The first thing I look for in a port are the beaches. Some time, if not the whole day, at a beach is my idea of a relaxing vacation. Here's a sample of what the Caribbean has to offer in beaches, this one on St Maarten.
Lots of people come to St Martin to shop. On either the Dutch or the French side there is plenty to shop for too. We could care less about shopping. The first time we went there on the Victory we did check out the shopping. If you're in the market for jewelry there's a Diamonds International on every corner it seems. On our second cruise there, this time on the Legend we took the advice of one of Lisa's friends who visits there quite often and went to Baie Rouge, a little known (at least by cruise passengers) beach that is just lovely. The crowd goes over to Bikini (clothed) or Orient (neked) beach. We did that last year and Lisa enjoyed pointing at the neked men and laughing. Somehow I doubt that they appreciated the humor.
This video is a sample of the several hours of video I have of this one shot of this lovely beach. People enter the picture from time to time but I don't let them bother me much.
If possible look on line or get your cruise line to send you a list of the shore excursions available for each port you will visit. Do research about them online or go to a cruise message board like cruisecritics.com and ask questions. Then, take a look at the shore excursions the ship has to offer as soon as can after boarding. Sign up for the ones you want for sure as soon as possible as they do sometimes sell out. Also, check to see what the cancellation policy is. If you decide later that you'd rather hang out by the pool than go on the Swim With The Navy Seals shore excursion you may have to pay for it anyway
| Independent Shore Excursion Companies |
This site, independent from the cruise lines, offers a wide variety of shore excursions that you can book right from home. They also offer their trips to travelers that are staying in hotels at the different ports of call. I think this is significant because you might meet somebody who as already been around our port for a couple days and can give you some helpful tips on what to see and do. I'll have a full report on them soon after we try their service in December. For more information contact Melanie@shortrips.com. She's really nice and knows all about this stuff. Recently she told me "By late September, we will be adding Belize and Honduras to our list. Hawaii and Dominican Republic will be shortly added after that"
Here's a site not related to the cruise lines that offers you the ability to book shore tours in advance, often at good prices. But check around, as with the other link below which is a similar site with similar offerings
Sample Shore Excursion Prices
At every port, your ship will offer shore tours that have been arranged to complement your cruise experience. Some require a lot of physical activity, some require none. There are excursions for everyone available. One of the great things about booking a tour through the ship is that you can rest assured that no matter what happens the ship will not leave without you. Not that heading out on your own is not a good idea, we do it all the time. Here are the shore tours and their prices currently being offered by Carnival on their ships
| Official Shore Excursion Information |
| Enhance Your Port Experience |
Virgin Islands Daily News
Just one source of information on some of the ports you might visit, this online news source is a great way to get an idea of what's going on in the US (part of America) Virgin Islands.
We usually carry one beach bag, canvas tote bag, and/or backpack for all our stuff. We go to the beach though and not someplace where we are all in the water at the same time.
Ziploc bags are a must water or not. We order sandwiches from room service before we go ashore to the beach, shopping or sightseeing and those ziplocs come in really handy. Also work good for shells or coral picked up on the beach. The extra large, 2 gallon, size are good for wet swimsuits too.
In our "going ashore" bag we would typically have:
- Snacks from room service
- CD/MP3 Players
- Ziploc Bags
- For the ladies- personal undergarments so not stuck in wet suit
- Money, ID, Sign and Sail Card (duh)
- Chap Stick
- Nucelar Warhead***
I actually make a list on a 3x5 card that I keep in the desk area of our cabin just to be safe. It really sucks to be at the beach and you forgot your camera or one of the other above items.
***Ok I threw that in to see if you were paying attention