Looking to take a short pre-Christmas vacation with the family, inclusive of 2 older children (19 & 23). Want to go warm and thought of the Caribbean. Any opinions out there between Carambola Beach on St. Croix or one of the Marriott properties on Aruba (the Renaissance or the Marriott Stellaris Casino)? If not one of those can I get a suggestion of another? I live on the East Coast (Washington D.C.) so Hawaii is too far. Tha__
This is why I like cruising. I can leave out of NYC [even in the winter]. By morning they are in the Carolinas [jacket or sweater weather in winter] and 2nd day in FLA. No AF, Hotel, Restaurant! Your in Texas, so you should be able to find some great cruises from there, and will probably be much cheaper.
yep, but Celebrity does not cruise all year round. and I am not a huge fan of RCC as of late. NCL leaves from Manhattan pier right next to Carnival which I don't care for either. HAL use to leave only from Brooklyn, but now has some of the Bermuda cruises out of Manhattan. Princess I believe is only out of Brooklyn
OMG, hard to remember. I have it in my profile on CruiseCritic.Com which I have copied below
Carnival is probably not the best introduction to cruising. Have only been on one for lunch for a fam when I was in the travel business, and left before dessert showed up. Didn't like anything about it. Unless your young, like the bright lights, colors, etc. its a bit over the top, kinda of like living in a vegas casino.
I think NCL give great value for the dollar. I also enjoy HAL and Celebrity though they cost more, and I primarily cruise with them for deals. RCC was mainly for business, and they use to be nice, but my last one I did not like at all. Lots of policy changes on their part, and not for the better. Went on one Costa Cruise, and it scared me. Recently events unfortunately have substantiated my fears. Trying to rev myself [and my pocketbook] up to try Crystal, as one of my alumni groups has a deal, but even when its 2 for 1 its still really expensive, so I don't know if I will do it and wipe out my travel budget.
Will need to up my count if we are countring smaller vessels as my dad had an outboard and we lived on the great lakes. All my friends had larger vessels [from 38 to 60 feet] where we could really sleep on board, though sometimes we had so many of us, a few would need to sleep on deck in a sleeping bed or on land.
also, on NCL, the pools are heated. Not all cruise lines heat the pool. And you can find out the water temperature in your room. So you can swim even when its not hot. I prefer it to be warmer when I swim, but I have gone in the cold, as my niece wanted to go at night, and I didn't want her out there alone, so we went together. I really like the onboard spa, which generally has a therapy pool (s) and hot tub as well as the hot ceramic lounge chairs, saunas, etc.
I am only been to Curacao on a cruise, but have been there several times for only 1 day. Would love to stay longer. I saw someone on MI post glowing reviews, I think of both properties. One is in town, and one is on the beach. My recollection is that its very easy to get around town.
I am not a big BVI fan. The cruise ships stop there alot. I don't even get off anymore. 1 trip around the island, and 1 day shopping at the handful of stores they have, and there was not much more to see or do. Prefer the view from on deck. I do like the outdoor market they setup for the cruise ships which is between the port and the shops [all 2 streets of them] and sometimes I do go shopping there.
I do have British friends who sail, and for them this is sailing heaven. They go every years.
So it depends on your tastes and interests.
All - thanks SOOOO much for all if the input but I really want to hone in on the original query which is what is a great Marriott to stay in the Caribbean. I have a family of 4 and the kids are older (19 & 23) so no little kid stuff. I live in DC so I have options to fly but don't want to make it onerous. I have heard good things about Aruba, some iffy things about Carambola and now some input on the Scrub Island (but difficult to get to). Anyone else? There are also multiple hotels on Aruba, which one? Also note - we don't like touristy high rises. Is Aruba overcrowded? Is St Croix or another island better. I am open. Let me know. THANK YOU!!
Here are 2 of the reviews, but I remember a much more extensive one. Will try to find it for you
probably not the best topic for MI, but I like to cruise when checking out islands. I am not certain I could stay on anyone of them for all that long as there is only so much time I can spend on a beach. After visiting multiple islands, I came up with the short list of ones I would actually stay on as there was more I wanted to see. Also, while your there you can check out the hotels. That is what we did for fams. We would look at 10 hotels in one day.
Did you know you can use Marriott points for cruises? One of my HAL cruises was with Marriott points. At holiday time there are lots of kids aboard of all ages. My sister and I have taken her kids a couple of times and they loved it.
I just checked the rewards program, and it has changed since I used it. I used my points on Holland and it was for an inside cabin. We paid $200 to upgrade to oceanview. Now its through a travel agency and its x points for so much money toward the fare. I will check it out later tonight and see what looks good for Dec out of Texas.
Just checking options and basing it on NJ resident and cruiseship affiliation as a reference point, but can adjust depending on preferences. Same options exist out of Bayonne on RCC, just double the prices, and lower the service expectations
1) GEM out of NYC for 9 nites....great price for 9 nites, great itinerary (Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic...some of the best shopping in the caribbean so hold on to your wallet). Depending on how many people are traveling, sometimes the family suite works out to have the best pricing, and additional perks. Inside is about $600, Outside is about $700, Balcony is $1000, and what they are listing as suite, is really an oversized balcony at $1100. There are true suites, and sometimes not that much more. The family suite is two cabins, both with balconies, connected by a sitting room area, and comes with full suite privileges
2) JEWEL - 7 nites [Port Canaveral, Bahamas, Private Island]. Prices ranging from $400 to $800/pp. One of my favorite ships.
Thanks for the links here. Wasn't aware that you could use poiunts to pay for cruises. I would not do this, as it's not worht it. 145k in points gets you $1,000 credit; 350k in points gets you $2,500 and 675k in points gets u $5,000.
So i just prices cruises in December leaving from NY and NJ, and I guess because of the holdidays, the prices are jacked up. For instance, the GEM out of NYC (link 1 that you provided, for 4 people in a Suite it would cost a total of $7,800! Too expensive for me. But I do appreciate the information that you provided. That would have been a nice cruise. I did price it other ways, but still too expensive for me.
When I used points for a cruise it was 150K points for 2 people - 12 day Holland Cruise in the Baltic.
We cruised for xmas in 2010, and I paid $750/pp 1st & 2nd. My sisters teenagers were $99/ea when added to cabins as 3rd & 4th. Prices are much higher this year??? Not certain why. I think the 9,10,12 day itineraries are popular and they don't need to discount
A ' fam' is a familiarization trip. Vendors and governments invite folks in the travel business to come to visit with all expenses comp'd. While your there, you go around to 10+ properties a day to view them and get a feel for them. Meals will be served at different properties. Folks that have never done business travel generally like it. Those of us who are business travelers felt like we were roughing it.
At the airport, travel professionals [you have a valid IATAN card] are upgraded into 1st class, space permitting, if appropriatedly dressed. For women this means the blue suit, pumps and stockings. When traveling on fam, with 20-30 other agents, no way will you get upgraded. Usually its the seat next to the bathroom, all the middle seats, etc.
At the hotel, its room sharing. Luckily for me, I was a member in alot of hotel chains. Most honored my hotel statuses and upgraded me.
While touring properties, its a bus, and its the whole day.
For cruise ships you get on while the guests are leaving, have lunch in the dining room, tour the ship, look at cabins, and then leave as the new guests board.
The vendors select the agents that sell the most of their product. so alot of agents are selling what they want to win a trip on.
For those not experienced with travel its an opportunity.
For a business traveler its like slumming it.
Just found the other post on the 2 properties in Curacao giving some comparisons, plus you could probably follow up with that person on any additonal questions.
also trip advisors has good reviews of the 2 Marriott properies in Curacao. I have a much better idea about the differences in these properties after reading them.
I have never been to the Caribbean, so I'm afraid I cannot offer much in the way of direct advice, but here's an idea that may help get you pointed in the right direction. At the following link on the Marriott Rewards Website, Caribbean hotels – See local hotels in Caribbean by Marriott You will see a list off all of the offerings in the Marriott family of hotels. Below I captured a map:
Okay, now on the Insiders site here, click on the 'Discussions' tab (on the tab bar that spreads horizontally across the screen). This will show a list of all discussions that have been posted. In the box where it says 'filter', enter some search words such as 'Caribbean' or 'Aruba' or 'St. Kitts,' etc., using names and/or locations of properties from the webpage that lists all of the Caribbean properties. The search results should yield a wealth of posts on the various Caribbean properties, which will hopefully help you with your planning and decision making. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Sorry if we hijacked your post with too much banter. It's sort of a weakness that can come with the territory.
one xmas we cruised out of Charleston. I took the train down from PHL, and my friends got on in DC. We spent the night before, and after at a very nice Marriott in the Charleston Historic District near the port. They sent us to a wonderful restaurant around the corner. Was a very pleasant trip.
I have not been to St. Croix but it is on my bucket list. Aruba is terrific. Lots of fun things to do. I have been there twice and stayed at both the Marriott and the Rennaissance. The beach at the Rennaissance is man made and only accessibly by small boat. The beach at the Marriott is 1000 times better. I also disliked the Rennaissance. Look up my review on the Rennaissance. You can read my tale. Your kids are older than mine was when we went there.
Also consider the Marriotts in St. Kitts-great service, nice beach and excellent property as well as Curacao. More of a Dutch influence but when you go to the beaches waway from the hotel, they are spectacular. The Curacao property was great.