Originally Posted by You
I've been on one cruise--Coral Princess to Alaska and loved it! I'm sailing on the Crown Princess in January 2007, but am torn between booking ship excursions and booking my own. I know that most excursions booked thru the ship are somewhat crowded, and thought I would go another route. My ports of call are Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!
Well, a given excursion will be just as crowded if you book it through the ship as if you book it on your own because you can be sure that the operator will fill the transport to its capacity to maximize profits. Also, Princess really does have one of the strongest shore excursion programs in the industry. You may save a few dollars by booking excursions on your own rather than through Princess, but here are a few points to consider.
>> 1. If you book an excursion on your own, you may have to pay in advance and you might forfeit the price if the ship cancels a scheduled port of call for any reason. If you book the excursion through the ship, the cruise line will protect you (that is, reimburse the amount) in such a situation.
>> 2. If a shore excursion is delayed returning to the pier, the ship will either wait for it or make alternate arrangements to bring the passengers back aboard. If you go on your own and get delayed after the time of scheduled sailing, you will have to pay for flights to the next port of call and for your own accommodations (the ship's port agent will gladly have these billed to your shipboard account, along with a service charge for doing so, if you don't have credit cards with a sufficient balancy available).
>> 3. The ship's shore excursions leave right from the pier where the ship docks. If you book excursions on your own, it's your responsibility to get between the pier and the place where the excursion begins and ends. this may require a taxi, which could cost more than what you saved on the cost of the excursion.
>> 4. The cruise line has vetted the operators of the shore excursions sold through the ship pretty thoroughly, so you can be confident that they are safe. If you book an excursion on youw own, you have no such assurance unless you somehow know the operator.
For these reasons, I strongly recommend booking through your cruise line -- especially if you are visiting a destination for the first time. But your choice....
That said, I have specific recommendations for some of your ports of call.
>> In Barbados
, the excursion called "Orchid World and Tea at Sunbury Plantation" is really unique an very interesting.
>> In Antigua
, the excursoin to Nelson's Dockyard is very worthwhile.
>> In Sint Maarten
, the "America's Cup Regatta" consistently gets raves from those who participate.
>> In St. Thomas
, the "Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John" is absolutely delightful -- well worth every cent of its price!
I have not been to St. Lucia, so I'll refrain from speaking out of ignorance about that port.
Have a great cruise, whatever you decide!