Thank you for the valuable input...now that we are narrowing down where we will make our stops...what about shore excursions.? I know that you can book them through the cruise ships but I know a lot of people do it on their own once they get off the ship. Is this do-able for first time cruisers or is it worth the extra $$$ for the convenience and the fact that we really don't know what we are doing to just book it through the cruiseline? We are particularly interested in snorkeling, learning to scuba dive and parasailing.
Breana - I've generally found that the excursions booked through private operators are cheaper than through the cruise ship. The only time I book through the ship is when time is tight (ie you're in port for 8 hours and the excursion you want to take is 7 hours). Also if you wait to book on the cruise some of the most popular ones sell out quickly and can be very crowded. Darcy
I will also ask for everyone's help on this one. My husband and I are also going on our first cruise. We will be going to both St Thomas and Tortola the second week of May (never have been to either). We will be in St Thomas first (supposedly from 8:00am - Midnight). I would like to go to St. John if possible on a snorkling trip. Do I book on my own or through the ship? We have travelled extensively, just not on a cruise ship. Is it much cheaper to book on your own and, if so, what time do must of the excursions leave in the morning (incase we don't get off the boat til 10:00am or so, being a novice, I do not know what to expect). Are the excursions booked through the ship generally not as good as those booked through recommendations on message boards?
Our Tortola portions shows being docked from 7:00am -6:00pm. Should we just tour and snorkel Tortola or should we go to The Baths? If we hire a taxi to take us to a beach and ask them to return at later time (say 2 or 3 hours later) can we trust the cabby to actually return or is this asking for trouble. I have seen alot of people recommend this but I am afraid of missing the ship!
Celeste - you can get to St. John and do some snorkeling on your own. Its easy all you do is grab a cab at the pier to Red Hook Harbor( takes about 20 minutes) at the Harbor get a rounnd-trip ticket on the water taxi - leaves every hour on the hour - the trip over to St.John takes about 20-30 minutes - you dock at Cruz Bay - grab a cab - lots waiting - go to Trunk Bay Beach - gorgeous with good snorkeling.
Thanks for the help Lisa! I think we will do St. John for sure. I noticed that the ferry schedule between Red Hook and Cruz Bay runs more often than the ferry from Charlotte Amalie.
You suggested grabbing a cab on St John versus renting a car. Do you have any idea on the cab fare between Cruz Bay and the good snorkeling beaches St John (Cinnamon and Trunk Bay)? Also, is it easy to get a cab back from the beach to Cruz Bay? Can we see more by renting a car versus cabbing it on St John (try 2 or 3 beaches in our time on St. John? The ship does not leave St. Thomas until Midnight that evening (it arrives St Thomas at 8:00am) so as long as we are back to the ship in time to take a shower before a late seating dinner, I will be fine.
On St. John, I would pick one of the other beaches over Trunk Bay for snorkeling. Trunk has been overrun. Cinnamon, Honeymoon, Maho, etc. I think are better snorkeling choices. Cabs are plentiful, and would be cheaper than renting a car/jeep unless you plan to explore the whole island. If you're just going to a beach or 2, I would use cabs.
This webpage of taxi rates might help you out: http://www.vinow.com/stjohn/getting_...m_Cruz_Bay.php
And to reiterate what others have said... it is definitely worth it to visit the island. We fell in love with St John and chose to later marry on one of its fabulous beaches!
breana1963: I would highly recommend that you become Scuba certfied BEFORE your cruise. There are some cruise lines that do have a program that you can work on your certification during the cruise and then do your actual check out dives on your port stops. There is quite a bit of "book" work and studying, and pool time, so why not get all that behind you so you can enjoy your cruise to the fullest!
I highly recommend you check into becoming certifed in your home town. If you try it, I bet you won't be disappointed.