January cruise in the Caribbean?

Old Oct 26th, 2008, 05:22 PM
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January cruise in the Caribbean?

We're considering a nice, quiet cruise to the Caribbean in mid-January, 2009.
We'd appreciate any input you can provide regarding the weather, islands to visit, cruiselines to consider. We're thinking Holland America?

tareason is offline  
Old Oct 26th, 2008, 06:48 PM
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We haven't been to the Caribbean in nearly 8 years, but we went quite a bit there for awhile. Just warning you that what I have to say may be out of date. We went Carnival 4 times and Princess once. We prefer Carnival, because we are young at heart and like a more vibrant atmosphere. Although we were able to find peace if we wanted it. Princess shut down around 10 p.m. but we enjoyed the different ports. I don't know anything about Holland America. We've been in November, December and January. In January it is a little cooler, but still warm (70's). Our favorite islands were Barbados (safari in land rovers & eastern beaches & snorkeling), Dominica (kayaking & snorkeling at Champagne Beach & the rain forest), St. Maarten (sailing & golfing), St. John (snorkeling). We also enjoyed Isla Margarita, Venezuela (very hot & white beaches), Curacao (loved the ambience of the town, Willemsted?) and just walking around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It took us 4 times in Martinique to find something we loved about it, but once we found it, I'd love to go back. In all fairness my husband refused to get off the ship the 3rd time we were there. LOL. It really depends on what you enjoy doing and what style you like to travel in. We weren't impressed with St. Kitts at all although we busted a gut when we saw the live chicken run out of the KFC and cross the road. St. Thomas does nothing for us, but its the gateway to St. John. If you're looking for quiet we had family take a sailboat cruise that they enjoyed. Less people, no engine sounds, no dress clothes.
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Old Oct 27th, 2008, 06:34 AM
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We did a Caribbean cruise over the Christmas-New Year period a few years ago and were surprised at the rough seas between Miami and Virgin Islands. Were we to do it again, we would depart from San Juan rather than Miami.

BTW, we were very interested in the helicopter tour from Antigua to Montserrat. But, the cost of the trip was prohibitive. I got on the web and located the helicopter company and was able to get an afternoon tour (the morning having been entirely reserved by the cruise ships) that was less than half that offered by the ship, including the round trip taxi fare. In the event, we happened to meet a couple who had made similar arrangements and shared the cost of the taxi.

If you do go to San Juan, it is worthwhile to spend a few days before the cruise in the old city. Many years ago, I stayed in El Convento and had a wonderful time. I understand it has recently been renovated, but have not seen any postings on it.
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Old Oct 27th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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The weather is very pleasant in the Caribbean in the winter months because hurricane season is over and the temperatures and humidity are comfortable.

If you are looking for a more quiet cruise, consider a smaller ship - less than 2000 passengers. Holland America's largest ship is the Eurodam at 1900 and HAL has more, but smaller public areas, so it feels quieter. HAL is a classic atmosphere. Princess has the larger ships, but also some smaller ships around 2000 passenger capacity - Princess is a casual, premium cruise line.

You might also enjoy Windstar and Star Clippers which are more like a sailing yacht, but have many of the same cruise ship amenties and visit the smaller ports, like the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, Costa Rica, Belize. Also, Regent Seven Seas is a luxury cruise line with 700 passengers max, casual elegance and is all-inclusive - most wine, espresso and soft drinks are included. It is really nice and relaxed on Regent, Windstar and Star Clippers.

Hope that helps! Have a great day!
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 11:02 PM
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Go where your heart desires. There is no such thing as a bad cruise. It's what you make out of it. Caribbean weather is nice most of the year, even in hurrican season. The ships won't go where the storms are, you just ended up in different ports than what you originally planned.

I have been on Carnival and Princess and I prefer the more laid back atmosphere of Princess. I can still find action after 10 pm if I so choose. You just need to know where to look. I guess you can find peace and quiet on Carnival as well and you just need to know where to look as well.

Eastern and Southern are more exotic and less crowded.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 05:31 AM
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Personally I love the so. Carib. route which includes, usually, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten (my fav) and St. Thomas. I suggest leaving from San Juan and spending a few days there either pre or post cruise. Our cruise last May-June was on the RCI ship Adventure of the Seas and I highly recommend it.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 12:31 PM
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I like Holland America very much. I am going on a HAL cruise this year out of Fort Lauderdale. A few years ago, we tried HAL. Very good service on HAL, feels less crowded than some of the other lines like NCL and Princess. You can see how the ships compare to one another at http://www.liquidatlas.com

The food was excellent and I would recommend the special restaurants, a few bucks extra but very nice experience. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 11:00 PM
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Hi Jimmyjam,
how do you get to read the reviews on the liqiod atlas site?
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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I clicked on a cruise line and then selected the ship. You can also send them a review if you have tried a cruise ship already
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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IMO- In January I'd stick to the lower Caribbean. It can still be cool some years in the Northern islands.

Never been on HAL, but they get good reviews. Our preference is the "Wind Surf"(Windstar cruises) or the "Royal Clipper"(Star Clipper cruises). The smaller ships are able to get into some great places the larger ones can't get into. Also it's much easier getting on and off with only 300 people instead of 2000. Standing in line for a tender to go back to the ship with hundreds of people is not fun.

On the other side , the larger ships have more entertainment etc.

Another thing to consider--do you want to dress up? We prefer the "country club casual" with no assigned time or seating of the sailboats.

Barbados is a great island to sail out of(spend a few days there first). Try and include St. Bart's on your itinerary--very classy.

You're one of the few who ever mentions Isla Margarita. We were there for a week and drove all over that island. Very different nd fun.

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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:30 PM
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You mentioned Isla Margarita and it isn't that well known. We were there a couple of times - once on the way to the Amazon and once on a HAL S Carib cruise. We loved it. We actually enjoyed the fact that we could walk from the ship to the beach area. The water isn't deep there for major swimmers but it was delightful to just enjoy wading in the clear warm water and lying on the white sand. Great spot for kids too (although there weren't any on our cruise). We enjoyed just having a lazy day there without having to rush off on a tour.
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