We have booked our first cruise with Princess. It is the Western Caribbean . Does anyone have any tips which excursions best to take? Where would we feel safe to browse and shop? I also have many questions but i won't overwhelm you all at once. Is there a refrigerator in the cabin ? I have medication that has to be refigerated. Thanks for the help.
You should have no problems feeling safe in Cozumel and Grand Caymen, just like any other place, use common sense when wandering around.
If you have never been to any of these places, I'd advise taking one of the short island tours, great way to get a general overview, not too long and not usually too expensive. Then there is usually shopping near the ship, go back for lunch on the ship then head off again.
cruise4two - that is a great itineary, love that Western route.
As for excursions - so much depends upon what you like to do.
Grand Cayman - the "must-do" tour is Sting Ray City/Sandbar, you can book this with the ship or on your own, interacting with the stingrays is quite the experience. There are many reputable tour companies that you can deal with on your own. Good quality shopping.
Jamaica - lots to do here, definatley book a tour. Dunns River Falls is great fun. River tubing is a blast, the plantation tour is very interesting, Have been hearing that the zip-line excursion is a total blast. Lazy river rafting is a very nice tour.
Cozumel - if you love to snorkel or want to give it a try this would be the place, book a ships tour out to the Palencaar Reef -amazing. The reef suffered hurricane damage, but i have been hearing that the reef has repopulated. Mayan Ruins to tour, great beaches, good shopping.
Princess Cays - Beach Party! water toys to rent or just veg out on the beach with a frou-frou cocktail. Very clean. Good lunch bbq buffet.
Another consideration for Cozumel is the ship excursion to Passion Island. It offers a very nice beach day, and when we did it, it included an open bar as well as a buffet lunch of local cuisine. Near the pier in Cozumel there are dozens of shops, if you are into browsing.
I agree with the recommendations for doing Stingray City. It is an amazing experience, to be in the water with those lovely creatures swimming around you. We even got to hold one, and their skin feels like velvet. Not threatening at all.
Ao Ocho Rios we did climb Dunn's River Falls (we are 2 senior ladies), and though it was a bit strenuous, it was really a fun thing to do. We made it all the way to the top.
Have a great cruise.
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Stick with doing something off the ship in Ocho Rios. We did Dunns River Falls, it was great.
But we also decided to walk to the local shopping center. I would not recommend it. We were followed and there were guards at the front of the center with machine guns behind the gates.
We swam with the Stingrays in Grand Cayman.
Cozumel has a great nature park (Chankanaab) that many ships have excursions to that also had a dolphin swim next to it. I don't know if Pricess offers the dolphin swim in their excursions, but you might be able to book on your own.
Here is where you can read about the dolphin swim, you would need to make reservations very early:
The ship is Star Princess. ports of call are Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Mexico, and Princess Cays, Bahamas.
Okay, here goes.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
This is one port of call where I recommend NOT going ashore on your own unless you know the lay of the land. The is some crime and somewhat of a drug proglem in Jamaica, but you won't encounter much of it if you stick to the major tourist areas. The real nuisance is an overabundance of taxi drivers who are overly eager to take visitors for a ride in their taxis. They are verywhere -- outside the cruise ship terminal, at the shopping centers, etc. -- but they won't bother you if you are with a tour group.
I highly recommend the shore excursion to Prospect Plantation & Dunn's River Falls, and be sure to wear your swimsuit under your clothes and to bring a towel and a pair of SurfWalkers (or similar water shoes with a heavy rubber sole) to climb the falls. Jamaica's plantations are very different from those of the American South, as Jamaica's Blue Ridge rises to about 6300 feet -- higher than the summit of Mount Washington -- and thus produce several climatological zones in a small geographical area. Prospect Plantation, a typical Jamaican plantation, occupies a whole mountain and thus grows an incredible variety of crops in the various climatological zones. The Dunn's River Falls are a stairstep waterfall, so it's an easy climb (done in human chains to provide mutual support where there's an occasional big step or whatever). On one of my visits, the guide said that a lady who was ninety-nine years old had made the climb a few weeks earlier, so it's not particularly difficult, but it's well shaded after the first twenty feet or so and the mountain streem is quite refreshing. The tour company will safeguard your clothes and your valuables in the tour van while you do the climb. This excursion also includes a shopping stop (about 1/2 hour) at one of the local malls.
Some of the other excursions in Ocho Rios also have gotten solid kudos, but I can't speak of them from personal experience.
George Town, Grand Cayman
I also recommend taking a shore excursion in George Town, as it's a tender port so shore excursoins have priority going ashore. If you want to explore on your own, that's fine -- just start off with a short excursion that will get you ashore quickly.
Having said that, there are some excellent shore excursions in George Town.
>> Stingray City consistently draws raves from those who go there, but there's probably a fair amount of self-selection involved because I'm not convinced that swimming with these sea creatures is everybody's cup of tea.
>> The Sea and See excursion, which I recommend very highly, is a great way to see many of the island's attractions. The "Sea" part of this excursion is a harbor cruise on a "semisubursible craft" (actually a boat, as it never submurges, aboard which you sit "two by two" in a compartment below the waterline and look out through special windows in both sides of the hull) that visits several reefs, teeming with marine life, and the wrecks of the SS Callie and the SS Balboa. The "see" part of this excursion is a short tour of the island's highlights on land. It includes a drive through George Town's financial district, a photo stop at Seven Mile Beach, and visits to the fascinating rock formation called "Hell" (looks volcanic, but it's actually limestone that algae have blackened and honed to razor sharpness) and to the world's only sea turtle farm (yes, they actually raise sea turtles for food -- but they also are involved in protection and preservation of engangered species, and they have a small zoo with other indigenous animals in an adjacent area). Each part of this excursion is also available as a separate excursion, but the combined package is a great tour!
Grand Cayman is also a fantastic place to see on your own. George Town's shopping district, located right across the street from the tender pier, offers the best shopping that I have found in the Caribbean. Prices are not particularly cheap, but the local shops seem to carry merchandise of much better quality than what you will find elsewhere. If you want to spend some time at the beach during your cruise, the island's Seven Mile Beach (which really is only 5 1/2 miles ling) is one of the best beaches in the world. It's lined with resorts, where you can get lunch and beveraes if you wish. There are also beach clubs that rent lockers, chairs, and umbrellas and that provide rest rooms and showers for their patrons. Seven Mile Beach is just north of George Town, so it's easily accessible by taxi.
San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico
If you want a unique experience, take an "all day" tour -- either to the Mayan ruins at Tulum or to the eco-archeological park at Ex Caret. Both of these destinations involve a ferry ride across the channel from San Miguel de Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and a bus ride to the destination, so they really do require the whole day. I have not been to Ex Caret, but I can tell you that the Mayan ruins at Tulum are quite fascnating. If you go to Tulum, be sure that each person in your party brings a large (liter) bottle of water from the ship and drinks from it frequently to prevent dehydreation. I strongly recommend taking the ship's tour if you decide to visit either of these destinations, as the ship will assume responsibility to get yuo back aboard if the bus gets delayed and misses the connection with the ferry.
If the tours to Tulum and to Ex Caret seem too ambitous, there's also plenty to do on the island of Cozumel. In this case, I highly recomend the tour that combines the folkloric show in San Miguel de Cozumel with a visit to the Mayan ruins at San Gervasiso. The ruins at San Gervasio are much less extensive than the ruins at Tulum, but they really are more significant because the island ot Tulum is holy ground in the Mayan religion.
I can't speak for beaches and snorkeling on the island of Cozumel, as I have not been to either.
Hi and thnaks to all of you for sharing with me. It was very informative. I have copied all your replys and my husband and I will read them together. I have a few months before this cruise but I want to know all I can before we go. Thanks bunches. You are all Great!!!!
Princess Cay: Nice buffet. If you snorkel, go near the small dock to see large grouper. They provide the snorkeling equipment. I found a sting ray and dove down for a closer look. Since I am a scuba diver, I am used to breathing underwater. Imagine my surprise when my snorkel only had water in it.
Cozumel: Go to Chankanaab park. Nice tour includes some Mayan relics. Take insect repellent for mosquitos. Also scuba/snorkeling with lockers, nice bath & showers. For scuba divers, there is a small cave with large tarpon, also underwater relics. San Francisco beach has a very good restaurant, jet skis, beach. The town has lots of tourist trap shops. Be sure to bargain. Visit the town square. Music, street vendors. Sunday evening is special. The locals dress up (children too) and go to the town square for relaxation, etc.
If you have more than 1 day, take the ferry to Playa del Carmen. Delightful little town. On the beaches, the further north you go, the less clothes are worn on the beaches. Also, there is a tour from the Cozumel airport to Chichen Itza which is the best for Mayan ruins. The big pyramid has been restored and is awesome. About $100 per person.
Grand Cayman: Sting Ray City is great but takes a little planning. It is in about 12 feet of water. Scuba divers can go to the bottom and stay there whereas snorkelers must stay on the surface. Divers: be careful of the little ones swimming on the bottom. You don't want to step on one. The sting rays can smell food. Usually the boat will bring pieces of squid to feed them. You can lead them around by holding the squid in your hand. Be sure to reward them by giving it to them. Some people rub the squid in their hair and the rays envelope their head looking for the food. Be careful about stuff like that as they can give you a "hickey" from their mouth suction. They are rough textured on the top but like velvet on the underside.
Snorkelers: If you can dive while snorkeling, great. Otherwise you will have to stay on the surface. Arrange ahead of time for a diver to bring a sting ray to you. They can do this by holding the food in their hand and leading the sting ray to the surface. Watch out for the yellow tail snappers. They can't smell the food but can see it (hide the food in your hand). They can serrate your fingers. Not serious but not pleasant either.
I suggest taking the Cockatoo Sailboat in Grand Cayman to see the stingrays. It is smaller and holds less people. They motor out, and then hoist the sail for a while, it is really peaceful!! I saw big party boats with hundreds of people on them. Too crowded!! There is shopping within walking distance of the pier.
In Cozumel, we did Passion Island. Great exursion. The ride in the "cold" bus was a little long. My kid was freezing in July!! 30-45 min. ride, but well worth it. Shopping on the little island, along with good food. Also lots of shopping right at the pier.
I agree with others who said to take an excursion with the ship in Ocho Rios. We did DUnns River Falls and it was excellent.
When we got back to the ship, we were told we could walk around the corner to a "shopping mall."
We were followed and harrassed and when we got to the outdoor "mall", it was guarded by men with machine guns. We immediately turned around and went back to the ship.
In Grand Cayman, Stingray City is fantastic. It was something not to miss, absolutely amazing. You'll learn to do the stingray shuffle in the sand to avoid stepping on any stingrays, but they know when the boats come, they will be fed. The guides tell you how to feel them and give you fish for them.
In Cozumel, there is a wonderul park called Chankanaab Park that has fantastic snorkeling. It is a beautiful park, and we took a cab to it (even though we had booked it through the cruise line, we were taken in cabs)
There is also a Dolphin Swim right next door to it. Our ship did not offer any excursions to swim with the dolphins, but you can book it (far in advance) on your own.
Grand Cayman - definitely the stingrays (they normally don't poke people in the heart). The turtle farm was kind of fun too. Buy your rum cakes here...
Ocho Rios - I have gone on the Dunns River Falls tour (plus some other places), and the white water inner tubing. Both were a blast, but Dunns River Falls is probably at the top of the list. I'd suggest one of the catamaran sails to Dunns River Falls as you can get ripped on rum punch <g>.
Cozumel - if offered, I'd take the Tulum tour...it's beautiful. Otherwise the Swim With Dolphins tour in Chankanaab Park is awesome. The problem with the Chitzen Itza tour is you have to fly on a small plane and they generally crash one every few years...
In any port, there are generally good places to snorkel and _excellent_ places to SCUBA...