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Old 04-24-2013, 12:11 PM   #1
loricfam
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Port Adventure recommendations for St. Thomas and St. Martin?

We are taking our first Disney cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy in July! Very excited!!! This is also my first time on the Disboards.

I will be traveling with my DH, DS (10 yrs old) and DD (7 yrs old). My online registration date is approaching and I REALLY need help with selecting port adventures. My kids are pretty adventurous and like to have FUN! I did go to Disney's site and read about them, and also saw reviews in a guide book. A lot that seem really fun have an age requirement is 8 and DD is 7. Also, I can't see what times the PAs start and I don't think I want to do something at 7:00am! (My kids will be half asleep!) Also, since I'm in the last group to register I'm not sure what PAs will still have openings.

So, for St. Thomas here's what I am considering. I'm thinking about taking a cab to Maagen's Bay, but we have a full day at Castaway Cay, so I don't know if I want to do 2 beach days. I thought the kids might like the Skyride to Paradise Point and then we'll have time to explore the town. I think they'd love the Screamin' Eagle Jet Boat ride, although it's only 30 minutes long. The Doubloon Turtle Cove Snail and Snorkel got good reviews. But is it worth it to pay so much to snorkel here when we can snorkel at Castaway Cay for so much less? Finally there's the Tortola Dolphin Encounter. But, it's over 8 hours long and you are with the dolphins for only 30 minutes. Also, it seems you get to touch the dolphins but not really swim with them.

Here's what we're considering in St. Martin. We can walk to Great Bay Beach from the boat and hang out in town. There are also two semi-sub adventures, one called the See and Sea Island Tour and one called the Sea World Explorer Coral Reef Exploration. (They're the same thing, one just gives you time in Marigot.) They got mixed reviews and I don't want the kids to be bored. Finally there's the Golden Eagle Catamaran, which got good reviews but I'm not sure if there is snorkeling. And again, we already have a beach/snorkel day available at Castaway Cay.

I'd appreciate any feedback you have on these port adventures! If you did different PAs, I'd love to hear your opinions of those, too! Thanks!!!
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:57 PM   #2
llnolte
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Welcome! You will find lots of information here! We did the Doubloon Snorkel and Sail in St. Thomas and loved it. Beautiful snorkeling and boat ride out. The boat ride can be choppy depending. The turtles off of Buck Island are so cool. They will surface right next to you and then dive right back down. We are just going to do the skyride on our June cruise and then do some shopping. The Screaming Eagle boat looks cool though. We watched it after we got back from our excursion from the ship. You need to have an good stomach for that one!

In St. Maarten, we did an island/beach tour through Bernards. Loved them! Got to see the big planes land at Maho beach, went to Marigot on the French side and ate wonderful pastries at Sarafina's, and then spend about two hours at Orient Beach. You can rent jet skis there. Really nice beach. Then we did some shopping in Philipsburg. We are just going to take a taxi to Orient Beach for our excursion this time.

We have done the snorkeling at Castaway and really liked what we did in St. Thomas better. With the turtles, it really is cool.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:45 PM   #3
loricfam
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Thanks so much for the info! I think my kids would love to see the turtles on the Doubloon Snorkel adventure - and I would, too! Do they also stop at a beach for some relaxing or are you on the boat the whole time?
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:17 PM   #4
DayOhDisMom
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We are also going on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy in July. For St Maarten I was looking at the SeaWorld Explorer Coral Reef Exploration and at St John the Island tour. DD8 Just learning to swim.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:19 PM   #5
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Welcome to the Disboards.

Here is the main Eastern Excursion thread fwiw;
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2873063
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:29 PM   #6
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:52 PM   #7
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On St. Maarten -> If you / your family can tolerate some nudity (our son was 12) we took a taxi to Orient Beach on the other side of the island. It was awesome. It is a gorgeous beach. The water was great, we had a fun time and with the occasional neked or semi neked people that walked by - we had some education. We learned: 1) being in the sun for so long (the locals) really ruins your skin, 2) just because you can go neked doesn't mean that you should ... unless you are diligent about applying SPF 50 regularly!!! The "pasty white folks" that exposed the areas where the sun don't shine, were really, painfully sunburned!! So two good life lessons!

At St. Thomas try to go to St Johns and Trunk Bay. It's always listed on the top beaches of the world - and it is awesome.

I know - more beach days -- sorry.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:40 PM   #8
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We did something new on St Maarten. You can do a coastal hike high up in the hills. We had an amazing tour guide name Nikki. Our cruise ship was sold out of the excursion and the tour company couldn't take the liability of more on the bus. The tour rep showed us on the map where to meet up with our friends who were on the tour. We managed to find a taxi to take us there.

Taxi director "We don't take people to Guana beach, it's too dangerous." "We aren't going to the beach to swim, we are going to hike." So then he got us a cab. So that will tell you about the unusual terrain (a lot of cliffs, not just sand.)

Anyway our taxi got us there just as the bus left, and we ran and met our group. At this point, it only cost us the taxi fare. We planned to bring cash to tip the tour guides. Our tour rep who picked up our friends at the cruise port had radioed ahead that two more were on their way, so she was expecting us. We gave her $40 and she was happy with that because it was all tip money she could pocket since we weren't legally the liability of the tour company (which was fine with me.)

So we brought a bottle of water and joined our group. What a beautiful hike with gorgeous views! Nikki did a great job pointing out all the near by islands and really new the land. She was from Amsterdam originally so she really gave a Holland feel for the island too.

When we were done with our hike, she took us to this absolutely stunning beach, one of the prettiest I may have ever been and we kinda 'waded' in it (she didn't approve of swimming because as the Taxi director brought out, it is a challenging beach..) the waves looked SO much fun! Someone else was swimming and I was tempted! But I loved my 'dip'. At the other side of the beach was a cooler of soda and beer she had waiting for us. What a way to finish the morning.

After that, we crammed into the bus on the way back (had an extra seat) and we rode back with our friends. I applaud them for giving us an amazing tour and letting us tag along! What a beautiful memory and we have the photos to show for it! Afterward, we went to the public beach...where I found a restaurant with an umbrella and a cat..because the public beach was...hmm.. (I didn't care to swim in it after the gorgeous deserted beach we had left...) But it was still fun to take in all the sights. If I hadn't had the hike that morning, I might not have loved St Maarten as much as I do...

Tour guide:



Also don't forget to grab a few bottles of Guava Berry from the yellow hut in Maarten. That is a must. Mm mm!

For St Thomas, we took the sky ride to paradise point because our friends were. Great views. $10 drinks at the top. Guess it was interesting. Not sure I would have to do it again as it's kinda really hot in the view thing (surrounded by glass) and expensive and slightly tourist trap at the top. But I'm not sorry I did it, it's somethign different. I would skip Coki beach. I liked the service, I liked the AMAZING food. But the snorkeling was REALLY rough (waves crashing and visibility was soso) and it costs $5 for every chair $10 for every umbrella, pay paypay. However, the beach goers had a heck of a time posing in pics with me, so i think that was the most fun of the day. I scored a margarita as a thank you from one beach goer, woohoo! One of my fave pics from the trip my DH took of me. Mermaid drinkin' margarita!


Coki beach is very small though and crowded, no volleyball *too small for that. It had nice people but I wouldn't go back just to see some rocks with sea urchins and some fish and fight the current beating you in the sand the whole time... Glad I went but I would go to Sapphire beach or somewhere else next time...

Have a blast! Hope to get to Maarten for a great time and world reknown guava berry rum (which cannot be shipped! You can only bring it back.)

Have a blast!

Last edited by TwinPrincessMermaids; 04-24-2013 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:50 PM   #9
WineCountryMom
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We are also cruising on the Fantasy July 13, Eastern Caribbean. We can't wait. We have two boys that are the same ages of your kids. Also interested in what people have to say about excursions.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:24 AM   #10
loricfam
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All the tips and info are great! Keep them coming!
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:11 AM   #11
TgrFans
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We have similar questions and as always I'm relying on my wonderful DISers for advise! You never let me down!

We will be stopping in St. Thomas on our July Fantasy cruise. I've been researching for an excursion (thru DCL or an independent on the island) that consists of a tour and little bit of shopping and a place to stop for lunch perhaps. (We're spending the previous day at St Maarten on the beach - so I didn't want back to back beach trips.)

We definitely want to go to mountaintop. What is the best way to get there? Paradise Point is different than mountaintop correct? (It's so confusing!) Can we rent a cab and go on our own?

Thanks for any information!
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:16 AM   #12
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Paradise Point gets you to the top. The views are stunning. It's ok to do once. Just prepared to get stuffed into an enclosed tram with 8 or so people on a hot day, take it to a nice restaurant and some shops up there, a few photo ops and pay $$ (but you don't have to buy anything if you don't want, but I think the tram is like $16 per person or something.

Mountain Top is new to me.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loricfam View Post
Thanks so much for the info! I think my kids would love to see the turtles on the Doubloon Snorkel adventure - and I would, too! Do they also stop at a beach for some relaxing or are you on the boat the whole time?
No beach time. You are not allowed on Buck Island. But you get back fairly early and have the rest of the day free to do whatever. We went back to the ship and had pool/ AqauDuck time (not crowded). We did the beach on our tour in St. Maarten. There is an all day snorkel with the turtles and sail that includes beach time and lunch. I think it is the one for Honeymoon Beach.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:11 PM   #14
loricfam
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Thanks for the details. I like the idea of getting back early.

I think the one in St. Martin that you're talking about is the Golden Eagle Catamaran. Has anyone done this one?
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