You may be my twin. Wanting to see more, not a fan of indoor excursions, and you totally had me at spreadsheet! ❤️
Here are my questions in no particular order:
1. On paper, St. Lucia & St. Kitts seem "meh." Your thoughts?
--> We liked St. Lucia. The Pitons were pretty. Skip the volcano and mud spa place. Very touristy and overrated. We only saw the dolphin place in St. Kitts as my daughter got sick.
2. St. John and Grand Caymen both have a Stingray City. Is one better than the other?
--> Did SRC in Grand Caymen. It was ok. Haven't been to St. Johns. We are going to save that for cococay. There's not a lot to do on the private islands, so you may want to consider saving that for one of those days.
3. Some of the cruises have 3, 4, 5, or 6 ports. Having never been to any of these islands before, will I regret not doing a beach day on each one? I would like to do some scuba diving, sightseeing by boat tour or kayak, jet skis, exploring/beach combing.
--> the more port days the merrier to me! I wouldn't just do a beach day. You sound like you may get bored and want to explore more. A lot of excursions have options of seeing xyz then "Beach day at the end".
4. I would like to sample some of the local fruits, vegetables, and signature cuisines. Are there excursions that focus on that?
--> I've seen salsa ones in Mexico, but haven't really looked otherwise. I can absolutely swear to my love of Tortuga Rum Cake though 🙂
5. We would like to visit 1 rum distillery. Any recommendations?
--> if you do the itinerary out of San Juan, maybe the Barcardi one? May be a bit too commercialized though.
6. We've never been on the ships below. I'm hesitant to choose the Empress, but maybe it would be more intimate and lots of fun?!?
--> only been on the Jewel OTS and the Allure OTS. I liked the Allure alot! Seemed less crowded than the smaller one for some reason
What we are considering:
Dec 12 or Dec 19, Freedom of the Seas from San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados
Dec 18 , Odyssey of the Seas from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Caymen, Aruba, Curacao
Dec 24, Empress of the Seas from San Juan to Tortola, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten
Dec 26, Freedom of the Seas from San Juan to St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, St. Kitts
Any opinions are welcome and will be added to my spreadsheet. 😄
My goal itinerary for the Caribbean is the ABCs. San Juan is my absolute favorite place down there (so far).
I'd be hesitant of all bu the 12th due to higher flights/hotels for Christmas and NYE travel. If you're also gone over that time, you may want to check to see if things are open on your port days.
If you haven't gone to any of these before and you truly want to see more, I'd go with the 12/24 one.
Based on ports alone, I'd probably go to with 12/12 or 12/24. I like St Maarten (standing in the airplane streams by Maho Beach was stupid fun) our only semi beach day was in Antigua, the rum punch is fantastic in St. Lucia and my favorite snorkeling ever was in Barbados. Plus I want to see all the ABCs and not getting to the B would annoy my spreadsheet.