Focus On Cruising

Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

Your Questions About Cruise Deals And Cruise Vacations

No Comments »

Sandra asks…

Do you get good deals for booking a vacation/ cruise last minute?

Is it possible to get a last minute deal?  I am looking to go in the end of June, but I want a good deal and I don’t mind taking a chance for the last minute.

John answers:

There’s always the possibility.  Is it likely?  No.  The more likely outcome is you’ll wind up paying more and settling for whatever is still available.  You’ll have a better chance of getting just the right cabin on the cruise you want by booking in advance.

Thomas asks…

What are the best deals or places for a cruise and stay vacation?

My girlfriend and I are looking to take a week vacation in the Bahamas or Caribbean and we want the experence of both a cruise and an island stay. We plan on going in a year from now but that may change based on when the best time to go is.  We will both be 23 at the time of our trip.  Any information or help is appreciated.

John answers:

Because of your age, don’t bother looking at Carnival as their rules state that one person must be 25 or older in your cabin.  The best weather, but the highest prices,  occur during the winter months.  Summer is less costly but very hot and humid.  Avoid mid-August through the end of October, if you can.

Now, combining a hotel stay with a cruise is certainly possible, but the options are limited.  Cruises to the Bahamas are roundtrip, beginning in the US.  You can’t just get off the ship and stay.  So if you have your heart set on the Bahamas, you should just do a land package and save the cruise for another time.

If you opt for the Caribbean instead, look for cruises that either begin or end in San Juan, or offer San Juan roundtrip.  Princess Cruises offers regular sailings from San Juan, as do other lines.  You could then combine a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay with the cruise itself.  You could stay in Puerto Rico or the nearby Virgin Islands, or even go a bit further afield.

Depending on what you’re looking for in a cruise, you should also look into Windstar Cruises which offers roundtrip sailings out of Barbados and St Martin.

Donald asks…

When you’re thinking of going on a land vacation (not a cruise) how do you go about finding deals?

I want an all inclusive vacation.. do I have to go to a travel agent or can you actually get it online… help

John answers:

Well, Donald, although this column is focused on cruises, I’ll take a shot at the answer.  You can find packages on line, many people do it.  Try Travelocity or Orbitz.  You can also go to tour operators’ websites, such as GoGo or Travel Impressions.

You might find, however, that the abundance of information and choices is a bit overwhelming.  It’s always best, I think, to use a good travel agent.

Powered by Yahoo! Answers

Technorati Tags: Bahamas, Barbados, caribbean, cruise deals, Cruise lines, cruise ships, cruise vacations, last minute cruise deals, Princess Cruises, Puerto Rico, San Juan, St. Martin, Windstar Cruises

Your Questions About Cruise Weddings And Shore Excursions

No Comments »

Charles asks…

Bolongo Beach Hotel in St. Thomas USVI?

Are you familiar with this hotel (not sure if I would call it a resort)??  I’m doing my wedding through Royal Caribbean cruise lines and chose St. Thomas for the wedding location, and this is where they do it.  I have read some horrible reviews about this place, but Royal Romance assures me that this is “a beautiful property”.  PLEASE give me an honest review.

John answers:

Bolongo does a lot of weddings so they have it down pat; the beach is great, there’s surf rolling in……

Be prepared, however, because there is almost always a brisk breeze blowing. 10-15 mph is not uncommon, so you should expect veils blowing and hair flying.  The ceremony is generally held on the soft sand, so you’ll probably be barefoot.

Bolongo is not at all glitzy.  It’s an older property, a bit worn around the edges, more authentic in its way than the high profile resorts.  If that meets you expectations, then you’ll be fine.  If, however, you’re looking for something more elegant and upscale, you should look into the Ritz Carlton or Frenchman’s Reef.

Chris asks…

What are the best shore excursions on a South Caribbean Cruise?

I’m going on a South Caribbean Cruise in 2 weeks, and have noticed that numerous places where we are stopping do the activities that we would like to do. We are stopping at:

St Thomas
Dominica
Barbados
St Kitts
St Lucia
St Maarten

We would like to go zip lining and snorkeling. We are already signed up to go canyoning in Dominica, and are going to the Malibu factory and on a cave tour in Barbados. Where are the best places for zip lining and snorkeling? I’ve seen mixed reviews on the snorkeling conditions and stuff you see zip lining on the other stops.

John answers:

I did the canopy tour/zip lines in Dominica and had a great time.  I booked it independently through WackyRollers.

St. Lucia is the place to do an island tour.  There are several very reputable companies you can book with.  The tour is long and is over winding, narrow roads, however, but it is quite beautiful.

In Barbados, I did the cave tour as well, and enjoyed it very much.  We hired a taxi and negotiated an island tour with a stop at the caves included.  Another popular excursion is snorkeling with the turtles.   If your cruise doesn’t offer this as an excursion, there are private companies that will.  This can be crowded.

If you’re in St. Thomas long enough, you can go over to St. John on your own, although this is a bit involved to do.  It’s time consuming, since you have to take a ferry to and fro.  Quite beautiful, however.  The Linde Point Trail leads to two beautiful beaches, Salamon Bay Beach and Honeymoon Bay Beach, both of which are relatively uncrowded. There aren’t any facilities, however.  If you go to St. John’s, watch the time carefully, and pay attention to the ferry schedule.

In St. Maarten, we decided to break away from the pack headed to Orient Bay, and took a taxi to a small beach near tye butterfly farm.  We did try snorkeling there, but it wasn’t exceptional.

Hope that helps.

Sandy asks…

The special upcharge restaurants- please answer if you’ve eaten in one?

My sister’s wedding cruise is coming up soon.

We’re going on the Eurodam.  It has several specialty restaurants that people mentioned on cruise critic.  Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto (which had crappy reviews).  She was interested in eating at one of those first 2 on the night of her wedding.

I have never eaten at a specialty restaurant b/c I’ve liked the food in the dining room and my interesting tablemates–plus having already paid for the meals, I don’t see the reason to pay extra for a meal.

So my questions are:
1- have you eaten at a specialty restaurant?
2- which ship were you on?
3- would you recommend it?
4- why?

John answers:

Yes, I’ve eaten at the specialty restaurants on Princess, Celebrity, NCL, Royal Caribbean and Azamara.

As you can probably guess, I’m a fan.  There is a an additional fee involved, of course, but I find the overall experience worth it.  The dining room is much smaller than the main dining room and the staff is chosen from the most seasoned and skilled of the crew.  Both of these factors contribute to a much better service level than one finds in the rather frenzied atmosphere of the 1000 seat main room.  The food is also better, with the kitchen offering selections that are not available in the main room.

Now, I don’t go to a specialty restaurant every evening.  I usually limit it to once per restaurant during a cruise.  I like treating myself and I think of it as experiencing as much of the ship as I can.

Powered by Yahoo! Answers

Technorati Tags: Azamara, Barbados, Bolongo Bay, Celebrity, Cruise lines, cruise ships, Cruise weddings, Dominica, Frenchman's Reef, NCL, Princess, Royal Caribbean, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, St. Thomas