You may want to go through the list of excursion listed on your cruiseline's web-site to see what kinds of activities you want to do at the ports you will be at.
If there are things you really want to do, you can pre-book them online. If there are ports where you just don't know or want to wing it, then wait until you get to the port. There are always venders selling their excursions when you get off the ship.
Research is key....they will be less expensive off the ship, and if you meet up on the ship, with like minded cruisers, you could split the expense of a smaller taxi or just get on one of the many vans...if you feel more comfortable buying the ships excursions... book online to get your first preferences...Bon voyage.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Which Itinerary are you on? The cruise out of San Juan?
The excursions you have available and how you want to book them depends a lot on the ports you will stop at. For instance in Belize you really only want to go on ship sponsored tours because Belize City can be a little scary. They do have tour operators around the shops in the port area and while I’m sure they do a good job and take care of everyone, it can make you feel like you’re out of your comfort zone.
In San Juan we were able to get a great tour from a taxi driver for 4 people at a cost of $20. He did so well we tipped him $30. There are also tour busses at the pier with cheap city tours. I would recommend seeing the forts while you are there.
The same thing doesn’t work in St Martin because the cabs are regulated and all charge a set fare. If you want a tour they send you to the tour bus operators that work for the same company. An all day pass on the water taxi to down town can be worth the money if you like shopping.
In Jamaica a tour bus company there customized a tour for us and gave us a van, a driver, and a guide for 2 hours for a total of $40. Most people recommend ship only tours there, but we never felt at risk. The vendors can be a little pushy but everyone seemed friendly.
St Thomas has a tour bus depot behind the shops at the pier but they will pack everyone they can into the bus before it leaves and it gets a bit crowded. You can also walk to the sky lift and buy tickets for it cheaper than the ship sells them.
In Grand Cayman and Cozumel you can get almost any tour from the dock that you get from the ship, and often it is from the same operators the ship uses. That is not always available in all ports so if your see something you really want you should consider booking it from the ship.
In Key West there are booths down town where you can buy tours.
If you are not familiar with the port then the ship’s excursions are the safest way to go because they do the research for you and make sure you can get back to the ship on time. I have seen them discontinue selling excursions if someone gets hurt, even if it’s a popular tour.
We are cruising out of Barbados, visiting St Lucia, St kitts, st Marten, San Juan, St Thomas and Dominica. We've been told we can't book the ship excursions in advance because we are starting at Barbados, (not San Juan) so we'll have to wait and see what is still available when we get onboard. We wanted a bit of advance information as to whether it's best to book on board or find a tour at the port. Thanks!