Just planning my shore excursions for my first cruise. I had a bunch of questions!
In Key West, we were planning on doing the kayaking tour - has anyone taken this, or have other suggestiong?
Cozumel, we are going to try scuba diving. However, this trip ends at 1:30 and we are in port until 8:00. We would love to get some snorkeling in as well, but RCI does not offer any afternoon trips we could take. Does anyone have suggestions on what to do for the rest of the day, and if we could fit snorkeling in (maybe from an outside tour group?)
In Costa Maya - we are going to check out the Ruins (on a 4 hour trip to Chacchoben. What can we do for the rest of the day? Do they have a nice beach area? We're done with the ruins around 1, and are in port until 6.
In Grand Cayman - we are going to take Captain Marvins' full day tour. I've heard lots of great things about these trips from this message board.
One general question - I've never been scuba diving or snorkeling, I wear contacts. Is that ok, or should I bring glasses to wear for these trips?
Congrats on your first cruise. I'm taking a similar one in two weeks (my third). One piece of advice is to go easy on the shore excursions. The cruise lines pad these costs substantially and often you can get the same ore better excursion for much less by finding the operator at the pier and hiring them outside of the ship. Tours this way are more personal and customized to your tastes and you get to interact with the locals more up close and personal.
Also, excursions organized by the ship are pretty structured, and I often feel like "just one of the herd." With the larger crouds it's hard not to step on someone else's toes or get in their pictures, and they do the same to you. I've even been ashore where we had to cut parts of the excursion out because we were waiting for an elderly couple to catch up all the time. VERY frustrating!
The cruise line will scare you into thinking that if you go with another operator, this ship will leave without you if you're not back on time. Just plan your schedule carefully and you'll be fine. Part of the experience for me is being adventerous and going and doing outside of the ship. We did this on our last cruise to the Southern Caribbean and extimated we saved over $200 and had a lot more fun. Only booked through the ship when there was an expensive tour (like Mayan ruins) that we couldn't obtain any other way.
On the snorkeling thing, my friend wears contacts and wore them in the water with his mask without incident. I think other people did too, so no worries.
In Cosumel contract Flash Adventures and see what he can do for you on your snorkeling and diving. I agree with the above, you can save a lot of money by going off ship and doing your own thing.