I have been reading all the posts about shore excursions and I am still trying to decide what to do. We are going to Progresso, Cozumel, and Belize. We have never cruised before and have no idea about pricing. I have looked up info on excursions on our own but I don't know what to compare the prices too. I am mainly interested in the dolphinswim in Cozumel. How much does Carnival charge for this excursion? I am worried that being a first timer we will not plan it right and may miss the ship if we go on our own.
I guess I am mainly wanting to know what the difference is in cost if you do it on your own.
We need to know asap because we leave on Elation, June 27th!!!!!!!
There is so much to learn about cruising that it was probably my 4th or 5th cruise before I felt that I wasn't being "taken" when booking excursions and shopping.
There are several websites for each location that I have found very helpful (just google to find them). I am doing the same itin in August and other than Cozumel, I have never been to any of the other ports, so I am also looking at options. However, I am one of those who will pay the extra $20 for an excursion booked through Carnival to ensure that if there are any problems I will not miss the ship. There are many people who have booked with outside providers and never had any problem - if you go to the Destinations board you can find an abundance of information and recommendations.
Here's my opinion. I wouldn't have a problem doing the Dolpin Encounter in Cozumel on my own. The road to Chankanaab is well traveled and an army of cabs is standing by at both ends. In Progresso, I would do the beach or city on my own, but chose the ships excursion to travel to Meridia. $35pp and worth the money IMO. In Belize, I wouldn't walk beyond the gates of the port w/o a tour guide. Cave tubing is the popular tour and I know many on this board have had no trouble with outside excursion companies. If you did have a problem, I assure you it'd be a big one. This is a beautiful place, but very poor country. Keep these things in mind and you'll enjoy all three ports.
Make sure you do the che chi nitza mayan excursion from Progresso. It is long but well worth the time. Don't worry about missing the ship if you take a Carnival booked excursion...they will wait for you as long as the excursion that you were on is still out and not yet back to the ship. This does not mean that you can still hang out at the duty free or shops, that is what happened on our cruise. The ship was pulling away from the dock and some ppl were running to get on....unheard of for cruises...the ship redocked and let them board.
Here is the link to the dolphin discovery in Cozumel. You will save enough money doing this yourself to pay for the other excursions on your cruise. This way you will have your reservations already before you sail so that if the ship's excursion sells out, you won't miss this great adventure. Chankanaab Park is one of the safest destinations in Mexico - literally thousands of people every day spread out over several thousand acres of natural park and beach. Rent some snorkel gear and see some of the most beautiful underwater floral in the caribbean.
I would agree and go to Chankanaab Park in Cozumel. You can book your own dolphin excursion there. YOu can rent snorkel equipment or bring your own. It's a wonderful place to spend the day. Many people do this one.
Belize- The cave tubing is real fun. We've done the Altun Ha/River Wallace excursion. That was nice as well.
Progresso- We were going to be in the middle of a hurricane if we didn't skip Progresso. We went to a different port.
There is a lot to learn. But you can also post more on suggestions for specific ports and see what the majority has to say. You'll get lots of helpful suggestions from this board!!
I called Carnival and the dolphin swim with the cruise line is $199.00 per person.
Dolphin Discovery is much cheaper and has several times you can choose from. www.dolphindiscovery.com
Just remember also, that the cruise lines offer the dolphin encounter, which is not the dolphin swim, so you're better off booking it on your own and getting to do the actual swim with the dolphins, for less money too :-)
As a first timer, and especially because you have expressed concern, I would highly recommend you do the ships tours. The prices are not marked up very much really and there are many advantages over doing it on your own, not the least of which is ensuring you return to the ship ontime.
Just got back from cruising on the Elation (6/13/04 sail date).
In Progreso we did the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins (4 hour tour). It cost $51 per person for both adult and children. It was good if you are into that type of thing. Of the 6 in our group, I guess I was the one who got bored.
In Cozumel we rented a mini van for about $100 and went to Paradise Beach. It was very nice. No fees but you are expected to buy food and drinks. Snorkeling equipment (deposit required), kayaks, umbrellas, chairs and much more are available. After staying at the beach for a few hours, we went shopping in downtown. I was not impressed with the prices. I would recommend that you have the general idea of what you are looking for to know if it is a good deal. The best example I can give is we went to the Kiss My Cactus Store for tequila. They let you sample and educate you on the different types. We bought one bottle for $60 and the a few stores down found the same bottle for $40. Next time we will just shop it around. In addition, we wanted to use our American Express but many of the stores would not take it.
In Belize we went on the Goff’s Cay Snorkeling tour. Cost was $57 for adults and $46.50 for children (12 and under). Now we had problems with the tour, which the ship compensated us for but to be honest I still could not recommend this tour. The little island was dirty. They offer food but there is no way for them to sanitize or be sanitary in the conditions that are out there. They offered food but no refrigeration (only ice chest). The bathrooms were port a potties. There was no running water. The beach was dirty and the garbage can was over flowing. You could rent for $15 an umbrella and three chairs. One woman kept coming around to see if you wanted your hair braided. Even after we said no the second time she came around for a third time.
A few people went to shore and purchased this same tour for half the price. However, they had to be tendered to port, catch the tour, take a boat out to the island, take a boat back to port and then be tendered back to the ship. We were afraid of missing the ship so we stuck with the Carnival tour.
As for the dolphin thing – there are two excursions.
1-Dolphin Encounter (minimum age 4) $99 per person (adult/child), 3 hrs
2-Dolphin Swim & Snorkel Adventure (minimum age 8) $155 per person (adult/child), 3 hrs
Check Carnival website for more details. The park charges $10 per person and the swim adventure is about $120 per person.
I have all of the shore excursion prices if you would like to know any others.
Cozumel is a great destination. We used the Carnival arranged snorkel trip and it was ok. The beach club at the snorkel site was the best part. The small bar provides nachos, taco's and cold beer plus a beach volleyball court for pick-up games. The local guys running the place were great. I hated to leave. They will allow you to stay as long as they have tenders running back to the pier. I think the price was around $35 per person. Enjoy your trip.
The only thing about booking on your own ahead of time to consider is that if for some reason the ship misses the port - hurricane, tropical storm, technical defficulties, can't tender in (Belize) then you loose all the money you paid for an excursion on land. If you book through the ship you get your money back if they don't get to the island... In Belize the tours from Carnival were very reasonable. In Cozumel the tour you want will book up the first day on board so you will need your request in the box before the desk opens the first day. Sometimes they are booked on shore too so you will have to book ahead of time (like now) if there are still spots if doing this on your own. Just be aware that if for any reason you miss the port they might not refund your money when booked directly through Dolphin Encounter. I'd check with them and find out. It is still hurricane season and we already had a tropical disturbance in the Gulf two weeks ago.. Debbie
I just booked with Soto's Cruises (stingray) and if the ship misses the port or the weather conditions are not good, there is no charge. In fact if someone gets sick on the cruise ship, you can call them that morning and there won't be a charge.
Just returned from Elation (6-20-04) you will need to book "swim with the dolphins" as soon as you are allowed to embark. There will be a shore excursion brochure that you can fill out and place in a box. Just mark the excursion and the number of people that would like to participate. The price was $150.00 per person. That particular excursion booked very quickly. I suggest you try to book thru the purser's office as soon as possible.
Happy Camper - what you are saying is incorrect. Every privately booked excursion that I have run accross personally or heard of from tablemates, etc have refunded money if paid with a credit card and the ship was either late or a no show. You will see that committment in black and white on most websites as well.
Just some more hocus-pocus from the cruiselines to book their overpriced excursions. I heard a rumor once that I believe to be true - the cruise line will make more money from the excursions than they will from the cruise itself.