I suggest going snorkeling in Hawaii (thats how i got hooked) but thats a little costly.
Penny is right st. Maarten was not the best for a first time snorkeler, but that was the best shore excursion we went on.
Trunk bay is great for beginners, st. thomas has 2 ferry docks and multiple ferrys running but schedules were on island time, which meant it gets there when it gets there..20-25 mins each way. we went to the far ferry pier by cab because its less of a boat ride, but if you have a queasy stomache you might beware the cabs, very hilly roads. ( my wife said i could open up a auto repair shop and get rich on brakes and shocks) there are plenty of cabs that will take you to trunk bay and there are always some hanging around to take you back...but they will try to wait untill they have a full load before they take off...they ran open sided bench style taxis in the back of pickup trucks. our kind driver gave us a can of off to spray down with while we waited for some more people going back to the ferry pier...bugs can get thick.
Nadine, if the kids want to do the St. Thomas tourist thing, then by all means go for it. Megan's Bay is really nice, in my opinion Trunk Bay is better. If you know you're going to cruise again, do St. Thomas this time and Trunk Bay next time. Once they see Trunk Bay, I bet they'll never want to go anywhere else. You could do both, but it would be tight and you really couldn't enjoy either. We're going to Antigua for the first time later this year, can't wait to go snorkeling there. They say there are 365 beaches on Antigua, I'll see how many I can do in one trip If you have time in Puerto Rico, do the tour of Old San Juan. You can do it with or without guides, it's really interesting. In Nassau, Paradise Island and the Atlantis is a must see. There is a public beach next to the Atlantis that is free. Chochella, we're getting close now, but I still can't do the doc dance. It's the only thing I look forward to receiving in the mail. The ferrys do run on the hour I believe, but like wise2u stated, it's island time. Red Hook is the furthest from the ship, but there is a ferry from Charolette Amalie. Wise2u is correct, there are taxis all over and they do try to fill them up before leaving. You can walk to the ferry in Charolette Amalie, it's a little bit of a hike, but doable. Depending on the weather, we'll do Trunk Bay or Sapphire Beach in October, then whichever we don't go to we'll do in December. 31 days and counting!!
At Orient Bay, the two times I have been there I only saw a few topless people. There are a lot of families there as well, and the topless tend to stick to one area. I have always rented a car or jeep in St Martin, which gives you a lot of freedom. It is easy to get a map, and there isone main road that circles the entire island, with signs pointing out beaches. There are many beaches to explore. Moho by the airport is beautiful and you can see very low-flying planes. Don't be afraid to driveon your own, though there are only a few traffic lights. Just take your time, it will not take more than a few hours to circle the island, even with plenty of stops.
In Nassau, there will be plenty of people offering to take you on 2-hour tours that include Atlantis. We paid about $25 per person for this.
You are so right Choochella, it is the cruise documents. When I have that marvelous package of tickets, luggage tags, and tons of paper from Princess in my hands, I will be dancing in the streets They still haven't arrived, but I have faith they will be here soon. You may be feeling the tremors in Pennsylvania when I get them!
Penny, did the doc dance yesterday!! Still no room assignment though, but have an oceanview obstucted guarantee. Still hoping for an upgrade. I'll keep checking Princess' site for a room assignment. Wonder if I should call them? What would you do?
Hmmm, if you wait you might get bumped up. You have a guaranteed cabin, so you can't do any worse. We still don't have ours, but according to the web we are in C603. I'm dancing for y'all and REALLY ready to go.
Penny, is the ferries for St. John marked at the pier? How do you know which one to take? Can you haggle with the cost, or is it a set price? Also, once at St. John, is there taxis at the pier to take you to Trunk Bay? Sorry for all the questions, but we have never done an excursion outside of the ship. Just a little nervous about it, that's all. Want to make sure we don't get ripped off, or that we make it back to the ship on time. How much time should we allow to get back? We would probably leave earlier though because we want to do a little shopping at Charlotte Amalie. Let me know. Thanks.
We did a catarmaran sail/snorkel to an island while in St. Martin once. The island was called Tintamar. The snorkeling was really great. We did however take the morning excursion, they had a choice for morning or afternoon. If you consider this, the afternoon might work better, in the morning the water was a bit cold, (Early Feb. is when we were there). Like Orient Beach, there is nude bathing permitted, and like Penny says, these folks should be clothed, some of thier bodies were falling fast, I'd advise wearing a hard hat just in case! The excursion is offered by many different cruise lines including Princess, Holland America & Carnival to name a few, I don't believe Royal Caribbean offers it but they should. The excursion was called "Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail to Tintamar". It's a French island, so you'll have an occasional nude, but it adds to the entertainment factor I saw only about 4-5 people while there but the afternoon may bring more crowds. We have been to Orient Beach before and weren't terribly impressed, it wasn't really all that bad, (We're spoiled because we have been to so many beautiful beaches) Last time I went there I rented a car and drove around the whole island (I'm not going to advise this) looking for the perfect beach, one better than Orient. Didn't find it. See if you can Google keywords, "Beach, St. Martin" for Google Images you'll probably find something. I know there's other nice beaches there, if not Orient Beach isn't really too bad. There's restaurants/bars there. When we went there on a ship excursion it included a chair and lunch and the lunch was fantastic. We also got a nice guided tour of the island and had a wonderful tour guide. We've been to St. Martin 5 times so far and I have to say that the Golden Eagle to tintamar island was the best. Also, since you're going on Carnival, they may also have another sail/cat/snorkel excursion from St. Thomas. We did one there on a ship called "Castaway Girl" to an absolutely gorgeous secluded beach on St. John. It was the best best best sail/snorkel we have ever been on. I think Carnival might offer this excurion since Holland America has it and they seem to have the same excursions (probably because they're now owned by the same company.)