All of these are interesting places; I suggest reading through portreviews.com (our sister site) to see if any tickle your fancy - or the opposite - before deciding. The main difference to me is that the Labadee, Haiti port is basically a day at the beach, as it's in a remote part of the country and not near any populated areas. All the rest of the port calls will have beach access available, but will also offer tours of the different islands.
Aggie, sounds like you're doing this yourself. I might suggest working with a cruise-oriented travel agent in your area, especially if this is your first cruise. There are so many options, and a lot of your questions are things he or she could easily answer on the spot.
For example, about a guaranteed cabin. What that means is that you are guaranteed a certain minimum cabin category, which could be located anywhere on the ship. You won't know which exact cabin it is until you get your documents, or slightly before. It usually costs less than a specifically-assigned cabin of the same category. A lot of people like the guarantees because you can't do any worse than that category, and you may (and often do) get upgraded to a higher category. Usually those upgrades are just to a better location onboard or a higher deck; rarely, but occasionally, if you book an inside cabin you get an upgrade to an outside, etc. Usually it's just inside to inside, balcony to balcony, etc. Booking earlier also helps with upgrade eligibility.
I've been on 29 cruises with Royal Caribbean so I got to experience most ports and all of their shipa. So far the Explorer and Adventure are my favorite ships. The Mariner and Navigator have a different layout in the Windjammer, which I like better. Of the two, I prefer the Naviator. My favorite ports are San Juan, St. Thomas, Aruba, and St. Maarten. Nassau is my least favorite. But, that's my preference. Everyone has their own. Yes, you can request a bump-out. They're very popular so you should book earily if you want one. I prefer the aft cabins because the balcony's are very large. I usually book a guaranteed cabin instead of a guaranteed catagory. Some people have good luck with a guaranteed catagory and get a higher catagory. I beleive a guaranteed catagory is a little less expensive. I'm not lucky, I never had an upgrade even with all the cruises I've taken. I really can't complain about that because I'm going on a two night cruise on the Freedom this weekend. It's a freebee except for the airfare. I hope I've answered you questions. If you want to you can email me for any specific questions. You'll find my email address > HERE <
Thanks so much Sonny and Karen.
Actually this is my 3rd cruise. First one just a short one for my husband and myself. Agent organized it in a short time. 2nd trip was a family one on the Disney Magic. First year it was launched and we did it up right. I'm worried that I've spoiled the kids in scenerary and ammenities so now I'm a little nervous in trying to give them something they'll enjoy as much as they did back then. I would have a agent help me but I feel I need to know ships and ports to request first.
This forum has been extremely helpful! I'll pass along all this info to my family over dinner tonight.
Stay away from Ochio Rios, dangerous if you lack knowledge of the city...And...Labadee is owned by RC and was a boring island, felt trapped....Adventure is a rockin ship with a better itinerary (Southern Caribbean)...
We had a wonderful day in Jamaica. My family and friend and I were there two weeks ago on the Carnival Victory.
We had reserved a private tour through the suggestions on this board, and I can't say enough wonderful things about Toni Bightlight! He was waiting for us at the pier –
Our itinerary consisted of River Tubing, Dunns River Falls, and the Plantation tour; then lunch and shopping. Well, he fit it all into our short day!
First up was the tubing.Tony took us to the pull out area, waited until we were in the water with the guide, and then left to meet us at the other end. The guide was fantastic! He got all three of us into inner tubes nice big ones with bottoms in them so you wouldn't scrape your own "bottom" if you floated too shallow. The trip down the river was great - really relaxing, but really fun where the rapids were. About half-way, we got out of the tubes and were offered drinks - I tried a Red Stripe, the local beer. The guide showed us some of the local vegetations, we walked around a bit, and then got back in the water. The entire ride was great!
Next up, since we were now wet and it wasn't time for the Plantation tour, was Dunns River Falls. Again, Tony dropped us off, he had our tickets ready, and waited right there for us. We walked down to the beach -! Beautiful beach! We climbed about half-way up the falls , but my legs started to give out on me - it's a lot harder than it looks! So, we chose to get out and walk the rest of the way up on the path. The Falls are beautiful and I could have spent more time on that beach.
After we changed to dry clothes, Tony took us to the Plantation. Our guide was very well informed and we saw some magnificent views as the plantation is on top of a mountain! We were fed fresh coconut - after watching one of the men scale the palm tree bare footed and with no rope!
We then had about 1 hour left for some shopping and wanted to see some local crafts - Warning, if you don't want to be asked to look and buy, don't go to the craft market in town. I was not, at any point asked to buy drugs; and no one came after me or tried to physically get me in their booth. One woman did put a skirt on me while I was waiting for my niece to decide on a piece of jewelry. I just took it back off and handed it to her with a "no thanks." email tonybrightlight at yahoo.com for great time