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We are looking at taking a cruise with our family for the first time, so we are in need of help picking a destination.  It will be my wife and I along with our 3 kids ages 15, 13, and 5.  We are looking at 2 different Southern Caribbean cruises.

 

The first cruise leaves San Juan Puerto Rico and travels to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, and back to San Juan.

The second cruise leaves San Juan Puerto Rico and travels to Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St. Thomas, and back to San Juan.

 

We would welcome any input that you may have on which cruise might be better for our family.  We enjoy doing outdoor activities - hiking, kayaking, swimming, and we enjoy culture and history as well.  Just looking for which cruise might be the best option for our family, based on your experience and/or recommendations.

 

Thank you kindly for your advice!!!

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I don't think you can go wrong with either itinerary, given that you are looking for a variety of activities. There's not really a bad port stop among those you list (though personally I don't find St. Thomas particularly interesting, but people like to shop there or go to St. John). A few specific recommendations for the ports:

 

St. Kitts—Royston has a very adventurous van tour, but will also arrange for a rain forest hike (probably too strenuous for the 5-year-old); his van tour is a fun time, with a mix of beautiful scenery and historic sites like Brimstone Fortress. The kids will love it!

Antigua: Lawrence of Antigua does a van tour that hits some great historic sites, including Nelson's Dockyard, and Antigua is a beautiful island.

St. Lucia: Serenity Island Tour does cultural and natural sites, including the sulfur springs mud bath and a waterfall you can get under. The kids would love that, too! Lunch buffet included.

 

For the other itinerary:

Aruba: Sonny Binns van tour of island (might not be as exciting for the kids); also, there can be good snorkeling, and Aruba has many excursions that will take you into deep water to snorkel over a WWII shipwreck as well as coral reefs, plus Aruba has gorgeous beaches.

Curacao: Pretty town for walking and good food, plus European-style shopping (fine linens, Dutch cheeses, etc.); the floating bridge is a highlight.

Bonaire: Best snorkeling, because the water is so clear. Book with Woodwind, but book early. They can fill up quickly. Dee and Ulf will take great care of your family and will see that the kids are safe. They have floats as well as snorkel vests and take out the passengers in groups of basic, intermediate and advanced. They also have a professional dive photographer along who will sell you a thumb drive with pictures of the snorkel including some of your family (pictures used to be $35, not sure if it's gone up).

 

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