Holland America Line

36 Reviews

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Date of travel

January, 2016

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Reasons for trip

Regular holiday

We were tempted by the idea of warm and sunshine in January, so booked a Caribbean cruise. We did not want any hassle driving to and parking at Heathrow, so chose to travel with Titan, who provide a door to airport chauffer service.

We did not look too closely at the shore excursions, having decided to find out details and book from the cruise ship.

We visited 7 islands. St Maarten was our first port. This is an island of two countries, Dutch and French, both with individual character. Next there was St Lucia, renowned for its dramatic beauty and spectacular scenery. Barbados gave an opportunity to explore Bridgetown the vibrant capital. Martinique is dominated by a cluster of volcanoes, while St Kitts has the traces of the French and British who fought over the island. St Thomas, the popular port on the US Virgin Islands, was an opportunity to explore the lovely historic district. The last place visited was a private island owned by Holland America.

The shore excursions in all these places were mainly divided into two. There was the beach/ swimming/snorkeling/small boat/ picnic option and the island tour option, some with interest and beach stop. We disregarded the first option on the grounds of age and limited mobility. Our tour leader made the suggestion that we avoid booking island tours through the ship. Instead she advised us to walk along the pier and see what was available. Each port had a selection of tours, and all considerably cheaper than pre booking. There was a variety of means of transport too, ranging from a personal taxi, through to people carriers and mini buses. Some islands had ‘truck’ style vehicles, with no windows, doors or seat belts – and very hard seats! All gave excellent commentaries, and were excellent value. The only downside was that, in the event of a breakdown, there was no guarantee of getting back to the ship on time. Bearing that in mind, we tended to take a tour first, then explore the local area on foot, before arriving back on board in good time for departure. (Cruise ships do not wait for late comers!)

If you are planning to cruise the Caribbean, I would recommend you check beforehand what islands and excursions are on the itinerary. On some cruises, booked excursions are a must – but on a Caribbean cruise, independent island tours will save a lot of money, and make you feel more in charge of your itinerary.


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