CRUISE REVIEWS: Our Family's Southern Caribbean Cruise
Upon our return from this particular cruise, I didn’t do much of a review of the ship itself. However, I can say that the ship was fine. We had connecting Promenade View Staterooms, which were very convenient because my mom and our two sons stayed next door, while my husband and I had some space to ourselves. It should be noted that Promenade View Staterooms are listed as double occupancy, but by calling Royal Caribbean and explaining our group’s dynamic, including the fact that our younger son was one-year-old at the time, and would have a Pack 'n Play to sleep in, Royal Caribbean was able to book three of us in the room given that one of three was a one-year-old. It may not be an option on every cruise, but it does not hurt to ask. After all, that’s how we learn things. I know that, as a mom, I teach my children that it’s ok to ask questions. I know that many other parents take the same approach, so if you’re one of those parents, let’s take our own advice on that. Therefore, if you’re wondering whether or not this is a possibility on your cruise, I suggest calling and speaking with either your travel agent or the cruise line directly.
This particular cruise was port-intensive, so our focus, as well as this review, was more on the ports than the ship.
I highly recommend the following excursions:
(1) Amigo Tours in St. Maarten... we took their Beach Bum excursion to Orient Beach and Maho Beach. I've enjoyed airplane-watching since childhood... my dad and I loved airplane-watching together, and he passed away in 2015... so now that my sons enjoy airplane-watching as well, it was awesome to experience Maho Beach.
(2) Island Paradise Tours in St. Kitts... we took their Straight Up Beach excursion to Carambola Beach Club... I wrote a separate detailed review below because this was an awesome beach day with a wonderful tour company, and Carambola is now one of my favorite beaches thus far!
(3) Dickenson Bay Beach in Antigua... for this one, we booked a beach day excursion via Royal Caribbean, and it was great!
(4) Serenity Vacations and Tours in St. Lucia... our private island tour was a wonderful and warm experience... I wrote a separate detailed review below because this was a well thought out, well-paced, truly personalized tour!
(5) We used Glory Tours for a private tour in Barbados, which covered much of the island and led to relaxation at Pirate’s Cove on Carlisle Bay.
(6) While in San Juan, we walked quite a bit, including walking to El Morro, and we took the trolley back to the vicinity of the hotel. I also have the contact info for the driver who picked us up in San Juan from the airport to hotel, hotel to ship, and ship to airport... I kept his business card because he really looked out for us from the moment he picked us up at SJU. So, if you’re looking for someone to show you around San Juan, contact me, and I’ll gladly provide his information.
My two favorite excursions on this itinerary:
St. Kitts / Island Paradise Tours’ Straight Up Beach Excursion
My family of five, which includes my one-year-old son, my five-year-old son, my husband, me, and my mom, recently returned from a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise, and my favorite beach of the entire cruise was in St. Kitts. Months before leaving for our cruise, we had contacted Rosevelt Taylor of Island Paradise Tours, and we booked the Straight Up Beach Excursion. I am still in awe at how affordable this excursion was! It was the most affordable excursion of our entire cruise, and the one that was most relaxing for me. As a mom of two very active young boys, and traveling as a family of five, relaxing and affordable are two key things I look for in cruise excursions, cruises, and vacations in general. Upon arrival in St. Kitts, a company representative was waiting for us at the pier, with a sign, just like the confirmation e-mail indicated. She then walked us to our tour van, which was being driven by Mr. Taylor himself. The van was the cleanest van I recall riding in on any cruise excursion we’ve taken thus far. We had a great chat with Mr. Taylor on our drive through St. Kitts to Carambola Beach Club. By the way, we were the only guests on this particular tour, so it was like having a private tour. The beach was truly beautiful, and we were among the first guests to arrive. There were only about three people already at the beach when we arrived, and we had all the prime spots on the beach to choose from. We were delighted! The water was crystal clear and beautiful, the atmosphere was relaxing, and it was truly a perfect beach day. After taking a nice dip in the water, I spent much of the day relaxing on a beach chair under an umbrella, while my mom, my husband, and our sons spent much of their time enjoying the water. Earlier in the day, on our ride to the beach, we had shared with Mr. Taylor that we are a family of Caribbean heritage, so to our surprise, when he arrived to pick us up from the beach for our return trip to the ship, he brought carambola and sugar apples for us, which are delicious fruit, native to the Caribbean, and this was a tasty and delightful way to end our excursion. For his warmth, amazing attention to detail, and excellent service, we highly recommend Rosevelt Taylor and Island Paradise Tours for your St. Kitts tours/excursions!
St. Lucia / Serenity Vacations and Tours Private Island Tour
My family of five, which includes my one-year-old son, my five-year-old son, my husband, me, and my mom, recently returned from a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise, and for our visit to St. Lucia, we had the pleasure of a private island tour with Serenity Vacations and Tours, specifically with Acacia and Lance. Prior to leaving for our cruise, we had contacted Serenity to book our tour, and Acacia always responded promptly to e-mail messages and phone calls, which set the tone for a wonderful experience. When we arrived in St. Lucia, Acacia was waiting for us with a sign in hand, right where the tour confirmation said she would be. We boarded our tour van, driven by Lance, and enjoyed drinks, including a delicious tamarind drink and rum punch along the way. Prior to booking this tour, I had researched and read many reviews of highly rated St. Lucia tour companies, but many of them, even some five-star reviews, mentioned motion sickness due to winding roads and terrain throughout St. Lucia. I can honestly say, that none of us in our group of five, ranging from one year old to over 55 years old, had any problems with motion sickness during the tour, as we routinely stopped along the way, walked and talked about the locations we visited, ways of life, etc. We greatly appreciated the personal touches and information provided throughout this tour, as we visited the Cathedral in Castries, Morne Fortune, Marigot Bay, a St. Lucia banana plantation, and Soufriere. We enjoyed beautiful views of the Pitons as we approached the Beacon Restaurant where we had lunch, as well as stops along the way for coconut water and at Plas Kassav, and made it back to the pier more than an hour before the “all aboard” time. Acacia and Lance are awesome, and their passion for people and love for their island of St. Lucia shines through during the tour. We highly recommend Serenity Vacations and Tours for your tours/excursions in St. Lucia.