Just got back from CARNIVAL PARADISE and 3/4 ports we booked excursions on our own. We saved tons of $, and got way better service.
ROATAN we simply walked arounf the town for an hour or so (very poor and 3rd world, people were very friendly). FInally we hired a cab and a english speaking tour guide for $40 total. They took us to anywhere we wanted. We went to 2 beaches, West End village, top og mountain for lookout, etc. She (tour guide) was great. We hung on the beach for an hour or so and they waited around and watched our stuff.
BELIZE we booked with XStream. They were awesome, no hitches what so ever, they met us at the docks, transported us, etc. DON"T BOOK THROUGH CARNIVAL, they load them on on busses, haul them out there and let them go down the river, not personal at all. We paid $60 each, Carnival people paid $80 or $85!!! Xstream has 2 guides, each with groups of 8-12, stop along the walk and explain the vegetations and stop in dry cave to see bats. We floated through 2 caves, Carnival group of 100 or so only did 1. Thomas and Richard (guides) provided fruit and juice afterwards, or for only $5 you get a wicked traditional Belizean meal. (BBQ Chicken or Pork, rive, beans, salad, amazing bread and a muffin)!!!
GRAND CAYMAN we went snorkeling and to the stingray sandabar for $30 each. We used Native Way Watersports. email Sharon Ebanks - firstname.lastname@example.org She was great. Our ship anchored the other side of island due to weather conditions adn she met us there and drove us to the meeting place. Otherwise we would have spent around $15 on a taxi ride. There was mass confusion and she was there to help us out. Once agian, very personalized tour.
Wags, how did Sharon know you would be at the other side of the island? I would assume that they are told that sort of thing, but did you email her from the ship? How did you know she would be there? This is excellent customer service! We also used Nativeways and they were excellent with us. Just curious about this stuff. I often wondered if something like that happened, how would the tour operator know, and then how would I know that they knew?
Read your comment about Grand Caymen, we're only there for like 6 hours will we have time to book thru Nativeway and do a bit of shopping, I mean what's a cruise to a port like Grand Caymen without rum and rum cake?
I agree with Gary/Shipbound. My husband and I did the Aerial Tramway in Limon, CR and our bus got back at 5:55 for a 6:00 sailing. We knew they knew we were running late because of a bad accident and they were waiting. There was also another bus from San Jose that was later than that. This is why we feel safer booking a tour through the ship and don't mind paying a little more.
I usually book thru the cruise line, but I am making one exception this time...we are taking the "Snuba" trip in St Thomas. It wasn't offered thru the cruise line, and we are scheduled for noon, but our ship doesn't leave port until midnight. I figure that gives us LOTS of time.
Holland America Zuiderdam - and March 13 can't get here soon enough (just finished shoveling a foot of snow in the driveway).
Sharon knew to meet us on the "other side" the night before. The locals know because of the direction of the winds. We the passengers never found out til that morning.
Just a side note...when the ships need to go to that side of the island, no anchring is allowed and they must idle their engines all day adn stay on course. Royal Carib said screw that, they'll spend too much on fuel, and 2 of their ships never stayed in Grand Cayman. What a piss off for them. Cheap buggers.
I agree, we did X-Stream in Belize as well, Captain Bryans and Atlantis in Grand Cayman and did our own thing in Cozumel. I would only go with the ship in places like Jamacia, and I was worried about Belize too but X-Stream works with Island Marketing Ltd, Belizecruiseexcursions.com and looked reputable as they are an established business in Grand Cayman. I even called the Chamber of Commerce in George Town and they are "members in good standing".
We are booking w/ Xtreme also. The NCL excursion price sheet I have says $95 for the cave tubing in Belize!!! WHAT?!?!?! I'm def booking w/ Xtreme and saving $70 between the 2 of us! What a rip off. I can't believe how much the cruise line taxes on to the prices.