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Old February 6th, 2011, 06:27 PM
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Hello all. I have a few questions about shore excursions, port days, etc. First of all, what do most people do for excursions on their first cruise? Basically, I'm going to be most interested in an excursion that will combine local highlights and history with some time on the beach and preferably with a beverage or two included! I'd also like to do something more interesting in at least one port, like parasailing or the cheapest dolphin encounter I can find.

Do most people do an excursion in every port, or do some people just pick one port to do something special and just veg on the beach in the other ports? Also, on my itinerary, the stop at Nassau seems very short, like 5 hours! ((ETA: It's 7. That doesn't seem so short.)) Is it easy to do something fun in that short a time?

I've read discussions about using the cruiseline's excursions v. a local or other excursion company. Doesn't seem to be much of a consensus beyond 'Do what's best for you.' Are there any benefits to either approach if you are a first-timer? Does the cruiseline guarantee its excursions?

And finally, do people find it hard to decide even to get off the ship in the ports? Based on what I've read, it seems like port days are ideal days to enjoy smaller crowds and spa specials and the like. (Hardly fair of the cruiseline to schedule spa specials on days when people want to go see the ports! Quite clever of them. Wicked, even. )

Anyway, I realize that all of the answers to these questions will be coming from people with much different perspectives, depending on how many times you've been on a cruise. But I'd be very interested in hearing any suggestions, input, opinions, etc. that others have...

Thanks!
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Old February 6th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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Hello all. I have a few questions about shore excursions, port days, etc. First of all, what do most people do for excursions on their first cruise? Basically, I'm going to be most interested in an excursion that will combine local highlights and history with some time on the beach and preferably with a beverage or two included! I'd also like to do something more interesting in at least one port, like parasailing or the cheapest dolphin encounter I can find. For the most part island tours do not include beach time and seeing the sites. they usually include shopping time..If you choose to just get off the ship, you can arrange your time and destinations with a cabby, to come back for you at the beach, at a designated time, after a tour around to see the sights

Do most people do an excursion in every port, or do some people just pick one port to do something special and just veg on the beach in the other ports? Also, on my itinerary, the stop at Nassau seems very short, like 5 hours! ((ETA: It's 7. That doesn't seem so short.)) Is it easy to do something fun in that short a time?
People who are seasoned cruisers and have been there and done that sometimess pass on getting off..but for your family, I think you would so enjoy seeing the lay of the land. If you are beach people, park yourselves at a great beach..In Nassau you could cab over to Atlantis, do the Dig,and aquarium, this is doable in your time frame anbd is so interesting.


I've read discussions about using the cruiseline's excursions v. a local or other excursion company. Doesn't seem to be much of a consensus beyond 'Do what's best for you.' Are there any benefits to either approach if you are a first-timer? Does the cruiseline guarantee its excursions?
For 1st time cruisers, doing the ships excursions takes the burden off you, and does the work for you. They will wait for you, if by chance your excursion is late..off ship tours will not get you that option....getting off the ship and finding a tour is easy, and, is usally cheaper
And finally, do people find it hard to decide even to get off the ship in the ports? Based on what I've read, it seems like port days are ideal days to enjoy smaller crowds and spa specials and the like. (Hardly fair of the cruiseline to schedule spa specials on days when people want to go see the ports! Quite clever of them. Wicked, even. )

Staying onboard on sea days,does equate to a quieter day,with specials to lure you to spa..remember,all shops and the casino are closed in port...lazy days around the pool are quite nice too.
Anyway, I realize that all of the answers to these questions will be coming from people with much different perspectives, depending on how many times you've been on a cruise. But I'd be very interested in hearing any suggestions, input, opinions, etc. that others have.
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Last edited by Trip; February 7th, 2011 at 10:32 AM.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:18 AM
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First thing, what are your ports of call, other than Nassau? so that we may guide you towards certain excursions. Trip gave you a great suggestion for Nassau- The Dig at Atlantis is amazing. Ships excursion versus local all depends upon where you are going, what you want to do and your comfort level
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Hi Lisa! It's the Eastern itinerary- Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Marten, not necessarily in that order! I was talking about it with the kids last night (twin girls, 18 by the time we sail, and boy, 11 at sailing) and they are pretty varied in their interests. I know we can't do everything, but if we had unlimited funds, one of the girls would love to do something with dolphins, and then she and her brother could be convinced to try parasailing. The other girl just wants to swim and play at the beach! For myself, I would like to look for a sightseeing tour that finished up by dropping you off at the beach for a while, and if it included lunch and/or drinks, that would be a plus. None of us are in shape for heavy-duty hiking, but we've got plenty of time to change that if we want. (Sailing is May 27, 2012)

I have been looking at one site that seems to have pretty good prices- Island Marketing Ltd. Does anyone have any experience using them?

One of my bosses and his wife cruise all the time and they keep telling me I don't have to do anything organized- just get a cab and go to the beach or whatever, but I think I'd be more comfortable doing something a little more structured/guided.

Still happy and hyper! Got my taxes done today, so my cruise deposit will be in my hand in approximately 11 days! Squeeeeee!
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Just so you'll know....a simple sightseeing tour of the island booked by a cab off ship, would be the same as if you did one booked by the ship.
The cost will be less, off the ship.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaCruiserMom View Post

Do most people do an excursion in every port, or do some people just pick one port to do something special and just veg on the beach in the other ports? Also, on my itinerary, the stop at Nassau seems very short, like 5 hours! ((ETA: It's 7. That doesn't seem so short.)) Is it easy to do something fun in that short a time?
We usually plan to do an excursion in every port. Sometimes it is a big major one, sometimes just a short jaunt. But see below about port days ...

I suspect the ship will have a few good excursions planned in Nassau. There are several things you could do there. We haven't been for a while, but AIRC there is also a pretty big flea market just as you get off the ship.


Quote:
I've read discussions about using the cruiseline's excursions v. a local or other excursion company. Doesn't seem to be much of a consensus beyond 'Do what's best for you.' Are there any benefits to either approach if you are a first-timer? Does the cruiseline guarantee its excursions?
Our first few cruises, we did nothing but ship's excursions. They are easy, convenient, well-organized, and safe. These days we usually have a mix of ship's and private tours. Rarely do we get off the ship without a plan. Just grabbing a cab at the dock would be our last choice although we have done it once or twice in the right situations. Guarantee? Guarantee what, and what is the guarantee worth? Not really very much. Most reputable shore excursion operators are very reliable.

Quote:
And finally, do people find it hard to decide even to get off the ship in the ports? Based on what I've read, it seems like port days are ideal days to enjoy smaller crowds and spa specials and the like. (Hardly fair of the cruiseline to schedule spa specials on days when people want to go see the ports! Quite clever of them. Wicked, even. )
Yes, quite a few people will stay aboard for all or part of a port call. Taking a short morning excursion and enjoying the ship and the spa in the afternoon works very well. Of course those spa specials are to try to fill empty spaces as so many people are ashore.

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Anyway, I realize that all of the answers to these questions will be coming from people with much different perspectives, depending on how many times you've been on a cruise. But I'd be very interested in hearing any suggestions, input, opinions, etc. that others have...
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Old February 7th, 2011, 01:45 PM
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OklaCruiserMom, ok here goes, Parasailing - not sure if available on Nassau as for Dolphin Swims, Nassau would be the place to do that, just so you know Dolphin Swims are quite pricy. St. Thomas- known for its beaches, check out info from www.vinnow.com
as for sight-seeing by cab, not so much - if you want to hit a beautiful beach i would suggest Sapphire or Coki Beaches - might be parasailing on Sapphire. If you want to snorkel i would highly suggest getting yourself over to St John Island - the island is breathtaking and the snorkeling is great, its a short cab ride from the pier in St. Thomas to pick up the ferry over to St. John. what we usually do in St. Thomas is beach in morning, back to the ship, drop of swim/snorkel gear, grab a bite to eat and then hit the mall at the pier at Havensight, or grab a cab and go downtown. Another cool thing near the dock at Havensight is the Paradise Point Tramway- its a short walk from the pier, a tram takes you up the side of a mountain, the harbor view from up there is breathtaking, there is a beautiful botanical garden up there. St. Maarten - another great beach stop - Orient Bay on the French Side is a great beach- just know that since it is french- it is topless and there is a portion that is clothing optional, again grab a cab at the pier and hit the beach, if you want to do some fun excursion you could try the America's Cup Regatta, this is a blast, you help sail a racing scooner in an actual race, or if you want something more laid-back look into booking the Golden Eagle Catamaran sail thru the ship, we loved this excursion, beautiful sail over to an uninhabited habitiat where you can swim, snorkel or just veg on the beach, lunch,soda, and "punch" available
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Old February 7th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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On our first 2 cruises there were no such things as shore excursions .On our 3rd. cruise we did as much as possible.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaCruiserMom View Post
Hello all. I have a few questions about shore excursions, port days, etc. First of all, what do most people do for excursions on their first cruise? Basically, I'm going to be most interested in an excursion that will combine local highlights and history with some time on the beach and preferably with a beverage or two included! I'd also like to do something more interesting in at least one port, like parasailing or the cheapest dolphin encounter I can find.

Do most people do an excursion in every port, or do some people just pick one port to do something special and just veg on the beach in the other ports? Also, on my itinerary, the stop at Nassau seems very short, like 5 hours! ((ETA: It's 7. That doesn't seem so short.)) Is it easy to do something fun in that short a time?

I've read discussions about using the cruiseline's excursions v. a local or other excursion company. Doesn't seem to be much of a consensus beyond 'Do what's best for you.' Are there any benefits to either approach if you are a first-timer? Does the cruiseline guarantee its excursions?

And finally, do people find it hard to decide even to get off the ship in the ports? Based on what I've read, it seems like port days are ideal days to enjoy smaller crowds and spa specials and the like. (Hardly fair of the cruiseline to schedule spa specials on days when people want to go see the ports! Quite clever of them. Wicked, even. )

Anyway, I realize that all of the answers to these questions will be coming from people with much different perspectives, depending on how many times you've been on a cruise. But I'd be very interested in hearing any suggestions, input, opinions, etc. that others have...

Thanks!
The majority of first time cruisers usually do cruise line excursions. There are some people who have traveled that will do things on their own. If you are not comfortable in a foreign port and do not speak the language I would suggest that you do a ship's excursion. I personally do very few ship's excursions and the biggest issues my wife and I have had were on ship's excursions. We were stuck by the side of a road for almost three hours on a 4x4 excursion. Had to endure the most obnoxious guide on a bus excursion in Spain. Totally incompetent crew on a snorkeling trip in Aruba.

Actually some of the most enjoyable "excursions" have been by picking up a taxi, negotiating a fare and itinerary and go for the day. We've done this in Athens, Izmir, Barbados, Mazatlan and a couple of other places and saw more and enjoyed ourselves more than people who took ship's excursions. My wife is multi-lingual and that helps in our travels.

Especially on your first cruise I would advise that you get off the ship. My rule is. "If I haven't been there before I'm getting off." You really need to form an opinion of a port or area yourself. Costa Maya is panned by many people but it is a great port for tours of Mayan Ruins and other thing. Some people hate just because it has a long pier and a "mall". There are ports like Grand Cayman that we've been to many times and now if the itinerary includes Grand Cayman we stay on board. However, one of the best excursions we ever did was with Captain Crosby in Grand Cayman. It was a wonderful deep water snorkeling excursion and beautiful catamaran trip.

To get an idea of what's available check out the cruise line's website and see what they have to offer. You can choose to do their excursion or do some searching and find a company that will do the same thing at a lesser price.

Take care and have a wonderful cruise.
Mike
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Old February 7th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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I was amazed at the number of people who stayed on the ship in Caracas. I loved every minute,and we were there not long after a coup..I could not imagine going to South America, and, not put a toe on the ground.

A cruise is such a great way to get a taste of a port...explore, investigate, get in touch with the locals,and come back, possibly for a longer adventure.
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