Author Topic: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?  (Read 2392 times)

Sodium

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Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« on: November 21, 2019, 10:31:09 AM »
Hi All,
Any suggestion for cheap and best (or reasonable) Carribean destinations and resorts for travel with kids? I am considering US VI, Puerto Rico. I am ok with foreign destinations if its worth it. Planning to travel around end of Feb./Beginning of March. Thanks.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2019, 02:20:12 PM »
Costa Rica? Cayman Islands? Bahamas? Bermuda?

I've heard great things about Costa Rica, and would find it tempting despite having no desire to do that sort of thing. I've been to the Cayman Islands. It was OK (but expensive).
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spork

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2019, 02:37:04 PM »
I'll preface this by saying I'm married to someone not originally from the USA and my travel is pretty much the opposite of a Thomas Cook package tour. Usually we stay in AirBnB properties.

Forget Martinique. Was not impressed and it's very expensive -- the currency is the Euro.

Been to Las Terrenas on the DR's Samana Peninsula twice, liked it. Nice beach, especially on the western side (Playa Las Ballenas, and Playa Bonita). This was when Jet Blue flew to El Catey so it was very convenient.

Several years ago I was on Isla Mujeres, which is a short ferry ride from Cancun. Nice beach at the northern end of the island; that's where you would want to stay. The Caribbean side has no beach.

I have friends with connections to Haiti and would love to get there but haven't had the chance yet.

I'll be able to report on another Caribbean destination during the winter holidays.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 02:51:21 PM by spork »
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clean

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2019, 05:01:09 PM »
My first thought was a cruise.  A quick check of Princess Cruises (not the boozy line like Carnival) shows a round trip from Ft. lauderdale is about $600 per adult and $300 for passenger 3 and 4.  In addition to the cruise entertainment and pools, it goes to the 'princess island' in the Bahamas, and St. Thomas and St Maartin. 
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mamselle

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2019, 07:33:27 AM »
Do a theme tour for yourselves.

Read Tuchman's "The First Salute" and then craft a visit to the Leeward Islands (and others) named in her book, including St. Eustis, where the American flag was first acknowledged by a Dutch fort.

M.

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Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Anselm

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2019, 02:34:30 PM »
I've never gone anywhere in the Caribbean but how about Cuba?
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clean

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2019, 06:46:10 PM »
I think that Cuba is again illegal to visit for US citizens. 
"The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am"  Darth Vader

ab_grp

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2019, 10:43:44 AM »
My first thought was a cruise.  A quick check of Princess Cruises (not the boozy line like Carnival) shows a round trip from Ft. lauderdale is about $600 per adult and $300 for passenger 3 and 4.  In addition to the cruise entertainment and pools, it goes to the 'princess island' in the Bahamas, and St. Thomas and St Maartin.

[Questions for OP] How old are your kids (sorry if I missed that info)? What kinds of activities do they like to do? Is hanging around on the beach their idea of a good time, or do they like to hike, etc.?

I was going to suggest a cruise as well.  I took my mother and daughter (around 9yo at the time) on a 4 day/3 night (I think) Royal Caribbean cruise from Ft. Lauderdale that stopped in Cancun and Key West.  My daughter loved the programs they had for kids.   At one point, they took over the ship as pirates.  They had a great time, and she met lots of friends.  They also put on an amusing talent show.  I think cruises are nice because they can give you a lot of different opportunities all within easy reach.  Of course we went to the pool, she loved the dessert bars and ice cream party, we went to some fun shows in the theater, there was a casino and shuffleboard and lots of other things to do.  She actually didn't want to get off the ship in Mexico because she was having so much fun on board.  If you are looking more for spending time on shore, you may want to look at a different type of vacation.   There are some fun excursions available for cruises though, usually.  Longer cruises mean more days at sea, so more activities needed on the ship, but 3-4 days is pretty good.  Depending where you live, you may be able to find a cruise that sets out of a reasonably nearby port rather than having to fly somewhere.  Daughter loved that cruise so much.  She left her kids club hat at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on the way out and was so sad about it.  We tried to obtain another, to no avail.  There was a lot of push for shopping in the ports and on the ship, but they'd give coupons for free rum punches or tequila (which the adults enjoyed) and little gems and trinkets (which daughter enjoyed). 

I have also been to St. John and Anguilla without kids.  St. John has a couple hundred (?) beaches on a pretty small island.  I don't know what there might be to do for kids there, but if you like to do a little hiking and explore a lot of different types of beaches and play in some beautiful water, that might be good.  My friends have taken their kids and had a good time.  We flew to St. Thomas and took a ferry over.  Anguilla is a little different, and I didn't see a lot of kids there, but it is a lovely place. 

secundem_artem

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2019, 12:19:28 PM »
Do a theme tour for yourselves.

Read Tuchman's "The First Salute" and then craft a visit to the Leeward Islands (and others) named in her book, including St. Eustis, where the American flag was first acknowledged by a Dutch fort.

M.

That's not a vacation, that's a homework assignment.

My suggestion is Belize.  A 2 hr flight out of Houston or Miami, English speaking country, quite safe by Central American standards, moderately priced, terrific fishing.
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mamselle

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2019, 01:06:04 PM »
Do a theme tour for yourselves.

Read Tuchman's "The First Salute" and then craft a visit to the Leeward Islands (and others) named in her book, including St. Eustis, where the American flag was first acknowledged by a Dutch fort.

M.

That's not a vacation, that's a homework assignment.

Well, yeah, ok, maybe....but how is that a problem?

Maybe we underestimate kids, or maybe I was always a historian at heart, but our family's Sunday afternoon outings to historical spots all over the state--picnic lunch at the site and dinner "out" on the way home--still ring in my memory (singing "Boom-de-ah-dah" and "Tell my Why?" in parts en route in a warm car, the four of us kids snuggled up like puppies in the back seat).

The Tuchmann narrative includes privateer/pirate ships, revolutions in Holland, American navy shipbuilding, and dramatic escapes--what's a kid not to like?

Besides, it provides great fodder for "What I did on my vacation" stories and is much less booo-orr-rring than lying around a beach or boat deck by the pool all day and eating weird seafood at night (which is all kids will get from a cruise or getaway seaside holiday).

I'd be reading bits of the Tuchmann book to them the month before, showing them websites and brochures with the actual places named, and maybe getting them to focus on one or two particular people and put themselves in their places--even act out some of the more dramatic bits, before they go.

One of my music students' families have actually hired me to do 2-3 short session art and architecture "fun prep" series for their kids before going to Paris, Florence, WDC, and Madrid.

I think they decided they were getting their money's worth when the then-five-tyear-old piped up, on seeing the Duomo in Florence, "Look, Dad! Brunelleschi put chains around that dome, to keep it from falling down!"

(The book "Buildings that wiggle like a fish" was involved in that one).

But maybe that's just me...

M.
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Kron3007

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2019, 01:32:50 PM »
Do a theme tour for yourselves.

Read Tuchman's "The First Salute" and then craft a visit to the Leeward Islands (and others) named in her book, including St. Eustis, where the American flag was first acknowledged by a Dutch fort.

M.

That's not a vacation, that's a homework assignment.

Well, yeah, ok, maybe....but how is that a problem?

Maybe we underestimate kids, or maybe I was always a historian at heart, but our family's Sunday afternoon outings to historical spots all over the state--picnic lunch at the site and dinner "out" on the way home--still ring in my memory (singing "Boom-de-ah-dah" and "Tell my Why?" in parts en route in a warm car, the four of us kids snuggled up like puppies in the back seat).

The Tuchmann narrative includes privateer/pirate ships, revolutions in Holland, American navy shipbuilding, and dramatic escapes--what's a kid not to like?

Besides, it provides great fodder for "What I did on my vacation" stories and is much less booo-orr-rring than lying around a beach or boat deck by the pool all day and eating weird seafood at night (which is all kids will get from a cruise or getaway seaside holiday).

I'd be reading bits of the Tuchmann book to them the month before, showing them websites and brochures with the actual places named, and maybe getting them to focus on one or two particular people and put themselves in their places--even act out some of the more dramatic bits, before they go.

One of my music students' families have actually hired me to do 2-3 short session art and architecture "fun prep" series for their kids before going to Paris, Florence, WDC, and Madrid.

I think they decided they were getting their money's worth when the then-five-tyear-old piped up, on seeing the Duomo in Florence, "Look, Dad! Brunelleschi put chains around that dome, to keep it from falling down!"

(The book "Buildings that wiggle like a fish" was involved in that one).

But maybe that's just me...

M.

It's all about perspective I suppose. 

Perhaps I was always a biologist, because my memories of "lying around on a beach" are full of finding sea shells, catching hermit crabs, chasing lizards, opening/eating coconuts, snorkeling with tropical fish, etc.  I remember visiting giant caves, the everglades, and that type of thing much more than the historical sites that we visited (boring...).  I would generally much prefer nature to historical sites, but it is nice to have both.  This is one reason I disagree with the cruise suggestion.  You end up on a cramped boat that drops you off in a port with too little time to actually see any of the awesome places you are "visiting".  I would much rather visit on land and be able to actually see some of the place.   

I am also looking to bring my family on a similar trip this year.  We have considered Cuba because it is among the cheapest and is very safe, but I have gotten food related illnesses 2/3 times I have visited and their standards are a little lower than some places (a five star resort there would not really be a five star in some other areas).  We are kind of leaning toward Mexico or the Dominican for now, but if my kids were a little older I would also consider Costa Rica for something a little more adventurous.  I love Costa Rica, but with little kids, we are really looking for a more all inclusive, lazy holiday and I dont think Costa Rica is the best for this (or at least not in my budget).       

ab_grp

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2019, 01:36:53 PM »
Besides, it provides great fodder for "What I did on my vacation" stories and is much less booo-orr-rring than lying around a beach or boat deck by the pool all day and eating weird seafood at night (which is all kids will get from a cruise or getaway seaside holiday).

I have to disagree.  Sure, there are lots of historical, informative trips that one can take.  And, lots of kids enjoy them! But that did not seem to be the focus of OP's request (apologies if I misread).  It seems to me that the request is more for a seaside holiday, something fun, relaxing, inexpensive.  There are plenty of historical areas and tours in the Caribbean, so one can do some of each if desired.  But cruises are not just blah, either.  We also took daughter (then age 12) on a Baltic cruise that included plenty of history, architecture, and culture along with the shuffleboard and weird foods.  The cruising mode of travel might be one that is enjoyable or not to a particular individual, but there's no reason for a cruise not to be educational.  Obviously, you have to take into account the kids who will be traveling.  My general approach is to keep things as flexible as possible, enough opportunities to try this or that, and try to make it enjoyable.  It is a vacation! Nothing wrong with lying around on a beach or in a deck chair now and again.  I do see where you're coming from, but I think this statement is a bit general and inaccurate. 

Let me also just add after Kron2007's post that it's true that it's not easy to get a bulk of time for exploring individual areas while on a cruise.  But what is nice is that it lets you have a little taste of this place or that, and if you want to plan a longer and more focused trip there in the future, great.  The ports aren't always the best, though some are better than others! And, again, a lot of excursions are pretty well designed to get you off doing something interesting and fun elsewhere and back to the ship.

I don't mean to be a cruise apologist, and I do not work for a cruise company.  :-)

Hibush

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2019, 02:24:03 PM »
Puerto Rico would appreciate your visit in order to help with hurricane recovery. The tourists sites were repaired first, so it is easy to be a visitor. Prices are fairly normal American in tourist areas; not as pricey as some of the trendy islands. The flight is domestic. Both nature and culture abound.

Kron3007

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2019, 03:15:10 PM »
Besides, it provides great fodder for "What I did on my vacation" stories and is much less booo-orr-rring than lying around a beach or boat deck by the pool all day and eating weird seafood at night (which is all kids will get from a cruise or getaway seaside holiday).

I have to disagree.  Sure, there are lots of historical, informative trips that one can take.  And, lots of kids enjoy them! But that did not seem to be the focus of OP's request (apologies if I misread).  It seems to me that the request is more for a seaside holiday, something fun, relaxing, inexpensive.  There are plenty of historical areas and tours in the Caribbean, so one can do some of each if desired.  But cruises are not just blah, either.  We also took daughter (then age 12) on a Baltic cruise that included plenty of history, architecture, and culture along with the shuffleboard and weird foods.  The cruising mode of travel might be one that is enjoyable or not to a particular individual, but there's no reason for a cruise not to be educational.  Obviously, you have to take into account the kids who will be traveling.  My general approach is to keep things as flexible as possible, enough opportunities to try this or that, and try to make it enjoyable.  It is a vacation! Nothing wrong with lying around on a beach or in a deck chair now and again.  I do see where you're coming from, but I think this statement is a bit general and inaccurate. 

Let me also just add after Kron2007's post that it's true that it's not easy to get a bulk of time for exploring individual areas while on a cruise.  But what is nice is that it lets you have a little taste of this place or that, and if you want to plan a longer and more focused trip there in the future, great.  The ports aren't always the best, though some are better than others! And, again, a lot of excursions are pretty well designed to get you off doing something interesting and fun elsewhere and back to the ship.

I don't mean to be a cruise apologist, and I do not work for a cruise company.  :-)

I have only been on one cruise, but I just felt like we were all being herded like sheep getting off the boat into the port where all the excursion wolves are waiting.  Since you only have a very brief time and the ports are generally not near much of note, you have no choice but to do the excursions.  These are not cheap and of very mixed quality.  I can see the appeal and am sure it suites some people, but they are not really for me (although I could see going on one and enjoying it with my lowered expectations). 


spork

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Re: Cheap and Best Carribean Destination?
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2019, 04:52:22 PM »

[. . . ]

We are kind of leaning toward Mexico or the Dominican for now, but if my kids were a little older I would also consider Costa Rica for something a little more adventurous.  I love Costa Rica, but with little kids, we are really looking for a more all inclusive, lazy holiday and I dont think Costa Rica is the best for this (or at least not in my budget).     

As mentioned by Hibush, Puerto Rico is worth investigating, especially on the basis of cost. For anything other than a walled all-inclusive resort with the breakfast buffet of sausage, spaghetti, and toast, I would classify Costa Rica as less "adventurous" than Mexico or the DR. As for all-inclusive resorts themselves, it doesn't matter which country they're in. They are like international airport terminals.
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