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Old 12-23-2012, 06:10 PM   #1
calidoc2006
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St. John's excursion with young kids - which one would you do?

We are sailing on the Fantasy in March (myself, DH, DS 8, DD 5). I had originally signed us up for the St. John Champagne Catamaran and snorkel excursion. But I just started reading about the Full Day Turtle Bay snorkel and Honeymoon Beach excursion which sounds great as well. Any opinions on which one is better? My DD will probably not snorkel though she is a good swimmer and would enjoy at least seeing the turtles. My son started to snorkel on our last trip and thought it was "cool" - he is a great swimmer though not the most coordinated of boys so the actual "breathing through the tube" was a little hard for him. Do you think it would be worth it to do this even though my daughter doesn't snorkel? Could she just swim a little to see the turtles? My hubby and I would love to see the turtles! We would all love to go to the beach on Honeymoon Beach.

The last hitch is that they both have ressies at BBB for the pirate night "makeovers" at 3:45pm - do you think we will be back in time for this if we do the full day excursion (leaves at 8am and says it is 6-6.5hours)? Thanks for any thoughts on all of this!
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:35 PM   #2
kcashner
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The times listed by DCL for excursions are total time including all transportation. That means you'll meet your excursion group at 8 and be back at the dock area at 2-2:30 (they probably allow fudge factor for traffic). Can you run both kids thru the shower and have them ready for their pirate appointments in 45 minutes? You might have a bit more time, but that's the outside edge. They might be hungry after a day of swimming too.....we've always found that we are ready for munchies when we return tot he ship, despite a good lunch.

Do I think you can do it? probably...but that's your call.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:48 PM   #3
lodge
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You won't want to hurry back once you see St. John!
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:06 PM   #4
Lisa Lisa
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We had a tough time deciding between St. John excursions as well, but we were debating between the "Full Day Caribbean Sail & Snorkel to Turtle Cove and Honeymoon Beach" and the "Trunk Bay Beach and Snorkel Tour." We really want to see St. John, but our 9 yo DD has been afraid to snorkel in the past. In the end, we decided on the Trunk Bay Beach and Snorkel Tour. This way DH and I can take turns snorkeling while one of us hangs out on the beach with DD. And if she decides she'd like to try snorkeling, we'll have the equipment for her already.

Between the two that you're considering, I would lean toward the Full Day Sail & Snorkel. The other seems to be geared more toward grownups.
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:57 AM   #5
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We did the St. John Champagne Snorkel & Sail in september of this year. My kids were 10 1/2, and there were many other kids on the boat as well.

It was a great excursion, the best that we have done (3rd cruise) and we would not hesitiate to do it again. The crew was fantastic and they served soda, water and juice on the way out to snorkel. On the way back there was also beer and rum punch, along with cheese and crackers.

When you get to the snorkel area (Honeymoon Beach on St. John), you can snorkel off the boat or they will take you in the small boat to the beach and you can hang out there (and yes, they come back to take you back to the boat). They told us where the turtles usually hang out and where the coral reef is as well. They were very helpful in making sure equpiment fit well and helping anyone that needed help.

Seeing the turtles was absolutley amazing, but I will warn you, they said they are not always there. So if that is the only reason you are going, just know that you may not see any. There were no turtles the day before we went. We saw 2 together, it was incredible.

I had read reviews on this excursion on the board before we left, and we are very glad we booked it. As I said, if we do an Eastern again, I would not hesitate to book this again.

Good luck in your choice - St. John is beautiful!
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Old 12-24-2012, 07:29 AM   #6
Lisa Lisa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DLW8 View Post
We did the St. John Champagne Snorkel & Sail in september of this year. My kids were 10 1/2, and there were many other kids on the boat as well.

It was a great excursion, the best that we have done (3rd cruise) and we would not hesitiate to do it again. The crew was fantastic and they served soda, water and juice on the way out to snorkel. On the way back there was also beer and rum punch, along with cheese and crackers.

When you get to the snorkel area (Honeymoon Beach on St. John), you can snorkel off the boat or they will take you in the small boat to the beach and you can hang out there (and yes, they come back to take you back to the boat). They told us where the turtles usually hang out and where the coral reef is as well. They were very helpful in making sure equpiment fit well and helping anyone that needed help.

Seeing the turtles was absolutley amazing, but I will warn you, they said they are not always there. So if that is the only reason you are going, just know that you may not see any. There were no turtles the day before we went. We saw 2 together, it was incredible.

I had read reviews on this excursion on the board before we left, and we are very glad we booked it. As I said, if we do an Eastern again, I would not hesitate to book this again.

Good luck in your choice - St. John is beautiful!
Thank you for posting this. Now I'm second guessing my choice! I had ruled this one out since I'm not sure my DD will want to snorkel, but knowing that they will take you to the beach makes a big difference. Did you find reviews posted on this board or another one?
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa Lisa View Post
Thank you for posting this. Now I'm second guessing my choice! I had ruled this one out since I'm not sure my DD will want to snorkel, but knowing that they will take you to the beach makes a big difference. Did you find reviews posted on this board or another one?
I booked it based on reviews on the DIS, but then also read reviews on Trip Advisor. We all liked it so much, I even wrote a review there!

They also have noodles to help people in the water. My DH doesn't like to snorkel (his moustache/goatee lets water in the mask) so he hung out with us on a noodle and used DS's mask every once in a while to check things out.

I didn't go to the beach (I was obsessed with the turtles!) but someone else on our excursion did and she also wrote a review on Trip Advisor.

The crew did comment that they usually have mostly adults, unless it's a Disney cruise, but they were great with the kids, so don't worry about that. On the way back to the marina, they played great music and everyone just kind of hung out eating/drinking and soaking up the sun and the beautiful scenery. Even though the word champagne is in the name, don't let that make you think it's just for adults (I believe they do also serve champagne on the way back after snorkeling, but I stayed with the rum punch. It was REALLY good.)
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:41 AM   #8
Lisa Lisa
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My thanks to the OP and to DLW8. After reading some reviews, I went ahead and made the switch to the St. John Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel. I revisited the idea of the Full Day Caribbean Sail And Snorkel To Turtle Cove And Honeymoon Beach as well, but that one is now sold out for the 3/23/13 Eastern.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:58 PM   #9
JRM815
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calidoc2006 View Post
We are sailing on the Fantasy in March (myself, DH, DS 8, DD 5). I had originally signed us up for the St. John Champagne Catamaran and snorkel excursion. But I just started reading about the Full Day Turtle Bay snorkel and Honeymoon Beach excursion which sounds great as well. Any opinions on which one is better? My DD will probably not snorkel though she is a good swimmer and would enjoy at least seeing the turtles. My son started to snorkel on our last trip and thought it was "cool" - he is a great swimmer though not the most coordinated of boys so the actual "breathing through the tube" was a little hard for him. Do you think it would be worth it to do this even though my daughter doesn't snorkel? Could she just swim a little to see the turtles? My hubby and I would love to see the turtles! We would all love to go to the beach on Honeymoon Beach.
We did the St. John Champagne Catamaran excursion in July and had a great time, but with younger kids I would recommend the Trunk Bay excursion. Let me explain.

On the Champagne Catamaran the snorkeling starts off the boat in 30 foot deep water rather than from a beach like at Trunk Bay. Snorkel vests are required and while I usually do not inflate my vest because I am a good swimmer, I needed to blow into my vest that day because it was a breezy day and the water was choppy. The beach we stopped at was not as protected as Trunk Bay. That said, we still had a great time. We saw two turtles (in fact my DS 14 was thrilled when one surfaced for air only 6 feet away!), some rays, and schools of smaller fish, but most of those were in 20+ feet of water. While you might not see any turtles, Trunk Bay has a marked underwater trail in 8 to 15 feet of water, with beautiful coral and lots of smaller fish.

One downside to the Trunk Bay excursion is the amount of time it takes to get there and back. Your stay seems so short compared to the travel time. And the breezy day came in handy on the Champagne Catamaran -- on the way back the Captain cut the engines and we traveled using sails alone, sipping punch and munching on bread, fruit, and cheese.
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:54 PM   #10
calidoc2006
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Thank you for all of your input! I have decided to stay with the Champagne Catamaran and snorkel excursion. My daughter (5yo) is doubtfully going to snorkel and it is a toss up if my son (8yo) will as well. My DH and I will take turns with them on the beach and the other can snorkel. I really want to go to Honeymoon Beach as I heard it is absolutely beautiful and the ride on the catamaran sounds fun and relaxing (we did something similar in Turks and Caicos and the kids loved it - especially the boat ride!). I also think a slightly shorter excursion will be better for my kids given their ages - and we have BBB appts at 3:45 for pirates night that cannot be missed!! So I will (possibly) give up my turtle sightings for the greater good. And anyway, I too am on the 3/23 sailing and it sounds like the full day is sold out now anyway - Lisa Lisa we will be on the Champagne excursion together - looking forward to meeting you! Thanks everyone for the advice!
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