best beaches to lounge at while at each port?
St. Thomas - Magens Bay is beautiful, can get crowded if there are lots of ships. I prefer Sapphire because of the great snorkeling from shore and a little less crowded. Both have food, drink, and restrooms. Magens has a $4 per person entrance fee.
Barbados - Carlise Bay is easy to get to and beautiful, there are different beach clubs to choose from, Harbor Lights, Lobster Alive & Boatyard.
St. Lucia - Reduit Beach, many bars/restaurants and watersport rentals.
St. Kitts - Cockleshell is most popular, great views of Nevis. Keep an eye on any food left out, the monkeys will grab it.
St. Maarten - Great Bay beach is really close to the ship with lots of shopping and restaurants just across the boardwalk. Orient beach is probably most popular, it's on the French side of the island. Part of the beach is nude but easily avoided if that's not your thing. Maho beach is the one where the planes fly overhead, you can google videos. Might be fun for a bit but it doesn't look like a very pretty beach compared to others.
some of the 'can't miss' excursions?
My personal opinion: In Barbados-Calabaza Sailing for snorkeling with the sea turtles. No overcrowding like the cruise ship excursions, they liimit it to 12 guests so you have to book early. It's expensive but worth every penny. They serve hot breakfast snacks, full gourmet lunch, drinks all day, 2 snorkel stops. They supply snorkel gear if you don't bring your own. Transportation to and from the ship is included. The turtles will be right there with you and they are big! Very cool!!
In St. Lucia-Spencer Ambrose for a trip to the Pitons. He's got a few different tours to get there. There are ship excursions too, I've just been really turned off by the overcrowding on the ship tours so I tend to book independent. A taxi on your own to the Pitons can be $100 each way so a tour is the way to go though.
Do they really make you abide by the max amount of alcohol you are allowed to bring aboard?
"Life has no limitations, except the ones you make."