Our first DCL vacation was a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy in June / July 2013. Choosing Port Adventures was an exciting and semi-stressful time for me. I had never cruised before so was new to who world of shore excursions and we were also traveling with a 17 month old. Trying to find Port Adventures that would entertain Dan, Brody, and me equally was going to be a challenge. We ended up booking a shore excursion on each of our ports of call (except Castaway Cay). Here is what we did and our grade for the experience.
St. Maarten - French Riviera Beach Rendezvous
We decided to spend our time in St. Maarten playing on the beach at Orient Bay. This was roughly a 30 minute ride from the port to the beach. The beach was crowded with tour groups and chairs as well as pushy locals selling handmade items. The beach itself was clean and the water featured big waves that are perfect for older children and adults. Included in the package was lunch. Lunch was actually better than I expected with several different choices. Overall, I would give this excursion a B. There was nothing to complain about or wrong with the excursion, just nothing exciting either.
St. Thomas / St. John - Coral World and Butterfly Garden
Since we planned a beach day in St. Maarten and on Castaway Cay, we wanted to do something a little different in the USVI. There weren't many excursions to choose from that we thought would please a 17 month old, but an aquarium and butterfly garden seemed like good choices to us. The trip to Coral World was first. If you've ever been to a high quality aquarium (like we are fortunate to have in the National Aquarium in Baltimore), you will be sorely disappointed here. Coral World was small, didn't feature the array of marine life we were used to, and not very interactive. We had about 2 hours to explore there and wish we could have left after about 30 minutes. After we finished at Coral World, a bus took us back to the port where the Butterfly Garden is located. This was better than Coral World in my opinion, but still not great. Brody fell asleep on the bus ride back to port so we didn't get to see his reaction. This is really just a big enclosed garden with butterflies flying all around. They were beautiful and we got some really great pictures, but it was another excursion that we were done exploring in less than 30 minutes. Overall, I would give this excision a C-. There are some positive reviews I've read out there about these, but I just didn't see anything special or worth the money in this excursion.