I'm posting at two sites to scoop opinions...Okay, finally narrowed down our choices and will book our excursions on Thursday with Princess as I want things as worryfree as possible. Comments? (Remember we have a 7 year old with us)
Ochio Rios....Catamaran and Dunns River Falls (would have liked a bus tour of country side but they said they had a shopping stop and I was discouraged by the battles people had in the market places, and boredom factor for son) ...so, 8:30am tour leave us enough time to get some breakfast? or 10 which would miss lunch?
Grand Cayman...snorkel boat to Stingray Sandbar...everyone says not to miss this one. (I'm hoping they are not super strict as my son will be 5 months short of the requested 8 years..but he's tall and agile if it has anything to do with height and competence in the water)...I'm picking 8:30 because the 11:30 one really misses lunch and chews up the day. We may want to wander shopping in the afternoon.
Cozumel being the last stop, I think we will want to be more laid back and may want to do more on the ship that we haven't had a chance to do or just wander in the square and have a drink at Carlos n Charlie's. Not being sure whether we'll have had our share of snorkelling, I'll leave it to chance to book on board or just cab it to Chana..(sp) to do the offshore snorkelling there.
Sure sounds like you've worked out all the details of the excersions, nice planning. The name of the park in Cozumel is Chankanaab and I understand its a great park. They also have the Dolphin Swim going on there. Hope you and your family enjoy "Sea" Princess. We were on "Ocean" earlier this year and I absolutely love that class of ship, you are in for a real treat, enjoy.
The Sea Princess is a very nice ship with a nice Children's play area. I hope your son finds other playmates and enjoys the children's program. In Jamaica, book the 10 a.m. catamaran tour. It will give you plenty of time to have a nice breakfast and get your stuff together and if there is any adverse weather, it may clear bu them. (This happened on our trip; my adult son only could book the 10 and my friends had booked the 8:30. Well due to early morning rain, their trip was delayed and they never left until just before 10. They alll had a great time. Don't forget the aqua shoes or light canvas sneakers for walking the falls. Lunch is usually served on board at the buffet until 2 p.m. and I think even pizza till the same time, so you may be back. But, you can still order room service or tea time (little sandwiches and cookies) is usually around 4 p.m. Pick up some whole fruit in the morning or have your steward bring a basket to you cabin. Take the 8:30 a.m. Sting Ray City tour. Order room service the night before for breakfast if you think you are not able to get to the buffet early enough. The Sting Rays are more hungry earlier in the day and all passengers must wear flotation vests for safety, so your son should have no problem. Our ship tour had youngsters about his age and they had a wonderful time. Don't forget the sunscreen. There are only a few shops in Grand Cayman so your shopping will be limited. If you take a taxi to Seven Mile Beach in the afternoon, the hotel shops offer the Tourtuga Rum Cake (which is the island souvenir to buy, but it is heavy and pricey.) You are wise to just wait and see on Cozumel. Taking a taxi is very reliable there and a trip to the dolphin encounter may offer the best alternative for you and your family. Or just go to Playa del Sol which is a beautiful beach including a crafts bazaar, facilities and restaurant with great bargains on souvenirs. On your return you can always stop for a cool refreshing beverage and souvenir shopping down town. Enjoy Princess Cay too.
The shopping stop that you mentioned is the "Taj Mahal" shopping plaza which happens to be about 4 blocks from where the ship docks in Ocho Rios. I didn't realize this until I ventured on my own that afternoon (would not recommend this).
Your post contains a bit of misinformation regarding dining hours aboard Princess vessels.
Aboard MV Sea Princess (and her three sisters), lunch is available all afternoon in at least three places.
>> The Horizon Court serves the lunch/dinner buffet from 11:30 AM until it converts to bistro service in the evening, though only one serving area operates during off-peak hours.
>> The outdoor grill on the Lido deck just forward of the main pool area operates daily from noon until 5:00 PM.
>> The pizzeria at the top of the atrium is open daily from noon until 5:00 PM in addition to its evening hours.
In addition, there's afternoon tea, which includes finger sandwiches and scones, in one of the main dining rooms from 3:30 until 4:30. This is an excellent option if you return to the ship after normal lunch hour and don't want a heavy meal.
I would not worry too much about the shopping centers in Ocho Rios. The clerks in the legitimate stores are only slightly more aggressive than here in the States, and they will leave you alone if you say that you are "just browsing." The taxi drivers will offer their services as you walk from store to store on outdoor sidewalk, but they move on to the next person if you politely say, "No, thank you." If your heart is on the land tour, go for it -- Prospect Plantation is fascinating!
As to age limit, don't push it. They might not question your son's age, but there's no refund if they throw him off the excursion because he's under the minimum age. If your son is under the age limit, it's better to come back next year. There are plenty of other great tours on Grand Cayman. Check out the "Sea and See" tour, for example!
You might want to catch the Mexican Cultural Show in San Miguel de Cozumel. It's one of the best that I have seen anywhere in Mexico. It's only an hour, so you will have plenty of time to head over to Carlos 'n' Charlie's afterward.
Norm---we tried the "Just Browsing" and "no thank you" at almost every store in Soni's plaza in Ocho Rios. Didn't work. And when we left the store, we were harrassed for leaving without buying. The stop was about 30 mins. and was between the Plantation and the falls. However, the excursion was well worth it. We just know that next time, we won't get off the bus at the shopping area.
A word of advice--I may have mentioned this on the Cruisemates bd. Sue, I know we talked over there. At the falls, our guide told us we HAD to go through the marketplace to get back to the bus, which was by far the most God-awful experience! You do NOT have to go through there to get back to the bus. Go back up the way you went in.
BTW: We had similar problems in Cozumel, however, they were not as bad and it was obviously done good naturedly and light-heartedly, part of the game, if you will. And they never got obnoxious when you left without buying. The shop keepers in Ocho Rios were down right rude and it was not in a good natured sense.
Out of curiosity, isn't Princess discontinuing Ocho Rios and Jamaica in general in Jan.? I can't see the original post while replying so I don't know what date the cruise is.Norm wrote:
> I would not worry too much about the shopping centers in Ocho
> Rios. The clerks in the legitimate stores are only slightly
> more aggressive than here in the States, and they will leave
> you alone if you say that you are "just browsing." The taxi
> drivers will offer their services as you walk from store to
> store on outdoor sidewalk, but they move on to the next person
> if you politely say, "No, thank you." If your heart is on the
> land tour, go for it -- Prospect Plantation is fascinating!
> As to age limit, don't push it. They might not question your
> son's age, but there's no refund if they throw him off the
> excursion because he's under the minimum age. If your son is
> under the age limit, it's better to come back next year. There
> are plenty of other great tours on Grand Cayman. Check out the
> "Sea and See" tour, for example!
> You might want to catch the Mexican Cultural Show in San Miguel
> de Cozumel. It's one of the best that I have seen anywhere in
> Mexico. It's only an hour, so you will have plenty of time to
> head over to Carlos 'n' Charlie's afterward.
I have been to Ocho Rios twice and never encountered that sort of rudeness in the shops at the "Taj Majal" mall. Princess's tours seem to stop there rather than Soni's Plaza, and on one of my visits a friend and I actually walked back to the Taj Majal to do some additional shopping after our tour returned to the ship. I would not hesitate to return there.
According to Princess's Caribbean brochures, all "Western Caribbean" sailings of MV Sea Princess are scheduled to call at Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There is some rearrangement of the itinerary when MV Grand Princess takes over the route, sometimes skipping Jamaica completely and sometimes substituting Montego Bay for Ocho Rios. Additionally, some variations of the itinerary will substitute Costa Maya for Cozumel.
I have been following your postings and taking all to heart. We are sailing January 20th and all excursion bookings are confirmed to go to Ochio Rios...I think I read somewhere that they had been dropped off on the next year's Caribbean route. Thanks for advice.
The ruins at Tulum are far more extensive than those at San Gervasio (on the island of Cozumel), but the ruins at San Gervasio are in some ways more significant because the island is a holy place in the Mayan religion.
The tour to Tulum is fascinating, but it is a full -- and I do mean LONG -- day. If you opt for this tour, you will take a ferry from the San Miguel de Cozumel to Playa del Carmen on the mainland, followed by a bus ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Of course, you will reverse this at the end of the day. Be sure to bring at least one large bottle of water per person from the ship and to carry it with you into the ruins, as there are no refreshments within the ruins and the weather there tends to be hot (upper 90's in March!). We had one person in our party pass out within the ruins, probably due to dehydration, in spite of the tour guide's efforts to keep our group in the shade. Nonetheless, the ferry and the buses are air conditioned and you will have plenty of time to explore the ruins on your own after the guide gives an excellent explanation.
If you don't want to invest the whole day in this tour, the tour that combines the Mexican Folkloric Show with the tour of the ruins at San Gervasio is an excellent alternative. The folkloric show in San Miguel de Cozumel is the best that I have seen anywhere.