After a rainy week back home, it’s safe to say I’m seriously missing the tropical vibes of the Caribbean! I’ve been on 14 cruises with Princess Cruise lines. I think that means I’m kind of a cruise “expert”- hah. But, expert or not, I’ve cruised a handful of itineraries in Europe, Alaska, Mexico, and the Caribbean. So here I’ll share some info about my recent Eastern Caribbean Cruise. This 7-day cruise took us to 4 ports in the Eastern Caribbean which is just the right amount of stops on a 7-day itinerary. Any more and you’d be overwhelmed; it’s nice to have a few sea days to relax. Any less, and you may get cabin fever!
Princess Cays is Princess Cruises’ very own stop, located on a small island in the Bahamas. Many of their Caribbean itineraries (both east + west) stop in Princess Cays, which I love. It’s the ultimate tropical paradise filled with rows and rows of beach chairs, plenty of bars, and delicious food. It’s basically the cruise ship on land. There are water activities like snorkelling, paddle boats, kayaking, banana boat rides, and ginormous water tricycles. Beware, the tricycles look fun, but they are SO hard! The best part about Princess Cays is that there are no tourists traps like Margaritaville’s or Senor Frogs. It’s totally pure, beach fun!
Grand Cayman: The Biggest Cayman Island in the Caribbean
After our Princess Cays stop, we docked at Grand Cayman, known for its gorgeous 7-mile beach, stingray city, and turtle farm. This is one of those stops I wanted to LOVE, but the second we got off the ship, I felt like I was on Hollywood Blvd…. just tourist trap after tourist trap. We had a few friends who signed up for the stingray and turtle excursions and had a great time, so I feel like that’s the way to go. Andy and I opted for a taxi ride to a 7-mile beach for an afternoon on the sand. Don’t get me wrong, the beach is gorgeous, but I’m not sure how it qualifies as one of the best beaches in the world. Yes, the water is absolutely stunning, and the sand is white. Still, it’s lined with hotels (and not like Miami – which I love) that don’t allow you to rent chairs, so you’re kind of stuck finding a spot between the hotel chairs and the water, which doesn’t give you much space. We grabbed a quick lunch at the 7-mile beach bar @ Grand Cayman beach suites, then rented a kayak for a few hours.
Roatán: My Top Carribean Island
Roatán was by far my favourite stop on the trip! We signed up for an excursion via cruise. We ended up with a great guide who took us around the island, on a submarine experience (it’s like snorkelling without getting wet), and to a dance show with native children. After that, we were free to explore the island for an hour then drove back to the ship. Andy and I stopped at the most delicious spot for lunch during our free time: Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken. The food was INSANE. I had the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten, and Andy had chicken (naturally!). We chatted with a local who had moved to Roatán 8 years earlier. He was originally from St. Louis and came to Roatán on a cruise decades earlier, fell in love, then decided to move there upon retirement. I totally get why! The people are friendly, filled with so much culture, beautiful weather, and the island is stunning. This is definitely a spot that embraces tourism but in the right way – it didn’t feel gimmicky at all.
What’s in Costa Maya? Mayan ruins and a lot of pineapples, that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s stunning and full of history, but it wasn’t out of this world exciting. If you happen to go to this port, definitely check out the cruise excursions, as I think there were some great zip-lining tours!
More Caribbean Cruise FAQs
When I was younger, I used to be anti-excursions because I wanted to do my own thing and explore the ports with a set schedule. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy most excursions because they’re super informative. Typically, you have a guide who is highly knowledgeable about the location. You can suck up tons of info that you couldn’t gather yourself from just spending the day at the port.
My suggestion: research the ports/locations ahead of time and decide how you want to spend your time there, then review all the excursion options to nail down the perfect one for you (or choose not to do one)! Excursions are great for families or groups with different age ranges because there is usually something for everyone.
The excursions are very well priced when it comes to price, and you do get a bang for your buck because the cruise lines have connections with the tourism boards at every port. It’s also a lot safer (if safety is a concern) to do a cruise excursion than venture out on your own. However, venturing out solo can be a fun adventure. When it’s just a few friends or your significant other, it sometimes is the best way to go even if you have to deal with some mishappenings during your trip.
Cruise Lines/ Best Time to Buy
Although I’ve cruised a lot, it has solely been on Princess Cruise Lines, which means I’m a bit biased. The Princess crowd tends to be a little older, with pockets of young families. Cruises during spring break/ the holidays have more kids on them than other times of the year, but I imagine every cruise line. With Princess, you can always count on 5-star food and entertainment, plus they just launched an unlimited drink program, YASS! One thing I love about Princess is their “Movies Under the Stars”, a huge TV out by the pool that turns into a theatre at night.
If you’re looking for deals, sign up for any cruise line’s email blasts. They always send promotions and current deals which can’t be found anywhere else.