We will be sailing on the Sea Princess on 3/1/03 to the Southern Caribbean. We have been on a number of cruises and are avid fans! We have sailed on the Sea Princess before to Mexico and loved the ship. We will be stopping in Aruba, St Thomas, Grenada, and Dominca. We enjoy going to beaches with facilities available, in particular, we enjoy spending a day at a hotel resort and we don't mind paying a nominal fee. We would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!
There's a great shore excursion called "Catamaran Sail, Snorkel, & Beach Barbecue" or something similar in Aruba. Basically, a sailing catamaran takes you to a couple snorkeling/swimming spots, then to the tour company's pier on a nice beach for a barbecue lunch and beach time before sailing back to the ship. It's a veritable party aboard the cat, too!
In St. Thomas, go for the Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John. On this excursion, a sailing catamaran picks you up at the cruise ship pier and takes you to a remote beach on St. John for swimming and snorkeling (there's also a nearby reef). While at anchor, the crew serves a buffet lunch aboard the catamaran. After lunch, the catamaran sails back to the pier, returning in time for tea or, if you prefer, a couple hours of shopping in Charlotte Amilie. They also serve a variety of beverages (soda, juices, beer, rum punch, and, of course, champagne) during the whole excursion -- and I have yet to the crew run out of any of the beverages. This excursion is a bit expensive, but definitely worth the price.
I really enjoyed the underwater trail for snorkeling at St. John USVI, you can hop the ferry to St. John from St. Thomas its only a short ride over there and the snorkeling is out of this world! The beach is white sand and great for swimming and sunning and there is a concession stand, and showers/changing room. If you want to stay on St. Thomas hop a open air taxi over to Magens Bay, this is one of the ten most beautiful beaches, so they say. There is a bar, restaurant, and changing rooms/bathrooms/showers as well as float rentals, this is a great place to spend part of the day. Have fun whatever you decide to do. :-)
On Aruba, hop the city bus to Palm Beach ($2 rt pp). Ask the driver to let you off near the Holiday Inn. If they don't have a convention, they may rent a chair or you may just "find" one to use. At Grenada, take a water taxi to Grand Anse. What a beautiful stretch of beach. Be aware there are beach vendors. St. Thomas as mentioned Maegan's Bay is the most beautiful and Sapphire is nice too. You can rent chairs and there are facilities. Either beach is just a reasonable taxi ride away. $8pp apx. Not too many hotels rent space for a day any more. Dominica may be the port to take a beautiful tour to see the Falls. If you port for Caracas, please just take a tour. This is not a port to venture out on your own.
I have to agree with Nanatravel. We did this last December on the Dawn. We had been to Aruba before and found that are favorite part was the beach at the hotel strip. The strip is about three miles long and you just wander at will stopping for drinks or ice cream in the different hotels or spending a few minutes in each of the casinos (casino's open at 11:30 or noon). Very relaxing and inexpensive way to spend your time. Just walk out and find a bus stop on the road when you are ready to head back. We brought towels and plopped down whenever we felt like it the went back to the Dawn and had a late lunch then wandered the port area shops and casinos until it was time to re-board.
On a prior trip we took a half day tour in Grenada that went to the nutmeg and rum factories (About 2 hours) and then dropped us off at Grand Anse. We then took the water taxi back to the pier when we were ready.
Since St Thomas was at the end of our trip and we have been there so many times, we made this a ship day, with just a quick wander of the mall at the dock. I have heard the beaches are spectacular and there are lots of options.
Take a tour in Caracas - There is at least one jeep tour that does take you out to a beach area but I don't know anyone who took it (long ride, little beach time). This area is not conducive to wandering on your own and does not have good beach areas. This is one place when your best bet is to stick with Princess organized tours since it is highly congested, high crime rates and not exceptionally fond of Americans.