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Labadee: Help me decide on a beach bungalow!


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My husband and I are going to Labadee with our three children (3, 7, and ūüėé on Symphony in January 2021. ¬†This will be our first port of call for the cruise so I am concerned about getting burned and then ruining the rest of the cruise. I really don‚Äôt like wind and prefer it warm (Solarium is my favorite place on the ship)¬†so I figured we should¬†avoid adrenaline beach. ¬†With the ages of the kids I thought either Nellie‚Äôs or Columbus Cove as I have heard the sand is very nice. ¬†
 

My question is: Do I really need a cabana/bungalow?  With an Oasis class ship are we going to get a nice spot on one of the beaches?  If not I was going to go with a Columbus Cove bungalow as the price is much better than a cabana.  Is the bungalow worth it with kids?  

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Cabana/Bungalo would be your best bet if you want to be guaranteed some shade. If you don't want to spend the $ there is a lot of space on the beach and you can usually find a nice spot under a palm tree. Just make sure you are getting off the boat early. 

 

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I stayed in an on-the-water cabana on Nellie's Beach, pics below showing the crowd on the beach; first was around 9 AM right after we arrived, second was in the mid-afternoon. If getting burned is a concern, I'd agree with @loki007 that getting at least a bungalow will be a good investment, especially with Labadee as your first cruise port instead of your last. My kids were teens when we went and they loved it; the OTW cabanas have a stairway going directly into the water, so you can bypass the crowds, but that could also be a point of concern when dealing with younger kids like yours.

The attendant you get with a cabana is a really nice perk, I believe you also get one with bungalows. They regularly check in to see if anyone needs any beverages or anything else. And at least with the cabanas you also get the perk of a golf cart to get you around to the further points on the island.

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Hi @MinnesotaCruiser!

We too went with the over-the-water cabana at Nellie's Beach last May and LOVED it! 

Since we did not have children with us, we chose a cabana (cabana "NW4") that was farthest from the beach and on the opposite side of where Joe (@JLMoran) had his cabana. The one thing we noticed, and Joe can certainly confirm/dispute, was that toward the afternoon the other side of Nellie's Beach got blasted by the sun!

We had sun all day on the loungers on our side on our cabana deck, but we were fortunately always shaded under the cabana. You'll see in the photos that the farther you get from the beach, the deeper the water and more difficult the access is by way of a ladder versus stone steps. I would recommend a cabana closer to the beach since you have children. We loved ours due to the privacy (no one to our immediate right as we were the last cabana on Nellie's Beach on our side).

 

Here is a pic of the map of Labadee...

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Our cabana was the farthest from the beach to the right as you enter the Nellie's Beach area (left side as you view the map above)... this is a pic of the first cabana on the right side and part of Nellie's Beach...

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These are the steps we climbed to get to our cabana. We only had to leave and climb down the steps a few times (bathroom break, BBQ lunch, to explore, etc.). Our cabana attendant (Regis) was amazing! The beach is to the left as you look out from our cabana.

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Still approaching the cabana and the view!

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Our friends under our cabana!

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The inside of the cabana... the fan does help keep the inside much cooler!

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View to the right from our cabana... You can also see the ship (Allure) while in the water!

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We walked over the Barefoot Beach (suites only) which is the area just to the right of Nellie's Beach and took these pics early in the AM before anyone came over!

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Here is what I was referring to... ladder from our cabana to enter/exit water... not child friendly between the steep ladder and deep water entry!

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Pics of the other side where I believe Joe had his cabana...

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Not a must, but it was a really special treat for the four of us (went with another couple) and we would not hesitate to splurge for a cabana again the next time we go to Labadee!

 

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6 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

The one thing we noticed, and Joe can certainly confirm/dispute, was that toward the afternoon the other side of Nellie's Beach got blasted by the sun!

We went at Spring Break time in early April. My memory isn't the greatest after two years, but I believe what @JohnK6404 says is correct -- there was a lot of sun as the day went by, and we were definitely glad for the shade provided by the cabana. The other thing about Nellie's Beach is that that water has random cold pockets moving around. I went into the water just by the stairs in the picture I copied from John's post, and while most of the time it was typical bathwater temp for the Caribbean, every so often we'd have a pocket of water flow by that was downright chilly in comparison.

That said, I'm glad that it was a cold pocket and not a warmer one, or I'd have been looking around to see who peed in the water.¬†ūüėā

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6 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Yup, ours was the cabana on the far right of this pic.

1 minute ago, JohnK6404 said:

I like it! Not on top of the beach, but child access friendly!

Actually, I was wrong about that. Ours was the one on the left in this pic. I remember we had a ladder at the bottom of the stairs, and that ours was the second-to-last in the chain.

12 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

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BUT, keep in mind you are not tied to using the stairway immediately next to your cabana. If you wanted to use the one closer to the beach / sand bar, you're free to do so.

 

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I know others are fans of Nellie's Beach but with your age kids, I'd highly suggest the beach bungalows on Columbus Beach.  The bungalow area is blocked off from the public so it is very easy to keep an eye on the kids, the sand is great for playing in and the water is calm.  Plus, the bungalows are cheaper.

 

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This was our set up.  We had 7 people and some wanted more sun so the attendant dragged 2 chairs next to the other 2.  Later we took the 2 beach chairs to the water's edge.

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View from the bungalow to the water.  

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We were on Harmony.  The really crowded section is the public area on Columbus Beach.  Where the line of chairs stop is the bungalow section.  As you can see less, less crowded and some with bungalows  just pulled chairs down to the water.  

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We get a bungalow every time we go to Labadee.  They are worth every penny IMO.  Water and sand are nice in that area, bathrooms and lunch are right there, the aqua park is right there, and the attendants are always very nice.  You can have shade or sun if you want, and the bungalow area is not crowded at all.  It's nice to not have to rush off the ship to secure a spot.  For a tip, the guys in the golf carts at the end of the pier will drive you there.   

If you have a drink package, $5 or $10 to the attendants when you arrive will guarantee you will never be without a drink all day!

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