This will be my first cruise and need to know the must do excursions in Grand Cayman Islands and Ochios Rios, I will be sailing on 4/29 on the Imagination. I also want to know if you think its better to book with Carnival or with someone on the island.
Being that this is your first cruise, I think I'd just book through the cruiseline. In Grand Cayman, you have to tender, so timing is an important factor there. In Jamaica, as long as you do some type of excursion, thats the best thing to do there, don't wander around on your own there.
There are many independent shore operators you can check-out on-line before you go, and if you feel comfortable booking with them, go ahead. I wouldn't just wait until you got there. Sometimes weather can cause a problem with going to Grand Cayman, so if you do book something not through the cruiseline, make sure you can get a refund if the stop is cancelled. If you book with the cruiseline and miss the stop, you will get a credit right away.
I just got back from the Imagination. We went to Grand Caymens and Jamaica.
Tendering in Grand Caymens is really not hard. Just walk off the boat, and you'll see a bunch of different independent tour operators doing the same thing. We took "Stingray City Tours" and got the exact same tour for 1/3 of a price. It was really, incredibly easy. It was our first cruise too...
So easy, in fact, that we thought we could do the same thing in Jamaica. Little did we know. Ocho Rios is a shanty town. ALOT worse than Grand Cayman. We tried to book through the "Maxi Tour" which seemed to have a monopoly on being the only tour van in the port. Simply put, it was a mess. Their "tour" showed you nothing and basically consisted of them taking you to their affiliate vendors that tried to sell you the most worthless gifts. It was a disaster. If I had to do it over again, I would definitely book through Carnival. I would have avoided being accosted for money, I wouldn't have been asked to buy marijuana six times, I wouldn't have had to give a dollar to the Jamaican who sat in front of me crowing like a rooster until I gave him the dollar.
So, In short, I guess it just depends on the place!
my mom and i haven been to ocho rio and we enjoyed are selfs we went trou carnival tour we didn' have problems like uexpected that one of reason the other reason is if you take a independt and you are late geting
back and the ship has sail you will have get your self to the next port of call if your on carnival tour and late geting back the ship will wait for you
I would definately take a ships excursion in Jamaica.
There a a lot of very good tour operators in Grand Cayman -i would book in advance, the good ones sell-out fairly fast. If you feel comfortable booking an excursion in Cayman on your own you can do it very easily, just budget the time. IF you don't feel comfortable doing that then definatley book a ships excursion.
Definately take a ship excursion in Jamaica. Grand Cayman is safe and that is the place to get "adventurous"... but not in Jamaica.
Our family of four did the ship tour in Jamaica called the Great River rafting tour which was fun. You float down a "river" (we would have called it a big creek in Mississippi) on hand made bamboo rafts built for 2. A guide uses a long pole to propel you through the shallow water. Our guide was very knowledgable and gave us some great insight as to the life in Jamaica, the uses for the different beautiful flowers along the sides of the river and general Jamaica trivia. Afterwards, (included in this tour) was a stop at a rum tasting event where you tasted them all for free.
Remember that in Jamaica the "peddlers" can be pretty agressive. You don't have to be "afraid" but be aware.
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templegirl if you have never been to gran caymen before the stingray sandbar is a must, its something everybody should exsperience once in their life, its truely amazing to see hundreds of stingrays swimming around you and comming to rub up against you as you wade in the shallow water , dont be scared they are perfectly harmless