We booked the Summit and tour prices seem quite high. The itinerary includes: Key West (no problem here.), Cozumel, Puerto Limon CR, Colon, Cartagena, Aruba, and Grand Cayman. Any thoughts/recommendations on private tours in these ports? We want to keep safety as a top priority but have often found much better and less expensive tours on our own. Pelican Adventures offers some pretty attractive packages. Anybody "been there, done that?".
Some of these are pretty much do-it-yourself ports, if you want to.
Some lines are no longer porting at Cartagena, but there are taxis and English-speaking guides available at the port. On Cozumel and Aruba you can rent a car and tool about. On Grand Cayman we've booked with Captain Marvin for Stingray City.
I hope someone comes along with info about Puerto Limon and Colon.
As you know, we are on your cruise. We are so far doing Key West on our own, Cozumel
either on our own (shopping and Beach) or to the Park (whose name I can neither spell or pronounce). Grand Cayman we are doing Sting Rays and perhaps some independent snorkeling but have not decided whether to book the sting ray thing through the ship or independent. We've done Hell and the turtle farm etc. before. Cartegena , there is some possibility that we may not stop there. If we do, we may not get off the ship. We were there 18 months ago and the tours are identical. Mrs Bill and Donna are having some safety issues with Cartegena as well. We are thinking of doing the canal thing with the ships excursion in Costa Rica. We did an all day 12 hour excursion there 18 months back and saw quite a bit.
Still up in the air on the tour for Panama. We did the whole canal so don't feel we need to do anything just canal related. Would like to see city or countryside. We have to look into that. Aruba, we have spent quite some time here. Mrs Bill's # 2 favorate place to shop. We will probably do a beach on our own. Cabs and buses are all you need here.
There is a fun place to spend the day called De Palm Island (swim snorkel beach toys etc.). You can also get a deal and go to Sonesta Hotels private island (contact me if you want to know about that). That is our plan so far.
In Cozumel, take the tour from the ship if you want to go to either the Mayan ruins at Tulum or the archeo-ecological park at Ex Caret. These tours involve ferry and bus connections, so they take the whole day and a missed connection could mean missing the ship if you are on your own. Also, be sure to take a liter of water for each person in your party and to drink from it frequently while in the park to prevent dehydration. It's quite warm there -- 90's are normal at Tulum in February and March, which is the middle of (their) winter..
Most of the attractions of Costa Rica are in the "Central Valley" around San Jose, which is the capital, and about 1 1/2 hours from eiher coast. I'm not sure what's in Puerto Limon, but the major attractions again would recommend in favor of a tour due to the distance involved.
Cartagena offers essentially three variations of the same tour. The difference is that one tour visits the fort (meaning that you get off the bus and go inside) with the least (but still sufficient) time allocated for shopping, one tour drives by the fort for a visual look with somewhat more time allocated for shopping, and the third tour skips the fort completely to maximize time for shopping. There's an additional tour that's basically transportation to and from a shopping area. If I'm ever on another cruise that goes there, I probably will stay aboard the ship on that day.
There's a fantasic tour in Aruba called "Sail, Snorkel, and Beach Barbecue" -- and it's very reasonably priced for what you get. It's also a popular resort destination and the Dutch influence is quite strong, so going ashore on your own should be no problem.
Grand Cayman has lots of attractions, but many of them are some distance from the tender pier in George Town. It's quite reasonable to take a taxi the short distance to Seven Mile Beach, which really is a "world class" white sand beach. There's a facility that rents lockers and provides chaning rooms, and you also can get beverages and perhaps lunch at one of the resorts nearby. In addition, the shopping district of George Town offers some of the best shopping in the Caribbean, and it's right across the street from the tender pier -- an easy walk.
That said, Grand Cayman also offers some really unique tours. I found the "Sea and See" tour, which combines a visit to several reefs and a couple wrecks with lots of marine life in a "semisubersible craft" with a land tour to Hell and the world's only sea turtle farm, to be really fascinating. The tour to Stingray City also is a chronic favorite that draws raves from those who take it. Most of the tours here are only a couple hours, so you'll have plehty of time for shopping afterward if that is your desire.
Bill, Thank you for your advice on places to go in Aruba. Can you tell me if you need advance reservations for De Palm Island or Sonesta Hotels Resort Island. Can you reach these resorts via taxis? We're leaving next week on the Millie and still haven't figured out what to do on Aruba, so I was thrilled to see your suggestions!
My husband and I love wonderful beaches and snorkling. A beautiful beach is Numero Uno....and a casino wouldn't hurt!
Thank you for your time and help.