. East carib. St. Martin and St. Thomas are really nice islands and beautiful beaches. But like I said concentrate on the ship first.
Melanieann, you are on the right track so far. You said that you wanted to visit some ruins, well that means Western Caribbean and the Mayan Ruins. Western is one of my favorite cruise itinearies. Cozumel is where the ruins are, also great beaches, fabulous snorkeling, a couple of good party bars (Senor Frogs, Carlos & Charlies, Hard Rock Cafe etc) Shopping isn't the greatest. Good deals on Vanilla, silver and loose gemstones. Grand Caymen is a fun island -do the Sting Ray City tours - really neat, and fun, for people of all ages, as for Jamacia it is one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean (imo) its so lush and green, do a tour of Dunns River or take the river rafting tour down the Martha Brea(sp?) River - very relaxing- you get to see how beautiful Jamacia is. Yes the locals can be very pushy, just ignore them- don't make eye contact. If you want to party, party then do the Jolly Roger Party boat.
Eastern Caribbean - the most beautiful beaches and the best duty-free shopping around! St.Thomas is gorgeous with beautiful turquoise beaches and sand that is like silk. Good snorkeling also. St. Maarten has beautiful beaches, snorkeling and great duty-free shopping also. Very, very safe.
Pick your ports of call first, then narrow your search down to cruise lines that visit those ports, then narrow it down some more to find a cruise line that suits your needs, has the ammenities that you are looking for.
FYI - March you still might run into some college spring-breakers, who want to party-hearty . (Carnival seems to attract them more than others for some reason) I would look into Royal Caribbean and Princess also.
*smile* I'll actually be going for my college spring break! But being older than most college students, I'm not going to go wild and crazy-- but I wouldn't mind having a cruise with lots of people in my age range, crazy or not! It's also the week of my Mom's birthday, but she's pretty young at heart.
Speaking of spring break, is there any one week that is widely known as spring break, or is it all throughout March? I was reading one review and the reviewer said that half the ship was under 18 b/c it was spring break... but that can't be right, considering that college students are over 18... I know that public school typically has spring break in April anyway.
I am interested in the Mayan ruins, but I know very little about Eastern Caribbean islands-- I really have very little knowledge of what there is to do on those islands, and I think knowing more about the various activities there would help me decide. Thanks to everyone who has already responded!
I would have to agree...southern Caribbean cruise have got the best vote for me however they mostly leave from San Juan PR so you'll have to fly there to depart.
I have been on eastern and western caribbean cruise. I liked my eastern ones better as we went to St Thomas/St John and it was great...bueatiful and not too populated in St John. We rented a jeep in St John and drove the island ourselves. Very fun!
On the western ones we just visit the mayan ruins or hit the beaches/relax.
Just wanted to give an update on my constant decision-making, thanks to the advice I got here! I've changed my mind about 5 times in as many days, but I think I've finally found the right cruise-- the Carnival Destiny to St. Thomas, Martinique, Barbados, and Aruba! Anyone been on this boat or gone to those ports in others? I've heard Martinique isn't the greatest, but I'm really excited about the other ports. I think I have to go with a balcony room.
By the way, I'm a first-time cruiser, so I really appreciate everyone's help?
We are going on the Carnival Destiny on Oct.19th!!
I have been on 3 other Carnival Cruises and once on Norwegian!!
Been to the Eastern and the Western! BUT The Southern still my favorite!! This will be our 3 to the Southern!! What I have learnt from all the Reviews on the Islands and ships is that its what you make of it! What one person finds great the other might find awful!!!
I also am a little mixed on Martinque,, but I figure a Calypso party will fix that!!!
half the fun is booking it and the anticipation!!!!
Cozumel, especially Chankanab (sp) park is beautiful. However, there is so much traffic if you don't mind going 100 MPH and then having the driver stomp on the brakes throwing you forward, it should be okay. We were there in Aug 1999 and again in May 2002. Has become so commercialized (first thing off the ship we saw a T.G.I.F. restaurant). As far as Roatan - that's a scary place. My brother and I took the swimming with dolphin tour and drivers were worse than in Cozumel. Whoever gets to a corner first will bow the cab horn, and then go around the corner taking up the whole road. Let's just say it was a white knuckle ride. In Feb 2003 I took eastern caribben - St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay. Felt very comfortable in all those places and no communication barriers. My husband and I are going on another cruise Feb/2004 to Belize, Guatamala, Cozumel (we'll stay on the ship) and half Moon Cay. Oh it also stops in Key West Florida so we will probably walk around there.
There is nothing to do in Roatan unless you are a diehard snorkler or diver and then you have to take their taxi to get to that part of the island. If you do that, you might want to consider having your affairs in order, take a couple of valium, and wash the valium down with rum. Good Luck!
I REALLY like Martinque. Grab a Fodors or Frommer's and read up on the natural beauty of the place. Most complaints I have heard are in regard to the French not being to crazy about (American?) tourist. I have not found this to be the case, but it could happen. I strongly recommend renting a car and touring the island. If you do this, take a french book with you. The maps are very good, as are the roads, but not everyone speaks English. Martinique is lush and beautiful. Personally, I found St. Pierre a bit overrated, but the mountain there is beautiful and it is a beautiful coastal ride there. The road down the middle of the island between the mountains in very nice too.
St. Thomas: There are a number of great things to do here. Again, personally, I think folks are too quick to abandon St. Thomas and head to St. John. St. John is very nice, but if you've never been to St. Thomas, save some transit time and see St Thomas. There's a lot to see there. I would suggest taking a taxi to "Drake's Seat", possibly take in Coral World, and visit Magen's Bay, one of the top beaches in the world. Of course, shopping. If you snorkel, Coki, Sapphire, or Secret Harbor offer good snorkeling.
Barbados: Harrison's Cave, Welchman's Gully, Flower Forest (?), or just a good island tour with a guide. They can tell you where all the celebrities live. By the way, Welchman's Gully is full of Green Monkey's.
Aruba: Shopping, excellent beaches, and snorkeling over the German WWII freighter Antilla is great. The caves on the north side are pretty cool, but they take a while to get to.
I actually speak French rather well, so I think I might enjoy Martinique... it could give me a chance to brush up on what I fear might get rusty pretty fast! I've been to France a couple times and I have experienced the French/American stigma, but it really doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother other people. Thanks so much for all the suggestions!
I bet you will love Martinique. It is very beautiful, and very French. Where in France have you traveled? I've only been to Paris, but have been dying to get out to Mont St. Michel, Normandy Beaches, and the Loire Valley
BTW: If you like Mahogany, you can find some nice pieces in Aruba (from Venezula I think). This may be the only place on your trip you'll see much of it.
I've been to Paris and throughout the south of France... Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Nice, etc. I love France and I love the language! Paris is wonderful of course, but the south is something entirely different! It's so much fun down there, I can't wait to go back. I don't know much about Martinique but it sounds like it could be fun!
I've been to Martinique, although it has been a few years, but I do have to add that the French is very different there. Don't be disappointed if you can't communicate as well as you had hoped. They speak a type of creole or patois more so than the "regular" French. I would compare it to an American speaking English with someone with an English Cockney accent. The words are often totally different! For the record, I'm a French teacher and translator, so I've had some experience with different accents. You're sure to find someone, though, who will answer you in familiar French. Give it a shot! I think it would be great fun!! Enjoy your trip! I'm so jealous!! Oh, and consider St. Martin in the future if you like French-speaking islands. I had a blast there. Great shopping!
Spring break on the cruise ships is not what it use to be, more and more families are
cruising in March now than the previous years from what I can see( at least on CCL).
In the past the St Patrick's Day week was the best time I thought to cruise in March,
now I do not Know.