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Jordan475

Carnival Cruise-Southern Caribbean in May

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Hello all,

 

My partner and I are taking our first cruise in late May.  It is the Carnival Fascination, leaving San Juan (with a night at a hotel in Old San Juan) with stops in St. Thomas, Sint Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Barbados.  We have usually done independent travel in the past, so this will be a new experience.  We're in our mid-late 30's.   We've never been to any of these islands before (though I have been to San Juan) and would like a nice variety of excursions (whether ship based or otherwise).  I'd like to have some combination of beaches, snorkeling, historical sites, hikes, maybe rum distilleries, but not sure what would be best  on which island to get a nice variety.  Basically something unique to each island, to get a good experience.  I would appreciate any thoughts!

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On 2/17/2020 at 11:33 AM, Jordan475 said:

Hello all,

 

My partner and I are taking our first cruise in late May.  It is the Carnival Fascination, leaving San Juan (with a night at a hotel in Old San Juan) with stops in St. Thomas, Sint Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Barbados.  We have usually done independent travel in the past, so this will be a new experience.  We're in our mid-late 30's.   We've never been to any of these islands before (though I have been to San Juan) and would like a nice variety of excursions (whether ship based or otherwise).  I'd like to have some combination of beaches, snorkeling, historical sites, hikes, maybe rum distilleries, but not sure what would be best  on which island to get a nice variety.  Basically something unique to each island, to get a good experience.  I would appreciate any thoughts!

We've done this itinerary twice, first on Valor in 2013 and again on Liberty in 2015.  It is, hands down, our favorite.  These islands are very mountainous and scenic to sail in out of.  I have a link to my reviews in my signature but I'll copy and paste here for convenience.  They are loaded with pictures. 

There is so much to see/do, and for all interests, on all of the islands on this itinerary.  Both times we cruised, we sailed out of San Juan at 10PM instead of 6PM and itinerary was as follows:  St. Thomas; sea day; Barbados; St. Lucia; St. Kitts; St. Maarten.  So same islands and just a different order.  Nice to have the sea day on the end on your cruise. 

St. Thomas:  nice beaches on the island, but also options to get to St. John.  We've been to Sapphire Beach both times, beautiful views and pretty decent snorkeling.  Loved the Skyride to Paradise Point, excellent views on clear days.  We were in St. John on another cruise on Carnival's snorkeling excursion to Trunk Bay.  It's beautiful.

 

St. Maarten:  many do island tours since there is a lot to see.  They have that long, steep zip line (I think it's called the Flying Dutchman), and beautiful beaches.  Many like Maho Bay and seeing the planes come in and take off.  We were going to to that on our last visit, but the beach had been washed away from recent storms and we wanted the experience on the beach.  We did Pinel Island in 2013 and love it there.  Nice, peaceful beach day.  Recommend a tour that goes there since taxis normally aren't waiting at the ferry in Cul-de-sac that goes back and forth between Pinel Island and the main island.  We went to Divi Little Bay on our last visit. 

 

St. Kitts is small enough for an island tour and some beach time afterwards.  Loved Brimestone Hill Fortress, great views on a clear day.  We went to Shipwreck Beach Bar/Grill on South Friar's Bay afterward and enjoyed that.  Shipwreck is "rustic", so not for everyone.  Views are beautiful and there was black sand.  We only got drinks but they were very reasonably priced.  On the opposite end of South Friars Bay is Carambolla Beach Club, which has a nicer beach and many prefer it to Shipwreck.  We've been to Cockleshell Beach (southern end, half hour away) and enjoyed that - great views. 

St. Lucia is probably our favorite.  Both times we took private tours with Spencer Ambrose.  First was the "Jalousie/Sugar Beach Break" and loved it.  Jalousie/Sugar beach is the beach between the Pitons and very scenic.  There is the upscale resort there, but we had use of the free loungers on the beach on the far side, where the snorkeling is.  The resort is on the other side.  You can rent loungers there, but they're pricey.  I think we were told $50 on our last visit.  In 2015 we did Spencer's "Land, Sea, and Beach Adventure" tour to see more of St. Lucia.  There are other popular tour groups as well.  But I definitely recommend a reputable private tour over one offered through the cruise line.  They are generally not as crowded and we've found we get a much better, and more relaxing experience.  Most of St. Lucia's hi-lights are all in the Soufriere area, so it's not an island to just get a taxi and go for a tour since that can get pricey.  I think Soufriere is about an hour and a half away from Castries. 

Barbados had beautiful beaches and there are many opportunities to swim with turtles and snorkel shipwrecks along Carlisle Bay, which is a short drive from the cruise terminal.  Beaches on the west coast have calm water and white sand, just beautiful.  Barbados' east coast is on the Atlantic and water much rougher there, but very scenic, especially the Bathsheba area.  There are different tours that will get you over there with some miscellaneous stops and you should even be able to get a cab driver to arrange something. 

There is another popular reviewer here on Cruise Critic named "mitsugirly", who has done this itinerary on Fascination in 2016 (I can see if I can attach that link as well).  If not, just look her up here on CC.  All of her ship reviews and port information are in the link in her signature.  Her reviews are very detailed and include lots of pictures. 

Since you obviously found the ports of call section here, I also recommend that for ideas.  I've just read through the posts in the past and have gotten so many great ideas I never would have thought of otherwise. 

 

Hope this helps and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 

Links to reviews:
My Valor review, May 2013:  http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1917645

My Liberty review, September 2015: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2275573

 

Mitsugirly's Fascination review, August 2016: 

 

Edited by pghsteelerfan

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