Hi, we are planning our first cruise for Jan. 2004. This will be for our 20th anniversary.
We are still unsure of which line and which itinerary to book. Princes or RCCL
We are considering The Grand Princess Jan.25,2004 (Western Carib.) with ports in Princess Cays, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. Or The Golden Princess Jan.24, (Eastern) stopping in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Princess Cays. We are leaning towards the Western Caribbean. The other option would be Royal Caribbean Jan.25 (Western) aboard the new Mariner of the Seas, stopping in Labadee, Hispaniola. Ocho Rios (heard some not so good things about Jamaica), Georgetown, and Cozumel. This was our original plan. Or Explorer of the Seas Jan.24, (Eastern) stopping in San Juan, Philipsburg, St. Thomas, and Nassau. I'm sorry for the long post, here is some info. on us we are in our very early 40's and are very physically active and we like to visit parks, hike, swim, interact with people and critters... that's why the Western sounds good. Shopping is low on our priority list, but we can't go home without something from our trip, and for the kids. We also are not sure whether to book an ocean view cabin, with or without balcony, or save our money and book a nicer inside cabin. I can get claustrophobic in extremely tight situations, and my husband sometimes gets seasick. We've heard wonderful things about both cruise lines.
Any and all tips are greatly appreciated, thanks so much,
From what you wrote, I would agree any Western CAribbean would be more of what you are looking for, more shopping in the Eastern. Since you say your are both very active, then I'd look further into one of the "Voyager" class that you mentioned, lots to do onboard and while I did enjoy Golden Princess, seemed there were more things going on both during the day and evening on Royal Caribbean and I did enjoy the entertainment more on Royal Caribbean.
I'm sure you will love any ship you choose, cruising is an ideal vacation, have fun and let us know what ship you pick, OK?
We'll be on Voyager in Feb doing an exotic Western that stops in Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman, so its a little different and we can see some "new" islands, can't wait.
Having been on both Grand Class (Grand Princess) and Voyager/Eagle Class (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure and Navigator - 2 12 days to go!!) ships I would say you will definitely be happier with RCL; especially based on your age and the fact that you are very physically active. I'm sure you have heard about the choices (full court basketball/volleyball, roller blading, climbing, ice skating, huge gym, etc). The Grand class ships are a bit more sedate than the voyager class. They designed them to have what they call a "small ship feel" to them. I found the design to be a bit disjointed. Hard to get from certain areas of the ship to other areas without having to divert to another floor in some cases. I also found the Grand rocked a lot more. I think it is a bit top heavy and not as wide. It rocked so bad that our cabin made creaking sounds for a few nights so loud they gave us another cabin to use to sleep in. It could have just been a rough week but I just don't think it is as well designed.
I also agree with Donna about the entertainment options on RCL. We have found them better geared to the 30-50 age range. Princess seems to cater to a slightly older crowd.
Sounds like Western might be a good fit for you guys. As far as critters are concerned, you will probably enjoy Grand Caymen where you can snorkel and play with the sting rays. The water there is amoung the most beautiful I have ever seen. Exploring the ruins at Tulum and scuba diving around cozumel is great too. You won't regret either choice between Eastern/Western but I would definitely do it on a Voyager class ship.
I've been on both, and your personal description sounds a lot like me. I GREATLY prefer RCL over Princess. Princess's ships aren't as well designed, airy, or decorated. I think the only thing that Princess may be better at, in my opinion of course, is the size of the room, however RCCL makes such good use of the space in the cabin it isn't a problem. Princess is a fine cruiseline, but I RCCL is my first choice.
As for itinerary, have you thought about the S. Caribbean? I think the S. Carib. is more exciting than E or W. Of the E or W, I prefer E. San Juan, St. Thomas, and St Marteen are great cruise stops, Nassau is ok. The west isn't bad either, but the east I think offers more variety.