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S Carib. Cruise, Carnival or RC? Thomas/ Kitts, vs St John/Croix?

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Jul 4th, 2011, 08:06 AM
  #1
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S Carib. Cruise, Carnival or RC? Thomas/ Kitts, vs St John/Croix?

Sorry for long post in advance.....My boyfriend and I (32yo and 35yo, professionals, childless, from Columbus Ohio), & possibly 2-3 other couples have decided to do a last minute trip to somewhere warm and with beaches! We are thinking a southern caribbean cruise bc it has been on my list of islands I want to go. We are decently traveled....US (California, Colorado, Hawai, Vegas, Florida) London, Greek Islands, Italy, Estonia, Ireland, Mexico (several times staying a nice AI's in Cancun, Playa del carmen and Rivera maya) and Caribbean(Jamacia, St Maarten, Aruba, Bahamas, Florida Keys/Miami). We have to go on this trip I August because Dan has law school to finish and won't have another vacation until late next winter, otherwise, we'd do this cruise in the fall or NOv/Dec. We understand it will be hot...hope weather will be rain free and sunny?!
SOOOOO, I want to do a southern caribbean cruise mainly bc of the nice islands to see. Also, the only cruise I have done for comparison is NCL Pride of hawaii 5 yrs ago and like it. Since its August, there are only 2 cruises available...1) Carnival Victory and Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas. I hear that Carnival is the "fun ship" is that mean it is too geared for children and not for us? The ship is a few years older than RC. Royal Caribbean is a few hundred more expensive, a bit smaller (90, 000 tons) and a few yrs younger? Worth it? And lastly These bothe have the exact same port stops with the exception of Carnival goes to St Thomas and St Kitts while RC goes to St John and St Croix? Don't know much about those islands.
So you know our priorities:
As far as on the boat: food, cleanliness and quick embarking of the boat, gym quality are on the top of the list.
As far as ports: nice beaches, scenic islands and activities-we will either chill at a beach or do fun-activity excursions .

Can you make suggestions please!!!!! thanks in advance!!!!
Sweetness
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Jul 4th, 2011, 12:29 PM
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Tough call for me. I prefer the CCL itinerary as St. Thomas is great for shopping and St. Kitts seems to be an up and coming hot spot destination. I would prefer these over St. Johns and St. Croix. However the Serenade ranked in a tie for #1 on a cruise critic readers poll for best in large ships, its category. Both rank high in terms of CDC scores and as for the gym we were on a sister ship to the Victory and the gym was great. Food has been fine for us on both of our CCL and RCI (2 times also) cruises. Try going to www.cruisecritic.com for tons of passenger and professional reviews. As for embarkation I have found that getting there a bit early, i.e. say 30 min. B4 the time you are told embarkation begins has worked well for a speedy entry to the ship. Just be sure all the paper work is done prior to arriving. You can preregister on either line. CCL There are CCL naysayers to be sure but our experience has been excellent. The Destiny, a sister ship to the Victory which we cruised on to the so. carib. is a beautiful ship with sleek lines. If you have never been to St. Thomas and like to shop then thats a factor to consider. It has the best selection of duty free shops in the Caribbean. Good luck. Larry
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Jul 5th, 2011, 05:43 AM
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RCL more of an adult party ship

Go for that expect a bit of rain in storm season

Might also consider Celebrity if you can make dates work.

cruisecritic.com for ship reviews and priceline.com

vacationstogo.com for best price.

If budget is tight as long as you are fine with lots of

families Carnival aw GREAT value a couple of years ago

for $429 booked a balcony on the Legend Western Carib

out of Tampa it was great for price.
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Jul 5th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Also check www.cruisecompete.com for a price check. BTW do you belong to Costco? They have a travel agency too and I have booked several vacations thru them. Often their prices are the best I have found. Good luck. Larry
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Jul 5th, 2011, 05:03 PM
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In my opinion Royal Carribean ships are much more roomier than Carnival due to their passenger ratio. Much more luxuroius and newer. As far as the ports, if you're going to the beach then I would not worry about the ports to visit. The only thing going to the Carribean during the month of August is another question, your price will tell you what you're paying for with so much competion. Check with Cruise Critic about your ships and also can join their roll calls.
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Jul 5th, 2011, 05:12 PM
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Too bad it can't be perfect. However I would pick St. Johns and St Croix because they are quieter and less glitzy. Except St. Kitts is pretty quiet too. Maybe you would more glamour.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 06:23 PM
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Do you think south caribbean (aka these islands) will have good weather in August.....Im a little worried about rain and storms.....any thoughts???
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Jul 8th, 2011, 05:44 PM
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August will be pretty warm. There is more rain in the fall but again it will be warm.
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Jul 9th, 2011, 10:20 PM
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How exciting!! We just came back from sailing the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. We had a wonderful time. I can't wait to go back. I am sure that you will enjoy any of these ships and their itinerary. I do prefer RC. I feel that on RC the food is better and the ambiance is more elegant than on Carnival cruises. In regards to the spa and the exercise equipment both of these ships have excellent gyms so you will be happy no matter which one you choose. I think that you will find that Carnival is actually geared more to your age group instead of children. Do not worry so much about the rain. Even when it rains is not usually an all day event unless is a big storm. It usually comes and goes within minutes and then the sun is out again. Back in 2001 we took a Carnival cruise in the middle of a hurricane. We did not know what to expect but our Captain change the itinerary so that we were always at a safe distance. We still went to all our original ports of call but on different days. Even then we had the most wonderful time, but I do have to say that I needed a lot of Dramamine on that trip.

Margarita
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Jul 10th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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We find both these cruise lines are good. Personally we find the staterooms on Carnival ships to be larger than others and the food is very good too. (Carnival used to be the only cruise line to serve lobster, but now others have it on the menu.)The "fun ship" just means that there is almost always something going on, either around the pool or elsewhere. Of course you do not have to join in, but the option is there. Also we would definately prefer St. Thomas and St. Kitts to the lesser known St. Johns and St. Croix. In fact I'm sure you can easily get to St. Johns by boat from St. Thomas.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 09:20 PM
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Serenade goes to St. John, Antigua, not USVI St. John. I have been on Carnival several times. However, I have been on RCI's Serenade OTS three times (will be on her again back to back - 14 days) next January. She is consistently voted the best of RCI's fleet in service. While she will have more kids on during the summer, she does not have the ice rink, centrum promenade, flow rider, etc. that attract most kids.

The itinerary is port intensive. I love Antigua. Eli's Eco Tours has a wonderful array of tours. St. Croix is not as touristy as St. Thomas. Buck Island off St. Croix is known for it's snorkeling, but be aware that the water can be rough with currents sometimes. Both Grenada and St. Lucia are beautiful islands.

Which ever cruise ever you choose, have a wonderful time.
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Jul 11th, 2011, 12:40 PM
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If its Antigua then yes go with RCI. I know of an excellent private tour guide too BTW and his prices are moderate.
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Jul 11th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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Loved Antigua, even though the wheel almost fell off the van on our cruise line excursion. Get some Cavalier rum. It is the best.
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Jul 12th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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JackWatch, can you give me the name of the tour you referred to. We chose RC mainly bc think the ship gets consist good reviews.
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Jul 12th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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Thx everyone very helpful. 2 questions ::
1. Any good tour
Excursions on this literary you would suggest
2. Any helpful hints about the ship- serenade of the sea? Two diner restaurants- worthtbe extra cost? Any other helpful hints appreciated !
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Jul 12th, 2011, 04:08 PM
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Try this guy for Antigua. His name is Gordon and he is the best. We had a great tour with him and he will tailor it to you liking. He meets you at the dock and takes you to his van which is stocked with local beer, soda, water and fruit. He is very friendly. If you decide to use him please mention me, Larry and tell him hello.
http://www.tourguidegordon.com/
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Jul 12th, 2011, 04:11 PM
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If you are going to St. Lucia this guy will take great care of you. My wife became ill during our tour with him, nothing serious but she had an unbearable migraine and he took great care to get us back to the ship. http://www.spencerambrose.com/
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Jul 13th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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I would say try the extra cost meal. Our ship, the Adventure of the Seas had Portofinos and it was excellent.
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Jul 13th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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You will love the Serenade! Look for the blue cows when you ride the glass elevators. The Schooner Bar is our favorite hang out. One place that many people do not discover for several days is the Seaview Cafe. It is aft on the Sports Deck (deck 12) behind the kid's Adventure Beach. Menu is great (deli style menu) and you don't have the crowds like the Windjammer. The enclosed Solarium is adult only and a wonderful place to swim, read a book or have a quick breakfast. If you are fun loving, open minded people, be sure to see "Quest". It is an adult, audience participation contest/show.

I have dined at both Chops & Portofino several times on the Serenade. The extra money is well worth the yummy food, fabulous service and intimate atmosphere in either of the restaurants. Chops is great if you like steaks. I like seafood, so Portofino is our favorite. Portofino also has a steak entree. It's menu is more diversified. Also, Chops charges $30 per person now and Portofino is only $20 per person.

If you are snorkelers, take the ferry from Red Hook on St. Thomas to St. John. Very easy to do on your own and the beaches are fabulous and safer than on St. Thomas. St. Thomas is great for shopping.

Grenada is a beautiful island. It is known for spices and cocoa. I have used Mandoo http://www.grenadatours.com/tours.htm. It was a great tour.

If you haven't already, be sure to visit http://boards.cruisecritic.com/index.php. The site has extensive discussions on any aspect of any cruise and ports of calls. It is the go to place for all cruisers with questions.
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