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Rdclfamily

Frequent Cruisers...what would you do?

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Traveling with my husband + 11 yr old + 14 yr old.

 

Going to San Juan, Labadee, St. Thomas and St. Maarten

 

This is for frequent cruisers who have done many things at each of these islands.

 

My question is this:

 

I would like to do the following, and I'm wondering which location will be best for what.  Meaning, I don't want to choose to snorkel in St. Thomas if one of the others are better for that.  

 

1) One just hang at the beach day (minimal expense/ crystal clear waters/ not tooooo busy)

2) One snorkeling experience  (our 11 year old is tentative, so ideally a tour that isn't in choppy waters)

3) One really fun thing, like the Amazing Race adventure

4) Possibly one private tour guide to spend a full day touring the island and hanging places that we are excited about.

 

What port would you plan to do what at?

 

Any advice is appreciated.

 

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1) Beach day with no crowds -

Friar’s Bay/Happy Bay, SXM. Gorgeous, uncrowded beach. There is a cost for the taxi there but other closer beaches are very crowded. Enjoy an amazing lunch at the French beach club and get two lounges/umbrella for $10US.

If you need only restrooms and no other amenities I would consider Smith Bay Park (Lindqvist Beach), STT. But #2 below changes that...

 

2) Snorkeling -

STT for sure, best beach depends on your date and port times. Would look at Secret Harbor for calm water with snorkeling, reserve lounges /umbrella ahead 

https://www.aadivers.com/

For better snorkeling and calm water most days Sapphire Bach is gorgeous. So you could enjoy a less busy beach AND snorkel at Sapphire and enjoy the nice island views. On busier days you can choose a spot on the beach away from the busier beach bar area.

 

3)  Not really in the Amazing Race category, but we’ve enjoyed a daysail on the Golden Eagle cat in SXM twice, one a full-day while staying on the island. great day with a stop on Tintamarre or Pinel Island and an excellent crew. You have the morning to see Philipsburg it another area before the sail.

https://sailingsxm.com/#tropical

 

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On 9/7/2019 at 10:26 AM, Rdclfamily said:

Traveling with my husband + 11 yr old + 14 yr old.

 

Going to San Juan, Labadee, St. Thomas and St. Maarten

 

This is for frequent cruisers who have done many things at each of these islands.

 

My question is this:

 

I would like to do the following, and I'm wondering which location will be best for what.  Meaning, I don't want to choose to snorkel in St. Thomas if one of the others are better for that.  

 

1) One just hang at the beach day (minimal expense/ crystal clear waters/ not tooooo busy)

2) One snorkeling experience  (our 11 year old is tentative, so ideally a tour that isn't in choppy waters)

3) One really fun thing, like the Amazing Race adventure

4) Possibly one private tour guide to spend a full day touring the island and hanging places that we are excited about.

 

What port would you plan to do what at?

 

Any advice is appreciated.

 

St. Martin is not the island to tour - they are still  not fully operational since the hurricane in 2017.  But there is an amazing snorkeling outfit which I would highly recommend, Captain Alan:  https://www.captainalan.com/

As for a beach day, Labadee would be it.

San Juan - the boys would love the forts.  As for St. Thomas, been there, pretty much done it all.  But you could go to the top of mountaintop in the Paradise point tram: https://www.paradisepointvi.com/

 

 

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19 hours ago, elaineb said:

St. Martin is not the island to tour - they are still  not fully operational since the hurricane in 2017.  

Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe and another restaurant are open and a great spot to get away from your fellow cruise mates. One of the popular day sails is another nice option. But the snorkeling is better in STT...

 

San Juan - the boys would love the forts. 

Agree, tour the fort and Old San Juan.

 

As for St. Thomas, been there, pretty much done it all.  But you could go to the top of mountaintop in the Paradise point tram: https://www.paradisepointvi.com/

Again Sapphire Beach is a great choice for both a gorgeous beach and snorkeling. But you may want to make the trek over to St John if your port times work. Trunk Bay, like Magens Bay on STT, is highly-touted and as a result can be crowded. But there are other less-visited beaches if you want that idyllic spot.

 

If docked at WICO (Havensight) we would also recommend Paradise Point before walking back to the ship. The tram station is a 15 minute walk from the port, or you can taxi up and back. Nice view of the harbor and a tasty Bushwacker!

 

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We did the Amazing Race excursion in St. Maarten a couple of years ago and had a blast.  It was myself, my husband and our then 17 year old daughter.  She really enjoyed herself.  My husband enjoyed it so much he suggested we do it again this year.

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Cannot speak to Labadee because I have not been there yet, but given the others I would do:

* Beach Day - Sapphire Beach St Thomas (Bonus is the snorkeling, as another poster mentioned. Perfect calm clear water). 

* Puerto Rico - island tour, with at least part of it being on foot - lots to see, very interesting to just wander around OSJ.

* SXM - lots of adventures to be had. Maybe ATV or jeep tour? Kids/teens definitely love visiting Maho to see the planes landing too. 

 

 

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Labadee is a great beach day. Also have a zipline!

St Thomas I'd take a catamaran to St John, an adventure, relaxing, and snorkeling.

St Maarten since hurricane is a great port to do an island tour to see the damage and rebuilding process, stop at Maho beach and see planes. Many beaches to go to and could also parasail?

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My DH and I were in Labadee about 4 years ago. A couple of things to keep in mind are that the beaches are rocky, so bring some water shoes if you have sensitive feet. I think it's less rocky where the premium spots are, not sure if you're interested in renting a cabana? If you like buying local crafts, just know that the vendors are quite aggressive. I felt very overwhelmed to be honest. I started speaking French (I'm French-Canadian) and things calmed down a bit. Live and learn I guess! As an excursion, we booked on a party boat that anchored by a sandbar. It was really cool! The operators of the boat are Canadian and were a lot of fun. The rum punch was strong and there was good music! I think they had a family option as well. We sailed with Royal Caribbean. Things have probably changed a bit in 4 years? 

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Labadee: take trolley or walk over to Columbus beach . It’s sandy. The buffet is set up right there and bathrooms aren’t far. We walked there and took trolley back. It was pretty easy. If we went back, I would definitely do the zipline. My DH isn’t a big sit in beach and do nothing type of person. My then 17 yr old ds is. 🙂

 

SJ: it will depend on your times in port. We have walked on our own after doing a horse drawn tour. It was informative and easy. 

 

ST: we have done different excursions here and gone into town. This time around we are going to take a beach and snorkeling excursion over to St John. You snorkel from the beach which to me is easier than snorkeling off a boat. Would be easier for your ds. 

 

Never been to StM so can’t help there. 

 

Have fun! 

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Ha ha, we have the same itinerary - Adventure, Feb 15!  Here are our plans.

 

i never get tired of those beautiful forts in San Juan, and you get into both for the same price.  We take a taxi up, because the free trolley is slow, and a real bone shaker.  After taking in the views from El Moro, we walk back downhill. If you keep an eye to the left, you can follow a curving road through an archway, and into an amazingly beautiful historic cemetery.  Then get back on the Main Street and continue down to the smaller Fort for a visit.  Keep going down, and get a drink and a snack before reboarding.  As an alternative, you can walk along the shore below the old city walls, and the re-enter at the gate that leads to the “cat” street.  Ask me if you want to know more about that!  Gotta like cats for this place.

 

Labadee, as has been mentioned, there are local craft vendors that are restricted to one area, and they are very pushy!  However, there are some unique Haitian crafts there.  Don’t touch unless you are serious - they assume you’ve bought the item. The beaches are indeed rocky except for the farthest one, which is mobbed.  The barbecue is tasty.  I think I’ll get off for lunch and then go back aboard to hot tub.  

 

St Thomas, Megan’s Bay beach is one of the ten best in the world.  It s a nature reserve, so if you like birds, look for seabirds close up.  My daughter saw a sting ray in the crystal clear water.  the farther you get from the beach store/resto, the less crowded the beach is.  There is apparently a hike and a historic mahogany forest, but all I want to do is paddle and wade in the gorgeous water - the bottom is smooth sand.  You take a cheap jitney ride to the beach and back, and there is a small admission fee for the park.  Food, drink and chair prices are reasonable, but the employees are veeeeery slow at business. This could be your bargain day.

 

St Maarten, Maho beach is a taxi ride away, and it’s small and steep.  Watching the huge planes scream in overhead just before they hit the runway is the big attraction.  Once was enough for me, but the kids will like it.  You could then go back to Phillipsburgh where there is a lively bar, resto, beach scene, and also crazy cheap shopping on Back Street, one street back from all the Cartier and Lancôme on the main drag.  Buyer beware, but there are knock off purses and cheap,electronics, and everything is tax free.

 

Hope this helps.  What ship and what date?

Edited by wassup4565

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