If you want to stay on St. Thomas, Coki Beach, Meagan's Bay, or Sapphire Beach are nice places to spend the day. If the weather is nice, go to St. John. You can grab the ferry from Red Hook or from Charolette Amalie. Then take a cab to Trunk Bay, it is one of the top 10 beaches in the world. There is a self-guided snorkel trail about 50 yards off the beach. There are lockers, restrooms, showers, a couple of shops, and a restaurant. It is absolutely beautiful.
In St. Maarten, you can go to Maho Beach (where the jets land on top of you), Orient Beach (nude beach possibility), or there's a beach near the port that you can take a water taxi to. The reason I mention nude beach possibility is that there is a section of Orient that is clothing optional. Unfortunately, the ones that choose to not wear clothing, shouldn't and they don't stay in their area. They walk the beach.
The last time we were there, we did the Tiki Hut snorkel excursion. It was a fantastic way to spend the day, snorkeling was good for St. Maarten, but the operators of the tour were what made it. There was an area for those who did not know how to snorkel, beach chairs and water chairs, a bar/restaurant, and just really nice people. We did it through the ship, but you might be able to book on-line at snorkelstmaarten.com. The operators will take you either back to the ship or back to town for shopping. There also is no time limit, you can stay as long as you want.
Hi 417rogers. What do they bill those excursions as? Do they sound like party-boat excursions? If there's snorkeling, then they will not serve rum punch until after the snorkel. If it's just a pirate boat ride, they will be serving rum punch from the beginning. With 2 children, it might not be fun for them to see adults under the influence. Although, it might deter them from drinking, forever
I agree with Penny about going to St. Johns to Trunk Bay Beach. I would also recommend taking the ferry directly from Charolette Amalie sine it will save you up to twenty dollars for two people and get you there a little quicker. When you get off the ship at the terminal and tell the folks there you want to take the ferry to St. Johns, they will take you to the taxi stand to go to Redhook...instead tell them you want to take the ferry directly from Charolette Amalie. Trunk Bay Beach is absolutely fantastic and the snorkel trail is amazing as well. It was the most peaceful time that we have had on any cruise.
Wheels87 is correct, there is a ferry from Charolette, it's just that Red Hook runs a more punctual schedule since that's where the locals go to get to/from work. It is a $18/pp cab ride, though. If you get an early start, leaving from Charolette, is fine. You really won't regret it, it's totally awesome. If the weather is bad, though, there's plenty of fun things to do on St. Thomas without having to spend time/money gettting to St. John.
St. Thomas :We walked to the Hertz car rental place/rented a car... They gave us a map/ we went to see all of those beautiful bays (actually had a jeep...with the top down!) We drove ourselves to Coki beach and brought dog biscuits to hand feed the fish! Went just past Coki Beach and did parasailing for $35 per person.
Drove to the Mountain Top...known for their views and Banana Daiquiris...we went to Udder Delight...a dairy bar with great milkshakes!