If it is a Carnival shore excursions you cannot book online before getting on the ship, at least not yet. (watch this space for information) I would book it as soon as you deciede which excursion you wish to take as they tend to be limited in the number of people they can handle and they do sell out quickly.
We also found that you could book a "Swim With the Dolphins" package on-line. It would probably be cheaper than going through the cruise line but there are some things to consider:
1) If you book it yourself, will you be able to get on the tender you need to get to the location in time? This is assuming you need a tender to get to the dolphins.
2) If you book it yourself there is probably a 24/48-hour cancellation policy so, if you are already on the ship and there is a change of ports (due to weather or unforeseen circumstances) will you be able to cancel and get a refund in time? If you book with the cruiseline (even though it will probably be more expensive) and the port is changed you would not be charged for an excursion you didn't take.
3) We considered booking this on-line for our upcoming cruise aboard the Carnival Pride (3 weeks from today!!!!!). Finally, we decided to wait until we got our documents or were on the ship to book it. Fortunately we waited. Our travel agent informed us last week that our ship had a port change. Instead of Salt Cay, we are now going to Half Moon Cay which is still in the Bahamas. Salt Cay (Blue Lagoon) is where the Dolphin adventures were located in our situation.
I hope this helps you make an informed decision. Happy cruising!
Hey...My personal opinion is book it yourself. You'll save $$ and you will have the freedom to go at what-ever time of day you prefer. My daughter and I just returned from Cozumel and we did the dolphin excursion which we booked ourselves. It was spectacular! Plus if I would have booked the Carnival version it was just a "dolphin discovery" which does NOT allow you to swim with the dolphins just to learn about them and to pet them. We did a full 90 minutes with the dolphins including swimming and tricks.
Also I booked this thru www.shoretrips.com
they really helped me out and gave me very good information about booking trips. The cruislines offer you less of a trip and bill you for much more...Take a good look...
Book on your own if the weather is just a little bad the ship will cancel the tour if you go through them, even though it may not be cancelled at the place where it is held. So look online and book it yourself and the chances of it getting cancelled are a little less.
Thank you for everyone's information. I told my wife that there were some sites where you could book shore trips online and she said I want to do this one, this one, and this one (needless to say, I'm not the only excited one in the group).
Another question I have is how long are the shore tours?