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First timers - Caribbean cruise


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Hopefully you are considering at least a week - the shorter ones tend to be booze cruises, which barely give a taste of the Caribbean.  If you have the time, you might think of something sailing from San Juan, PR - giving you warm sailing all the way as well as a good couple of days in one of the best ports.

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Yes, please give us some more info!  Cruising solo/with spouse/with children?   Looking for casual/more formal atmosphere onboard?  What do you want to do on the islands?  Tour/beach/snorkel/dive?

And welcome to CC!

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Is there a port you can drive to? I'd pick that first, as you haven't had time to get tired of the same ship.

 

Where do you live, or what is closest departure port.

 

For instance all my bookings right now are out of Galveston. I don't want to fly anywhere. April 2021 has been cheap for rcl cruises right now. I got a balcony solo for 884 total solo price. 7 days. 

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Wow!  Never gave a thought to the great questions raised above 😂. Thanks for all the responses! We are a couple who were enjoying (early - my partner told me to say) retirement until COVID hit. 
 

UK based but fancy flying to southern USA to join the cruise. Looking at 14 days cruising. We’re not particularly looking at formal - casual with the odd formality would be great. On the islands, definitely beach/tours. 
 

there seems to be East or West Caribbean cruises - which should we look at?

 

hope this has focussed our criteria mere effectively, however we are open to all suggestions and advice

 

thanks for helping 👍

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I would recommend eastern Caribbean based on this and suggest you look at celebrity. Celebrity is more adult focused than family focused. And while there’s a dress code and ‘formal’ nights, it’s nowhere near as dressy as something like Cunard. Eastern Caribbean has the best beaches and there are tons of interesting and beautiful islands to tour. Particularly recommend antigua, tortola, and st Martin. Sure there are tons others out there. 

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1 hour ago, seasickchris said:

Wow!  Never gave a thought to the great questions raised above 😂. Thanks for all the responses! We are a couple who were enjoying (early - my partner told me to say) retirement until COVID hit. 
 

UK based but fancy flying to southern USA to join the cruise. Looking at 14 days cruising. We’re not particularly looking at formal - casual with the odd formality would be great. On the islands, definitely beach/tours. 
 

there seems to be East or West Caribbean cruises - which should we look at?

 

hope this has focussed our criteria mere effectively, however we are open to all suggestions and advice

 

thanks for helping 👍

No telling how things will shake out by 2022. That being said we had a great 15 night cruise sailing out of Southampton on Independence of the Seas Oct. 2017.  9 days to cross the pond and then St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St, Thomas, Labadee, at least one more I can not remember and ending in Florida.  Cold and rainy leaving Southampton but fantastic weather from day two on. Happy cruising

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Since you have 2 wks., consider a cruise to the Southern Caribbean out of Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, or San Juan.  

 

MSC and P&O offer cruises out of Barbados, which makes entry easier for Brits.  

 

There are so many cruises around the Caribbean it can be difficult to narrow it down.

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7 hours ago, seasickchris said:

Wow!  Never gave a thought to the great questions raised above 😂. Thanks for all the responses! We are a couple who were enjoying (early - my partner told me to say) retirement until COVID hit. 
 

UK based but fancy flying to southern USA to join the cruise. Looking at 14 days cruising. We’re not particularly looking at formal - casual with the odd formality would be great. On the islands, definitely beach/tours. 
 

there seems to be East or West Caribbean cruises - which should we look at?

 

For mass market cruises from Florida you seem to have 3 options

 

  1. Back to back 7 day cruises going to first the eastern and then western routes.  You want 14 days so the timing on these trips is perfect
  2. A longer 10-12 day trip to the Southern Caribbean.  Maybe some of these will touch places like Cartagena in Columbia which is a nice city to visit,
  3. The transatlantic from or to Southampton with some Caribbean Islands mixed.  Personally I like these cruises and would recommend it if you want something very relaxing.

The biggest ships, most modern ships would be on option 1.  Options 2 and 3 would probably be more relaxed.

 

Good luck.  I decided to delay my retirement because of COVID and I am anxiously awaiting for some return to normalcy so I can call it quits myself! 

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3 hours ago, seasickchris said:

Again - thanks for all the responses - Southern Caribbean now firmly on the radar. 
 

Cheeky bonus question arising out of the replies, if I may - pros and cons of sailing out of:

 

a) Southampton 

b) America

c) Southampton out, fly back

It all comes down to availability of itinerary from the departure location and how much flying you're willing to do. Also look at the numberof sea days on any transatlantic. 

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Hi Chris,

Have a look at P&O. They do fly cruises to the Caribbean. Gratuities are included in the cruise price where as US cruise lines add a daily charge to your onboard account of, on average, $15 per person per day. Drinks prices are roughly equivalent to UK pub prices when US prices are higher and an 18% service charge is added on top of the displayed price. There are drinks packages available too which may or may not be economically worth purchasing depending on what you expect to drink. A Caribbean cruise is port intensive so you will probably be off the ship for quite a few hours on most days.
Flights from UK airports are included in the price. You check your luggage in at the UK airport and then it is bonded in Barbados so the next time you see your cases is in your cabin. You are taken straight from the plane to your transport to the ship so don't have to go through immigration which makes the whole process very easy.

At the end of your cruise you can stay on board the ship until your included transport returns you to the airport. Your cases are collected on the ship and you reclaim them once back in the UK.

You can be as formal or informal as you like on the ships because there are plenty of dining options but 'formal nights' are observed more than on most US ships. A dinner suit, lounge suit or shirt and jacket are expected in the main dining rooms on those nights but a shirt and long trousers are fine on the other nights. The buffet is informal. For ladies, anything from a long dress and jewels to a smart top and trousers is acceptable.

The cruise package is usually 14 nights and often includes destinations in the eastern and western Caribbean. My personal opinion is that this type of package gives a good insight into cruising and cuts out the possible problems involved with flying out to Florida and getting on a ship from there. We have done that several times but always add on a few days pre and post cruise.....just in case!

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8 hours ago, seasickchris said:

Again - thanks for all the responses - Southern Caribbean now firmly on the radar. 
 

Cheeky bonus question arising out of the replies, if I may - pros and cons of sailing out of:

 

a) Southampton 

b) America

c) Southampton out, fly back

For a first cruise option C might be a little iffy.  A transatlantic is most enjoyed by people who can do nothing for 14 days/nights and enjoy the peace and serenity.  Big ships still have plenty of nighttime activities but some people go stir crazy not seeing land for 10 days straight. 

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32 minutes ago, taglovestocruise said:

For a first cruise option C might be a little iffy.  A transatlantic is most enjoyed by people who can do nothing for 14 days/nights and enjoy the peace and serenity.  Big ships still have plenty of nighttime activities but some people go stir crazy not seeing land for 10 days straight. 


100% agree. I would never recommend a transatlantic for a first cruise. You’ll be on the ship for about a week straight. First cruises are good for a few sea days and lots of ports. Wait until you feel sure you’ll enjoy many days on just the ship before attempted a transatlantic. 

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9 hours ago, seasickchris said:

Again - thanks for all the responses - Southern Caribbean now firmly on the radar. 
 

Cheeky bonus question arising out of the replies, if I may - pros and cons of sailing out of:

 

a) Southampton 

b) America

c) Southampton out, fly back

Sailing out of Southampton during peak Caribbean time means many chilly Atlantic sea days, option C would be only half as bad.  You might want to consider Barbados (lots of fly sail deals from UK ). P&O has a couple of ships with great 14 day itineraries.  MSC has a few - but you would want the 5,400 passenger mega-ship.  If you are thinking high end, Seaborn has best itineraries - including smaller islands, such as St. Barth’s, not open to larger ships, but very pricey.

 

Advantage here would be great cruising weather for whole cruise, plus the option of a few days on Barbados pre or post. 

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I agree with the P&O cruises, because of the ease of transport on a chartered plane which only has cruise passengers on board- you're in their hands from check in to check out back in the UK.

Marella-used to be Thomson- also do these packages from various airports. It does make a difference on the last day, when other ships need you off by 9.30am or so, and you might have a long wait in an airport- been there, done that and won't do it again.  Instead, you have the run of the ship, the food, swimming etc until your coach arrives for the airport.

I know you've said a fortnight, but have a look at our favourite cruise- a month out of Southampton in winter, with 8 Caribbean islands then sailing back via the Azores... if only... 😒😥 ... another year, perhaps...  🙂

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3 hours ago, jocap said:

I agree with the P&O cruises, because of the ease of transport on a chartered plane which only has cruise passengers on board- you're in their hands from check in to check out back in the UK.

Marella-used to be Thomson- also do these packages from various airports. It does make a difference on the last day, when other ships need you off by 9.30am or so, and you might have a long wait in an airport- been there, done that and won't do it again.  Instead, you have the run of the ship, the food, swimming etc until your coach arrives for the airport.

I know you've said a fortnight, but have a look at our favourite cruise- a month out of Southampton in winter, with 8 Caribbean islands then sailing back via the Azores... if only... 😒😥 ... another year, perhaps...  🙂

This is what I would go for - all ship, no flight  -- but a first timer might find that month a bit long - and those several sea days each way  in winter north atlantic a bit much.

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On 11/9/2020 at 8:20 AM, seasickchris said:

Once again, many thanks to all responders - some great ideas to research during lockdown 😷

Whatever you do, don’t fly in the day of the cruise get there at least a day early and stay over.

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I'll echo a bit what others said on making sure it's at least a week. I'd also avoid any time in March or April due to college & school spring break. The early part of it can turn any ship into a party ship, and the latter part of it will have at least a 1:1 ratio of kids to adults making for a different kind of hectic cruise. I personally like cruising the Caribbean in late May/early June as the schools haven't let out yet, and you get some really warm weather and ocean temps which make for great days on the beach. 

 

Also consider what line you'll be sailing on. Of the big 3, it's really a question whether or not you like more of a party atmosphere (Carnival), active atmosphere (Royal Caribbean), or a bit of a mix of both (Norwegian). Then you also have the luxury lines from Carnival's such as Holland America, and Royal Caribbean's Celebrity, which are much different from each other in their own right. If you want to stay on a big ship, but want a luxury experience, you can go with the Haven on Norwegian's ships too which is a great experience. 

 

Generally 7 day Western Caribbean cruises have 1 more port day than Eastern Caribbean ones, so that's another thing to consider. 

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