Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Popsicle

Cruising in the Caribbean

Recommended Posts

The Caribbean is considered one of the best winter sun destination for us Brits! With flights directly from many regional airports and no visa’s required P&O certainly have the edge on the market where hassle free Caribbean Cruises are concerned.

Having done this cruise myself several times, I thought I would write a small guide as to why I personally believe that if you want to visit the Caribbean a cruise is the best way to do it, and while I have no affiliation to any one cruise line whatsoever I firmly believe the P&O way is the best value both for time and money!

 

 

_i3119475.jpg

 

Should you choose to take your cruise on one of the American Cruise lines such as Celebrity, Princess or Royal Caribbean you will be spoilt for choice with your ships. They all have such incredible facilities and the amenities onboard cannot be knocked at all. However, if you do choose an American line for the Caribbean you will find that you have to fly from the UK out to an American airport the day before the cruise embarks. Generally speaking this tends to be Miami. Of course entering the USA means you will also need to purchase and apply for a Visa Waiver, commonly known as an ESTA. This is a fairly straightforward process providing you don’t have any criminal records and will cost you approximately $14 (£9) per person.

 

Once you have landed in the USA, so long as you have taken a flight package with your operator you will then be met at the airport and transferred over to a local airport hotel for a 1 night stay. The following morning your cruise line will transfer you to the cruise port, sometimes this can be Miami but more often than not you would be taken over to Fort Lauderdale, a transfer which takes approximately 40 minutes to embark your ship. You will then have a couple of sailing days taking you across to the Caribbean Islands.  On a typical 10 night sailing on an American Cruise line you will visit four or five destinations as seen on this itinerary:

 

post-57-0-73824900-1465395282_thumb.png

 

 

 

 

So here are the reasons why I personally believe that if you want to visit the Caribbean, a P&O Cruise really is the easiest way to do it!

 

No need to fly to the USA! – You will be able to choose from a range of regional airports flying you directly to Barbados. The flights are all chartered by P&O meaning that you don’t pay extortionate airline charges or extra for bags – they will even feed and water you along the way! All of your fellow travellers on the flight are also headed for the ship! And the best bit of all – no lugging your bags about! Once you have checked your bags in at your home airport they will be collected for you at the other end and taken straight to your cabin for you! Bliss!

No need to waste a day in a hotel! – Upon arrival in Barbados, you walk straight off the plane onto waiting transfer coaches on the concourse…. You don’t even step foot into Barbados airport! A brisk 25 minute transfer and your ship will be waiting to welcome you aboard!

See as many Islands as possible! – On a typical 14 night sailing you can expect to visit at least 9 Islands! Because you don’t lose days travelling from America and back this leaves plenty of time for hopping around the stunning islands that the Caribbean has to offer.

 

post-57-0-93152200-1465395246_thumb.png

 

 

 

Keep it simple! -  As P&O are a British Company they use GBP Sterling onboard, so no worries about dollar to pound conversions, and you also avoid the hefty 15% service charges that are added to the cost of onboard purchases on the American Cruise Lines.

 

No hanging around! – On your last day you will remain onboard the ship for as long as possible. You can expect to be called for your transfer back to Barbados Airport around 3-4 hours before your flight. The Barbados customs team will have been onboard the ship in the day or so before you fly home and so you will have already completed your security checks! Your hold luggage is also taken off the ship for you and will see you back at your home airport! Therefore once you arrive back at the airport it’s a quick whizz through security and a minimal wait for your flight in departures! Easy!

 

All in all, I think it is fairly easy to see why P&O really do come out on top when looking at value for your money and time on a Caribbean Cruise.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really good post Popsicle and I could not agree with you more. I am yet to enjoy a Caribbean cruise but when (not if - staying positive smile.png ) I do, it will be with P&O because the arrangements appear far simpler and more enjoyable than that of alternative cruise lines. Of course I've heard arguments that you don't get the experience of a premium scheduled airline such as BA or Virgin Atlantic but for me, the pros far outweigh the cons and having spoken to my in-laws who recently flew with Thomson aboard one of their new dreamliners from Birmingham to Mexico recently, the comfort, service and seat pitches all sounded excellent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest MHRedhill

18 Caribbean breaks with P&O and I'm with you all the way Popsicle. It is just seamless. I also think if you can the upgrade to premium economy is expensive but worth it for me. You get a very port intensive cruise which allows you to see 9 ports in 14 days. I think they have 15 potential ports altogether. I rarely get off now but when I did they all offered different experiences. The ability to stay on the ship for as long as possible on the last day is also great. I usually do spa appointments, lunch in the GlassHouse then its time to go to the airport. If you wish then book the lounge at Barbados. I always do, its nothing special compared to the UK Airport lounges but you get a comfy seat, drinks soft and alcohol and a view over the airport. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi  I accept that P&O fly cruise arrangements make it easy to visit the Caribbean but is the cruise good value if the dining offered is about as poor as you get on a cruise line.  All the three USA lines you mentioned all offer a dining experience far superior to that presented on P&O.   I know that many members of this forum are fans of P&O but we have had many threads bemoaning the fall in standards.  I think it's time P&O's management stopped trying to increase the fleet's capacity (all it's done is that they have to offer late discount offers in fill the empty berths) and do something about the quality of the product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Popsicle, there is also another take on this. 

An American cruise line will fly you to your destination with one of the major carriers, not a charter airline. This means free drinks, meals and other amenities etc. and a much better luggage allowance. British Airways is 23 kg for cabin baggage, what are the charters, 5, 6 or 10kg? I do agree about checking the baggage in however. It is nice not to worry about it until you receive it on the ship. However, after the long flight across the atlantic they put you up at a quality hotel so that you get a good nights sleep and awake refreshed ready to board the ship. Yes, drinks are more expensive on the American ships but remember they use the American measure, which, where spirits are concerned is nearly twice that of the UK measure. My personal experience is the food, service and facilities are far superior to P&O. Last week I returned as you know from Ovation of the Seas and it reinforced how good the food, service and facilities are on American ships.

I really am sorry Popsicle but I think you are being a little unfair to American cruise lines.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree on that OWT and not because I am a fan of P&O but because of the points that Popsicle made. The concept of seamless luggage transfers is something us Brits seem to dream about as we're always complaining about the dreaded carousel wait. The point made about not having to touch down in the States, requiring an ESTA is also valid, as is the amount of time spent in the Caribbean itself, rather than time spent sailing from the US. 

 

I don't believe Popsicle was dismissing American cruise line as poor services or products but rather a little more complex than that of booking a P&O Caribbean cruise. The travel arrangements appear to flow far smoother with P&O and whilst I take your point on the quality hotels American lines put you up in on your arrival, with P&O Cruises, you are taken directly to the ship, also for a decent nights rest and the actual start of your cruise, not a temporary stay before getting around to boarding.

 

I am a big fan of American lines. I love Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess but I do agree that the P&O Caribbean method is excellent for those looking for a more tranquil start to the holiday. There's also the matter of airport choices too. P&O offer multiple departure points, and as this is a frustration often raised when talking about Southampton, it's important to point out. Most American lines require you to fly from London. If you live in the north then Manchester is a far easier option, which is provided by P&O, the same applies to the Midlands with Birmingham.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Popsicle, there is also another take on this. 

An American cruise line will fly you to your destination with one of the major carriers, not a charter airline. This means free drinks, meals and other amenities etc. and a much better luggage allowance. British Airways is 23 kg for cabin baggage, what are the charters, 5, 6 or 10kg? I do agree about checking the baggage in however. It is nice not to worry about it until you receive it on the ship. However, after the long flight across the atlantic they put you up at a quality hotel so that you get a good nights sleep and awake refreshed ready to board the ship. Yes, drinks are more expensive on the American ships but remember they use the American measure, which, where spirits are concerned is nearly twice that of the UK measure. My personal experience is the food, service and facilities are far superior to P&O. Last week I returned as you know from Ovation of the Seas and it reinforced how good the food, service and facilities are on American ships.

I really am sorry Popsicle but I think you are being a little unfair to American cruise lines.  

 

Certainly not knocking the American Lines in the slightest!

 

I am a BIG fan of Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and will recommend those particular lines over P&O pretty much most of the time if people will listen haha!

I just feel that cruising the Caribbean out of America wastes a good 3 or 4 days sailing and another 2 days travelling when with P&O you get there straight away!

 

Yes the airlines are inferior and perhaps offer a less luxurious experience than the 'big guys' but in terms of overall ease and value I think P&O have it hands down.

 

All this being said - this is just my personal opinion and a little information for people thinking of doing it! I would also never disuade someone from using the American Lines to sail Caribbean :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the overall 'cruise' experience would be better with an American line as I think Celebrity are superb at the moment and ticking all the right boxes, but the overall holiday experience seems exceptionally well planned by P&O and as such does form an attractive option. As for the flights, personally I would prefer to fly with a leading carrier such as BA or Virgin but we cannot deny the increasing quality of charter airlines such as Thomson. They have invested in the dreamliner for many long haul routes, including the routes offered for P&O Cruises. They also have a larger standard seat pitch than nearly all scheduled carriers, plus there's the option to upgrade to premium for a fraction of the figure that it would be to upgrade to say World Traveller Plus with BA or Premium Economy with Virgin. I don't doubt that these services with BA and Virgin are probably far superior as I've sampled both of them myself but yet to try Thomson premium. I would accept that Thomson are bridging the gap however and the regional airport point is a big pull for many.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest MHRedhill

I have to say the Regional Airports are definitely the pull for me and even more so after a late booking for Xmas last year when Gatwick was my only option. Had to add overnight hotel and then at 6am, Gatwick was a nightmare. Folks sleeping on the floors, no seats to be had, I had booked the airport lounge so thought I would escape but no that was vastly overbooked and the Manager thought it was OK to have taken folks money (for many they had paid months ago) and then no space. By dint of looking a bit washed out as a very nice couple perceived, they nipped up and and offered for me to squeeze onto their table with them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for a useful and encouraging post, Popsicle. We're on our first cruise next weekend, with P&O Azura out of Barbados. I'm delighted to see it's the 9-port itinerary you recommend. The baggage handling and easy transfer/airport procedure at Barbados sound much better than I'd expected. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would disagree that the P&O charters are inferior to the likes of BA. Thomson fly new Boeing Dreamliners with a seat pitch in economy of 33". The seat pitch on BA is 31". Check this out on Seatguru. Last time we flew with BA, we arrived in Los Angeles with our luggage still at Heathrow.

Check your luggage in at your P&O departure airport and the next time you see it will be in your cabin on board. Just one tip - your luggage may arrive on board a couple of hours after you so if you fancy a swim on arrival pack your swimming gear in your hand luggage.

Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/1/2017 at 9:15 PM, A2Z said:

Thanks for a useful and encouraging post, Popsicle. We're on our first cruise next weekend, with P&O Azura out of Barbados. I'm delighted to see it's the 9-port itinerary you recommend. The baggage handling and easy transfer/airport procedure at Barbados sound much better than I'd expected. 

Welcome to the forum A2Z..

Having in the past done fly cruise to the USA and Caribbean, the P&O ones were the easiest to do ,drop luggage at Manchester airport ,see it next in our cabin, Leave luggage outside cabin pick it up in Manchester on return .Just read and listen to the advice P&O give you it really is so easy  .

Have a great cruise....Davybe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Davybe. Just back from that first cruise. As a first timer, I loved the idea that hold baggage disappeared at Manchester and re-appeared in the cabin. Unfortunately, the massive and unexpected downside was that it got there almost 5 hours after we did, preventing us from using a decent restaurant on our first ever cruise evening. It explained why so many fellow travellers seemed to be pushing the hand baggage size boundaries compared to our small rucksacks. It was even worse at the end of the cruise - regardless of flight time (ours was 1730), all pax were lumped together for baggage (11pm the night before) and check-out at 8am!

I present that observation in the hope that it helps other first timers avoid the problems we had. Based on that experience, I'd opt for looking after our own luggage in the normal way.

That negative point aside, it was a great experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×