I have read that alot of people take tours that are not with Carnival! Are they safe?
I am scared that we won't get back to the ship on time?? does anyone know who, what and where ??!! We will be in St. Thomas( shopping mecca thats a given!!)
Barbados, Martinque, Aruba, Although we have been to St. Thomas and Aruba,
Still should we take a tour with Carnival or make our own plans????
I'll tell you a little story about getting tours that are not through Carnival. Last year two
kids( 16 or 17) decided to go out on the water ,for what I do not know ,well to make a long story short the boat broke down and when they got back to the pier the ship was pulling away. It was last port so the father flew the kids back to Miami which cost $$$.
So if I had to be back to the ship at a certain time I would use Carnival's tours because if something happened the ship would wait.
That is a very difficult question. You can usually save about 10-20% by taking a private tour BUT...if you are not satisfied, if they don't provide what they promised, if they break down, if they abandon you, if you don't make it back to the ship on time, if, if, if.... Now there are some ports that you are pretty safe doing on your own like St Thomas and Cozumel and in some cases other ports if you hang around close to the port itself you should be fine. Other places...well it is a crapshoot. The main thing to remember is that if you are uncomfortable then stick to the ships tours. They aren;t that much more money and if something goes wrong they are lots less costly. I do know that the Shore Excursion people for CCL take a great deal of time and effort to check out each vendor and ensure that they are licensed, insured and have referances. I have a friend that does just that for CCL and she is always going to the differant ports to make sure everything is done correctly and the vendors are in compliance with the rules.
We just got back from the Caribbean on CCL....We took the shore excursions through CCL and everything was well-organized and vehicles in excellent condition. The price is not always worth the excursion but you do pay for the organization of the tour. In St. Thomas, we had the tour leader drop us off in town so we could do some shopping. After deciding that it wasn't worth the hassle of 2 cruise ships of people all shopping at the same time and store clerks trying to entice us into their stores to buy diamonds, tanzanite and things we weren't interested in, we decided to hit the beach. It took no time at all to get a taxi to take us to Meagan's Bay for an afternoon of a most awesome beach experience. We rented a foam raft and spent the time basking in the beautiful water and sun of the Caribbean...well worth the taxi fare($ 12 roundtrip pp) . When 4:30 came, everything on the beach closes because they know you need to get back to the ship and there are plenty of taxis showing up to take you to the ship. The taxi prices are standardized in St. Thomas..they all charged the same to certain places.
I just returned from 6/22 Destiny sailing with the same itinerary as yours. I did most of the tour myself except for the Sail and Snorkel in Barbados. In St Thomas, I went to St John Trunk's Bay (beautiful). In Martinique, I went to Point Du Bout beach (don't go there it is not worth seeing). In Barbados, after the Sail and Snorkel (very nice), I rented a taxi to see Harrison Cave (not great) and tour the island (not much to see though). In Aruba, I rented a little SUV and went to Beach Bay, California Lighthouse, and Natural Bridge (all must see sites). Make the most of Aruba; it is a beautiful island. Shopping is great in Aruba also but closes early; so shop first if you want to.
As for taxi, here are some tips. In St Thomas, the ones off the dock is a rip off.
They wanted $8 per person to the ferry. Just walk past the secure area where
the locals can't come in and get taxi there; the fee is per cab not per person. In Barbados, same situation, the taxis off the dock will charge $60 for an island tour. You must haggle. I paid $8 for a taxi to the downtown to shop then arrange for a taxi for an island tour at only $40.
Also on the Paradise this Sunday with my 14 year old. We have arranged for the Belize cave tubbing with Action Belize. They don't require any $$ in advance and I am not sure yet how much Carnival charges. Can you give me the infor for Stingray City? Thanks
I was on the Victory last year and booked the Sting Ray tour through Carnival. The tour operator left early and left my family with 4-5 other families behind. We walked to the booth and the local tour guide just setup our own tour that was cheaper. The tour was actually better because we got individual service than all the people, on the ship, who booked through Carnival. Carnival did give us refund because many complained that they were left behind.