I recently booked a cruise on the Carnival Valor departing March 6, 2005, traveling to Grand Caymen, Belize, and Cozumel. I have seen so many of you guys booking exursions directly instead of going through the cruise ships. Did anyone have a problem making it to the excursion on time? I want to book with X-treme cave tubing but I am concerned that I will be the last one off the boat and miss the tour and loose my deposit. If the ship arrives at 9:00am and departs at 6:00pm what time should I book? Do the excursions really last 6 hrs? Is there time to shop afterwards? How early should I book for this excursion? Thank you for all the help!
I wouldn't be as concerned about missing the excursion as I would be getting back to the ship late and having it sail away without me. For the long excursions, my preference would always be to book through the ship, even if we pay more. The security of knowing that the ship won't leave without me far outweighs any savings I could realize by booking direct. For the more localized excursions, we often book ourselves, knowing that we could leave if we had to to get back to the ship.
I like to go through the ships trips as I know I will be back on board. If late, they will hold the ship or ferry us out. With another trip, you might be taking a chance, especially if its a long one and not many people from your ship are on it. They wont hold the ship for one person. If the ship arrives at 9, then it might be an hour before you can get off. It might get there earlier, and you will be allowed to get off at 9. Of course, a situation could always arise and derail that (for example, we couldnt tender to Cayman due to storms and instead spent the day at sea.) Also, sometimes they want only the people on early excursions to get off first and the only way they let you off is to show a ticket saying youre on that trip. If the ship leaves at 6, then you need to be on board possibly an hour or 30 minutes prior to sailing (the line will tell you). Theres nothing like being on a trip and worried that you wont make it back in time. Youre dealing with a lot of stress and not enjoying yourself. A simple flat tire, someon in the group holding things up, an accident, etc can delay things as well. And if you do miss the boat, its up to you to get back to it (airfare to next port, etc). I may be going overboard here (no pun intended) but I dont know the ships policies. I would call the operation you want to tour with and ask them all your questions-will I be refunded if I dont make it, how long is it, will I be back to the ship by such time, what happens if the weather is bad, etc. I would sign up for the early trip, and shopping would be last on my list of things to do. If youre docked at a pier away from town, then theres a cab involved. If its just tee shirts, little things you want, then some piers have shopping areas right there (Im assuming youre talking about Cozumel).
Thanks for the advice and I too have been very concerned about the possibility of not making back in time. Has anyone ever had the ship sail away without them? Or even, cut it really close? I am especially concerned because Belize tenders you from the boat and the excursion I am interested in says it last 5 hours and we are there for 9 hours. All of your stories and advice are greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
Yes ...they will leave you behind if you miss the boat. Once on a cruise to the Mexican RIviera, (Sea Princess Oct. 2001), Two elderly ladies missed the ship in Puerta Vallarta. One poor woman had a walker! Anyway they had to hire a taxi to drive them all night to get to Mazatlan to catch up with the ship.It was all the buzz on board, and not a horror story I would like to re tell. Alos,, we went on a ship organized bus tour in Mazatlan. We missed the bus..I think my watch wasnt syncronized. We luckily caught another bus back. But we might not have if there werent others around. Reason we were late....we stopped for margaritas at a sea side restaurant. We were running thru the streets....drink in hand to catch that bus!!!!
On my cruise in August, RCCL's Enchantment sailed from Ocho Rios without 2 passengers who had to hire a local to ferry them to the boat. Their embarkation, which apparently was quite clumsy, was fodder for the comedians the rest of the cruise. The captain reminded us that sailing time means sailing time on his intercom address that evening. He also commented that obviously everyone was listening when we left Grand Cayman the next day becuase it was the first time he ever sailed on time out of Grand Cayman.
Explorer of the Seas October 2013
Caribbean Princess July 2006, May 2010 & November 2012
Monarch of the Seas November 2008
Crown Princess November 2007
Celebrity Zenith November 2005
Enchantment of the Seas August 2004
We like to sit out on our balcony near departure time and watch the people scurry back to the ship. Last trip they had the gangway already inside and the lines were being taken in when a couple came tearing down the pier!