It truly depends on the port and the activity. You can do a search of the boards for independent tours and get great info from people who have cultivated great relationships with people like Captain Marvin. Just keep in mind....if you book a shore excursion on your own, the cruise ship will not wait for you if you are running late. They will wait for those who have booked tours through the cruiseline. I know this firsthand because we booked Stingray City through Carnival and we were over an hour late for the ship's departure time from port. However, the ship was there waiting for us when we finally made it to the tenders.
Perhaps you should list your ports of call and someone can give you specific information regarding independent tours that they may have tried. Good Luck!
edited to correct Captain Marvin's name!
If you are going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance!
While we have only been on two cruises so far we have come to realize that just getting off the ship at port and looking around you can find basically the same excursions as offered on the boat for half price. Want to explore the island? Most taxis will do this and because they are smaller then the busses can get around better and see some things that you wouldn't otherwise see. Want to take a ferry to another Island that is close by? Same thing, you can get a ferry for half the cost the cruise lines charge.
Do a google search for excursions where you are going too and you will find some very interesting excursions done much cheaper then the cruise lines do them for.
One note of concern though!!! If you are on a cruise line excursion and something happens where you are delayed the ship will not leave without you! however, if you book your own or do your own thing and don't make it back the ship might sail without you and then you are stuck!
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Island Princess coming in Nov. 2009
I would bet, that if we took a poll, most people who have cruised extensivley "USUALLY" book off ship, for run of the mill excursions.
The "ship won't leave me factor" is a consideration, but in the Caribbean say, for most excursions, you can walk off the ship and get the for less money, and share the costs, if you have a group . We usually do trips like this in the morning, so we really have never had to worry about missingthe ship...I
have seen people running up the gang plank though, and they were just doddling in town we heard....:)
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
I'm with most here. Book off ship, do research before you leave and look for reputable people. I on one hand wouldnt want to walk off the ship in say the CAymans without a plan, because you just dont know what your going to get.
We did a bit of research and another couple and us took Capt marvins and had, i know, a much better time then the carnival people did and saved around 100.00 per person too. that being said, Marvins never missed a boat
On the other hand, in Progresso, we wanted to do the mayan ruins, we booked thru the ship, why? because its a 4 hour round trip drive and we didnt want a problem like missing the boat lol. If we had done a shorter mayan adventure (we went to the big daddy ruins) we most likley would have booked off ship. If your just going to need day passes to a resort, call that resort and see if you can book on your own. Like Sunset beach in Jamaica's MOBAY area...we paid about 75.00 less pp than if we had gone to sandals, and i had just as many pina colada's on the beach there and the water and pool were fabulous, and the buffet was good.
I would almost always bet im booking off ship, but do becareful. I tell the guide i HAVE to be back atleast 1 hr before i really HAVE to be back, and i leave atleast 1 hour or more before i have to be back if i do it on my own...i'm always done by then anyway lol.
The excursions on the ships cost more than the cruise itself if you do a good excursion daily, in that i'm saying i could have spent over 100.00 snorkling for half as much time in the caymans plus we swam with the stingrays longer, (i spent 35.00), we spent around 30.00 each at the resort in jamaica (i believe sandles is 100 pp) and in Cozumel we just took a 10 minute taxi for 10.00 to Chankaanab and it cost under 20.00 to snorkle...way way more for the excursion and we werent rushed and did what we wanted and left when we wanted etc.
Another consideration, me being a solo traveler it's better to stick with Carnival's excursions. Many claim they pooled their resourses and hired a taxi for a private tour of the island. For us solos, the ship is our group.
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