My fiance and I will be first-time cruisers on our honeymoon cruise in Apri on the Conquest. I understand that we can save money by booking excursions through third-party companies rather than through Carnival. Can anyone recommend companies for excursions in Montego Bay, Cozumel, and Grand Caymen? When should we book with these companies if we decide to use them?
I must admit that using third parties makes me nervous. I'm just afraid we won't get off the ship on time (since they let those using Carnival excursions off first), or that we'll get back late and miss the ship. Are these fears silly? I admit I haven't read of anyone on this or any other message board getting back late from an excursion.
<BR>until Honeymoon on the Carnvial Conquest!<BR>
I primarily used all private companies for our recent (first) cruise and everything was fine. I think as long as you use a reputable company, you should be fine. The companies know the absolute value of getting you back on time - otherwise, they'd never stay in business. For Grand Cayman, I highly, highly recommend that you book the Stingray city tour with Nativeways. If you cruise these message boards, you'll see their name come up a lot and they are always highly recommended. We paid $25 for a "3 hour tour" that included a stop at coral gardens. They were a very professional and great company. I emailed them with questions and Sharon emailed back very quickly. They don't require a deposit, just a fair committment that you'll be there (as long as the ship comes in to port). tell her when you'll be there and the ship name (they'll generally know exactly when each ship arrives and they'll fit you in to the best tour time. I think the ship tour for Stingray city was around the $40 - $50 range. But the best thing I like about a private company is the size of the tour. The ship tours were about 100+ people per boat and ours was about 10. We had two guides who made sure that each and every person got to hold and feed the stingrays. You dont' get the same level of personal care and attention on the ship tours. We used a private tour in Belize too and it was a lot easier to ask questions of your guide when there's only 5 or 6 people on the tour. I also did two ship tours in Roatan and Cozumel (2 hour snorkelling in Cozumel). It was fine - fairly small no problems. But it wasn't the same awesome feeling of the private tours. Don't let people scare you away from doing private tours if you want - just pick a reputable company and make sure the tour ends well before the ship departs, so in case there is a problem, there's still plenty of time. Hope this helps
Grand Caymen - Sting Ray City Sandbar - we use Captain Marvin - loved it.
Jamacia - Dunns River Falls, grab a cab (make sure you use BONDED cabs) or - book a tour with Peat Taylor (hear he is awesome),or river rafting on the Martha Brae River ( very scenic)or Horseback riding.
Cozumel - awesome snorkeling if you are into snorkeling i would highly recommend booking a ships tour to the Palencaar Reef . You could spend a few hours relaxing at the beach at Channunkaab National Park ( grab a cab at the pier) you can swim, snorkel, relax do a dolphin swim here ( book in advance) . Have heard great things about Mr. Pancho's ( fun place to spend the day) You could tour the ruins at Tulum ( grab a cab and then hook-up with a tour at the site)
My husband and I leave in 4 days for our first cruise, on HAL Maasdam to the western Caribbean. We haven't booked any excursions in advance, partly because most of them seem very expensive. I enjoy just relaxing on a beach and I'm not a big water person. Can we just get off our ship and walk to a beach (or take a cab)? Is there any real reason we must book excursions at each port? With so little time before we leave, and finding out for the first time today that private tour companies (as opposed to HAL's excursions) are an option, how can I find out about private excursions? I would enjoy the horseback riding (in Cozumel I believe), and would consider signing up on the ship, but do you think I can find a better deal through someone else?
Kathyann what are your ports-of-call and specific interests? a lot of the independant tour companies have web-sites. You really should make reservations for the more popular tourist attractions with so many ships in port at the same time
I found that most of our places had the same tour companies right on the dock looking to sell tours to anyone who didn't have one pre-booked. I would think that the same is true of most ports. Don't worry if you don't have any tours booked - you'll likely have a chance when you get off, or you can hire a cab driver, tell him what you want to do and negoitiate a price. Shouldn't be much problem
We're stopping at Half Moon Cay, Georgetown Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West. I enjoy being around water (ie beach or on a boat) but I don't swim and wouldn't enjoy scuba or snorkeling. I like to see scenery and small towns, and would enjoy renting bikes or horses. kathyann
Kathy i can help with a coupl of your stops. Half-Moon Cay - that's the ships private island all about a day at the beach with lots of water toys, food and souveniors.
Grand Caymen - i bet you would enjoy a trip to Sting Ray City Sandbar - no swimming involved you stand in the water that's about waist-high ( im 5-5") and the rays swim around you, amazing creatures, you could even book a tour that included a stop in "Hell" and the Turtle Farm. Caymen is basically a small-flat strip of beach, you can see over the island from one side to the other. The main street is basically small dive shops and touristy souvenior shops and hotels lining 7-mile beach.- lots of great independant tour operater on Caymen we used Captain Marvin.
Cozumel - has some really nice beaches with lots of stuff to do there - Mr. Sanchos, Channunkaab National Park, Playa del Sol just to mention a couple, all within a cab ride from the pier. The shopping on Cozumel is basically for silver and turquoise. IF you want to visit Mayan Ruins you can grab a cab from the pier to Tulum and then hook-up with a tour at the site. The ruins at XHela are a bit more extensive but its a bit of a pain to get there - you have to travel by ferry about 1hour ride. There is a Hard Rock Cafe ,and a Carlos and Charlies in downtown Cozumel if that interests you.