I got this question by email and I wanted to put it out there for our cruise experts to answer:
What cruise(s) are the best if youíre on a budget and donít have a lot of money for shore excursions? Like letís say you saved up all your dough for the cruise and you want to spend as little as possible while still enjoying the destinations.
For example, where there are various ports with enough things to do nearby that one could forgo the excursions and still get a fulfilling experience?
Or which cruise itineraries have worthwhile excursions that are reasonably priced (under $35).
I bet you could minimize/eliminate shore excursions on almost any cruise by going off by yourself, but I would think the Caribbean cruises would probably be the easiest as most of the time you are docked either within walking distance to a beach/downtown or a short taxi ride away.
I'm taking a cruise in April (7 day on Emerald Princess) which is a perfect example:
Princess Cays - Tender to the beach, free lunch, cheap float rentals, free chairs.
Grand Turks - Cruise Terminal is great with a beach right there and the Margaritaville pool. Yes, drinks are pricey, but you could have 1 or 2 drinks for ~$20 and hang out by the pool. Even if you don't drink you can still hang out by the pool and not spend anything. Watch people on the flow rider, etc...
St. Thomas - Take a taxi in town for just a few bucks and go check the shops or take a skyride to Paradise Point which is cheap. You could also check out the Amber Museum or go to Magan's Bay (might cost a little more though)
St. Maarten - Plenty of nice beaches that aren't too far for a taxi ride and the ship even offers quite a few cheap excursions.
Overall I seem to spend a lot less on excursions in the Caribbean. I know in Alaska I think I spent double, if not triple on excursions than I normally would in the Caribbean.
I agree St Thomas, St Martin, San Juan - you can just walk off the ship.
As far as ships where you can see a lot right from the ship - I would say the Alaska inside passage for sure, and maybe the mediterranean as well; Santorini, MonteCarlo, Venice - these are all great cities to see from the ship.
The Western Caribbean is not too good for non ambulatory folks. more tendering, docks farther from shore.
Cabo San Lucas walk or water taxi to Medano Beach for a few beers you have a chair all day. Or head over to the Cabo Glass factory and watch they make glass pieces.
Mazatlan take a water taxi to stone island again for a few beers you have a chair all day. Want something different Pacifico brewery offers free tours or rent a taxi and see the cliff divers be sure to tip. If you want to spend a little more go over to the aroma spa facial are only $28. A one hour reflexology massage is $22.
Puerto Vallarta the rumor is Krystal resorts will let you use the pool for no charge. Food and drinks are extra.
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