Caribbean Cruise Advice

Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:21 AM
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Caribbean Cruise Advice

I frequently rely on your advice for our European travels and am hoping for some feedback regarding our first cruise and first visit to the Caribbean. Our itinerary is as follows and we would love any recommendations for excursions, must-sees, etc.

Cococay, Bahamas 7:00AM-4:00 PM (Royal Caribbean owned island)
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas 9:00AM-8:00 PM
Philipsburg, St. Maarten 8:00AM-6:00PM

Our thought is we can do a lot of the beach and city visits on our own, possibly hire a driver for the day for some flexibility.

Anxiously waiting to hear your experiences ~ Thanks in advance!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:16 AM
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CoCoCay has a fun jetski tour and we have enjoyed that several times. Other than that, just find a handy beach chair and enjoy the pretty water.

In St. Marten,I head to the beach in the morning (Orient is my preference) then head to town about 1pm and enjoy lunch at a cafe followed by some shopping. It is a beautiful port.

St. Thomas is my least favorite port on the Eastern route. I will generally rent a jeep and head out to the beaches (Sapphire is nice enough) and spend the day. I like to have a late lunch in town at Cuzzins and get my curry and fungi fix and then that is about it.

Alternatively, you could ferry over to St. John for far better beaches with fewer crowds and stores.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Yes...just get a taxi and go to a beach of your choice.
We love Orient Beach in St Martin. Just grab a cab at the dock and go. There are plenty of taxis to take you back later. There are restaurants on the beach where you can have a nice lunch.
On St. Thomas we have taken taxis to differents beaches...Megans Bay, Coki, Saphire, etc.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:58 AM
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You can rent a car in St. Maarten very cheaply and drive to Friars Bay, which is much quieter than Orient and has a good beach restaurant, but Orient does have more dining and activity choices. With a car, you can also go to Marigot, though parking can be difficult there. But you will want to just get out and enjoy the island during your day, and you can do that much cheaper by renting a car.

It's different on St. Thomas, and I'd second the taxi idea. I don't like driving there. I really like Magens Bay, but it's a busy beach. Sapphire is nice, too. Or you could do Coki Beach by the excellent Coral World Ocean Park; excellent off-beach snorkeling there. And if you want to shop, you can go back to the ship, shower and change, and then walk off the ship to the mall right by the cruise pier. There are alot of good restaurants in St. Thomas as well, and Cuzzins is a good choice.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Thanks so much! I can always count on you all for experience and advice

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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:01 PM
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Traffic's no picnic on St. Marten/Martin either. It gets VERY congested and if the bridge should happen to be opened for a while it could turn into a nightmare. If you rent a car take traffic delays into consideration.

Likewise traffic is very congested on St. Thomas, especially near the cruise ship docks. It's very hilly and curvy but we did it for a week.

If I were you, I'd get some other passengers to share the cost of a cab/van on both islands.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 01:07 PM
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St. Thomas has some very nice beaches with calm water. You could also do a sailing trip or a powerboat adventure.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:44 PM
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There will be many taxis at the dock when you arrive on St. Thomas and there are lots of options. In fact, many people choose to use the public ferry to head to the Nat'l Park beaches on St. John.
I often tell people to take a quick tour of the island for an overview (Magen's Bay, Drake's Seat, Mountain Top, etc.) and have the cab driver drop you off at Red Hook for the ferry to St. John. You probably can even have the ship pack you a picnic lunch. There are facilities at a few beaches - Cinnamon (a cafeteria and rental of chairs, watertoys, etc). Trunk where many go to snorkel and Hawksnest are the easiest to get to from Cruz Bay where you will again find lots of taxis. On St. John you can also go to Honeymoon Beach which is on the Caneel property and enjoy their buffet lunch also but it's not inexpensive. You'll find so many beaches and so little time! The ferrys run hourly from Red Hook and there is one from Town (Charlotte Amalie) but it does not run as frequently.
As an option, you can choose a beach right on St. Thomas - Secret Harbour is on East End and a good spot snorkeling and for lunch and a beach bar, Blue Moon Cafe is there. Sapphire has a wonderful beach, good snorkeling off the Point but the food choices are very limited.
You could head back to Charlotte Amalie for some shopping or just checking out some of the historical sites. (or do that first before heading to the beach). The afternoons are generally less crowded in the stores but it does get hotter walking around Town. Cuzzins on Back Street is a good choice for local food. And there are sails/powerboat charter trips that work with the cruise lines if you want to spend more time at sea.
I think it's cruisecritic.com where you can read other travelers' reports of what they did, vendors to use, etc.
And shopping at Havensight is an easy option if your ship docks there. There's Paradise Point - a tram ride and a great view of the island right across from Havensight and good drinks when you get to the top! You might want to check out the new YachtHaven Grande and the shoppes there and have lunch in one of the restaurants there.
Driving is really not a problem on St. Thomas other than it can get jammed in Town certain times of the day. It is more relaxing to let others do the driving for you. Fares are per person and ask before getting in! There are rental companys that will meet you at the dock with your vehicle but sometimes returning it and unfamiliarity with the island doesn't always make for a fun day! There are also "newly" certified drivers who have completed a course on the history and facts of the island and they do a very professional job.
I also found that I was in a huge traffic jam in Margiot but an option for you from there is a trip to Anguilla. It is a quick (but sometimes bumpy) ferry ride from Margiot for some of the most stunning beaches or even head to Grande Case on the French side for wonderful dining - not sure what is open for lunch tho.
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