My wife and I are booked on the Crown Princess for an Eastern Caribbean cruise on April 19, 2009. Most of the shore excursions look pretty pricy. We mostly enjoy just walking around and looking at the sights, shopping etc. Does anyone have any suggestions? We will be going to Princess Cays,St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Suggestions for each port would be greatly appreciated. Also, any suggestions regarding jewelry (diamond rings etc.) stores would be great.
In St. Maarten their is shopping and restaurants as soon as you get off the dock. All with in walking distance. You don't even need to take a cab. You definitely wouldn't need to book an excursion. Also in St.Thomas there are open air taxis readily available that are inexpensive and can take you to all the touristy places.
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Grand Turk if you walk outside the port area to the main gate there is a guy that rents golf carts (Seat 4) you can tour the island on your own, good roads etc
At the dock there are lots of shops & beach, MargaritaVille ...(built by Carnival)
On Grand Turk I would go as far as Margaritaville. On St Martin I prefer the French side for shopping. You might try a day on St. Bart's for something different. St Thomas is a shopping center. For a quieter time a day trip to St John's is a possibility.
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If you are a beach person, on Grank Turk I would definitely go to Pillory Beach. We caught a taxi there. It was an amazing beach with a dive center, a resturant/bar. The beach was beautiful and not at all crowded. The snorkeling was amazing and the restuarant had the best fresh fish I've ever had. There were hammocks and even a resort dog and cat. On the way back to the pier, our taxi driver stopped at local craft "shacks" for us to do some shopping. The name of the taxi was "Mose's Taxi".
St. Thomas you can definately do on your own, if you are a beach/snorkel person and want to experience gorgeous beaches with really good snorkeling then you should think about getting over to St. John Island-you would need to grab a taxi at the pier head over to Red Hook Harbor, grab the ferry to Cruz Bay and then grab a cab to the beach, go to www.vinow.com for ferry & beach info. If thats not quite your cup of tea and you just want to beach it i would suggest Sapphire Beach on St. Thomas proper, again just grab a cab at the pier, go to the beach in the morning and then do your shopping in the afternoon. IF you dock at Havensight the mall is right there, if you want something with a bit more local flair for shopping then you would have to shop downtown Charlotte-Amalie. Its all about budgeting your time.
St. Maarten - again a great beach island, the happening beach is Orient Bay beach- its french so its topless and there is a no clothing optional section, great beach, lots to do. There are a couple of great ships tours to consider on St. Maarten - Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail and the America's Cup Regatta, both top notch. Shopping on the dutch side of the island is easy, you walk the pier to the water taxi its cheap and it takes you right into downtown, if you want to shop the french side then you would have to grab a taxi
Both St Maarten & St Thomas, are known for for really outstanding jewelry shopping. What I have found to be a tough decision, is: should I buy what I like on the first island, or wait till I get to the next one....Many times the chain stores may have the same item. The sheer selections of glitter, can sometimes overwhelm you.
Leaving behind a great deal, to see if you "might see something better or get a better deal is tricky....
The French side of ST. M is, pricier then the Dutch side..linens and cigarettes, were good deals on the Dutch side.
One hint you can try is, once you strike your best deal, ask if you pay cash,[if you can] can they do better...many times, due to the % the credit card companies charge, they will do better.
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