I've been "investigating" shore excursions on line and I'm wondering if it is best to go through the cruiseline for excurisons or is it better to pre-arrange tours with private companys on shore before we leave home. Do the tours book up really fast when you are on the ship? We are traveling the western Carribean leaving on December 28 (NCL's Dream) and stopping at Cozumel, Cancun, Belize City and Roatan. Any suggestions on "must see" places are welcome! Thanks
My general rule is if the tour involves leaving land, like a boat trip or tender to a place, we book through the ship, that way if the craft breaks down it is the responsibility of the cruise line to get you back on board. If you book on your own, and there is a problem, it is all up to you to make the ship.
If you are staying on the land, we book our own, at least you can usually get a cab or bus to get to the ship.
Now this is just a suggestion, we don't always do it the same way, and it has worked out ok for us. Just do you'r homework, figure out what you want to do, then decide about the how, and by what means.
It all depends upon what you want to do also. If you do book independant make sure that they are bonded and licensed operators. Don't cut your time too close to the ships departure, get yourself back to the ship at the very least 1 hour before departure. The ship will not wait for you if you do not book a tour with them. Most cab drivers will get you back in plenty of time if you tell them that you have to be back to the ship by a certain time. Hire a driver for the entire day, that way you aren't scrambling to find a taxi at the end of your visit. If you want to snorkel or scuba dive i would suggest going thru the cruise ships excursions as blumoo suggested, if something goes wrong with the dive boat, they will hold the ship for you if you booked a ships excursion. i have a couple of suggestions for Cozumel, as i have been there. If you want a great snorkeling experience book and excursion (thru the ship) to the Palencaar Reef (amazing) If you want a nice relaxing day at the beach with some snorkeling, and a swim with the dolphins - spend the day at Channunkaab National Park ( do it on your own) if you are into Mayan history - tour the ruins at Tulum (on your own) do some shopping downtown for watches and jewlery.