Carnival excursions - When is the best time to book them? How fast do they sell out?

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#1
Canada
175 Posts
Joined May 2010
We cruise the Liberty in October and I have my eye on a catarman snorkeling trip in Nassau through Carnival.. How early do I need to book it? It is $50 pp so its reasonable.. my DD's (14 and 21) have never been before.. I want this to be fun.

We also hit San Juan, St. Thomas and Turks. Any must do adventures? I thought about the dolphin swim but can't justify the amount of $$ they want for it.. and my kids are older (they also haven't jumped at it when I mentioned it). All advice welcome
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#2
Oklahoma City
146 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We have always booked ours a about 60 days out. We have not encountered a "sold out" at that time.
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#3
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
2,376 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
I am not sure if this happens on all cruises but one of the reviews for Victory said that the prices for booking the excursions on board were higher than what they had seen on the web site prior to boarding. So if this is true you may save some money by booking in advance.
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#4
Port Canaveral, Fl
1,067 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Originally posted by Bigleafsfanwife
We cruise the Liberty in October and I have my eye on a catarman snorkeling trip in Nassau through Carnival.. How early do I need to book it? It is $50 pp so its reasonable.. my DD's (14 and 21) have never been before.. I want this to be fun.

We also hit San Juan, St. Thomas and Turks. Any must do adventures? I thought about the dolphin swim but can't justify the amount of $$ they want for it.. and my kids are older (they also haven't jumped at it when I mentioned it). All advice welcome
The most important ones to book before you leave are the ones that are Limited, meaning only so many tickets and then the excursion is closed. If there is one you REALLY want and it is limited, book it now so you can be sure you get it.

In San Juan, there is little to do other than go to a casino or a bar. Your best bet is one of the excursions, either the horseback riding or the kayak at the bio-luminescent bay. And those are limited, so if you like it, book it early.

In St Thomas, the only benefit to an excursion is the guarantee that you'll make it back to the ship before it sails away. There is so much to do and it is so easy to get there on St Thomas. My vote is Coki Beach.
#5
Phoenix, Arizona
6,284 Posts
Joined May 2008
That 14 year old girl that got caught in the crossfire was on a bus on the way to Coki Beach. I don't know if they are still offering it, but I heard it goes through a bad neighborhood. Crime in St. Thomas is high, according to the posters who have family living there.

I would book excursions, especially the "limited" ones early. When we went to Europe last year, some excursions were sold out early.
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#6
34 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
i have booked on board before and some of the choices where completely booked, They did work very hard to add an excursion for us and it was fun. So, I would say you want to book before you get on board. Oh! and the booking desk is not always open so we had to figure out their hours, so again, book ahead. Have fun!
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#7
Greenville, NC
6,041 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
I booked two excursions for our cruise of August 14th in May. The other day when I checked the prices both had gone up and I don't know if this usually happens or not, but I saved $150 by booking in advance.
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#8
Tulsa, OK
5,174 Posts
Joined May 2009
If you can afford to book and pay for the excursion now, do it now. The price could go up. I have noticed some of them being higher on board than they were online. Plus, if you change your mind about an excursion that you've booked online, you can cancel for a full refund up to 3 days prior to sailing. So, no real harm in booking as soon as they're available.
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#9
29,344 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Go to the port of call pages and see what other people are doing and tour operators they have recommended.

Most experienced cruisers book their tour privately.
#10
Florida
570 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by Solo1959
The most important ones to book before you leave are the ones that are Limited, meaning only so many tickets and then the excursion is closed. If there is one you REALLY want and it is limited, book it now so you can be sure you get it.

In San Juan, there is little to do other than go to a casino or a bar. Your best bet is one of the excursions, either the horseback riding or the kayak at the bio-luminescent bay. And those are limited, so if you like it, book it early.

In St Thomas, the only benefit to an excursion is the guarantee that you'll make it back to the ship before it sails away. There is so much to do and it is so easy to get there on St Thomas. My vote is Coki Beach.
I am going to disagree with you on San Juan. There is so much to do in Old San Juan. There is two forts that you can explore, I believe there is even a free shuttle. There is a ton of old historical buildings, cafe's, and shops. I wouldn't necessarily want to wander around, alone, at night, but I am also a cautious person.
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#11
New Jersey
3,686 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Its hit or miss when it sells out but i have seen the popular ones sold out 30 days out from the cruise.
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#12
Miami
442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
We did the Rain Forest in San Juan back in March. We did it through the ship at the last minute. It was beautiful.
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#14
United States
1,079 Posts
Joined May 2010
Originally posted by golfadj
Go to the port of call pages and see what other people are doing and tour operators they have recommended.

Most experienced cruisers book their tour privately.
We cruise a lot (experienced cruisers) and we have done both private and Carnival based excursions. There have also been places we have just gone off on our own. With all of our experience, 80% of the time we use Carnival excursions and certainly do if we have not been to a port ourselves. Our first few cruises, we waited until getting on the ship to book excursions and they were sold out. Only once was the excursion sold out before we got onboard on the website and that was a swim with the dolphins excursion on a cruise that was held during a school break. It does help "pre-pay" stuff before you go as your credit card is charged at the time of booking. It will however show up on your S & S card when you get the bill as a purchase and then a credit on the final bill (we were told that they need to charge it and credit it to generate the tickets onboard even through it is already booked.) We have also had a port or an excursion canceled and the money is credited to the S & S card as a refundable charge. (they will refund at the end of the cruise if you don't use it)
We have had things go wrong during excursions that are fully covered by Carnival if you are on their excursion and we like the safety net. The more we cruise, the MORE likely we are to use Carnival's excursions because we have seen first hand quite a few "private excursions" gone bad for others on board. It does seem to us that the problems have increased over the years, and we find ourselves booking almost exclusively Carnival tours the more we cruise. Right our wrong, in our opinion, they are worth the extra money.
#15
Oklahoma
3,488 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Originally posted by Bigleafsfanwife
We cruise the Liberty in October and I have my eye on a catarman snorkeling trip in Nassau through Carnival.. How early do I need to book it? It is $50 pp so its reasonable.. my DD's (14 and 21) have never been before.. I want this to be fun.
My friends and I did the $50 pp Nassau catamaran snorkeling/beach excursion through Carnival in January.
Since it was our first cruise, we didn't do much pre-planning because we weren't sure what we'd want to do.
We booked it the morning of the excursion without a problem.
Not sure I'd wait THAT late again, but it worked out fine for us.
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#16
Michigan
6,883 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
As a planner I always book as soon as we know what we want to do. Sometimes it is through Carnival due to limited availability, convenience and price (ie Isla Passion via Twister in Cozumel - only available through cruiseship) and sometimes it is on our own due to ease of doing it and price (ie dolphin excursion in Tortola...easy taxi ride to Dolphin Discovery and much cheaper than cruiseline cost).
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#17
Rhode Island
287 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
I always arrange my excursions before I sail. You don't want to spend part of your vacation waiting in line to book!!
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#18
Maine
8,200 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
If there is something you'd like to do, I'd go ahead and book it as soon as it's available. Usually they are all available within 60 days of the cruise, some are available well before this.