Cruising to St. Lucia

St. Lucia offers southern hospitality the Caribbean way - with arms open to cruise passengers

Photo credit: © Jennifer Harvey | Dreamstime.com

Cruising to St. Lucia
 

St. Lucia is growing in popularity as a Caribbean destination, but that popularity has not spread as widely for its cruises. People visit St. Lucia for its incredible nature as well as its beachfront property, both of which can be easily visited during a cruise stopover, but those who do travel to this unique destination will find that their stay may leave them thirsting for more.

Cruises can be easy to book on your own but booking early is always a good rule of thumb. Especially during the high tourist season of the winter holidays, many cruises are booked well ahead of time. Cruises can be booked online or through a cruise agent, or by calling the cruise line itself. When choosing your own cruise without the help of an agent, remember to consider both yourself and your group's interests. From family-oriented ships to luxury liners, you'll surely find something to suit your taste.

While St. Lucia is a popular stop for sailors and yachtsmen, it's less popular as a cruise destination. Still, plenty of liners will stop by this island when touring the Southern Caribbean.

Lines with regular service include:

Line Phone Number(s)
Carnival 888-CARNIVAL (888-227-6485)
866-299-5698
Celebrity 800-221-4789
Costa Cruises 800-33-COSTA (800-332-6782)
Disney Cruise Line 800-951-3532
888-DCL-2500 (888-325-2500)
MSC Italian Cruises 800-666-9333
Norwegian 800-323-1308
Princess Cruises 800-PRINCESS (800-774-6237)
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises 877-505-5370
800-477-7500
Royal Caribbean 800-659-7225

Cruise Classes

Cruises are divided into several classes that can help vacationers choose the cruise that is right for them. Vacationers looking for a pampering stay can certainly spend their time on a top-of-the-line ship from the luxury class, while those wanting a little less luxury and a lower price tag can enjoy all that premium cruises have to offer. Those just looking to have fun can spend their time on a contemporary/value cruise liner, while travelers seeking something different can stay on a specialty cruise.

Top-notch services and a large waitstaff characterize luxury liners, though premium ships are hardly a big step down. These cruises are for travelers who are looking for all of the extras, and plenty of vacationers feel that these two cruise classes are entirely worth the expense they call for. Premium liners are a step above the contemporary/value class, with a waitstaff large enough to truly cater to your needs.

Maps

The most familiar cruise lines are Royal Caribbean and Carnival. These two cruising powerhouses do more than just offer travelers a fun and entertaining trip to exotic locales, they also host 90 percent of cruise traffic. As one might imagine with these two mega-lines at the forefront, contemporary/value cruises are the largest cruise class.

Specialty cruises are, as the name suggests, quite unique. Some travel to locations further off the beaten path than your usual cruise locales. Others specialize in passenger groups. While St. Lucia might be a somewhat unusual destination, travelers interested in cruising with other singles, homosexuals, or senior citizens may want to look into specialty cruises as well.

Ships

When selecting a cruise, vacationers will need to consider more than just luxury level and décor, they'll also need to consider the size of the ship. While more luxurious cruises generally have smaller ships, that is not the only way to choose a cruise.

A ship's size has plenty to do with a traveler's ability to not only reach their desired destination, but also enjoy the ride. The larger ships experience less roll, and feel less like sea travel. However, the largest class of ships, the Panama class, is so named because it can barely fit within the Panama Canal. This can certainly limit the destinations cruise travelers can enjoy.

The smaller ships can hold only approximately 300 passengers, while mega-ships can accommodate 3000. Major cruise ports like those of The Bahamas can hold these large ships, while vacationers may find a smaller ship a necessity to reach St. Lucia's port.

There are a few criteria that cruise ships are classified by:

Criteria Criteria Explained Meaning
Gross registered tonnage measurement of the ship's volume/vessel's size 1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet
Passenger-to-crew ratio number of passengers served by each crew member Smaller ratio = better service
Passenger capacity based on double occupancy (2 passengers in each cabin) More rooms = more passengers
Space ratio comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity Higher ratio = extra spacious

Cabin

When selecting a cabin most passengers find there are a few things to consider. Items like small size and location are at the top of the list. However, before you make a choice, consider these guidelines:

  • Travelers with young children should avoid outer cabins, especially those with balcony access.

  • If requesting an outside cabin, find out what your view will be. Sometimes travelers need to request an ocean-view room.

  • Travelers prone to motion sickness should consider booking a cabin on lower decks near to the middle of the ship, these rooms will feel less motion.

  • Light sleepers especially should avoid rooms near anchors, bars, casinos, elevators, the engine room, gyms, nightclubs, public rooms, stairways, pools, hot tubs, theaters or thrusters as these areas can be particularly noisy.

  • As always, it's best to exercise discretion. Keep money and valuables safely stowed away in your room and lock the cabin door when you leave. Avoid carrying excess cash around the ship.

Other room considerations are a bit more financial. There are two main room choices that travelers have when booking. If any of these guidelines are particularly important to you, you'll want to consider these options carefully.

Booking a "run of the ship" cabin means you'll get to request an inside or an outside room, but the final booking is done the week of departure. You'll find out then what your specific room is.

"Perfect" cabins, on the other hand, are more expensive because they are specifically requested and reserved rooms. For travelers who want to know exactly what they're getting, this is generally the favored option.

When and Where

St. Lucia will be a stop on some Southern Caribbean cruises, but will not be found as easily on other routes. Many travelers leave from Florida or within the Caribbean itself for such routes because it's no short journey to reach the St. Lucia area.

When you decide to visit can also be an important consideration. Not only can this be a financial choice - travel during the winter is extremely popular, and costs can sometimes double during the most popular times - it can also be a calculated risk. During the summer the Caribbean experiences far more rain than during the winter. Further, travelers will want to consider hurricane season. While hurricanes rarely effect cruises, they can deter many travelers. Cruises can be as short, or as long, as you'd like, but visiting St. Lucia will most likely call for a seven day cruise. This is, again, due to its southern location. However, such cruises will also allow you to stop in at several other islands along the way.

While travelers are on St. Lucia they're encouraged to visit its twin peaks, the Pitons, as well as its famed drive-in volcano. Visit its beautiful beaches, or spend some time in the water. Cruises often have tours and other itineraries pre-planned and available either when you book the cruise or just as you arrive onboard. It's best to book early if there is a particular excursion you'd like to participate in because there are limited spaces. However, remember that these can cost travelers an additional $25(USD) to $100(USD) on average.

Costs

Booking price of a cruise will vary greatly depending on which specific cruise line or even ship you've picked. Length of the cruise will also cause cost variations. However, travelers can have a little help with their budgeting. Cruise vacations will usually include cost of meals, activities, and entertainment, but usually do not include tips, drinks, or excursions. When planning your trip, include a little extra room in your budget for these items that can be overlooked. Travelers may also want to keep in mind that items like TV sets and bath tubs are not standard. These extra items may be available for an additional fee so, if they're vacation necessities, be sure to inquire when you're booking.

Packing

Knowing what to pack for a cruise means knowing what you'll need on each of the islands you visit, as well as what you'll wear on the ship. However, cruise ships are not known for their large storage space, and travelers are advised to pack judiciously.

Don't forget items like lightweight, breathable clothing and cover ups for swimwear. Bring flip-flops or sandals for wearing by the pool or on the beach. Sunglasses and hats may seem forgettable, but they'll help to keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes.

Ship's dining rooms also have etiquette, and jeans may not be allowed. Check before you go to see whether dining is classified as evening casual, informal, or formal. Evening casual means slacks and collared shirts for men and women, or sundresses for women. Informal means travelers will have to pack a suit and tie or cocktail dress to be appropriately attired, while formal dinners usually require "black tie" accoutrements.

St. Lucia's growing popularity means plenty of return visitors. Those who take a taste of all this island has to offer will likely visit again later, so be prepared to be dazzled by everything the "Helen of the West Indies" has to offer.

 

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