We are first time cruisers (Carnival Freedom Jan 2008) and have some questions regarding excursions. Our ports are Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Grand Cayman. It will be 2 adults and 2 14-year old girls.
We've heard alot of good things about Xcaret, but the negative reviews are pretty negative. We're not sure if we should do this or just do a few other smaller activities, such as snorkel and parasail. Is Xcaret worth the money?
We're pretty sure about Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. Any tips or other ideas? We're debating on the combo with the "mini boats." Has anyone done that?
We're definitely doing Stingray City in Grand Cayman. We've heard lots of great things about this.
Now our biggest question is, do we book now through Carnival, wait and book on the ship, book now through the individual excursion companies, or wait until we port and just book then?!?!?
We are open to all suggestions/recommendations and appreciate any advice we get!
You are going to have a Great time. My girls loved the stingrays, we went white water rafting in Jamacia, in Cozumel we go shopping and to the beach. they love the dressing up for dinner and the Teen club. We were on the Conquest, and we are going again in July.
We booked thru Carnival in order to be SURE that we make it back to the ship. The prices are comparable for the assurance. Plus if there is a problem with the bill, you have Carnival to talk with. Not someone in another country.
Definitely book shore excursions through the cruise line for Jamaica. I actually recommend it for all ports, but as much as I love Jamaica, it is not the safest place. Have I gone off on my own there? Yes, but that was when I was a lot younger and naive. I would definitely NOT do it with young teenage girls.
There is definitely the luxury of knowing that the ship own't leave without you when you go through the ship's tours.
Have a ball!
I booked the stingray city and island tour for Grand Cayman because I did want to experience Stingray City, but moreso I wanted to spend a fair chunk of time at the turtle farm (boatswain "Bosun" Beach). We ended up getting a super slow boat (I could have paddled faster) that wasted over 2.5 hours at Stingray City (45 minutes to get there and 45 minutes to get back plus around an hour at SC) which left one hour for the turle farm and Hell. We got 30 minutes at the turtle farm and 20 minutes at Hell. The remaining time was driving to and fro to get where we needed to go.
This February we are going back, but we will be smarter and do the Boatswain Beach on our own. I would like my niece to experience Stingray City, but I don't think there will be enough time to do both and have plenty of main street shopping time (we didn't have time to shop at all in January).
I hope you get a fast boat that takes you out to Stingray City because it will allow you more time to spend there and have time for other activities.
2007 Victory & Triumph
2008 Conquest & Liberty
2009 Valor, Freedom, and Splendor
2010 Glory and Liberty
We did the mini-boat excursion in Cozumel.
I strongly recommend against it.
The boats are too small for the sea condition. The beach we went to was littered with trash. I could say more but I won't.
At the end the guide leader asked for one hundred dollar tips!
Peace through superior firepower.
We booked the Stingray City tour with Moby Dick Tours. Just sent them an email, they got back to me right away and said we were on the list. No deposit up front. We got to shore and saw them in their bright shirts and had a very good time. Our experience was great with them and about half the price of the ships tour http://www.mobydicktours.com/
On Cozumel we just took a taxi to Paradise Beach, free unless you want to do all the water stuff. They have chairs, umbrellas etc and a restaurant. We did this just to have a relaxing day on the beach.
I have not been to Dunn's River Falls, but you may want to ask a few other people about it because I have heard that it is way too crowded and dangerous to walk on the rocks. I loved stingray city(as I am a surfer as was stung by one a long time ago and was able to make peace with my enemies!!) I know that Jamaica is one of the prettiest places I have been. I did the river tubing 7 years ago and loved it soo much that I am doing the river tubing again the last week of November!! One tip though... in Jamaica last time I was there I left my camera in the bathroom and walked out of the store, when I went back to get it the store owner was trying to sell it to another tourist!! I was able to get it back, but it just shocked me into reality that even though I was on vacation,there are still evil people out there!!! The owner said that it was his camera and I had to fight with him to get it back!!!
My daughter went to Xcaret and absolutely loved it, so this past cruise I was planning on going myself. However, due to the change in itiniery from Costa Maya to Progresso, they deleted some excursions one of which was Xcaret. I was so disappointed, however ended up going to Paradise Island and it was wonderful! Very relaxing and enjoyable day! My next trip to Cozumel in Jan. we will be going to Chankaauab park to go snorkeling and possibly the dolphins. Your daughters would LOVE the dolphins!! You can do this on your own (going to the park). Its cheap and safe. This is the only place I will go off on my own. Never in Jamaica - do NOT go on your own! I am the first one to say take an excursion with carnival as you are sure to be safe for the most part! And, the ship will not leave you! No matter what you do, you will have a grand time. I always try my best to book my excursions ahead of time on the web site. Mainly because it seems like its not as bad when you get the final bill since its paid for already. Best of luck on your decision!
We will be in Cozumel at the end of January. Will the water be warm enough to swim? (My DH doesn't like anything under 80!) Last year we were in Nassau in Nov. and the water temp was only 74. Lots of complaining from DH.