Jump to content

Cruise Excursions - Tips/Tricks?


resjes
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am on the May 23-June 1 Anthem of the Seas cruise! Yay! I am a first time cruiser..so I am totally new to the cruise planner and excursions etc...

 

In Bermuda, I am doing the sightseeing cruise that takes you to the aquarium/zoo...but I have some free time afterwards so any recommendations appreciated.

 

St. Maarten - doing the beach rendezvous...will this get cancelled if the weather is bad? Also, I want to go to the shops but they close at 5! My beach thing ends at 5:30 but I'm wondering if I should do a beach thing at another island?? I don't want to use up all the time at the beach at St. Maarten if it is not the best one on the list of ports..you know what I mean? I want to buy some jewelry on this trip so I thought St. Maarten would be the best place to do it? Any thoughts? They close before I get back from the beach trip??

 

In San Juan - doing a tour then going to the Mall of San Juan. This is USD so not expecting much savings but I'm more interested in the socio-political stuff here so I'm more inclined to do tour things..if I am wrong, let me know...

 

Finally, for Labadee...doing Amiga Island then parasailing. Parasailing ends at 4 and departure is at 5 pm. The parasailing activity takes 45 minutes to "arrive at destination" so I'm concerned I won't make it back to the ship?? It is planned thru the cruise planner so I assume it is ok?

 

Any tips or tricks appreciated. I read somewhere that the excursions aren't worth the money but the ones I picked seemed to be reasonably priced...anyone with ideas please let me know. I want to get the best/most affordable experience out of this at the ports. I have never been to any of these ports so I don't know a thing about them!! Thank you!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, resjes said:

Finally, for Labadee...doing Amiga Island then parasailing. Parasailing ends at 4 and departure is at 5 pm. The parasailing activity takes 45 minutes to "arrive at destination" so I'm concerned I won't make it back to the ship?? It is planned thru the cruise planner so I assume it is ok?

 

I CANCELLED THE AMIGA ISLAND..saw some of the warnings on the "more information" that I didn't pay attention to...also, I tried to edit my first post but it wouldn't allow me. 😞

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, resjes said:

 

I CANCELLED THE AMIGA ISLAND..saw some of the warnings on the "more information" that I didn't pay attention to...also, I tried to edit my first post but it wouldn't allow me. 😞

This is the excursion that can easily be cancelled due to weather or water condition - oldest and I did the parasailing at Labadee years ago and were the first to go up - we felt so ill with the waves we joked we just had to hold it until we got back to the boat so we didn't douse anyone from above - when they pulled us in they said the conditions weren't good so we were all headed back.  We were the only ones that went up that day even though it was a sunny pretty day otherwise!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a super fun, rather challenging mini golf course at Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda! It is so much fun! All the holes are designed after world-renowned golf course, 6 from the US, 6 from Scotland, and 6 from Bermuda. Plus, they have a bar so you can have a Dark n Stormy - a Bermuda classic - while mini golfing! Also, tons of shops right in the Dockyard, some restaurants, and even an escape room.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to Cruise Critic...and wow! what a nice first cruise.  You'll have plenty to do on the Anthem.

 

We understand that since it's your first cruise, it would be safer and easier to do excursions from the ship.  We usually do DIY at most ports.  We are not telling you to do what we do but perhaps it will give you some ideas and other options.

 

Bermuda: We usually purchase the bus pass/tickets.  We then take the local bus and our first stop is Horseshoe Bay Beach...one of the best in the Caribbean.  We take the bus again to Hamilton...and just walk around there.  On the way back, we take the ferry back to the cruise terminal.  And yes, there are plenty of things to do and see around the Kings Wharf cruise terminal.

 

St. Maarten:  There are lots of shops at the cruise terminal.  It's a short distance to town where there's a beach, a boardwalk, and Front Street...restaurants, shops, casinos, shops, and more shops.  You can get there via water taxi, land taxi, or walking.  (To walk, simply walk out of the terminal, turn left (along the green fence, paved sidewalk), and about 20 minutes...you'll be at the beach or Front Street. You may even beat a few of the land taxis because of traffic. :classic_smile:)

 

San Juan:  Old San Juan is literally across the street from the cruise terminal.  Although hilly, the forts (and shopping again) and walking distance if you don't have any mobility problems.  (Entrance fees at the forts.)

 

Labadee: As others suggested, there's really no need for an excursion here.  It's a relaxing beach day with BBQ lunch provided by the ship. 

 

Enjoy the Flowrider, Rock climbing wall, IFly (our favorite), Northstar, and the indoor Seaplex and Solarium.  If you get tired of the Windjammer for breakfast...try Cafe270.

Happy Sailing! :classic_smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone. I forgot to ask..in the details for the excursion to the mall, it is a guided driving tour..but it says at the bottom "shopping before you make your way back to the pier." Am I expected to get a taxi back to port from the mall?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, resjes said:

Thanks everyone. I forgot to ask..in the details for the excursion to the mall, it is a guided driving tour..but it says at the bottom "shopping before you make your way back to the pier." Am I expected to get a taxi back to port from the mall?


If you're making your way back to the pier, then you're arranging your own transportation.  FYI, I've done Uber in San Juan and had a great experience.  I can't imagine going on a cruise and going to a shopping mall that looks like every other shopping mall in the States, but some people really enjoy their shopping, I guess.  

Be aware that traffic in San Juan can be a.... uh.... not so pleasant.  So plan accordingly, allowing LOTS of time to get back to the ship so you don't end up as a pier runner.  All-aboard time is going to be 2:30 for a 3pm departure.

You don't mention what kind of tour you're taking in San Juan, but I'm guessing it's a really really short one, to allow time for shopping and driving all that distance?  I'm also not sure what a "guided driving tour" is -- hopefully one where they have a guide that drives you around (other than making your way back from the mall).  





 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is called "San Juan City and the Mall of San Juan" . it is supposed to give you a narrated tour on your way to the mall. The activity ends about 12 pm..I think they give you 1.5 hours of shopping. Should I cancel?? I didn't see very many excursions that I was interested in...but just saw sale tax is very high there so I don't know if I want to do the mall anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, resjes said:

I am on the May 23-June 1 Anthem of the Seas cruise! Yay! I am a first time cruiser..so I am totally new to the cruise planner and excursions etc...

 

In Bermuda, I am doing the sightseeing cruise that takes you to the aquarium/zoo...but I have some free time afterwards so any recommendations appreciated.

 

St. Maarten - doing the beach rendezvous...will this get cancelled if the weather is bad? Also, I want to go to the shops but they close at 5! My beach thing ends at 5:30 but I'm wondering if I should do a beach thing at another island?? I don't want to use up all the time at the beach at St. Maarten if it is not the best one on the list of ports..you know what I mean? I want to buy some jewelry on this trip so I thought St. Maarten would be the best place to do it? Any thoughts? They close before I get back from the beach trip??

 

In San Juan - doing a tour then going to the Mall of San Juan. This is USD so not expecting much savings but I'm more interested in the socio-political stuff here so I'm more inclined to do tour things..if I am wrong, let me know...

 

Finally, for Labadee...doing Amiga Island then parasailing. Parasailing ends at 4 and departure is at 5 pm. The parasailing activity takes 45 minutes to "arrive at destination" so I'm concerned I won't make it back to the ship?? It is planned thru the cruise planner so I assume it is ok?

 

Any tips or tricks appreciated. I read somewhere that the excursions aren't worth the money but the ones I picked seemed to be reasonably priced...anyone with ideas please let me know. I want to get the best/most affordable experience out of this at the ports. I have never been to any of these ports so I don't know a thing about them!! Thank you!!

We do our own thing each and every port. TripAdvisor has info on beaches and snorkeling from shore. 35 years ago we bought good snorkeling gear and still use it.

Many cool things can be found! Maho Beach St. Martin is the airport beach!

St. Croix has sandcastle resort to right off ship shuttle ride.

Antigua Sneaky Pete’s beach bar right next to Sandals.

A wealth of information on the internet. Allow 45 minutes back to ship or longer. Cruise port tt for info on how many ships are in port each day. Save your money!

71973595-19A1-4E7B-BC72-A34FFB8D85DA.png

2F36979A-4208-4120-8CDA-B3D51BF25ED8.png

BEBADFFD-102A-4D0B-8CB3-3F632035A4BB.png

FF0A673F-62D5-4E29-AD8A-7D69AA4EEBB4.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, resjes said:

It is called "San Juan City and the Mall of San Juan" . it is supposed to give you a narrated tour on your way to the mall. The activity ends about 12 pm..I think they give you 1.5 hours of shopping. Should I cancel?? I didn't see very many excursions that I was interested in...but just saw sale tax is very high there so I don't know if I want to do the mall anymore.

 

 

In San Juan, most people visit Old San Juan and check out the forts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, resjes said:

It is called "San Juan City and the Mall of San Juan" . it is supposed to give you a narrated tour on your way to the mall. The activity ends about 12 pm..I think they give you 1.5 hours of shopping. Should I cancel?? I didn't see very many excursions that I was interested in...but just saw sale tax is very high there so I don't know if I want to do the mall anymore.

How much are they charging for this glorified bus ride to the mall?  One time when we booked transportation on Princess, The bus hijacked us and gave us a tour of San Juan. There was an issue with embarkation and this was a way of stalling us. I would have never paid for this tour. Nothing interesting. It was just like any other big city tour only with palm trees. The only good that came out of it was the stop at the fort. So for free it was worth the delay.

 

I don't know where you are from but if you are from out of town a trip to Manhattan is the place you want to go for shopping. No sales tax on clothing priced under $100.  

Edited by Iamcruzin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, Iamcruzin said:

How much are they charging for this glorified bus ride to the mall?  

$38 .. So i picked it cause i thought hey a narrated tour to avoid the hilly terrain lol. I think I will cancel this one. I heard the forts are better anyway.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far I have cancelled the ride to San Juan Mall of Americas and Amiga Island.

 

I'm interested in the forts of San Juan. How far of a walk are they from the port?

 

As of now, the only excursions I am doing are the St. Maarten Beach Rendezvous as it includes the beach chair cost and a lunch (I've noticed most excursions charge extra for a beach chair!), Bermuda's zoo/aquarium sightseeing tour, and finally the Labadee parasail.

 

You have all pointed out that it is cheaper to do excursions not with the cruise line. However, as one person pointed out, this is my first cruise so I'm not comfortable going off the beaten path...do the excursions NOT available thru the cruise have tour guides/etc standing there when you come to port so you can sign up? I'd prefer not to sign up now as I don't know what I will feel like doing until I actually arrive at the port.

 

Thanks for everyone's input!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, matj2000 said:

Best tip:   Don't do cruise line excursions.....

 

We have done cruise line excursions and private excursions-both are fine. You will always see frequent cruisers try to discourage you from the ship excursions because they are more expensive and sometimes are more crowded. For the first time cruisers I think it is safer to take a ship excursion as you will be sure to get back to the ship in time and the excursion vendors have been checked out by the cruise line. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bernard’s Tours in  St. Maarten are great.  You have to book before your cruise, but the tours are extensive and less expensive than the ship’s excursions.  We saw everything on the island (including Maho Beach) and also had two hours beach time as part of the tour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For San Juan, I would recommend grabbing a cab at the pier (they'll be lined up waiting for you) and taking that to El Morro.  After checking out the fort at your own pace, you can get a cab or Uber back to the pier, or you can just walk (it's all downhill from either fort).  Note that if you get an Uber, they aren't allowed to come all the way to the little sidewalk/turnaround in front of El Morro -- you have to walk to the next intersection (it's a shorter walk than the sidewalk to El Morro from where the cab drops you off).  

If you get a cab or Uber back to the pier, you can also ask them to drop you off a few blocks before the pier, and you can just walk the last few blocks to check out souvenir shops or restaurants.  The first map from Google shows the distances to El Morro and San Cristobal forts (map legend in lower right corner for distance). The big red square at the bottom shows where the ship usually docks.  Note that it's all uphill to either fort, so even though the distance isn't great, it will be hot and humid and it's a bit of a climb.

The second Google map shows that directly across from the ship will be a TON of stores, including a Walgreen's and CVS drugstores, plus Senor Frog's and a bunch of other places you'll recognize.  Again, the red square is where the ship usually docks.

There will also be multiple people selling tours right on the sidewalk as you get off the ship.  I wouldn't hesitate to take one of those tours, if that's what you really want.  It can be interesting to learn about the history and culture from a qualified tour guide.  Just always make sure you know what you are getting/where you are going, who will be the guide (can you understand their accent?), and exactly what time you'll be back to the ship by. 

I emphasize talk about exactly where you're going and what you're doing -- will you be in the same van the whole time (does it have good AC?), or do they take you in the van to another spot and put you on a bus with 50 other people?  Do they drive you somewhere and then it's a walking tour after that?  Do they take you someplace that is expensive to eat or buy souvenirs?  What sites will you see, and will you actually get out of the van to explore, or just look out the window as they drive by? 

This isn't meant to scare you off, but rather to make sure you're getting the tour experience that you want -- some people want to just sit in an air-conditioned vehicle and have a tour guide give them a history lesson, while others want to walk along the fort and touch the walls and experience it themselves.  If the first type of person takes the second type of tour, they're going to hate the tour, and vice versa. 

This advice goes for ALL excursions, not just San Juan.  Figuring out what YOU want and what YOU enjoy is going to help you make the decision that is going to make you happiest.  And the best part is that you don't have to make any decisions immediately -- you have several months to explore message boards and Google maps and various websites to find out what is going to give you your best possible vacation.

SanJuan.png

SanJuanClose.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Thank You for 25 Years - Click for Fun Stuff!
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: Virgin Voyages. It's Go Time
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...