Our Anniversary Extravaganza (cruise)… please help

Despite making a vow every year to take a real vacation, I never do – and neither does my husband.  This year, though, we took a deep breath and booked a seven day cruise.

Seven days!  I vacillate between excitement and dread.

See, I’m not a happy tourist. Five attractions in one day? No, thanks.  Long lines, crying children*, “tourist” prices and food?  No, thanks!  I’m more apt to wander one neighborhood than a whole city, eat at an unknown hole-in-the-wall than the latest place, want to learn the rhythms of the locals than see that thing everybody says you should see.

One exception: the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, Hawaii is really fantastic.  Really.  It’s totally worth the long trek to the north side of the island and long lines and tourist prices.

But, we’ve been talking about going on a cruise for years and it seems the only way to know if you’ll love or hate the experience is to try it.  So we’re doing it — seven stops in seven days in the Southern Caribbean.

Thoughts to ponder:

I think I want an anniversary band — preferably an eternity band or a plain band with the inside engraved. My husband needs a new wedding ring (Smarty McSmartster chose a big, heavy, uncomfortable hunk of metal and — lo and behold! — it’s too heavy, big and uncomfortable to wear regularly so when we go out together we look like I’m having an affair) so I’m debating surprising us both with anniversary bands.  Thoughts?

Seven stops in seven days.  *excited anticipatory exhaustion* Of the following islands, do you have any suggestions or warnings? Which one would you skip?

  • San Juan, PR (we went there on our honeymoon)
  • St. Thomas, USVI
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • St. Lucia, WI
  • St. Kitts, WI
  • St. Maarten, NA

We like to eat (okay, maybe that’s just me) and explore little out of the way places.  We do not like waiting in lines or overpriced tourist food.  We like to try local booze.  We are not big shoppers.

Also (*cough*), what does one pack for a seven day cruise, other than lots of sunscreen and a big hat? (You KNOW this is the important question!)

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4 thoughts on “Our Anniversary Extravaganza (cruise)… please help

  1. I have only been to San Juan and St Thomas out of this list, but I loved both of them. Looove San Juan. One day on a cruise was NOT enough. Definitely want to vacay there in the future.

    I LOVED St. Thomas. I have no idea what to tell you about the port, because we did a snorkel excursion that we booked separately from the cruiseline.

    Seriously, seriously, seriously, consider going with Homer for his Kayak/Snorkel trip. Here’s the website:
    http://www.nightsnorkel.com/kayaksnorkel.html

    It’s $60 a person and this guy, Homer, picks you up at the cruise ship and takes you to the other side of the island. He’s from Wisconsin, I think, and moved to St Thomas because he loved it so so much. So this is what he does. Pick up cruisers, take them to ‘his side’ of the island, which is were the actual local live, and brings you to a beautiful bay where you kayak out into the bay on very fun, virtually un-tip-able kayaks, and then put down anchor and swim and snorkel. We saw (and got to touch!!!!) a sea turtle, a sea cucumber, and this cool little slug-type thing. We saw amazing fish and it was such a great experience! After that you get as much rum punch as you want and he takes you on a small tour of the island and points out cool places to stop and take pictures.

    So so so fun. So fun.

    I love cruises… good food, sunshine, fun ports. Love.

    What to pack? There’s a good chance your cruise line will have at least 1 formal night, so I’d bring two dresses that are nice and formal for sure. Sun dresses, shorts/skirts, tanks. A hoodie or two for when it’s night, a pashmina/scarf to bring with you to the restaurants. Most restaurants do not allow jeans, so make sure your hubs wears khakis or something, and no logo type t-shirts. I’d bring some Emergen-c just in case; I got the stomach flu on our last cruise, along with about 20% of the passengers and crew. Bring a big purse/beach bag and a small, tiny purse with just enough room for the essentials. Some ports are definitely beach-only ports, since it’s pretty much a mall that’s just on an island. Kind of boring. Bring some trashy chick lit since you can read it without being judged by friends. 🙂 Have fun!! I can’t wait for our next cruise… they are so much fun.

  2. I was extremely skeptical before my first cruise, but it turns out I *love* cruises. They are truly a “something for everyone” activity. (Or maybe I just love them because my own favorite “something” is eating, and there’s PLENTY of that to be had!)

    There’s a wealth of knowledge from experienced cruisers on various message boards (I think CruiseCritic may be one?), and you can always check their suggestions for each of the destinations. I would suggest NOT signing up for the cruise-sponsored port activities, as that doesn’t sound like your favorite type of travel. I never participated in an “official” activity on either of my cruises, just got off the boat and walked or taxied around to interesting areas. Often you’ll do better with a taxi ride because it gets you away from the tourist nightmare that can grow around boat docks. Some places also rent scooters or mopeds, which is a fun way to explore for a day.

    I have been to St Thomas and St Martin, though not on cruises. If you like fish, my favorite memory of St Thomas was a beach next to their aquarium. The aquarium did some sort of feedings that brought in a ton of pretty tropical fish, and they were so plentiful and so used to people that you could just walk in and hand-feed them. (Extra bonus fact: they eat MilkBones. Who knew??!?) In St Thomas, I suggest just taking a taxi to the French side, hanging out, and eating.

  3. Hi!

    My hubby and I almost decided to do that cruise this year, but instead decided to return to the USVI. Last year, St Croix, this year, St John/St Thomas.

    If you have enough time, something to consider in St Thomas is finding a charter that goes to the BVI and the Soggy Dollar Bar. When we were there, we met a bunch of people that were visiting for the day from their cruise.

    As far as cruising goes, like the poster above, I would suggest avoiding the cruise sponsored excursions. They’re usually more expensive and you lose the ability to explore on your own.

    Packing, if you plan on drinking a lot, I suggest packing some plastic flasks of your favorite beverage and sneaking them in your luggage. The last time we cruised, even with our “carry on” we still spent close to $500 on drinks.

    Good Luck with your planning! You all will have so much fun!

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