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torybruno

Help us choose Southern Caribbean cruise!

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We have done a number of cruises, but never a Southern out of San Juan.  We will be traveling with extended family over Christmas, ages ranging from 16 to 82.  

 

Choice 1... Celebrity Summit.  Tortola, St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, and at Sea Christmas Day.  

 

Choice 2...  Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas.  Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, Antigua, and in St. Thomas on Christmas Day.

 

Choice 3.  Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas.  St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Christmas Day at Sea, St. Kitts.

 

Of all the ports listed, we have only been to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts, so this is really giving us the chance to see some wonderful new ports.  Any thoughts on ports, ships, appreciated.  Our first shocker is the airfare to San Juan, is three times the price to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami!!

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5 minutes ago, torybruno said:

Our first shocker is the airfare to San Juan, is three times the price to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami!!

One of the reasons we don't do cruises out of San Juan.  Another is - I really have no desire to go to Puerto Rico.

 

We've done Southern Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral and Miami.  

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For your age ranges I would choose Freedom.  (BTW, on alternate weeks Freedom also does St. Martin/Aruba/Bonaire/Curaco as an option if interested and if the week prior to or after the Christmas sailing would be open to your plans).  She  will be refurbished this spring and will be refreshed for those itineraries around your time frame.  

 

I would suggest booking your air through RCI Air2Sea as the airfare is refundable, flights changeable, and will be available for any price decrease up until final payment for the cruise, which is when the airfare will be due as well.  No separate deposit is required for the air either.  The fares are equal to or often somewhat less than the airline's published fares. We do this all the time and like the flexibility and not having to commit to an up front purchase of the fare.  Have also benefited from the occasional price decrease.

 

I would also suggest going a day early to take advantage of the sites of Old San Juan.  Contrary to Shmoo here's position, Puerto Rico, and in particular Old San Juan, is very nice - have been there and all over the island many times over many years both on business and pleasure and enjoy it quite a lot.  If you have never been it is worth experiencing at least once.

 

Not taking a stab at you Shmoo here - just a different point of view.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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19 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Not taking a stab at you Shmoo here - just a different point of view.

No problem. 

 

Just my point of view.  Now, if I were on a cruise that stopped there for the day, I certainly would get off and go exploring (and probably find I'd like to do a longer visit), but, flying there blind and the cost of that, no thanks.

 

 

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I am also not a San Juan fan was there last week and stayed on ship , I think all three are nice ships, I would take Rccl over celebrity because of entertainment. 

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Personally you miss our favorite Southern ports on these cruises - ABC’s.  The Freedom  cruise would be my choice.

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1 hour ago, Shmoo here said:

No problem. 

 

Just my point of view.  Now, if I were on a cruise that stopped there for the day, I certainly would get off and go exploring (and probably find I'd like to do a longer visit), but, flying there blind and the cost of that, no thanks.

 

 

 

The price to fly there fluctuates, but is higher than (in our case) the northeast to FL, as example.  But the itineraries from there are some of the best Caribbean ones IMO.

 

But there are longer (9 day+) itineraries that leave out of FL that will include the ports mentioned by the OP as well as those with the ABC's.  So there are alternatives to flying into PR.

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Many things will be closed on Christmas day....the Caribbean is a very religious area.  I would opt for a sea day on Christmas day.

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8 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

The price to fly there fluctuates, but is higher than (in our case) the northeast to FL, as example. 

Flying from the west coast to PR is pretty high, also.  Not to mention, there's no non-stop flights( that I've been able to find)

Edited by Shmoo here

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The itineraries listed are Eastern, not Southern, Caribbean - none hit any of the ABC islands.    I would suggest getting there at least a day early — in spite of what other posters say, San Juan is an interesting port - one of the best in the Caribbean.

 

The RC’s might have more bells and whistles, but I would opt for Celebrity Summit.

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10 hours ago, cb at sea said:

Many things will be closed on Christmas day....

the Caribbean is a very religious area.  

 

I would opt for a sea day on Christmas day. ===> Wise choice!!

 

Yes. Closed on Christmas Day (and Easter too).

Do not expect us to open the shops for you, please!


The beaches are still there, and so are the taxi drivers

 so you will get around and see the place, and even eat!

but don't expect the shops and stores to be open.

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10 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

The itineraries listed are Eastern, not Southern, Caribbean - none hit any of the ABC islands.    I would suggest getting there at least a day early — in spite of what other posters say, San Juan is an interesting port - one of the best in the Caribbean.

 

The RC’s might have more bells and whistles, but I would opt for Celebrity Summit.

For clarity to the OP, according to most cruise lines they all are as 7-night itineraries from PR - as listed that way by RCI and Celebrity - as they include options with Barbados and Granada, as well as Antigua and St. Lucia, which are not commonly on their eastern itineraries.  (I realize Barbados is geographically the eastern most Caribbean island but it is also very south in the chain of islands).  As mentioned Freedom also has alternate weeks with the ABC's and St. Martin. Most 7-night eastern itineraries typically depart out of FL and don't usually include islands below St. Kitts in the chain.

 

Have been on Summit and Freedom on these itineraries several times and agree with the preference in general with Summit, particularly for adults.  But the suggestion for Freedom is based on the age range listed by the OP with a more family orientation for those ages with Freedom.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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15 hours ago, cb at sea said:

Many things will be closed on Christmas day....the Caribbean is a very religious area.  I would opt for a sea day on Christmas day.

Newsflash!  Many things are closed world-wide on Christmas Day.   

Edited by Rala
typo

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On 2/25/2020 at 1:03 PM, Rala said:

Newsflash!  Many things are closed world-wide on Christmas Day.   

 

I actually didn't think cb's advice was that crazy in the context of the original post (helping to choose different options).  I would have mentioned it too as some might think port areas are exempt from being closed on holidays.

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On 2/24/2020 at 5:50 PM, torybruno said:

We have done a number of cruises, but never a Southern out of San Juan.  We will be traveling with extended family over Christmas, ages ranging from 16 to 82.  

 

Choice 1... Celebrity Summit.  Tortola, St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, and at Sea Christmas Day.  

 

Choice 2...  Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas.  Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, Antigua, and in St. Thomas on Christmas Day.

 

Choice 3.  Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas.  St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Christmas Day at Sea, St. Kitts.

 

Of all the ports listed, we have only been to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts, so this is really giving us the chance to see some wonderful new ports.  Any thoughts on ports, ships, appreciated.  Our first shocker is the airfare to San Juan, is three times the price to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami!!

Go with all three. Looks like you've got the next three years cruises covered. Been to all the islands you posted and like them all. Did a B2B on the Freedom March 2019 out of SJ. Doing another Summit B2B cruise out of SJ March/April 2020. 

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1st Celebrity b/c of Tortola, Dominica and Barbados!

2nd Enchantment

Edited by JennyB1977

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Thanks everyone for all the replies, tips and thoughts.   We have spent time twice in San Juan as cruise ports, 2 years ago on Christmas Day, and most businesses, restaurants and bars were open.  I realize this would not be the case in St. Thomas, but the beaches will always be open!  

 

We have been to the A and C islands on a previous 8 day southern Caribbean on the Carnival Breeze.  Our reasoning for picking these particular cruises is to see more of the world that we have not seen yet!  As you can see, we are not Cruise Line Loyal, although we do prefer some lines over others, we always pick cruises first by sailing date, then itinerary.  

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15 hours ago, JennyB1977 said:

1st Celebrity b/c of Tortola, Dominica and Barbados!

2nd Enchantment

Thanks JennyB!  What did you particularly love about these 3 islands?

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@torybruno Dominica is gorgeous. We did a hike to a wonderful waterfall where you could swim. Barbados had fantastic snorkeling/diving. I think Tortola is wonderful, beautiful beaches, friendly people, lush greenery. 

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15 minutes ago, JennyB1977 said:

@torybruno Dominica is gorgeous. We did a hike to a wonderful waterfall where you could swim. Barbados had fantastic snorkeling/diving. I think Tortola is wonderful, beautiful beaches, friendly people, lush greenery. 

Barbados is one of our favorite islands in the Caribbean.  Try to travel to the north shore by Horse Shoe Bay and Animal Flower Bay to the Animal Flower Cave - very dramatic and beautiful coast line.  Also try a flying fish sandwich for lunch - Cuz's Fish Shack (which is all it is) just south of Browns Beach about 15-20 minutes taxi across from the ship pier on Carlisle Bay.  (Although they're the best, they are good anywhere and many places sell them). Google both.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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Freedom of the seas, and it's not even close for me. Each itinerary has its pros and cons, but is solid at the end of the day.

 

The Freedom ship itself blows the others away. When you have family together for 7 days, those tiny ships are much more limited on activities.

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On 2/26/2020 at 2:15 PM, pacruise804 said:

 

I actually didn't think cb's advice was that crazy in the context of the original post (helping to choose different options).  I would have mentioned it too as some might think port areas are exempt from being closed on holidays.

You have a point.  I may have been a little hasty with my remark.   🙂

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In 2010,  I was on Adventure out of San Juan with my then 10yo and 14yo.  While I love Celebrity, for the age range you have, I'd go on Freedom.  My 10yo loved the Adventure Kids Club and my 14yo loved the video games in the Teen Club.  Adventure was nice, but I think Freedom has even more for the teenagers/young adults/young at heart to do.  In 2013, I had the kids on Celebrity Millennium for an Alaskan cruise (the youngest one had a broken foot) and while they had fun, there wasn't as much for them to do and so they didn't enjoy the ship as much as Adventure.  Of course my youngest discovered ping-pong on the Alaska trip and had a hole in the heel of his cast by the end of the cruise.  His orthopedist loved that!

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