As for the DR (Dominican Rep.) and Labadee, Haiti, I have never been to either place. So I can't give you advice on either place.
As for other things to do while ashore in St. Thomas or San Juan, do forget to take atvantage of the shopping opporitunities. Especially if you drink alcohol; you will will find bargains on liqour. The best places in Charlotte-Amalie for liqour was a store called "Dynasty Dazzlers" (IMHO). There were to D.D. liq. stores in Charlotte-Am.; one in the Havensight Mall (near the cruise ship dock as well as one in Downtown Ch.-Am.). The best place to purchase liquor in San Juan was the duty free shop inside the mall where the cruise ship was docked (IMHO).
Also, if you are into shopping, make sure to attend at least one of the shopping seminars held onboard your cruise ship. Yes, there will be some shamless promotion of businesses that pay the cruiseline to plug their stores...however, there will also be good shopping advice given.
Also, there are other events onboard you should not miss. One is this special buffet event held at midnight. It goes by different names on different cruise ships:
- Midnight Dessert Gala
- Midnight Chocolate Buffet
- Midnight Dessert Buffet
- etc. etc.
Make sure you bring your camera to this event. As there will be beautiful sculptures made out of chocolate, sugar, watermelons, and ice on dislplay and worth photographing.
I forgot to mention to bring a good appetite to this buffet, because there will be a considerable amount of desserts and some Hors D'hourves to eat (in addition to seeing the sculptures).
There will possibly be other themed buffets during your cruise. On my one and only Royal Caribbean cruise (onboard the Sovereign of the Seas), they also had a Caribbean themed and Mexican themed buffets. They were both held up on the Lido (pool) deck of the ship. And they both also took place around midnight.
HERE ARE A FEW MORE THINGS TO EXPECT:
Each and every time you enter onboard the cruise ship, you will have to undergo airport-style security screening: where you send your send your belongings through an X-Ray machine and walk through a metal detector. This screening checkpoint is located just inside the entrance-way (port hole) of the ship. When you board the ship for the first time on the first day, this checkpoint will be located just inside the cruise-ship terminal building. Be prepared by not wearing much metal objects and removing your camera and cellphone before walking through the metal detector.
On the first day of the cruise when you check-in at the cruise ship terminal, you and your husband will be given a room card. With Royal Carribean it is called a "Sea Pass" card. You will need this card:
-Every time you leave the ship
-Every time you return to the ship
- (You should also carry a photo ID, for some dock security guards at some ports)
-Every time you pay for something onboard the ship (No other form of currency will be accepted onboard: No cash, No checks, No credit cards accepted); only your Sea Pass card will be accepted for purchases while onboard the ship. The only exceptions are: in the casino where cash is accepted for gambling, A few vending machines you might encounter, and while tipping a crew member. Needless to say, don't ever loose your Sea Pass cards; it is a hassle at the Information/Pursers Desk getting a replacement. Written on the Sea Pass card is also your assigned dinning room, seating time, and table number. Make sure those three items are the same on both your and your husband's Sea Pass cards. At the end of your cruise all the purchases made with your Sea Pass cards will be totaled up and usually charged to your credit card. You can pay your Sea Pass account (cruise account) with cash, but that is complicated and I never did it. On the final morning a final print-out of your cruise account will be slipped under the door. YOu will have a just a short time to dispute any charges, after you get that final print-out.
During the cruise, they will be an art auction. Most likely more than one art auction will take place during your cruise. You will have several opporitunities to see the works of art up for auction. There might even be a workshop for the begginer/amatuer art collector amoung the passengers. You will need to register for the auction and there will be no obligation. I registered and participated in one of the auctions on one of my cruises. But I could not afford the prices other passengers were willing to bid for the art.
Expect to be eating allot of delicious food during your cruise. ANd the best thing is that most of it is free (or should I say, included in the price of your cruise). And you can always get or request an extra serving. There might be a few exceptions: there might be a specialty restaurant that charges an extra flat fee per person. Or, some specialty bakery items that they charge extra for. Just remember to try to pace yourselves and not eat too much. I heard the average person gains 5 lbs of weight on their cruise.
There are many more things to write about regarding what to expect on a cruise. I don't have enough time to write about all of them. So keep exploring this website and forum. You will see a section here on FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Make sure to read through that section.[/list]So, I hope this could be some help for you. Have a great time on your first cruise.
I absolutely loved macmom111's take on things....however, I must respectfully disagree. It does not take me 10 minutes after debarkation to want to book my next cruise (however I can't afford to do back-to-backs yet *sigh*)!