Excursions

Excursion Focus: Magens Bay

In:
25Jun2013

St. Thomas is well known for its beautiful beaches and Magens Bay is at the top of the list when it comes to beautiful beaches, not only on the island but in the world.  When it comes to beautiful Caribbean beaches, it's hard to go wrong with Magens Bay.

Description

Magens Bay is a protected cove on the north side of St. Thomas. Magens Bay is known around the world for its white sand beach that is almost three quarters of a mile in length.

Beach goers and swimmers alike will enjoy the view and the beach's notoriety is well earned given how scenic the entire area is.  Calm waters are typical for the beach, thanks to the protection from larger waves further out in the bay.

Entrance to Magens Bay does have an admission fee ($4 for tourists) and it's quite far from where Royal Caribbean cruise ships dock.  There's plenty of taxi service to Magens Bay from the cruise ship area as well as Charlotte Amalie.  There are lifeguards on duty at the beach and there's a small snack shack on one end of the beach to buy meals, snacks and drinks from.  Visitors can also rent beach chairs, floats, windsurfers and small sailboats for an additional fee.

Because Magens Bay is so well known, it will get crowded and stay crowded most of the day.

Comments

Magens Bay is known for being a beautiful beach and it does not disappoint in that regard.  Truly, the biggest problem with Magens Bay isn't the beach but the fact the beach can get very crowded.  While the beach is very long, it is not very wide (distance from beginning of the beach to the water's edge) so finding a good spot will go quickly.

We have found the best times to go to Magens Bay are very early in the morning before the bulk of the cruise visitors arrive or in the afternoon when many cruise goers will start to leave to get back to their cruise ships. On our last trip to St. Thomas on Freedom of the Seas, our ship arrived later than the other ships and as a result the last two hours at Magens Bay ended up being quite empty.

The snack counter serves typical fried food that you would find at most beaches such as pizza, fries and burgers.  The food isn't anything special and it is expensive.  You're better off bringing food from Charlotte Amalie to the beach with you, or at least buying drinks.  

Those that have been to St. Thomas often will tell you the smaller crowds at other beaches outweigh the beauty of Magens Bay, but if you can deal with the crowds (or you're going on a not-so-busy day), I think the experience of Magens Bay is worth going to.  Especially if you've never been, Magens Bay is a must-see.  Like any island, on subsequent visits it may make sense to try other options but it's hard to go wrong with Magens Bay.  The sand is great and the water has the perfect color along with calm waves for everyone in the family to enjoy. 

AddressMagens Bay, Rte. 35 at end of the road on North side of St. Thomas

Cost: $4 per adult. Kids 12 and under are free.

Excursion Focus: Le Galion Beach

In:
07Mar2013

The island of St. Martin is known for its beautiful beaches but one of its lesser known beaches is a great choice if you're looking for a very calm ocean experience that is perfect for young children. On our recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, we tried Le Galion beach on the French side of St. Martin.

Description

Le Galion beach is a small cove that has a reef/sandbar that breaks any waves well off shore so it's basically a beach that is more like a pond. In addition, the depth of the water barely exceeds a foot or so for a good few yards.  All of this makes for perfect conditions for young children who want to be in the water but cannot swim or are not strong swimmers.

The beach is horseshoe shaped and is free to access, although if you want to use the chairs and/or umbrellas that are set up, it will cost a small fee (2 chairs and an umbrella cost $15).  One half of the beach has soft white sand while the other half has rocks and coral for those that want to do a little snorkeling.  The water tends to be very clear and it's just the perfect environment for kids to play in.  It's also serene enough for adults to enjoy for the quiet ambiance that a beach like this provides.

There's a small restaurant and bar on one end of the beach that has your basic beach bar food as well as a full array of drinks.  There is no waiter service but the beach is small enough that walking to it is not a problem.  Le Galion tends not to be as crowded as other beaches so that usually means no vendors walking up and down the beach trying to sell stuff to you.

Comments

Le Galion beach is perfect for families who have kids that want to play in the water but most beaches have too rough a surf for it to be safe.  Our two year old who cannot swim had no problem playing in the first few feet of water, that barely went up to her thighs when standing up.  

For adults, le Galion is great if you just want a no-frills, calm beach experience.  We saw plenty of adults without kids enjoying the beach on their own.  Given the relative lack of surf, this is not a beach that you will find lots to do in the water but there are 2 floating docks that anyone can swim to.  The first dock is relatively close to shore and a good option for kids but the other dock is further out and best suited for adults.  Otherwise, there are no other water toys available. 

What I love about le Galion is how simple and serene everything is.  For my daughter, it was heaven because of the no waves.  For the adults, we enjoyed sitting on our chairs and enjoying a few adult beverages while taking everything in.  The restaurant/bar is somewhat expensive, depending on what you order.  Drinks are average in price, although it's still cheaper to drink here than your cruise ship.

I do need to mention le Galion is a clothing optional beach, and on our visit we did see about 4 women bathing topless.  During our time, the sunbathers kept to one side of the beach while the families seemed to be on the other.  It was not a big deal for us and unless you're looking for it, the nudity is easy to miss.  

Location: e Galion Beach Rd., Quartier D'Orleans, St-Martin / St Maarten

Cost: Beach access is free. Chairs and umbrellas available for rent.

Sponsored tour bus crashes in St Maarten

In:
23Jul2012

A Royal Caribbean sponsored excursion in St Martin ended in an accident when thirty-six passengers were on a bus that crashed into a ditch last Thursday.  No major injuries although a few were taken to a local hospital.

The accident occurred when the bus was trying to avoid a taxi heading up a steep hill.  The bus hit the taxi, causing it to overturn.

The passengers were on an excursion from Freedom of the Seas to visit Loterie Farm for a treetop ropes courtse and zipline adventure.  The bus was taking them from Philipsburg, St Maarten to St. Martin.

Six passengers from the United States and the bus driver were injured according to Royal Caribbean. The injuries were minor, with the worst being a broken wrist.  

All the injured "were immediately transported to the local Louis Constant Fleming Hospital for treatment." Guest care team members and a ship doctor remained with the passengers during their stay at the hospital. All returned to the ship the same day. The guest care team and onboard medical team also continued to provide onboard treatment for passengers, including counseling, for those who asked for it. 

Video: Royal Caribbean shore excursions

In:
Category: 
18Jul2012

Royal Caribbean passenger dies on kayaking excursion

In:
Category: 
17Jul2012

A Royal Caribbean passenger traveling aboard Rhapsody of the Seas died while kayaking on Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska.

Michael Ray Fullerton, a 62-year-old man from Texas died late Sunday afternoon when his kayak overturned.  He was part of a group of kayakers who rented kayaks to tour the lake, which at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier.  

Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole said Fullerton apparently became fatigued and was unable to paddle.

“The group tied their kayaks together and it’s still unclear to us at this point how the kayaks overturned,” Cole said.

Others in the group also overturned, although they survived and were treated for hypothermia.

The equipment for the excursion was provided by Alaska Boat and Kayak in Auke Bay.  The group was not part of a guided trip but they were given a safety briefing before they loaded their kayaks and gear.

“They get questioned about how much paddle experience they’ve had, and then they get a thorough safety briefing that talks about self-rescue, using the bilge pump, paddle float, wearing the PFD and spray skirt, and how to work together and paddle as a group,” owner Sean Janes said.

Forest Service Supervisor Cole said the agency continues to investigate the accident.

Video: Royal Caribbean passengers explore Alaska by train

In:
03May2012

Excursion Focus: Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass

In:
15Sep2011

With Royal Caribbean now making regular stops on its Western Caribbean itineraries in Falmouth, Jamaica, many cruisers are looking for good excursion ideas for this port.  On our recent cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas, we tried out the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass.

Description

The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Day Pass is an excursion that is available from a third-party vendor.  The day pass offers passengers access to the  Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, about 30 minutes from the Falmouth port.  There, guests have full access to the facilities including the pool, beach, food, beverages, chairs and more.

The resort is located directly on the beach and offers fantastic views and access to the ocean.  The sandy beach has lots of room with beach chairs right on the water.  There is also two pool facilities available for use.  The first pool is your generic swimming pool located near the beach and offers a fantastic view.  The Hilton recently opened a new pool facility, called the Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, which offers a pool, swim up bar, lazy river and a few water slides.

In addition, your day pass includes towels, non-motorized water sports including snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, volleyball, aerobics, and tennis.  There is also an optional transportation package that includes transfer to and from the port.

Comments

The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa is a beautiful resort that is great for those looking for a beach/pool getaway while in Falmouth.  After a quick ride (25 minutes or so), you arrive at the resort where you pay the remainder of your balance (the company we booked with required only a deposit to book the package) and then you're given quick access.  We were happy to see the staff working quickly to get us onto the resort to enjoy the day.

The beach is quite nice and among all of our beach days on our Western Caribbean cruise, this beach was by far the nicest.  It was the least rocky with clear blue water and serene atmosphere.  If your idea of a beach day is enjoying a calm, picturesque view, then this is the beach for you.  There aren't any docks or water toys in the ocean, but that's okay because the nearby water park makes up for it.

The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park is really a glorified pool facility.  To call it a water park is a bit of a stretch, but it's more than just another pool.  It's one of the nicest pools we've been to and frankly, we spent most of our time here.  The pool opens up to a swim up bar, which you can get drinks for free.  There's a lazy river as well, although we found it quite difficult to navigate the lazy river while staying in your group.  There's also one large water slide and two smaller slides.  The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park really compliments the resort well and combined with the ocean access, make the perfect aquatic excursion for families.  If you want serene and calm, you have the ocean.  If you want to burn off energy and have fun, Sugar Mill Falls Water Park is for you.

Included in the price of admission is unlimited alcoholic drinks and food.  The drinks aren't top shelf liquor, but they were quite good and we found the bartenders to be rather liberal with their pouring. The staff was also quite nice and really made our stay here feel welcome.  The food wasn't anything special, however.  We found the food to be rather generic resort food and nothing great.  If you were staying here for a week, I'd be concerned but since you really only eat lunch, it's not a deal breaker but it is something to be aware of.

With the cost of the package (we paid $75 per adult), it's a little on the pricey side but acceptable.  All-inclusive beaches in Mexico are somewhat cheaper, but for Jamaica it's in line with other all-inclusive beaches we've been to at other ports.  Like any all-inclusive, the cost makes more sense if you're looking to have a lot to drink.  But even with people in our group that didn't drink, we really enjoyed our time at the resort and if you consider you'll spend about five hours or so at the resort, the price per hour is cheaper than most excursions you can find.

Location: P.O. Box 999 Montego Bay, Jamaica

Websitehttp://www.rosehallresort.com & http://www.jamaicaforaday.com/Falmouth_Jamaica_Shore_Excu.html

Cost: $75 per adult or $55 per child (Age 4-17).  Optional transfer included increases price to $90 & $70 respectively.

Three Royal Caribbean excursions named in top 50 excursion list

In:
02Jun2011

The Telegraph listed the top 50 cruise excursions that "you would struggle to do alone or which could be difficult or expensive to organize".  Three from the list are offered by Royal Caribbean.

19. Horseback ride and swim, Jamaica
The fun starts after a rather tame ride, when you change into a swimming costume and remount the horse, now bareback, for the swim. The horses really do swim; you have to hang on to stop floating away. £68 for three and a half hours.

20. Amazing secret river, Cozumel
Join a guide for an exploration of a subterranean world filled with stalactites and stalagmites. You'll walk, wade or swim around the 600-metre route. £62 for eight hours. Minimum age six. 

46. Elephant safari ride, Bali
You'll be taken to the Elephant Safari Park at Taro for a ride through the forest on one of these gentle giants. The tour ends with a splash at the park's bathing lake. £84 for about seven and a half hours. 

Brilliance of the Seas to offer on-shore excursions to Dubailand

In:
13Jan2011

If you're going on a cruise aboard the Brilliance of the Seas, which visits Dubai, there's a new excursion option to check out.  Royal Caribbean has reached an agreement with Dubailand to allow guests to visit  The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence and key attractions at Dubailand.

The deal marks the second cruise season that Royal Caribbean and Dubai Properties Group (DPG) have woked together to make this an option for cruisers.

The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence is a lifestyle, shopping and leisure destination known for its stunning beach-side setting. The diversity of food, beverage, entertainment and cultural offerings has made The Walk at JBR a must-see for tourists.

Other key destinations in DUBAILAND® will also be promoted in Royal Caribbean's pre and post cruise tour land packages, as well as on-shore excursion programs. These attractions include Dubai Autodrome in MotorCity, Dubai Outlet Mall in Outlet City, The Global Village, and Dubai Sports City which features the Els Club, the Butch Harmon School of Golf and the Cricket Stadium. These projects currently receive millions of visitors annually, and add further variety to Dubai's tourism offering by providing visitors with exciting entertainment options and value for money.

From January 24 through April 9, Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas will offer seven night cruises that vist destinations in the Arabian Gulf area.  In addition, Royal Caribbean has added new 12 night itineraries that include stops in India as well. 

"We are delighted to resume the extremely successful marketing alliance between these two strong brands which has allowed thousands of visitors to experience our popular DPG designations last season," said Khalid Al Malik, CEO, Dubai Properties Group.

Rama Rebbapragada, Regional Vice President of Royal Caribbean International, said: "We hope to replicate the success of our full capacity 2010 sailings, and are thrilled that our new 12-night itinerary has received a huge amount of interest from key global source markets including the UK, North America and Germany."

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