By Tim O’Keefe
The typical seven-day Caribbean cruise may be fine for most people but I find them disappointing. Just as you’re becoming accustomed to ship-board life, it’s time to return to port. And seven days, even from Florida, doesn’t offer the chance to travel very far.
Still, when I spotted a 35-day Caribbean cruise aboard the ms Maasdam on a cruise website, I thought it had to be a misprint. Thirty-five days is a third of the length of most around the world voyages.
Yet it was true, a 35-day tour of 19 different islands with only two repeats—St. Barts and Barbados, two of my favorites. Plus three stops at Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s water sports playground, and two returns to the home port of Fort Lauderdale.
The 35-day cruise is actually a piggyback of three different itineraries of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, including such rarely visited islands as St. Vincent and Martinique and quite a few ports off the regular milk runs: St. Barts, St. Croix, Grenada, Aruba Bonaire and Curacao.
The Maasdam, carrying only 1,250 passengers, is able to visit these islands that mega-ships ferrying between 4,000 and 5,500 cruisers cannot dock at and whose ports cannot handle such hoards of cruisers. Long live the smaller ships!
Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is the price of this itinerary. Including government taxes and port charges, it averages $73.35 a day for an inside cabin. (Hey, I’m a blogger!) My wife and I signed up for the cruise, which departs from Fort Lauderdale in just 10 days.
But planning for a cruise of this length presents some unusual problems. Living in Orlando, it’s not worth flying to Fort Lauderdale but Port Everglades charges $20 a day for parking ($20 x 35=$700). Has to be a way around that!
Join me and Linda on this blog for the next few days as we check off and solve the problems before sailing and anticipate a few issues we expect to encounter on board.
Then follow us as we explore the islands and life on board the ms Maasdam for more than a month.
Tim O’Keefe, past president of the Society of American Travel Writers, has specialized in Caribbean travel for more than three decades. Visit his website at www.guidetocaribbeanvacations.com.
Posted by Cynthia Boal Janssens