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MrmrsSteelman

Do you do something at every stop?

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My hubby and I will be going on our first cruise Jan 6th. Getaway western Caribbean. Its our first one...so part of me wants to book an excursion at every stop...but part of me wants to just walk around and see what we see. So far we only have 2 excursions books. A private tour with Ronys to see the sloths and monkeys in roatan and maya chan in Costa maya.

 

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We don't -- sometimes we don't get off the ship, or just get off for a couple of hours of touring port (when the port and the town are essentially the same area). We used to do excursions at every port, but just isn't important to us anymore.

 

If you have a lot of port days, you might be more inclined to skip some activity, whereas if you have a lot of sea days, then excursions will have more appeal

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My hubby and I will be going on our first cruise Jan 6th. Getaway western Caribbean. Its our first one...so part of me wants to book an excursion at every stop...but part of me wants to just walk around and see what we see. So far we only have 2 excursions books. A private tour with Ronys to see the sloths and monkeys in roatan and maya chan in Costa maya.

 

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Unless you do not plan to get off the ship I suggest you make plans. Just my opinion. In Cozumel I would suggest nachi cocum. $55 pp and all inclusive. We love it there. Just google it.

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My hubby and I will be going on our first cruise Jan 6th. Getaway western Caribbean. Its our first one...so part of me wants to book an excursion at every stop...but part of me wants to just walk around and see what we see. So far we only have 2 excursions books. A private tour with Ronys to see the sloths and monkeys in roatan and maya chan in Costa maya.

 

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We have been on 20+ cruises .We always did shore excursions but in the past few years we referred to many as TT's (tourist traps) currently we tend to walk on our own.

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If a port is a first for you I would suggest an excursion of some sort, or at least look up an actual walking tour. For us we tend to miss things if we don’t plan. We’ve tried wandering and I always feel like I’ve missed something.

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We book cruises based on the ports of call. So we will do something in every port. Then do the walkabout before going back to the ship.

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We make plans ahead of time at every official port to do something. We aren't major cruiser like lots on this forum, but for example did a cruise just two years ago and are doing another one this January. And prior to that over the last 30 years have one five other cruises too. I'm on the Getaway next and have some little excursion at each of our official stops (This time they are non ship ones). They aren't full day things, but are two different three hour things, and one two hour thing (cultural tour - visit to photo spots, school, church and orphanage at one port // a nearby Mayan ruins tour at one port // a submarine excursion at one port). Some people just like to get off and hire a taxi and do something private. Some people love to hang at a great beach or go snorkeling on their own if there are good places where that is an option and just get a taxi ride over to a good one for part of that stay. They don't plan something in advance, but have done a little research about where they want to go or ask around where the best reasonably close beach is when they get there. And some people like my brother and his girlfriend are scuba divers and will have arranged a good dive with someone at each port that has good diving (all three official ports here). We don't dive either. (We're not really beach people and aren't into laying out in the sun ship or beach). Not being into shopping, diving, or beach/sun might be a big reason why some little excursion is really appealing for us to have setup ahead of time (learn something or do something related to the port).

 

For the one non official port on our next cruise -- Havest Caye which is really more of a private island, we are just going to walk around to see it, swim at the pool there, but then do some activities on the ship and do eating there etc. as food on the ships is free and food and drink sound pretty pricey on the island.

 

The ports themselves right by where the ships dock are all looking pretty much the same with the same shops etc. (look kind of like tourist traps at so many places), and I'm not into shopping at all, so walking around right near there doesn't have any appeal to me.

 

My dad who is 82 and has some mobility issues, typically just stays on the ship, but will get off and walk around a little at each port based on how he is feeling. He cruises to be with family, do activities on the ship, and love hanging on his balcony and visiting with friends/family). My mom usually hangs with him too, but will pick one port to do an excursion with us (She take a look at all the things we've planned and has us book her to go on the one that is most appealing to join us for one).

 

There is no right or wrong answer, but hopefully this give you some ideas.

 

Oh and for excursions, I find Trip Advisor forums and things to do lists for the ports to be an excellent resource, better than the port section here on cruise critic IMHO if I am looking for something other than ship tours. We look at both ship and non ship options. Last cruise we did three excursions though the cruise line at our three ports; as stated earlier in this post, this time we did bookings on our own based on reviews we read on Trip Advisor.

 

Honestly too, if you haven't picked an all day excursion, you can do the excursion and walk around too. I don't know about the ports on the Getaway itinerary, but so many ports really don't have a whole lot to see within walking distance.

Edited by kathy884

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You don’t have to book excursions, but at least do some research on each port and figure out things to see or do. There are ports where you have lots of attractions near the port within walking distance while others are more off the beaten path and require transportation or an organized activity to enjoy. I used to book excursions but now I tend to do things on my own after some research unless an excursion is the best way to see what the port of call has to offer.

 

Not doing some research in advance can mean the difference between “that port was awesome” and “that port sucked”.

 

 

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You can do both, an excursion and explore, select a shorter or morning excursion and explore when you return.

 

Barbados - great beach excursion, back to ship for shower and lunch, then bus in town to explore and actually walked back to the terminal

 

Martinique - sightseeing bus tour, back to ship for lunch then shopped and explored in town near the ship

 

St Kitts - awesome biking excursion all over the island, then some shopping on way back to ship, probably one of the best ways to see an island and an all time favorite port day for me

 

Have done similar in Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel.

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I cruise for my wife and I is a means to an end, a way to get from point A to point B. We always do something at each stop

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For us, because of the number of cruises we have taken and our age we do not even get off the ship sometimes. Our upcoming cruise is 10 days with 8 ports. We plan on doing 3 tours probably; maybe get off and just do a little shopping or looking around at a couple of ports and stay on the ship the rest of the time.

 

For a first time cruiser, I would recommend planning an excursion in each port and probably book via the cruise line even though it is going to be more expensive. After you get the jest of cruising you can decide what works for you. We normally book private tours, watching the time and doing a lot of research.

 

I would not just get off the ship and wander around. There is too much to see that you will not get the whole picture of a port by just getting off the ship and some ports are really better not attempting to see on your own.

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Since this is your first cruise and assuming you have not been to any of the ports I recommend that you look for excursions that give you an overall view of the island, such as "best of ..........". Visiting every port can be very tiring on multi post cruises, so don't extend yourself so much that you don't get to enjoy the cruise experience. Try not to need a vacation from your vacation, but most of all welcome to cruising and enjoy!

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I haven't cruised for a few years, but I usually cruise for the ports, so do excursions, or organize my own day. My last cruise - Alaska - I wanted to arrange my own tours, but DIY wasn't much cheaper than cruise tours, so joined the cruise tours. In the Caribbean, I did some DIY, some cruise tours, but I always had a port plan....even if it was just to walk up to a local underwater photographer's shop to buy pre arranged photos for gifts. Enroute, I got to see the local houses, what the grave yards look like on Grand Cayman Island, stopped for a local bite to eat; and all of it outside the tourist zone. I like to get the most out of the port, but it is based on my interests, and I don't need to be in a tourist zone to enjoy a place.

My upcoming trip is some repeat ports, and more about the cruise, so I have only one firm plan for 5 ports of call. The rest are DIY and I might, or might not, do them.

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You've got two good excursions planned. I would not book anything for Harvest Caye or Cozumel. Cozumel has a nice new port area with shopping, or you could catch a cheap taxi to the main shopping area just a couple of miles up the road and walk around there.

 

We've probably visited 75% of the Caribbean islands and usually feel no need to book any sort of tour just to say we've seen the island.

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I tried to do that once by doing tours at every port. But when you get back home, you feel like you need a vacation to rest up from your vacation.

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I've been on two cruises so far. The first was a Western Caribbean that stopped in Costa Maya, Ochos Rio, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth Jamaica. I only had one excursion the whole time, which was to the turtle sanctuary in Grand Cayman, where I got to hold a baby sea turtle! We didn't even get off the ship at either of the Mexican stops. Just enjoyed having the ship to ourselves. And then we did get off in Jamaica just to walk around and look in all the shops, but no actual excursion.

 

My second cruise was to Canada & New England and stopped in Halifax, St. John, Bar Harbor, and Portland. We did get off at Halifax and walked to the public garden. We didn't get off the ship at all in St. John because it was a very rainy and chilly day and we had no excursion planned anyway. At Bar Harbor we did a bus tour of Acadia National Park, which was AMAZING. And in Portland we just got off and walked around and went in the shops.

 

Honestly, it just depends on what you enjoy. My sister just came back from her first cruise a week ago (I think the same itinerary as yours) and she did EVERYTHING. They did one or two excursions at every port. Went snorkeling twice, swam with dolphins, held monkeys... But she and her husband are definitely the type that try to experience everything a place has to offer all at once. They go zip lining and sky diving and helicopter riding and such. So I expected them to try to pack a lot in. My partner and I are MUCH more lazy and relaxed and low key. It's one of the reasons we love Freestyle cruising. We can do as much or as little as we want.

 

We are heading to Bermuda in two weeks. No official excursions scheduled yet. Might do one of the glass bottom boats or the crystal caves, but we probably won't even decide until we are on the ship. We might just end up taking the free ferry to Hamilton and walking around....

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We used to do something in most ports, but on our last cruise we didn't book any excursions at all and it was great! So much more relaxing than having to be off the ship at a certain time to meet a tour. We enjoyed that so much that on our cruise in a few weeks our plan is also the same. No excursions. But we've also been to the islands we're visiting so don't feel the need to do anything and will spend the day enjoying the ship or wandering off the ship to explore, then getting back on to partake of the waterslides, pools, and beverage package (and Vibe, if we can get passes!).

 

Since it's your first cruise, your idea to do excursions is good. Gives you a great taste of the island, and you can feel like you've missed something, you can always plan another cruise to go back to that location.

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Like someone else mentioned, due to our age and the number of cruises we've taken, we seldom get off the ship anymore. A couple places, yes. We like Playa Mia on Cozumel in spite of a very bad review someone gave of it recently. For some reason I really enjoy swimming with the stingrays at Grand Cayman. And if we ever return to Nassau I might think about going back to Atlantis.

 

For instance, we've been to St. Thomas 14 times. Not much we haven't seen nor am I into shopping so that one is a no-brainer for us.

 

We did take a tour on our last cruise on St. Maarten just to see the damage from the hurricane.

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I disagree somewhat with those who said because it was your first cruise, take a tour etc at every port...I would book a thing or two for sure, but I also would be on the ship at least a good portion of one of the port days. You'll be amazed at how less crowded the ship is. I really like being on it on port days.

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I personally typically look to see what NCL has to offer for shore excursions, do independent research on attractions that might be at the port, and decide what I want to do based on that. I've booked excursions through the cruise line, booked through third parties, and I have just wandered around the port on my own. I typically chose to wander around the port, because either the shore excursions through the cruise line were more than what I wanted to pay, or I couldn't find an excursion that went to the attractions I wanted to go to, so I went out on my own. I love finding things to do on my own in ports. I don't have to worry about others, and I get to do what I want. For me, finding things to do in a port makes the time to get on the cruise to go by a little quicker, and it feels like an extension of my cruise.

 

I think doing research and figuring out what works best for you and your family is the best thing to do, and what method is most cost effective for you. If you choose to wander around on your own, just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship before they leave.

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My hubby and I will be going on our first cruise Jan 6th. Getaway western Caribbean. Its our first one...so part of me wants to book an excursion at every stop...but part of me wants to just walk around and see what we see. So far we only have 2 excursions books. A private tour with Ronys to see the sloths and monkeys in roatan and maya chan in Costa maya.

 

In most ports we actually prefer to just stroll around on our own, with absolutely no stress. :)

Some years ago we were doing a cruise with one of the larger ships in the NCL fleet, and I found out that I should do my research this time and pre-booked "everything" - specialty dinners pretty much every day, special shows, shore excursions in every port. It was just a 7-days cruise, and at the end of it my husband begged me to NEVER prebook so many things in advance, he found it to be just stress and hated it. So after that experience we went back to just strolling around on our own in most ports... ;pIt is also nice to get back to the cruise ship before "the masses" arrive, and have some quiet time on the pool deck without it being too crowded...

 

Only difference is when we are in ports with lots of history and "must sees" (not so many of these kinds of ports in the Caribbean, so only shoreexcursions we have done when on Caribbean cruises have been transportation to nice beaches or paraseiling, or encounters with sealions or dolphins).

 

ENJOY YOUR CRUISE, AND BE PREPARED TO GET ADDICTED.... :D:D:D

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If a port is a first for you I would suggest an excursion of some sort, or at least look up an actual walking tour. For us we tend to miss things if we don’t plan. We’ve tried wandering and I always feel like I’ve missed something.

 

This is me! I feel much more at peace and able to relax if I've planned it out. Then I know I'm not missing something.

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Cozumel,

 

If you really want to see the beauty/tranquil part go to the uninhabited side/non -commercialized.

 

There are 4 or 5 bars (yes) but very laid back. Our group just negotiated a taxi price for 5 hours . It was very nice not going to The touristy places by the Port.

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