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Old 02-16-2013, 04:23 PM   #166
klass3
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Great information. Checking out tours for our June cruise. Bernard's Tour sounds just right.
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:41 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by jeffl View Post
Great thread as we are starting to think about what excursions we want to do on our upcoming Eastern cruise! Below is a review of the excursions we did on our last Eastern...

St Thomas - Captain Nautica's Snorkeling Expedition
This was the highlight of or last Eastern cruise! The 'expedition' starts with a ride in a RIB boat to Buck Island. This was my son's (8) favorite part. We skipped over (my wife would say "crashed through") the waves as we sped to the island. We even hit a light rain that felt a bit more like small hail at our speed as we approached the island. My son quickly proclaimed the ride "more fun than the Yeti (Expedition Everest)!" Then, after a short safety and basic snorkeling instruction we dove into Turtle Cove where we saw rays, several turtles and even a curious barracuda. One of the turtles surfaced right next to my daughter (11)! After about 50 minutes we got back on the boat went the the other side of the island to Shipwreck cove where we swam out and explored an old ship wreck. There was some coral (not the most colorful), but multitudes of small fish. After some shrimp and drinks on the boat, we sped back to the ship. 14 thumbs up (two for each member of our party)! We would do this one again, but are thinking about the Honeymoon Bay excursion as well.

St Maarten - DOWNHILL Rainforest Trek
As was previously reviewed in this thread, this one was a dud. There are a couple of spectacular views that you get little time to enjoy. The bulk of the time it is a steep forced march through nondescript forest. Our guide was like a drill Sergeant (making DS cry at one point) until we were on the ride back the ship when he suddenly became friendly. Yeah... NO TIP FOR YOU! I don't see this tour on the port adventures page anyone, so maybe Disney got the message.
Me and my wife did both of those excursions a few years. And I completely agree with your thoughts on both of them. So nothing really to add. But I will say that our Downhill Trek was made pleasant by the people we were behind in line. I was actually the dead last person... great, because I wanted to take lots of pics. But the people directly in front of us were a blast!!! If not for them, it would've been so-so.
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:45 PM   #168
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St. Thomas Skyride

An Excerpt from my Trip Report (see sig)...............



IMG_1017 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



The skyride takes you up to Paradise Point, where you’ll get AMAZING views of St. Thomas. If you want good pictures of the ship, with some scenic St. Thomas in there, this is your excursion!!! A cable car takes you to the top, where there are a couple of main viewing areas. At this destination, the area that’s a little higher up is like a nature trail with a few “wild” animals; goats, peacocks, geese, a couple of caged birds. For a portion of that part, there are some wooden steps to guide you along. [You have to be careful near the railing though; some of the beasts leave presents.] But at a certain point, you’ll just be walking on dirt and rocks, through some forestry. You can completely avoid that aspect of the trail though. I didn’t really get too adventurous here (I didn’t say “we” for a reason), because I was trying to be quick with my journey. There is also another section that has a bar and a couple of little shops. Now this is the spot to really get the good views!!! When you’re up on that nature trail, you see the roof the stores, and the loading area for the cable cars. But right outside of the bar, there’s a railing with nothing in front of you except beautiful St. Thomas. There are a few houses on the hillside, you see the ships in port (even the ones in a further out port), the shops are less of an eyesore from up there, the layout of the waterways is just perfect, and you see the other various hills/mountains of the island. So all-in-all, not much in terms of adventure with this excursion. But for something low-key that will still give you a sense of St. Thomas, I’d definitely suggest doing this.



IMG_1008 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr


IMG_1012 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



The view from the trail….

IMG_1042 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



IMG_1032 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



Pretty much the total view from the bar area….

IMG_1037 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



One thing I really have to mention though, is that this excursion is not the most child friendly; at least if you have super young kids. Not really knowing what we’d experience at the top of this hill/mountain, but also helping out on the walk over, we decided to take our daughter’s stroller. If anything, we were lucky we had the umbrella one for this trip, so it was somewhat easy to deal with. But there is no use for any type of stroller when you get to the top. Not one single bit. When the cable car drops you off, you have to use stairs to get to/through the nature trail, as well as getting to and from the bar/shops area. So needless to say, I started off carrying this thing around. And to make matters worse, it was incredibly hot this day. So after my wife had enough of carrying out daughter up the stairs in this heat, they eventually just sat near the bar to wait for me to walk around a bit. But at least the bar is open-air, and you can still get somewhat of a view when in the shaded part of it. I guess I could use the term “bar” pretty loosely though. Yeah, they served drinks and all. But it was completely family-friendly. Not that there was anything super great about it. It just wasn’t off-putting, I guess you could say. I will say that they have a very good $7 Virgin Piña Colada though.



IMG_1073 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:52 PM   #169
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San Juan - SJ Tours (not an official excursion)

Another piece from my Trip Report. This wasn't an official excursion. It was just an opportunity that presented itself, as soon as we got off the ship.


We go straight from breakfast, to off of the ship. I'm not sure of how busy a port of call San Juan is supposed to be, but we were the only ship out there the whole day. But as we got off, we noticed the lighted traffic board stating "Welcome Disney Fantasy…. To Puerto Rico”. We didn't have any excursions planned for the day; so our initial goal was to walk around the area near the ship. There aren’t too many options when you have a 2 year old in tow. And a simple beach excursion was way too much money. But as we passed the gates, we were greeted by someone from a local tour company, asking if we wanted to do a 1 hour tour for $10 a person. I was a little hesitant; but my wife decided we should just do it. Part of his quick pitch noted that we would be in an air conditioned bus/van. So that's what really hooked us. It wasn't just us on there, but a few other families as well. So off we go on a tour of San Juan!!!



IMG_1335 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



I should start by saying that San Juan isn't just all about tourists. At the very beginning of our tour, we drove past quite a few rundown areas. There were abandoned buildings, as well as quite a bit of graffiti (some pretty interesting "art" though) around. We start to see some familiar sights (McDonald's), and have a 'what the ....?' moment (the gas prices showed $.95 and $1... but that was per liter... Multiply that by 3 or 4, and you get the gallon rate). We then approached a really nice marina, and saw where the really nice hotels were located. It was in this area where we started the started to circle back to where we started. But this is where the tour truly began.



IMG_1343 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr




We saw the sight of the 1979 Pan American games. We passed a great viewpoint of Puerto Rico’s beautiful waters. We drove past their Capital building; that houses the original Constitution of Puerto Rico. We passed by the Castillo de San Cristóbal; the largest fort in the Americas. But it was on the opposite side of the Capital building where our adventure took an unexpected turn.


IMG_1362 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



Our tour stopped for a bit, to let people get out and observe the Walkway of the Presidents. There are statues of about 6 U.S. Presidents; with a plaque behind each of them, giving a brief description of their time in office. In this area, there are also a couple of other memorials; one of which represents the Holocaust. My wife is quite fascinated with any of the Holocaust Memorials we come across; so she took her time to read some of the plaques. When we finally emerged from this area (I should note that it was a little out of view from our bus) we realized that we had been left behind. We immediately wondered how in the world we would get back. But one of the first things on my mind was that our stroller was still on that bus!!!



We were walking around here before getting left behind.
IMG_1390 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



Luckily for us, there were 2 other buses from that tour company that were also stopped there. So we had the opportunity to finish our tour. But in fact, we were just beginning a new one. One would assume that all of the tour buses take the same exact route. But that was not the case. As chance would have it, this new guide had began his tour at Presidents Row. So after leaving there, we passed the same rundown area.... the same McDonald's.... the same 'what the----???' gas station... the same fancy resorts. And again, we saw The Pan American games stadium.

But instead of driving right past the great viewpoint of the water, we actually had a chance to get out and snap a couple of pics. We also stopped at the Capital building for a restroom break; and were able to look around inside of there for a bit. We not only saw the original Constitution of Puerto Rico; but we got a chance to see the beautifully done underside of the domed ceiling. This amazing piece of art was completely composed of small tiles, and took less than 3 years to complete. Directly across from this building was a statue of John the Baptist, with the lovely backdrop of the blue/green waters behind him. From there, we headed over to the fort you see as you’re entering the San Juan Bay; El Morro. We only stopped to get out for a few minutes; so we weren't able to get too close to the fort itself. There was quite a long walkway leading up to it. So besides the ride back to the ship, this concluded the main part of the tour. All in all, everything worked out for us. We ended up with a great tour guide (Javier Lomba... Highly recommended!!!); and we got to see a bit of San Juan, and learn a little of its history. And in the end, we got our stroller back!!!!! They also didn't take the payment until the end of the tour. So it was nice to hand our money over to the guy that didn't leave us behind. We also gave him a nice tip, because he was so good. I'm also not sure if they were charging for toddlers or not; but we paid for our 2 year old daughter anyway..... Or at least gave him a REALLY nice tip. Also, the name of that tour company is “San Juan Happy Tours”. And I have Javier’s business card, in case anyone would like his contact info.



The Constitution is right on the other side of those ropes…
IMG_1418 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



That beautiful ceiling….
IMG_1402 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



Leaving the Capital building. I wish I had more time in this area to do some shooting; especially right near that statue of John the Baptist.
IMG_1419 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



El Morro….
IMG_1436 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



One of my favorite pictures from the entire cruise (and currently my desktop picture). And there was a nice breeze over here. We try to keep her hair a little more under control than THAT.
IMG_1433 by Scott Smith (SRisonS), on Flickr



My Flickr Pictures!!!!!!!
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:07 PM   #170
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I've been keeping an eye on this thread as my family will be going on our 1st Eastern Caribbean cruise this June!

I think I have narrowed down the excursions that I'm considering. I would love any feedback from y'all! On the excursions, it would be myself (like the beach but not snorkeling & such), DH (ok with some beach time; does like to snorkel), and DS 5 (loves to be on the beach; no way would he snorkel ).

St. Maarten:

- Family Fun Beach & Nature Walk
- Afternoon Beach Bash Tour
- Going to a beach on our own

St. Thomas/St. John:

- Magens Bay Beach Break
- Kon Tiki Sightseeing & Beach Cruise
- Going to a beach on our own

Any input is much appreciated! TIA!
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:41 PM   #171
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Subbing - just booked our cruise today!

Was interested in spending as much time as possible in St. John
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:48 PM   #172
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looking for any new reviews of eastern excursions!!
Thanks to all who have already posted, very helpful to me as i have never been to these islands!!!
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:31 PM   #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaw
I've been keeping an eye on this thread as my family will be going on our 1st Eastern Caribbean cruise this June!

I think I have narrowed down the excursions that I'm considering. I would love any feedback from y'all! On the excursions, it would be myself (like the beach but not snorkeling & such), DH (ok with some beach time; does like to snorkel), and DS 5 (loves to be on the beach; no way would he snorkel ).

St. Maarten:

- Family Fun Beach & Nature Walk
- Afternoon Beach Bash Tour
- Going to a beach on our own

St. Thomas/St. John:

- Magens Bay Beach Break
- Kon Tiki Sightseeing & Beach Cruise
- Going to a beach on our own

Any input is much appreciated! TIA!
We did the Magen's bay one. Fun day! You can save money and take a cab there. No need for the excursion
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:59 PM   #174
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Just did the St John champagne catamaran and snorkel. It was amazing. Due to the weather we had to go to a different bay (Christmas bay) and it was wonderful. We swam right over many stingrays, fish and sea turtles. The crew was so much fun! The ride on the giant catamaran was very relaxing. Highly recommended.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:06 AM   #175
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Planning ahead for September! Thanks for all the great insights!
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:08 AM   #176
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Was interested in spending as much time as possible in St. John
Yes - do this!!!! I posted on another thread - we MUCH preferred St John over St Thomas. Magen's Bay didn't compare to Trunk Bay beach in our opinion!!!

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Old 03-23-2013, 06:42 AM   #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaw View Post
I've been keeping an eye on this thread as my family will be going on our 1st Eastern Caribbean cruise this June!

I think I have narrowed down the excursions that I'm considering. I would love any feedback from y'all! On the excursions, it would be myself (like the beach but not snorkeling & such), DH (ok with some beach time; does like to snorkel), and DS 5 (loves to be on the beach; no way would he snorkel ).

St. Maarten:

- Family Fun Beach & Nature Walk
- Afternoon Beach Bash Tour
- Going to a beach on our own

St. Thomas/St. John:

- Magens Bay Beach Break
- Kon Tiki Sightseeing & Beach Cruise
- Going to a beach on our own

Any input is much appreciated! TIA!
Not sure when you're sailing in June, but if you're on the June 15th Fantasy, a large group of us are doing Bernard's in St. Maarten. If you're on our cruise, join our fb group (Father's Day Fantasy) to get the details.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:49 AM   #178
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaw View Post
I've been keeping an eye on this thread as my family will be going on our 1st Eastern Caribbean cruise this June!

I think I have narrowed down the excursions that I'm considering. I would love any feedback from y'all! On the excursions, it would be myself (like the beach but not snorkeling & such), DH (ok with some beach time; does like to snorkel), and DS 5 (loves to be on the beach; no way would he snorkel ).

St. Maarten:

- Family Fun Beach & Nature Walk
- Afternoon Beach Bash Tour
- Going to a beach on our own

St. Thomas/St. John:

- Magens Bay Beach Break
- Kon Tiki Sightseeing & Beach Cruise
- Going to a beach on our own

Any input is much appreciated! TIA!
We did the Kon Tiki and would not recommend it. The tour was ok but its only on the way there. On the way back, its loud music and they just keep talking about how much fun you are having and to put money in the 'love jug' for them. The beach where you spend about an hour is very rocky and there are no chairs, etc. It was ok but definitely not something we'd do again.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:32 PM   #179
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Hi all


Anyone done the "Tiki Hut" Island Tour on St Maarten? Cannot book through DCL (offered by Island Tours I believe). Per the description, it's a van ride to the French side, stop in Marigot for shopping then ferry out to Pinel Island for drinks, snorkeling, and lunch. Return trip offers stop at an overlook site. $69 lunch not incl.

We booked for our upcoming Fantasy (June) trip since it includes both DW's interest in shopping and island tour and my interest in beach/water/ & snorkeling.

Looking for a brief review... This will be our second cruise and we're a little nervous about an excursion not booked thru DCL.


Thanks!!!
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:15 PM   #180
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Has anyone gone on the dolphin excursion recently? Would you recommend?
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