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caribbean options?


Tk10
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I am looking at booking a cruise though carnival out of baltimore however i can't decide on ports of call that i would like to visit/stop at. Most of the itineraries stop in nassau and freeport so i do not have much of a choice in those aspects if i travel those special dates however other choice i have are grand turks, princess cay, and half moon as the third stop. Was wondering personal pros and cons for fellow cruisers for each or why you stay away from certain ports and which ones did you like best. Thanks

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We have done both the Bahamas (Princess Cay, Nassau, Freeport) and Eastern Caribbean (Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Freeport) on the Pride, and enjoyed both itineraries.  Please note that neither the itinerary is really Caribbean (Grand Turk is close), but rather Atlantic and weather will be more like Florida than the warmer Caribbean - if that matters to you.

 

You will probably get more information and feedback by looking at the Bahamas, Grand Turk, and Private Island threads.  Here are my thoughts though:

Nassau - it really depends on what you want to do.  There is a food tour that looks interesting to me, along with a few other walkable sites that might appeal.  We have been to Nassau twice: the first time we were going to try snorkeling but weather canceled the excursion so we just walked around the shops - it wasn't bad but not really a great way to spend the day for us; the second time we went we did a Snuba tour (cross between snorkel and SCUBA) - the concept is good, but the execution wasn't that great (I would stick with one or the other next time).  There are lots of beaches both pay and free, Atlantis resort, and even just staying on the ship.  Vendors tend to be aggressive.  Lots of suggestions on the Bahamas forum.

 

Freeport - very industrial area, with short port times on the Pride (I think 7am-1pm).  The first time we went we took the Kayak excursion which was great (several mentions and some video on the Bahamas forum).  The second time we stayed in port and looked at the little shops.  Vendors were much less aggressive, but it was a very hot day and I just wasn't in the mood to shop.  Many stay on the ship at Freeport, but there are also nice things to do if you take a cab or excursion.  Due to the hours in port, I would probably consider a ship excursion if there was something appealing and reasonably priced.

 

Grand Turk - nice beach day option, with some other activities.  If you enjoy the crowds and party scene, then Margaritaville or the beach area in front of the ship are close and easy.  Several people rent golf carts to explore the island.  There is great diving - steep drop off right by the ship.  We prefer quiet and walked to Jack's Shack (less than 1/2 mile walk on the beach) where we rented an umbrella with 2 chairs for $10.  Nice beach, food and drinks if you want (pricy, but no worse than Margaritaville), and we enjoyed snorkeling with our own equipment right from the beach.

 

Princess Cay - great beach for snorkeling, but very rocky at the water so bring water shoes.  There were a lot of flies at the buffet, so I would plan to eat on the ship after enjoying the beach.

 

Half Moon Cay - soft white sands and super clear water.  This is the beach most rave about and find the redeeming port to otherwise not favorite itineraries (I found it almost too perfect - manufactured feeling - but quickly got used to the beauty 😉).  Lots of chickens roaming the walkways and especially hanging around the picnic area, but we didn't have the fly issue here.

 

We appreciate being able to drive to Port of Baltimore and the prices for Pride are usually better than Grandeur.  I think both itineraries are worth doing at least once.  Enjoy whatever you decide 🙂 

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23 minutes ago, pacruise804 said:

We have done both the Bahamas (Princess Cay, Nassau, Freeport) and Eastern Caribbean (Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Freeport) on the Pride, and enjoyed both itineraries.  Please note that neither the itinerary is really Caribbean (Grand Turk is close), but rather Atlantic and weather will be more like Florida than the warmer Caribbean - if that matters to you.

 

You will probably get more information and feedback by looking at the Bahamas, Grand Turk, and Private Island threads.  Here are my thoughts though:

Nassau - it really depends on what you want to do.  There is a food tour that looks interesting to me, along with a few other walkable sites that might appeal.  We have been to Nassau twice: the first time we were going to try snorkeling but weather canceled the excursion so we just walked around the shops - it wasn't bad but not really a great way to spend the day for us; the second time we went we did a Snuba tour (cross between snorkel and SCUBA) - the concept is good, but the execution wasn't that great (I would stick with one or the other next time).  There are lots of beaches both pay and free, Atlantis resort, and even just staying on the ship.  Vendors tend to be aggressive.  Lots of suggestions on the Bahamas forum.

 

Freeport - very industrial area, with short port times on the Pride (I think 7am-1pm).  The first time we went we took the Kayak excursion which was great (several mentions and some video on the Bahamas forum).  The second time we stayed in port and looked at the little shops.  Vendors were much less aggressive, but it was a very hot day and I just wasn't in the mood to shop.  Many stay on the ship at Freeport, but there are also nice things to do if you take a cab or excursion.  Due to the hours in port, I would probably consider a ship excursion if there was something appealing and reasonably priced.

 

Grand Turk - nice beach day option, with some other activities.  If you enjoy the crowds and party scene, then Margaritaville or the beach area in front of the ship are close and easy.  Several people rent golf carts to explore the island.  There is great diving - steep drop off right by the ship.  We prefer quiet and walked to Jack's Shack (less than 1/2 mile walk on the beach) where we rented an umbrella with 2 chairs for $10.  Nice beach, food and drinks if you want (pricy, but no worse than Margaritaville), and we enjoyed snorkeling with our own equipment right from the beach.

 

Princess Cay - great beach for snorkeling, but very rocky at the water so bring water shoes.  There were a lot of flies at the buffet, so I would plan to eat on the ship after enjoying the beach.

 

Half Moon Cay - soft white sands and super clear water.  This is the beach most rave about and find the redeeming port to otherwise not favorite itineraries (I found it almost too perfect - manufactured feeling - but quickly got used to the beauty 😉).  Lots of chickens roaming the walkways and especially hanging around the picnic area, but we didn't have the fly issue here.

 

We appreciate being able to drive to Port of Baltimore and the prices for Pride are usually better than Grandeur.  I think both itineraries are worth doing at least once.  Enjoy whatever you decide 🙂 

Thank you for your feedback it was much appreciated! I did check the other forums areas and saw nothing specific about some ports so figured I’d start own thread to get some questions answered. The weather is fine by me I lived in Florida for some time so I get the weather haha and I planned on going maybe November anywhere to February so the weather is still nice but not blistering hot. My last resort if I did not want to get off at a port was to just stay on the ship however I did not want to pick a cruise and literally never getting off the ship haha so I do not oppose staying on ship howevwe I would like to get off at least one port preferably 2. I was drawn to grandeur because the cruises are tad longer and better ports however carnival is def cheaper and heard food is tad better however very limited in their itineraries so that’s the only bad thing about pride bc I wish they had a few different ports.

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32 minutes ago, pacruise804 said:

We have done both the Bahamas (Princess Cay, Nassau, Freeport) and Eastern Caribbean (Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Freeport) on the Pride, and enjoyed both itineraries.  Please note that neither the itinerary is really Caribbean (Grand Turk is close), but rather Atlantic and weather will be more like Florida than the warmer Caribbean - if that matters to you.

 

 

 

A good reminder the one listed as Eastern Caribbean is not like really being in the Caribbean.  

Still between the two, that is what we would pick.  :classic_wink: 

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46 minutes ago, Tk10 said:

Thank you for your feedback it was much appreciated! I did check the other forums areas and saw nothing specific about some ports so figured I’d start own thread to get some questions answered. The weather is fine by me I lived in Florida for some time so I get the weather haha and I planned on going maybe November anywhere to February so the weather is still nice but not blistering hot. My last resort if I did not want to get off at a port was to just stay on the ship however I did not want to pick a cruise and literally never getting off the ship haha so I do not oppose staying on ship howevwe I would like to get off at least one port preferably 2. I was drawn to grandeur because the cruises are tad longer and better ports however carnival is def cheaper and heard food is tad better however very limited in their itineraries so that’s the only bad thing about pride bc I wish they had a few different ports.

We sailed the Pride in Feb/March and September (our other Nassau trip was April 2014 on Grandeur).  I preferred the cooler weather earlier in the year, but also don't mind 70's water temp for swimming.  September was 100+ temps (which was abnormally hot) and really too warm in both Freeport and HMC (except when in the water).  November would probably be ideal since the water shouldn't have cooled too much but you should also be out of the brunt of hurricane season.

 

I absolutely advise visiting the private islands and Grand Turk.  I think Freeport and Nassau also offer good opportunities if you look for them, despite the bad rap both ports get. 

 

We loved the Kayak excursion: there was light kayaking with built-in "marriage counseling" 😉 due to it being a 2 person kayak and the mangroves creating some very narrow spots, a short nature walk, light lunch at the beach (and after all the heavy ship food, a light lunch was wonderful), then a good amount of beach time at beautiful gold rock beach.  There were around 30 people on the excursion, but the split us into 3 groups of around 10 so it was never crowded.  If you aren't nature buffs, it sounds like Lucaya has nice shopping and gardens - you just need to watch the time.  There are a couple bars and some shopping right in the port too if you just want to get off the ship, it all depends on what interests you.

 

Nassau has so much in walking distance that you should be able to enjoy the port without an official excursion, still watch the time though.

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5 minutes ago, pacruise804 said:

We sailed the Pride in Feb/March and September (our other Nassau trip was April 2014 on Grandeur).  I preferred the cooler weather earlier in the year, but also don't mind 70's water temp for swimming.  September was 100+ temps (which was abnormally hot) and really too warm in both Freeport and HMC (except when in the water).  November would probably be ideal since the water shouldn't have cooled too much but you should also be out of the brunt of hurricane season.

 

I absolutely advise visiting the private islands and Grand Turk.  I think Freeport and Nassau also offer good opportunities if you look for them, despite the bad rap both ports get. 

 

We loved the Kayak excursion: there was light kayaking with built-in "marriage counseling" 😉 due to it being a 2 person kayak and the mangroves creating some very narrow spots, a short nature walk, light lunch at the beach (and after all the heavy ship food, a light lunch was wonderful), then a good amount of beach time at beautiful gold rock beach.  There were around 30 people on the excursion, but the split us into 3 groups of around 10 so it was never crowded.  If you aren't nature buffs, it sounds like Lucaya has nice shopping and gardens - you just need to watch the time.  There are a couple bars and some shopping right in the port too if you just want to get off the ship, it all depends on what interests you.

 

Nassau has so much in walking distance that you should be able to enjoy the port without an official excursion, still watch the time though.

the times i see going out is either november,december,january, and february was time frame i was planning on cruising. how was the weather and the water in your february/march trip? i did check out some of the excursions however i sometimes like to explore places on my own or get ideas online elsewhere so also possible ports you can mostly walk to stuff so i maybe don't have to take taxis at every port. i saw online the one port has dogs/animals just walking around but i can't remember which one that is do you by chance know or have heard this? Also with not doing excursions and experiencing things on our own i had planned to head back to the boat for a late lunch that way i didn't have to worry about overcrowding on shore or possible food sitting out for while and getting sick. i saw you mentioned watching the time, is the ship leaves the port at 5 what time do you recommend being back on the ship or heading back?

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We liked the weather overall, although we did have a nor'easter on the way back which caused extreme winds closing much of the outer decks and causing a late return to Baltimore.  I love feeling the ocean when I'm at sea and have pretty good sea legs, but I'm sure many found it rough.  The weather can really vary from year to year though, so impossible to predict beyond general trends.  Air temps were 80's and water temps were low 70's.  We were comfortable, but I grew up on Lake Erie where the beaches would close if the water got above 75.  Other people were in the water too, but some did comment it was chilly (I'd call it "refreshing" 😉 )

 

Freeport is the only port that isn't pedestrian friendly and would require some form of transportation for beaches or excursions (private or ship).  Trip Advisor would be a good place to search for ideas too.

 

Grand Turk is likely the stop with the dogs.  Jack's Shack has 2 dogs - Topher and Calypso - but also several other dogs (strays?) were wandering and they would lay near and under our loungers for shade.  They were calm and didn't bother us, but we did notice some guests playing with the dogs and the dogs naturally got excited.  

 

For the private beaches I agree with returning to the ship for a late lunch.  In port I might try a local restaurant, or just return to the ship - your preference.  Generally you need to be back on board at least 30 minutes prior to sail away.  All aboard time will be clearly listed in your Fun Times and before you leave the ship.  Make sure you are on ship time (I don't think they adjusted, but those ports might not be on Atlantic time regardless).  A Carnival excursion guarantees they will get you back on time, wait for you, or get you to the next port at their expenses.  If you do your own excursion you are responsible for being back on time.  We have never had an issue either with a ship excursion or on our own, but it is something to remember.

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