Saturday, April 26, 2008

Can you avoid cruise ship crowds?

Have you ever had an experience while vacationing in the Caribbean?

In fact Trunk Bay is one of the most popular St. John outings with Carnival passengers, not to mention the rest of the two million cruisers who visit the U.S. Virgin Islands each year. By noon the ships had arrived, and several hundred people made a beeline for the beach, their towels covering the sand like wall-to-wall carpeting. The sunbathers next to them were so close, says Blair, "they could have literally reached over and pulled a drink out of our cooler." Even trying to snorkel with the crowds turned out to be a dangerous proposition — something that became painfully clear to Blair's wife, Lela, when she was conked in the head by a fellow swimmer's flipper.
Not my idea of a fun time on vacation. The article in SmartMoney has more facts on cruise ship impacts on onshore vacationers, and the Caribbean islands they visit. It offers some tips to cope:
But many locals and frequent travelers to cruise hot spots have a different take — like the Blairs, who now set foot on Trunk Bay beach only before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Some swear by web sites like to clue them in on when cruise crowds will be where. Some hotels, like Tortola's Mongoose Apartments, keep guests up-to-date by posting the weekly cruise schedule. Susan Shevlin, a Caribbean specialist at Linden Travel in New York, says she advises clients to avoid heading to an island's downtown on heavy cruise days or even to schedule a day trip to another island altogether. She also suggests booking outings well in advance, since the popular activities often sell out when several ships are in port.
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