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Going to the Source: Expert Tips from Top Cruise Travel Agents 2010

We polled a handful of trusted and experienced travel agents and asked them questions about their favorite ports, ships and itineraries. Here's what they had to say.

Who better -- besides yours truly of course -- to share cruise opinions with our dear readers than those in the trenches, the travel agents themselves. I polled a handful of trusted and experienced travel agents and asked them questions about their favorite ports, ships and itineraries. Here's who they are and what they had to say.

  • Sherry Laskin, Owner, Vacation Shoppe (tel. 866/7-CRUISE; www.vacationshoppe.com)
  • Steven Gelfuso, President & CEO, Cruise Brothers (tel. 800/827-7779; www.cruisebrothers.com)
  • David Shields, Vice President, Cruise Members Only (tel. 800/999-3543; www.cruisemembersonly.com)
  • Julie Northington, Certified Travel Counselor; Sandra L. Weaver, Senior Agent; and Teresa Chilton, Lila Correa, and Patrick Mack, Senior Travel Consultants All-Travel (tel. 866/565-3214; www.all-travel.com/cruises)

What Are Your Favorite Caribbean Ports?

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Sherry Laskin

  • St. Barts, because it's totally upscale and quiet, with great food and wine. Shopping is more expensive than anywhere else I've been in the Caribbean. You can browse tropical haute couture and relax on a beach almost au natural, and no one cares. It's a slice of the south of France without racking up air miles.
  • St. Lucia, in contrast to St. Barts, offers untamed natural beauty. Among my favorites things to do is visiting secluded Marigot Bay (where Rex Harrison filmed "Doctor Doolittle") and the Sulphur Springs, the only drive-up and walk-through volcano in the world. Have lunch at one of the small, luxury hotels near Castries.
  • Dominica, because it's an incredibly lush, tropical island; a world class eco-destination. Hike the trail to view 175-foot Trafalgar Falls, dip your toes in the Sulphur Springs, and traverse a suspension bridge 300 feet above the rainforest floor.

Steven Gelfuso

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Tortola, for its beautiful beaches and it's so relaxing. I love watching all of the sailboats and taking the ferry to the smaller islands such as Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda.
  • Grand Cayman, the swimming with the sting rays is the best there.
  • St. Thomas, for the great beaches and shopping -- always lots to do.
  • David Shields

    • Grand Turk has the best beaches and world class snorkeling.
    • Cozumel has sport fishing, golf, sightseeing, restaurants and bars.
    • Dominica for its rain forests, waterfalls -- great for naturalists.
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    Julie Northington

    • St. Lucia for the beauty of the island.
    • St. Maarten for the diversity of the cultures and shopping.

    Sandra L. Weaver

    • Cayman Islands
    • Jamaica
    • St. Thomas (I love the Caribbean period, tropical weather, warm water and beautiful beaches)

    Teresa Chilton

    • Grand Cayman, because I love swimming with the stingrays.
    • Barbados, there are green monkeys and beautiful beaches.
    • BVIs, where the snorkeling is easy and there is lots to see.

    Lila Correa

    • San Juan, piers are close to Old San Juan, a must-see with cobblestone streets; must-see El Morro fort and other historical sights; USD is local currency; English widely spoken; yummy local cuisine and live salsa music.
    • Barbados, cruise terminal next to pier and it's easy to hire private drivers; friendly locals; great restaurants; wonderful English heritage; try the "flying fish;" and must-do sightseeing includes Harrison Cave, Mt. Gay Rum Distillery, Anglican churches and graveyards, rolling green hills and beaches.
    • St. Maarten, enjoy diverse cuisines in the French and Dutch part of islands, great nightlife via casinos, English spoken, USD as local currency, white-sand beaches, days trips accessibility to St. Barts and Anguilla.
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    Patrick Mack

    • San Juan, for the city and the food -- you can keep the rest of the Caribbean.

    What Are Your Favorite Mega Ships?

    Sherry Laskin

    • Queen Mary 2
    • MSC Poesia
    • Freedom of the Seas.

    Steven Gelfuso

    • Oasis of the Seas -- of course!
    • Celebrity Solstice
    • Carnival Dream

    David Shields

    • Millennium class ships. They offer great value and are well designed ships -- plus, the Constellation has a fantastic crew. Because they are older ships, prices are much better than the newer ships.
    • Royal Caribbean's Freedom class ships. Also a great value, with the Oasis of the Seas now the hot ship, the Freedom class offers great bargains and has better itineraries than the Oasis, plus a nice variety of cabin categories.
    • Norwegian Epic. The ship will be interesting because of the single accommodations in the studio category. I also like their choice of partners for entertainment -- The Blue Man Group, etc. It is Las Vegas on the seas.
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    Julie Northington

    • Oasis of the Seas
    • Oosterdam
    • Diamond Princess

    Sandra L. Weaver

    • Oasis of the Seas
    • Carnival Dream
    • Carnival Splendour

    Lila Correa

    • Oasis of the Seas
    • Freedom of the Seas
    • Independence of the Seas

    Patrick Mack

    • Oasis of the Seas, just for the experience

    What Are Your Favorite Luxury Ships?

    Sherry Laskin

    • Regent Seven Seas Navigator and Mariner
    • Silver Shadow

    Steven Gelfuso

    • Regent Seven Seas Voyager
    • Crystal Serenity
    • Oceania Insignia

    David Shields

    • Any Regent Seven Seas ship; I especially like the Navigator because it has fewer passengers.
    • Crystal Symphony is also a favorite especially since they refurbished it last fall.
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    Julie Northington

    • Crystal Symphony
    • Paul Gauguin
    • Silver Wind

    Teresa Chilton

    • Crystal, best food, hands down
    • Silversea, best cabins
    • Regent Seven Seas, best value

    Lila Correa

    • Regent Seven Seas Voyager
    • Crystal Symphony
    • Seabourn Pride

    Patrick Mack

    • Regent Seven Seas
    • Crystal Cruises
    • Silversea

    What Are Your Favorite Small and Quirky Ships?

    Sherry Laskin

    • Hurtigruten's Fram, which sails a unique north to south half-world cruise every year, from the Arctic to the Antarctic

    Steven Gelfuso

    • Windstar Cruises, Wind Spirit
    • Variety Cruises, for the private yacht-like experience
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    David Shields

    • The 50-cabin Celebrity Expedition, it's all inclusive and has a great crew, but the best feature is the Galapagos Islands itinerary.

    Julie Northington

    • All the Cruise West ships

    Teresa Chilton

    • Cruise west
    • AMA Waterways river cruises

    Lila Correa

    • Windstar Cruises Wind Surf
    • Cruise West Spirit of Discovery
    • Paul Gauguin

    What is Your Absolute Favorite Itinerary?

    Sherry Laskin: Scandinavia/Russia. Just the idea of stepping foot in Russia is a thrill, let alone touring St. Petersburg by private car. On a port food-quest, you can't get much better than the fresh fish and Danish open-face sandwiches.

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    Steven Gelfuso: Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia

    David Shields:

    My favorite itinerary is a toss-up between the Galapagos Islands and the eastern Mediterranean featuring Greece and Turkey.

    Julie Northington: Tahiti

    Sandra L. Weaver: 14-night Caribbean

    Teresa Chilton: Still exploring, but have enjoyed the Baltic and Alaska

    Lila Correa: 10-night Greek Isles from Istanbul to Athens

    Patrick Mack: As many sea days as possible, in calm waters (not the Atlantic!)

    Talk with fellow Frommer's cruisers on our Cruise Forum.

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