Which Carribean cruise and do the Islands get too crowded when cruise ship arrives?

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Ask a Cruise Question
Post your general cruise questions here.
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 10:29 PM.
#1
51 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
I am thinking of doing a Carribean cruise next Jan Feb or March. Not sure which route to choose and I am a bit worried that when such a large ship docks the relatively small islands will be overwhelmed. (Had this experience when a few ships docked in Naples and half the passengers seemed to end up in Capri. It wasn't much fun). We tend to do our own thing most of the time with a couple of cruise line trips. So far only cruised med, canaries and Easten side of N America. Any tips/ advice would be welcome.
#2
Fredericksburg, va. USA
79,812 Posts
Joined May 2001
We've been in ports with up to 4 other ships. The countries only allow as many as they can handle, so crowding shouldn't be that much of an issue.
#3
84,340 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Yes, some ports do get quite crowded and January thru March is certainly part of the seasons when they do have many ships in port.

Sometime a Southern Caribbean itinerary will have ports that are a little less crowded.

Keith
#5
Greenville, SC, USA
51,083 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
YOu ask questions that don't have good answers. Which cruise to take? You need to look at the ports and see which look best to you.

Are the ports too crowded? This is subjective. Many of the port have 4, 5 or even 6 ships in on a given day. Some hold over 6000 passengers and 300 or so crew members. Are some places crowded? Yes.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Paul
#6
84,340 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by paul929207
YOu ask questions that don't have good answers. Which cruise to take? You need to look at the ports and see which look best to you.

Are the ports too crowded? This is subjective. Many of the port have 4, 5 or even 6 ships in on a given day. Some hold over 6000 passengers and 300 or so crew members. Are some places crowded? Yes.
Yes, the ports do have all those ships but you know they are crowded.

To me crowded is when the stores, sidewalks, restaurants, and even the beaches are loaded with people and that is what you have in most of those ports.

Not saying it's bad but that is reality.

I've been to Cayman with seven ships and also with one ship and there is no question the downtown area is very crowded with seven ships in port.
Same goes for tours.

Keith
#7
The Big Easy
18,299 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by Sunnytrip
I am thinking of doing a Carribean cruise next Jan Feb or March. Not sure which route to choose and I am a bit worried that when such a large ship docks the relatively small islands will be overwhelmed. (Had this experience when a few ships docked in Naples and half the passengers seemed to end up in Capri. It wasn't much fun). We tend to do our own thing most of the time with a couple of cruise line trips. So far only cruised med, canaries and Easten side of N America. Any tips/ advice would be welcome.
Your biggest crowds are going to be around the port area. One ship rarely creates huge crowds ashore, but several ships absolutely do. Probably the worst is Grand Cayman because not only do they attract a lot of ships, but you have to tender ashore. The tender areas to get back to the ship can get very crowded. Same goes for Belize.

Docking obviously creates less crowds. However, I work at a port (Key West), and when there are 3 ships in, the Duval St area does get very crowded. Same goes for Nassau, St. Thomas, and Costa Maya.

The least crowded ports are the ones that cannot accomodate more than 1 or 2 ships, like Ocho Rios, Aruba, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts. In other words, the Southern Caribbean (and Jamaica).
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Paul
Sunward II 11/88, Seaward 8/92, Seaward 4/96, Norwegian Sea 11/01, RCI Monarch 10/02, RCI Enchantment 10/03, RCI Majesty 5/04, RCI Adventure 10/04, RCI Explorer 10/05, RCI Majesty 5/06, RCI Freedom 9/06, RCI Explorer 5/07, RCI Adventure 10/07, RCI Navigator 2/08, RCI Navigator 8/08 (Med.), RCI Majesty 11/08, Celebrity Solstice 4/09, RCI Enchantment 7/09, RCI Radiance 11/09 (Mex. Riv.), Celebrity Solstice 4/10, RCI Majesty 6/10, RCI Majesty 8/10, RCI Oasis 10/10, RCI Radiance 11/10, Celebrity Century 1/11, RCI Allure 4/11, Nor. Sky 6/11, RCI Majesty 9/11, Nor. Sky 9/11, Celebrity Summit 11/11, RCI Liberty 2/12, Nieuw Amsterdam 5/12 (Med.), RCI Majesty 8/12, RCI Oasis 10/12, RCI Majesty 11/12, Nor. Dawn 12/12, RCI Liberty 2/13, RCI Majesty 4/13, Celebrity Millennium 6/13 (Alaska), RCI Enchantment 9/13, RCI Allure 11/13,Celebrity Constellation 1/14, Ruby Princess 2/14, RCI Liberty 4/14, Caribbean Princess 5/14, Zuiderdam (Alaska) 7/14, RCI Vision 8/14, RCI Liberty 11/14, Regal Princess 4/15, Oosterdam 10/15, Celebrity Eclipse 12/15, Nor. Escape 4/16,Carnival Liberty 10/16
#8
51 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by Aquahound
Your biggest crowds are going to be around the port area. One ship rarely creates huge crowds ashore, but several ships absolutely do. Probably the worst is Grand Cayman because not only do they attract a lot of ships, but you have to tender ashore. The tender areas to get back to the ship can get very crowded. Same goes for Belize.

Docking obviously creates less crowds. However, I work at a port (Key West), and when there are 3 ships in, the Duval St area does get very crowded. Same goes for Nassau, St. Thomas, and Costa Maya.

The least crowded ports are the ones that cannot accomodate more than 1 or 2 ships, like Ocho Rios, Aruba, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts. In other words, the Southern Caribbean (and Jamaica).
Thanks this is the general information I was after.
#9
Philadelphia area
6,726 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by Sunnytrip
I am thinking of doing a Carribean cruise next Jan Feb or March. Not sure which route to choose and I am a bit worried that when such a large ship docks the relatively small islands will be overwhelmed. (Had this experience when a few ships docked in Naples and half the passengers seemed to end up in Capri. It wasn't much fun). We tend to do our own thing most of the time with a couple of cruise line trips. So far only cruised med, canaries and Easten side of N America. Any tips/ advice would be welcome.
One year we were in St. Martin with 7 ships. One was the Queen Mary, which was anchored in the bay.

That is a lot of people in port.

So, we booked a snorkle excursion that left right from the pier, so all we had to do was walk off the ship, hop on the catamaran, and away we went.

Those that went on the island, well, it was mobbed.

Same thing in St. Thomas, got off the ship, walked to our sailboat, and off we went.
#10
Southern California
2,292 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
I don't have the link here on my mobile but will look when I return home later this evening. There is a site the lists the port and the ships scheduled to visit on any given day. I like to use this in trying to avoid the port overload.


http://luv2cruise.blogspot.com
#11
New England
4,813 Posts
Joined May 2005
We enjoy the Southern Caribbean ports as they are usually not as crowded.

We like St. Thomas and love to swim at Magen's Bay- but last year the crowds in town were so big that we had no desire to go shopping in Charlotte Amalie. We feel St. T. should have fewer ships on a given day.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
April
#12
Washington State
20,431 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
If you are planning an itinerary and want to know which ships will be in port that day, you can use this website http://cruisett.com/ports.php? to first select the port and then the date you will be there. Carribean islands can definitely be a zoo with multiple ships -- especially if one is a mega-ship.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves....
Total nights: Regent = 351 / Silversea = 36 / Oceania = 26 (2 Explorer, 2 Voyager and 1 Mariner sailing upcoming)

Sailings per ship: Explorer (3), Voyager (11), Mariner (9), Navigator (3), PG (1), Silver Spirit (1), Silver Whisper (1), Silver Shadow (1), Oceania Riviera (2)

Itineraries Sailed: Alaska (2 sailings) / Baltics / Barcelona – Dubai / Barcelona - Miami / Cape Town – Rio (2 sailings) / Cape Town - Cape Town / E. & W. Caribbean (4 sailings) / CHRISTENING CRUISE - Explorer - Monte Carlo-Monte Carlo / Ft. Lauderdale – Lima / Istanbul-Istanbul / Istanbul-Venice / London-Monte Carlo / Miami – Barcelona / Miami-Miami (Amazon) / Mumbai – Bali / New York-Southampton / Rome to Lisbon / Singapore to Sydney / Stockholm - Copenhagen / Tahiti / Venice-Rome / Vancouver-Tokyo
#13
104,211 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
T months of January, February and March are very busy months for the cruise lines.

We have been to St Maarten (before the lastest new pier was built) with 8 other cruise ships. Many of us tendering.

Not unusual to have several cruise ships in a port at one time.

St Thomas is another busy port since there are 2 docks which can handle 5 cruise ships between them and they allow at least 2 cruise ships to tender.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cruising is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement!
Stopped counting a few years ago -- have done over 140 cruises.
#14
South Padre Island, Texas
3,576 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Many years ago DW and I went to oneof the Islands on a cruise and had a great walk around town. We saw an old church and noted the people buried there and cause of death,lost at sea and disease were the two most frequent. We also spent some time in a native market where vendors were actually making the goods while waiting for customers.
A few years ago we stopped at the same port and were docked on the Thead of the dock about 7 ships from land. After getting to the land it was another two blocks through an open-air mall of vendors selling T-shirts and the same items you can buy at all tourist spots, all made in foreign countries.
#15
Here I am
3,320 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
I wouldn't worry - when one island gets over-crouded, they moved another one close together to give passengers more space. They have strong anchors to do that.

#16
NYC
3,472 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Yes, an island can get too crowded if there are more visiting passengers and traffic than the island's road infrastructure can handle.

In December 2010 storm damage from tropical storm Thomas forced changes in several ship itineraries. I was on a ship that wasn't originally to dock in Saint Lucia but it was a subsitute port announced about two weeks before sailing. Long story short, I didn't go on any excursions but heard from table mates who did that the traffic was like urban rush hour gridlock.
#17
New York
4,743 Posts
Joined Jan 2000
Sometimes some ports are EXTREMELY crowded. We were not there when this happened, but I think the record for one day was 11 ships in St Thomas. We've found that there seems to be more ships in a port if you take a 7 day Caribbean cruise out of Fla. They leave on Saturday (most) or Sunday and some seem to follow the same route. Sometimes the same ships are in the same ports on the same days. When we take a 10/11 day cruise there is sometimes no or only 1 other ship in port with us, especially on Friday-Monday. The 7 dayers are either in Fla, or only one day away to/from Fla and not in a port. If the port appears too crowded and congested, we find that that's a perfect day to stay on board and enjoy the ship.
#18
Claremore, OK
275 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Our last cruise there was either 7 or 8 ships in Cozumel when we were there. Our excursion was great but the line to get back on the ship was so bad even the captain didn't even make it back on the ship until after our scheduled sail away time. Waited in that port line for over an hour. It was nuts.
#19
Texas
545 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Originally posted by Sunnytrip
I am thinking of doing a Carribean cruise next Jan Feb or March. Not sure which route to choose and I am a bit worried that when such a large ship docks the relatively small islands will be overwhelmed. (Had this experience when a few ships docked in Naples and half the passengers seemed to end up in Capri. It wasn't much fun). We tend to do our own thing most of the time with a couple of cruise line trips. So far only cruised med, canaries and Easten side of N America. Any tips/ advice would be welcome.
Here is a website that lists all the ports of embarkations as well as ports of call - it will tell you how many ships ( and which ones) are in a port on any given day.As an example, it shows that the Carnival Conquest and Freedom of the Seas will have be in Grand Cayman on August 23. Have a great cruise, wherever you decide to go!

http://www.cruisetimetables.com/
#20
Connecticut
10,578 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by dave_k63
Here is a website that lists all the ports of embarkations as well as ports of call - it will tell you how many ships ( and which ones) are in a port on any given day. Have a great cruise, wherever you decide to go!

http://www.cruisetimetables.com/
Great suggestion -- along with choosing ship and itinerary, it is a good idea to see how crowded the ports are on the dates the ship you are considering will be in. St. Thomas always seems to be crowded, and ports with limited facilities (Grand Cayman and Belize for example) can be overwhelmed by just two large ships, while places like San Juan and St. Maarten can handle five or so fairly well. One other variable to consider is how many ships will be disembarking along with yours -- Fort Lauderdale airport gets overwhelmed on those weekend days when six or so ships are pumping 25,000 plus passengers into the system.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Six US Navy ships,
20+ cruises: Orient (1), Holland America (10), Norwegian (6), Carnival (1), Princess (1), Celebrity (3), Cunard (2), Royal Caribbean (1) - (1996-2016).
Upcoming: Holland America to Hawaii - February 2017