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Port Intensive Itinerary experience. What should I expect

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My next cruise will be a southern Caribbean port intensive itinerary and I am just looking for some advice on what to expect. Are there less boat activities? Are sea days packed with activies? Either way I know we will enjoy the different islands.

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First, I'd recommend reading my Jewel of the Seas live blog that was very port intensive: http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/category/category/jewel-of-the-seas-live-blog

 

I think you will find activities on port days for this cruise similar to port days on other ships you have been on.  There arent many activities in the prime hours of the day but you will still find lots to do in the afternoon and evening especially.

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We just did the Jewel of the Seas out of San Juan at Springbreak.

 

I think the biggest takeaway for us was that you need to think about what you want to do and plan a bit, not necessarily plan out every moment of every day but think about what you want to accomplish.

 

We are morning people and not big drinkers/partiers so we settled into a pattern of getting up at a reasonably early time, doing breakfast, etc. so that we were ready to be off the ship and in the first wave of excursions. The excursions would usually have us back to the port/ship by early afternoon and we could get a couple of hours of down time at the pool (swim, read, relax, etc.) before dinner.

 

In terms of excursions I wouldn't say there were more of them offered but because you had 5 port days and 1 sea day it felt like there were more options. We sat down and went through the book figuring out what we wanted to do each day, for example we knew we wanted to snorkel at least once, were interested in kayaking, etc. so we started by looking for things that we could only do in one port and gradually narrowing down our selections that way.

 

On one of our stops we selected a late morning excursion and did not care for it, felt like we were up, ready and killing time waiting for the excursion and then racing back on to the ship after the excursion since it was all aboard time already.

 

On board activities seemed like they were a little less than usual but since we were off the ship most of every day it is hard to say.

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The island hoppers out of SJ are excellent cruises - especially if you like the southern Carrib islands like Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (my personal fave). I have done this kind of itinerary quite a few times (Serenade, Adventure and Jewel...all multiple times with the exception of Serenade). HOWEVER...I will say, that after a while, you get that inevitable sense that "once you've seen one Caribbean island, you've seen them all". I'm sure I'll get some pushback from that but I was told it would happen by someone more experienced than me (at the time)...and I'll be darned if it didn't.

 

I AM a late-nighter and having to get up early EVERY morning to get off to go see another island that looks pretty much the same as the one I was on yesterday became somewhat tedious. If I was forced to expound on the major differences between St Lucia, Barbados and Antigua I would be pressed to do that even though I have visited all of them many times.

 

So back to the positive. For those who really enjoy the islands and maybe HAVEN'T been to the more southern (and in my opinion, exotic) ones, this kind of island hopper is ideal. I LOVE San Juan and I love being in the "deep" Caribbean where it is ALWAYS warm...I just don't want to do it 6 out of 7 days anymore.

 

I love sea days where the casino is open early and stays open all night !

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I am looking forward to visiting Curaçao, Aruba, St Thomas and St kitts for the first time. I still need to figure out what to do on these islands. Matt good to hear there are still lots to do on evening of port days. Jticarruthers we try not over plan because that takes the relaxing out of cruising but I see your point with a smaller number of sea days don't miss out on something. We enjoy the trivia games.

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Probably my favorite excursion of all times was in Aruba and it was a 4x4 off road adventure tour.  Another fun options seems to be the Trikes Aruba tour.  In Curacao, we did a bus tour, which was fine, but it didn't give us much time in town; it did include a beach stop, however.  In St. Kitts, we did the Sugar Cane Train.  It provides a scenic overview of the island, but it is pricey at around $100 per adult.  We had a discount coupon through Royal, so we felt it was a good value but wouldn't have at $100.  If I were to go to St. Kitts again, I'd probably hirer a driver and take a tour of the island, its forts, etc.

 

I just returned from a port-intensive Northern European cruise and have done two other 7 day cruises that had either no sea days or just one.  We also just booked a 13 night Baltic cruise that only has one sea day, so I have some experience with these cruises.  In general, there is more programming offered on sea days than on port days; however, the ship recognizes that not everyone will get off the ship or will be off the ship all day, so they offer other activities onboard.  Midday will likely have the fewest activities with more activities held in the morning and midafternoon.  In reality, though, the only thing I really noticed is that the dining room wasn't open on port days unless the ship docked around noon or left around noon; on those days, the dining room was open.  Otherwise, there's a lot to do if you opt to stay on the ship.

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