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destinie

Shore excursions - better off on own?

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Am I better off (on a value basis) to do my onshore excursions on my own, rather than to pay the exhorbant fees they charge on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Eastern Caribbean cruise?

Will I be safe with my family on my own at St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Bahamas, and San Juan?

I find it difficult to stomach US$70 pp to go to a beach. Wouldn't I be better off to take a cab to a safe beach and keep track of time so that I won't be late?

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Just keep in mind that if something happens with your excursion you must go after the company you booked with. We always book thru Carnival and have had to cancel an excursion and got a 100% refund............It is worth the extra money for peace of mind.......plus if you book thru the ship you don't have to worry about getting back late to the ship. They won't wait for outside companies but they will wait for people who are on their tours. That's just me..............

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When I cruise I do most things on my own except when I can't find an alternative. I usually take the public transportation or cab to where I want to go, keeping in mind that I'm on my own to get back. If I miss the ships boarding time, I'm on my own in getting to the next port.

Yes, I save a lot of money but I have to make sure I don't get caught in rush hour traffic if the boarding curfew is 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM.

I remember I had taken the railroad from Livorno to Florence. I only spent about two hours in Florence because I had to make sure I got back to the town center to take the shuttle bus back to the ship. The railroad train was fine but the city bus that one had to take to the railroad station was packed on the return trip. I had to wait for a second bus because ladies kept jumping in front of me because I was chivalrous. I finally had to say I'm sorry but I have a ship to catch.

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If you haven't been to these ports, you don't need a shore excursion, especially in San juan and Nassau. In those ports, all of the important first-time sights are within easy walking distance of the pier.

I'll be posting a walking tour of Nassau, early next month, with photos.

From the ship, it's an easy walk to the Water Tower, Ft. Fincastle, Gov't House, the Queen's Staircase, Rawson Square, etc;

Same for San Juan. The 'old city' is where the ships stop. There's a free 'trolley,' run by the tourist bureau, to help you get around. The only reason to take a tour in P.R. is if you've been there and have seen the ol city. Then you might want to go to El Junque (the rainforest) or Loquillo Beach.

In St. Thomas, you might want to wai8t until you get into town and take a tour of the island. There are several tour 'buses' in town that will take you to masgen's Bay, Mountain Top, etc; Personally, when I'm in St. Thomas, I grab a ferry to St. John....

St. Maarten a little tough. The ships dock on the Dutch side and most people want to, also, visit the French side. Once you get to know the island, you can walk to Back Street and grab a jitney. There are only two streets in town, Front Street and Back Street. You might want to grab a cab...

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Ordinarily, we try to book with a local operator whenever possible. We save money, and get a better feeling for the area. Local tours can vary, so it pays to ask a lot of questions ...In Quebec, we enjoyed a three-hour tour for $18.75 (they honored a coupon), which we found on the internet. The five of us on the tour had a wonderful time, and never felt rushed. The guide assured us Quebec's "other" Museum of Civilization, was just a few blocks from the ship, and he'd pick us up there. I collect Russian nesting dolls, and there was a huge one in front of the museum, so that completed our day's excursion. Knowing the museum was on top of the ship, we ate lunch on board. I even found some "pins" with the museum logo for $0.25 each in the gift shop.

In Boston, they have built Charlestown's "Old Ironsides" site into a FREE complex including a museum, a ship's tour by a decorated veteran, and a sculpture garden. We splurged on the $3.00 "Battle of Bunker Hill" multimedia presentation, well worth it. The ferry leaves from the back of the museum, so we "toured" Boston Harbor for $1.50 each. Lunch on board the ship again.

In Grand Cayman, Stingray City tours abound and the costs vary. It pays to shop around. We've found cut-price operators, flea markets, and other money-savers steps from the ship's entrance. In Haiti, we found a spa where we could spend the day getting a massage, lounging around, and even eating a light lunch. We were the only people who liked Haiti ...

By contrast, Bermuda offers a smaller price difference between the ship's tours and the outside operators. We're finding a wealth of things to do on our own, since the bus service seems fine. I'm looking forward to bringing back some pink sand and some beach glass, but the tours offer fewer bargains than usual.

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We have booked wih local ours, the cruise line and winged it it by ourselves. If you are in the Caribbean, I would recommend doing a first time port with the cruise line, then you can explore from there. We are on our way back to LA from Hawaii on the Island Princess, we did all our tours with the cruise line. It was no our first time in Hawaii, but when we compared our tours with other people, we paid a little more, but we had a much better experience. You get what you pay for.

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