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There are a vast number of cruise ships going to the carribean, if you have the time and want to save money I would recomend you fly out to miami for a week and get a last minute deal for a weeks cruise while spending a week in miami of ft lauderdale.
As for excursions, depends on the island, most excursions can of course be done independantly at a much reduced rate, I should know as I worked on cruise lines for 7 years. Only down side if your doing it yourself is that the ship will not wait even if you 10mins late getting back. If your on an organised tuor and are late they will wait for a while.
Done OV a couple of times, dont know Thomson. They offer broadly similar itineraries, standards & prices. Both charge in sterling on-board. Differences between the two ? Opinions tend to be subjective, but both get mainly good reviews - so mebbe your choice should be based on opinions on the things that matter to you. For instance, Thomson get better reviews for entertainment, OVs cabin facilities get better reviews. And on facts - ship size, cabin size, facilities, services, and how they suit your requirements. Great gym on OV, and ship's mountain-bikes for organised excursion rides, but no use if that's not your scene. You'll find the "cruise guide" (top of left-hand column on this page) is very useful for ship facts and overall appraisals. Shore excursions - same sort of offerings on all ships' excursions, and yes, road tours etc cost half as much if done independently with local taxis & minibuses. There's no "organiser", you dont need to look for taxis/minibuses - trust me, you won't miss them! They offer much the same itineraries as ship's excursions, and will if you wish fill their vehicle with your fellow-cruisers to share the cost. And they're flexible - for instance, you can spend longer at sights which interest you & skim past those of little interest, if your fellow-passengers agree. And its quite usual for passengers to ask to be dropped at a beach rather than back at the ship. They'll tell you how to get a bus, taxi or water-bus back, or for a few dollars more they'll come back for you at an agreed time - often with no money changing hands til you're back at the ship. Money, by the way, means yankee dollars. You'll get the hang of it very quickly. I lean towards OV, but you'll have a great cruise whichever you choose. Chris.
Somehow missed out one significant difference between OV and Thomson. OV's dining arrangements are very laid-back, dining is serve-yourself buffet & sit where you choose, indoors or out. (but think 3 or 4 star hotel not canteen), whereas Thomson appears to be more formal - more like a traditional cruiser only, with respect, on a smaller budget. Options to go vice-versa on both lines, but restaurant options on OV subject to a small supplement. Good food on OV, and by most accounts also on Thomson - so again, its a matter of personal preference. Chris.
I agree with everything that Neal has said and if you like informality then I think OV would probably be a better option for you. The cabins are a very good size and there is a wide range of food options every day ranging from traditional British roast joints and fish courses to Indian, Chinese, Thai etc. The dining is self service, unless you pay extra on the night and go for the James Martin option or La Luna, which, if you are into casual means you can eat what you like when you like and go back later on for something different. The OV ships are also larger than Thomsons and you get quite a good range of bars to stroll between in the evenings. With regard to on shore excursions, yes they will find you. In Grenada the locals have small boats moored by the main docks and will take you to Grand Anse beach in about 15 minutes for a few dollars. It's always handy to have plenty of small US Dollar bills for such journeys and tips. April is a great time to go. Have a great cruise whoever you go with.
The best time to go to the Caribbean is January through March.
The rains stop, hopefully end December.
After March it begins to get a bit hot and sticky.
Hi I would recommend the cruise trips unless you can pair up with another couple and pay for taxis, but it is a bit dodgy unless you check where you are going. the ship ones are usually more organised and you dont have to carry money with you just pay at the end and dollars are always welcome everywhere. I would not go on Thomson that far as they dont have the package mentality, RC woudl be good for you and possibly ocean which is for a younger audience, we have been with cunard and they are not fuddys.
Unless you only want 7 nights, check the dates as OV1 comes back to the Med in mid April and OV2 in mid March. You could do the transatantic with a long flight only one way, ending up in either Crete or Majorca.
These "re-positioning" cruises generally offer good value - and quite a lot more leg-room than cattle-class in a Thos Cook Airbus. But of course they do involve many more days at sea. Too boring for me, but each to his own. And like most other cruise ships, there's never enough sun-beds to go round on days at sea. Chris.