We're a family of four (parents and two teens) going on our first cruise over Xmas on Norway, visiting St. Thomas, St. John, St. Maarten, Great Stirrup
Please recommend quickest way to get off ship on tenders and best way to see islands without buying cruise line shore excurisons (too expensive for us). Do we need to rent a car at each island. We want to do some snorkeling, sightseeing, not a lot of shopping. We're on a very tight budget.
Thanks in advance.
We sailed the Norway last year and only booked one excursion through the ship, the St. Martin city/Butterfly farm tour. I think your best bet is to find a Cab that will charge you a flat fee for unlimited service while on the Island. We did not this but have heard that charge around $50. Definately get off the ship at St. John and then take the ferry back to St. Thomas to meet the ship. This happens very early in the morning so the wait for the tenders is not that bad. You may be able snorkle off the beach there. For good snorkleing, you will need to book a boat trip. Try searching the Net for snorkle trips in the various ports. On Great Stirrup, all you need is to rent the Snorkle gear from NCL and swim right off the beach. It was pretty good. Bring some cereal to feed the fish.
Tenders are boarded based on shore excursions. Therefore, those that have purchased a tour thru NCL go first. BUT!! Despite some of the whiners and complainers, IT IS NOT that bad! The time most ships spend getting to the pier, tying up, etc. is not wasted on the NORWAY. The exact same ship cleranace procedures by the island authorities occurs then the NORWAY begins disembarking. 400 people at a time on their two tenders..on their private island, they use three tenders.
If you are staying on a consierge level cabin, your Consierge can get you early tender passes. Otherwise, send ONE (1) person from your group to pick up tenders passes the day before (lots of announcemnts regarding passes..don't worry).