a couple of really fun excursions to think about are the America's Cup Sailing Regatta - you get to sail a racing boat in an actual race. Another fun excursion is the Golden Eagle Catamaran - you sail up the coast on this big catamaran - great fun, you stop at a beach to relax, swim, snorkel, they provide beer, soda & rum punch & sandwiches, and a champagne toast on the sail home, with music and dancing.
St Maarten - we love airplanes, so we go to Maho Beach by SXM. Closest place in the world you can get to huge planes taking off and landing like that. Pics: www.sunsetbeachbar.com (Click on their photo gallery)
Our friends did the America's Cup and loved it as well - one has even had his own sailboat for several decades and has done charter sails in the Caribbean - and he loved the America's Cup.
Kimmie, also make some time in St. Maarten to do some shopping. Its a great shopping port especially for things like jewelery, perfumes, cosmetics, fine linens.
St. Thomas you can do on your own if you want to. Beaches, beaches, beaches, some of the most beautiful ones are here. We take the water taxi over to St. John Island and hit the beaches, Trunk Bay is the most popular tourist beach - it has a marked snorkel trail which is kind of neat - it can get a bit crowded and they charge an admission fee. We like to go next door to Cinnamon Bay Beach its just as beautiful, less crowded, its neat and clean with clean facilities and a nice little outdoor grill to grab lunch. Good snokeling here. Hawksnest Beach is also very beautiful.
On St. Thomas proper Maegan's Bay Beach is a gorgeous beach, again very popular tourist attraction, can get crowded, no snorkeling here. Another great beach on St. Thomas is Coki Beach and Coral World next door.
Shopping is also very good in St. Thomas - good deals on liquor. Found the prices on St.Thomas to be a bit higher than on St. Maarten and also found that the salespeople in some of the very popular & crowded jewlery stores were very snooty unless you were going to drop a big "chunk of change" in the store, then they were all over you and couldn't help you enough.
We just returned from Eastern Carib. and the highlight of our trip was a day sail and snorkel trip in St. Thomas. We sailed on a boat High Pockets to a secluded cove where the snorkeling was awesome. The Capt and mate on the boat were great which made the entire day delightful.... and not much more expensive than a larger more crowded day sail that can be booked with the cruise lines. Check out www.sailhighpockets.com
Kimmie- for St Maarten, it's easy to rent a car and tour the island on your own. We used CRX- Car Rental Express, and got a good deal. Toured around the island, stopped at a casino, and checked out the waterfront on both Dutch and French sides. One beautiful island- could be our favorite.
For St Thomas, we just returned mid-May, and did a half day sail over to St John to snorkel. Had plenty of time for shopping afterwards. You can check prices online at www.interlinesail.com.
Know you are going to have a wonderful cruise!
We've rented a car for St. Maarten--from Best Deal-- so, we'll be able to tour on our own as well. Trevor is hoping we can find another couple to go with us. (Caribbean Princess, 9/18-9/25). He hopes to hit (see! )a museum, fort, the tallest point, in the middle of the island. Of course, we'll go to the port cities, especially on the French side. I'm originally from Montreal,Canada, so I'd like to hear the French accent and maybe practice a little.We stayed in Phillipsburg the last time we were there and just walked up and down the main street.
As for St. Thomas, we are going on the Godfrey Tour with some fellow cruisers.That will be a full day excursion. Last time we went on a ship sponsored tour of the Island.My husband and I are opposites. He likes the water activities and I like to stick pretty close to land. On the Godfrey Tour, the last couple of hours will be at the Beach. He loves to go into the water,and I like to watch from the shore.However, with our bunch going, I'm sure I will get wet!!!
We did a day sail in St Thomas that was completely amazing. The highlight of our cruise, without a doubt. It was a beautiful sail, to a beach/cove over on St Johns. The Snorkeling was wonderful, with the first mate out there with us to tell us about the fish and to point out things we may not have noticed. A delicious lunch prepared for us on the boat, all you can drink, and a maximum of 6 guests... made for a nice change after being on the cruise ship with 2000 of your closest friends. I highly recommend.... www.sailwinifred.com
If you go, tell Sharon and Tommy I said hello!