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Old 05-01-2019, 05:40 AM
Location: Hiding from Antifa?
6,422 posts, read 4,183,124 times
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Originally Posted by nmnita View Post

2-Aruba is a good choice but not as pretty as some of the other islands and not as nice as it was years ago. It is more crowded, and more built up. It is a great place to rent a car and just do your own thing. You mentioned St Maartin. like Aruba, good place to rent a car and enjoy your vacation. Curisou ( not spelled right as tall)is like Aruba, a great place to vacation.

It’s Curaçao, and after our last cruise it would be my choice to go to for a land vacation. About twenty or more years ago we took a cruise that went to Aruba, and that became the place we would go to, but we never managed to. We finally took another cruise that stopped there this past November, that also stopped in Curaçao. Aruba has become much too crowded. We took a tour in Curaçao that stopped at a beach just long enough to take pictures. That beach sold us on Curaçao. The water was so much clearer than any other water I have seen in the Caribbean. I wanted so bad to get in.

The ç in Curaçao is a soft c pronounced like an s.
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Old 05-01-2019, 11:57 PM
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
9,690 posts, read 18,880,003 times
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Originally Posted by NaleyRocks View Post
Hold the phone and back up - whe. You say you met people at you dinner table- as in you do not get your own dinner table? You have to sit with other people you don’t know?

Yeah that’s my ideal of torture. I could do ha doe it one time but not the whole trip. Is this an every night thing?

The dining options vary between different cruise lines. There's also some variance between different ships in the same line. You could ask the dining room when the least crowded time is and ask for a table for your party for that time and I'm sure they'd let you make reservations. If you don't have a specific seating table and time, you can make daily reservations which is almost sort of the same thing. If you ask for the same table each night, you'll even get to know your wait staff pretty well.

On our last cruise, I noticed a couple who always sat at the same table by themselves. It was a table for six, but it was always just the two of them there. The first time I felt sorry for them since I'd thought the rest of their table had stood them up, but then when they were there night after night, I figured they wanted to be there by themselves. We would generally opt for any table anywhere with anyone to make it more interesting. Or we would go to dinner in a group with folks we had met on the ship. Cruise ships pretty much want you to be happy, at least, the ones we've been on have had that attitude.

Generally, we cruise on Holland America Line and I don't find those ships to seem very crowded at all. There's always somewhere to go that is almost deserted and there's almost always somewhere you can go where there's a gathering as well so you can choose either way.

Another option, especially if you have a balcony room, is to eat on the balcony. HAL ships have free room service. I think you can order anything off the dining room menus during dining room hours and there's a different menu for the rest of the time, but looking up the details on this would be best since I could be remembering incorrectly.

We did a TransAtlantic last year followed by a loop down through the Caribbean. On the TA cruise, there were zero children aboard and the average age was probably around seventy. For the next cruise down through the Caribbean, the average age dropped to about forty five and there were quite a few children around. It was a totally different feel to the ship.

I would think a shorter cruise through the Caribbean would probably have younger people and more kids aboard since working people can't get as much time off and children usually have school schedules.

Also, when cruising, when your ship is in port, it can make the port you're visiting crowded. Sometimes, the port is owned by the ship - actually, in the Caribbean it seemed that way more often than not. When the ship owns the port, there's nothing authentic about the port and frequently it's crowded. When it's not a port owned by the ship, the port still knows a ship is in and the prices are generally raised so you won't find many deals on things when a ship is in port.

We did stop at Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. We were in Aruba on a Sunday/holiday so it was mostly closed. It looked pretty built up and touristy from what we saw of it, although we were only around the port area. Curaçao was more interesting and had some feeling of place about it, although it was also sort of touristy. I did like Bonaire best, even though it had the least.

We got off the ship in Bonaire and went on the local ferry boat (I think it was $14 round trip?) that went from the port to the resort down the beach and then across to Bonaire Klein (Little Bonaire, I think that means) Then we drift snorkeled along the island. On the first run of the day, the ferry boat will drop you off a half mile up current from their beach stop on Bonaire Klein, so you can drift down to the stop and get picked up by the ferry and taken back to Bonaire proper. There's an excursion from the ship that does the same thing if you forgot to bring your mask and snorkel, although that costs a hundred and a half or so.

If you wanted a resort vacation, perhaps you could have a few days at a resort on one island and then switch to another if it was not what you wanted? Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao seemed quite close to each other, but I don't know how feasible it would be in actuality.
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Old 05-02-2019, 12:28 PM
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,683 posts, read 3,653,594 times
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Originally Posted by NaleyRocks View Post
We are trying to plan a vacation for February and I cannot decide between a cruise and a resort. In theory a cruise sounds great, the activities look fun and we’d get to explore different islands.. We have to go over the school winter break and I’m afraid the cruise would be too packed to be enjoyable. I like to relax by the beach and drive around and look at local sights with occasional low-keyinteractions with others and maybe one fun day at a theme park. I do not like elbow-to-elbow situations at all for any reason. I also despise standing in line so I worry about lines for food and activities. A few years ago we left Disney at 2pm because it was just too crowded to enjoy. And I like a drink here or there but hate rowdy crowds (aka no spring breakers). So I worry that a cruise will be disappointing.

On the flip side, I worry a Resort would get boring after a few days.

I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences. I’d also like island recommendations. I think I’d like St. Maarten or the Grand Caymans. Nothing seedy or run-down. Definitely not Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica, or Cuba- those seem to be party/don’t leave your resort type destinations.

Thanks in advance!
Originally Posted by NaleyRocks View Post
Hold the phone and back up - whe. You say you met people at you dinner table- as in you do not get your own dinner table? You have to sit with other people you don’t know?

Yeah that’s my ideal of torture. I could do ha doe it one time but not the whole trip. Is this an every night thing?
I'll preface my remarks by saying that I just completed my 8th cruise; whereas I've never once been to an AI. So I'll admit my biases up front.

February is not spring break time. If you go over President's Day weekend, you're likely to have a decent number of kids aboard. (You say that you must travel over school break but you don't say if you have kids. If you do have kids, you definitely want to travel when there are other kids along, so that your kids will have others to play with.) The rest of the month will have relatively few kids. Cruise ships do indeed have rowdy parties. But it's entirely up to you whether or not you wish to attend them. If you don't, it's easy to avoid them, to the extent that you may not even realize that they're taking place. Cruise lines have their own personalities, as well, with some emphasizing rowdy fun more than others. I'm not a partier at all, and I've been quite content on my 7 cruises on Royal Caribbean. (The 8th was on Disney.)

If you eat in the main dining room on a fixed schedule, there will be few or no lines. You walk up to the maitre d's desk at the entrance to the dining room and he will have someone escort you to your assigned table. If you are traveling as a family, you will likely be assigned to your own table. If it's just two of you, you might be paired with someone else. This has actually gone well when it's happened to me, but if it's not your thing, you can request a table to yourself, and they'll do their best to accommodate you. You can also eat in the buffet, where you choose your own table. (Though, you may have to deal with lines there.)

The downside to a cruise, as per what you're looking for, is that you can only scratch the surface of whatever island you're visiting. You're probably there only about 6 or 7 hours, so an opportunity to lie around a quiet beach for hours on end is going to be hard to find. (However, if you pick a cruise that includes a stop at a private Bahamian island -- NOT Nassau -- those are great for lazy beach days.) Of course, no one says you have to take the tours sponsored by the ship; you can arrange your own tour with an independent guide, or go off on your own.

Here are my island recommendations, based on places I've actually been, and ranked on a scale of 1 to 5:

Bermuda -- 5
OK, it's not in the Caribbean, but it's a beautiful place, the people are friendly, it feels totally safe, and there are plenty of historic and cultural things to see, in addition to beautiful beaches. Hands-down my favorite island in this part of the world.

Grand Cayman -- 4.5
Another great choice, though it's not quite as beautiful as Bermuda, nor are the cultural amenities as numerous. But the beaches are wonderful and it feels safe.

St. Maarten -- 4
Generally a good choice. Watching the planes land right over your head at Maho Beach is a not-to-be-missed experience. The mountainous topography is very scenic. And Marigot feels like a French village plopped down in the Caribbean, which is basically what it is. There are a few seedy-looking spots (especially on the eastern side of the island), but I didn't feel unsafe there.

Cozumel, Mexico -- 3.5
Yes, it's in Mexico; but it's still a pleasant, generally scenic area. The main part of downtown (near where the cruise ships dock) is nicely kept-up, and the food is wonderful. Some other parts of the island do seem a bit sketchy, though.

Costa Maya, Mexico -- 3.5
The gated port area is great, if all you want to see is a Disney-fied representation of Mexico. Outside the gates, it's meh. (I never did get to the nearby town of Mahahual, which I've heard good things about.)

St. Thomas -- 3
I didn't see much of it beyond the port area, which was nice enough, but I could tell even from casual glances that the island does have a seedy underbelly.

Falmouth, Jamaica -- 3
The gated port area is very pleasant, with an enjoyable marketplace and food vendors. But one look through the fence was all I needed to know that I would not be crossing through it.

Belize -- 2.5
A fairly low ranking because Belize City is a total dump. But the inland Mayan ruins were very interesting. I never made it to the offshore islands that see a lot of dive tourism. The port area is fenced off, though you do have to run the gauntlet between where the tour bus drops you off and the gate. It's only about 6 feet, but in that distance, you will need to say NO to at least 3 or 4 vendors trying to get you to buy something.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- 1
You will be set upon by aggressive vendors from the moment you step off the ship until the moment you get back on. I absolutely hated the place, even with the attractive natural scenery.
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