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Home > Member Reviews > sipbailey1's Port Reviews of CocoCay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten

sipbailey1's Port Reviews of CocoCay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Freedom of the Seas cruise in July 2014
Member Name: sipbailey1
Cruise Date: July 2014
Embarkation: Port Canaveral
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Member Review: sipbailey1's Freedom of the Seas Review
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+

We got off the boat with the Early Birds and thankful we did. We found us a spot on the beach and went in. The water was clear and very nice. Within the next hour as more people came out, the island got very crowed and there were not enough chairs for everyone. There was nothing to eat until 11:30 or so. They had the usual fruit bar, hamburgers and hot dogs, and BBQ ribs which were actually pretty good. By the time it got crowded, the water was no longer clear and we returned to the ship. To rent a foam float, it is 14.00. To rent a umbrella, it is 14.00.

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St. Thomas
Coral World Tour Rating: 2.0 out of 5+

Extremely disappointed. We did the Coral Land and Coral Sea. We paid over 100.00 for this. We were picked up at the dock after waiting for 30-40 minutes. We were told to meet at Station 5. The sign for station 5 was leaned against the railing of the pier about 3ft off the ground. It was blocked by 2 people who were not aware it was even there. We walked back and forth and asked a couple of workers who both gave us different answers on where to find the Station. Anyway, we finally got into a CAB which was a F-250 chassis with open air seating in the back which would hold about 20 people. He took us to the far side of the island. We were instructed to meet at the stingray pond for the Coral Seas Semi Submarine at 3:30. We went inside the park where there was a hot dog stand, a small tank with a few baby sharks, nurse sharks and a few fish, the "Underwater Observatory" aka A Joke, a small touch pool with some sea cumbers, start fish, and sea urchins, a gift shop which had an attendant who wished you had not joined her, an aquarium building with a few tanks, two parrots, a couple of turtles, and the stingray pond with 4 rays. The highlight was the semi submarine, but there really was not much to see. This was billed as kid friendly and for the most part it is. My Son begged me to take him to beach and I probably should have saved the 100.00 and took him there instead. There was little or no additional time to actually see the island.

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St. Maarten
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+

Beautiful place. Definitely on my bucket list to FLY there and spend a week.

I booked a tour online with Bernard's Tours for a $10.00 deposit plus $80.00 at the Welcome Center. We did the SXM Island II with DJ Dave on July 17 with my 5 year old son. John with Bernard's Tours met us at the welcome desk of the terminal and we waited a few minutes for the rest of the tourists to arrive as disembarking takes a little time. We walked about a half block to the parking area where they had 2 vans that would hold 12 adults each. We had 6 in our group so we were all very comfortable. The vans were newer models, clean, and very well kept. They were stocked with cold water, sodas and adult beverages , all complimentary. DJ Dave took our group and we began our tour. He was very entertaining and knowledgeable of his island. He shared the history, demographics, geography, and more. We stopped at some beautiful locations for some photo ops early. Our next stop took us to Oyster Pond where we learned about, touched, and had the opportunity to handle some sea life such as star fish, conch, sea urchins, etc. I don't recall the gentleman's name but he had live animals that he retreated from the ocean behind him. He too was very knowledgeable and only worked on tips. Next we were off to Orient Beach ( the non nude part). This was on the Atlantic side and the view was breath taking. We were at a 3-4 star resort with a restaurant and bar. This is also where Bernard's website said we would have lunch. Ramsay and I rented a jet ski for 60.00, played on the beach, and then ordered lunch at 1130. This is also the only downside of the tour. I will elaborate more in a minute. After that we took off to an open air market and was given 20 minutes or so to shop, then to Sunset Beach and watched the planes. This is a must see and absolutely amazing. After spending an hour at Sunset Beach, we returned to the port a couple of hours before departure for some shopping and them back on the ship.

To elaborate a little more about the time to eat as I feel it is important to share. DJ Dave explained we would have 3 chances to get food (not what is said on their website, but OK) and he recommended to get it to go. The first option is at Orient beach at the resort. The Restaurant is a high 3 to 4 star and serves local cuisine. But the restaurant did not begin until serving til 1130 and the tour was scheduled to leave at 12.You have 30 minutes. The second at the open air market. You have 20 minutes. Not sure the choices because I never saw a restaurant. The couple we were with said they went to a French counter service place, but the line was long and they didn't have time. The third at Sunset Beach at around 1:30 or 1:45 and you have an hour or so but with no seating space as the bar and restaurant was packed to the gills. That option is also bar food. If the van is full, you can imaging trying to eat carryout. To me, none of the dining choices are good choices because none give you time to eat except on the van. At no point were we ever in danger of not making it back to the ship in time and I never heard a logical reason why there is no time allowed to eat. The only thing I was told is they have a schedule to keep and could not be flexible with extending the times because if the other guests. I chose the Orient Beach resort We ordered at 1130, DJ Dave showed up at 1150 and said we were leaving at 12. We didn't even have our food yet. I was overly rushed as there is no time for the chef to cook the food, serve and be enjoyed in 30 minutes. Plus a guide who is saying we have to leave because we have a schedule to keep. Fortunately the family who was with was not in a hurry, sacrificed 10 minutes of shopping time, and graciously allowed us a few extra moments to enjoy our meal, which was by the way, was fantastic. I wish I got their names because I can't thank them enough! This meal should not have to be eaten in a Van or scarfed down in 5 minutes. It was a meal I would expect to have paid over $100.00 for and it was under $20.00! I also did not see why it is a problem to allow time for lunch as we made it back to port almost 2 hours before the All Aboard call.

That being said, I would give the tour 4 out of 5. I elaborated a lot about the lunch situation and probably should have researched it further to see if it is addressed in any of the other reviews. I chose this excursion because of the positive reviews and others may not care about the lunch on the tour. If it is not an issue, then by all means, please select Bernards Tours. You will not be disappointed. If it is an issue, you may want to spend a few more bucks and just cab it place to place and find a good restaurant which I hear are plentiful!

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