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Old 06-02-2013, 11:04 AM   #16
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We've done 3 Eastern cruises and we've only done 1 formal DCL excursion (semi-sub at Coral World on St. Thomas - DD was 6, I think).

We have booked the Butterfly Farm on St. Thomas through DCL, but they were "on your own" tickets - the main reason was the price seemed lower than purchasing them at the door, and you had guaranteed tickets for the day (they do sell out!). The butterfly farm is within easy walking distance from where the ship docks, so would be very easy to do with a small child.

St. Thomas also has a large shopping complex at the dock area, along with some restaurants so you can easily get off and wander around and shop a bit. If you want, you can even walk into Charlotte-Amalie - it took us about 30-40 minutes with a 5 year old and no stroller the first time we did it.

If you're interested in beaches, taxis abound at both St. Thomas and St. Martin and they will take you to whatever beach you desire. We've never done a taxi on St. Thomas, but on all 3 trips to St. Martin we've picked up a taxi outside the port (destination prices are set, so they all cost the same) to Orient Beach, hung out there for a few hours (had lunch once), then had the taxi pick us up and headed either back to the ship. There is shopping in the port area, and you can pick up a water taxi from the port to Phillipsburg as well, which has more shopping, a restaurant, and a beach.

We've never felt unsafe in any of the areas we've visited on these islands. Both islands get a lot of revenue from cruise tourists, so it's in their best interest to keep them safe. That doesn't mean there isn't any crime, though - just pay attention to your stuff, don't carry/wear valuables, and be alert (like in any large city) and you'll be fine.

Have a great cruise!
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:09 AM   #17
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I have not done a disney one yet...researching a possible future disney cruise now. I have done 15 cruises on celebrity, princess and ncl a long time ago. I have done 2 cruises on celebrity with young kids. No you do not have to take any excursions to have fun. As many have suggested you can enjoy the quiet ship, get off and wander the shops at the ports, many I know take taxis, we always return for meals I never eat off the ship. When we do decide to do more than walk around around I do book through the ship bc I know the ship won't leave without me. Less stressful. I would say if you are in st thomas that I think every cruiseline has a trip over to st John's and trunk bay. I plan to take my girls there when we make it to st thomas next. It is a ferry ride and then an open air taxi ride to the beach. If you can find a float with a viewing hole you could pull your DC along as there are plaques bc it is an underwater preserve.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:28 AM   #18
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We probably do excursions in about half the ports. We love history and trying new things.the more cruises we do the less excursions we do.
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:58 PM   #19
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I have cruised without scheduling any excursions during a 5-night reposition cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles. I live in Los Angeles and have been to the ports many times (Vancouver, Victoria and Ensenada) so I was not interested in any of the excursions offered. I had a great time on board the ship and there was plenty of stuff to keep me busy and entertained.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:54 PM   #20
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We've done both.

Our first cruise our eldest daughter was 17 months. We did a 4 night to the Bahama's. We did not book any excursions. We also did not really enjoy Nassau. We just wandered the shops pushing the stroller. None of the shopping really interested us, it's pretty touristy.

Our Eastern Caribbean trip on the Fantasy, our daughters were 4 (barely) and 5 months old. On St. Maarten, we attempted to wander on our own. Our 4 year old complained and whined so much that we ended up returning to the ship shortly thereafter. While stopped in St. Thomas, we booked an excursion to St. John and it was one of our best days...because we discovered that we could book our daughter into the Clubs while we left the ship. She was thrilled to get to stay in the Clubs and our 5 month old happily went on the tour with us.

Our Western Caribbean on the Magic, we booked a few excursions. One was a short Snuba trip, which we ended up having to cancel because I had an acute sinus infection and couldn't go underwater (). I was bummed about that because it was just going to be DH and I, letting the oldest stay in her beloved Club and the (then) 10 month old stay in the nursery for 2 hours.

Our next cruise is a 3 night Bahama's trip. We won't even get off the ship in Nassau. Instead we plan on enjoying the Dream while everyone else gets off. Nice chance to ride the AquaDuck.
Stephanie DH DD1 DD2

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