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CruiseGuide 2011




 Cruise Shore Excursions


Click a cruise destination below to learn about cruise shore excursions there:

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Doctor's Cave Beach at Montego Bay, Jamaica

Close to the Montego Bay cruise terminal lies the world-class beach resort at Doctor's Cave Beach. Shady palm trees with hammocks, clear Caribbean water and an on-site restaurant are just a few amenities that await you here.



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Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza near Progreso, Mexico

See ancient history first-hand as you walk through the sprawling ruins at Chichen Itza. Although this trip will be an all-day affair, it will certainly go down as one of your most fulfilling cruise shore excursions.



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So much to see and do in Cozumel, Mexico

With miles of shopping, sand, and surf, Cozumel truly offers something for everyone. Learn about various cruise shore excursions available here.



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Cruisin' with the rays in Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Stingray City near Georgetown, Grand Cayman offers cruisers a very unique experience to encounter one of nature's most unique and interesting creatures.



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Costa Maya, Mexico is Paradise Lost -- And Found

Costa Maya, located in southern Mexico has recently become one of cruising's most popular destinations thanks to the unspoiled beauty it offers.



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Roatan, Honduras is on the rise

This island located just off the mainland of Honduras has both a colorful history and landscape. Beautiful, shallow reefs and friendly people await you here.




San Juan, Puerto Rico is steeped in history and beauty

Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, you'll feel a world apart when you visit San Juan. Literally walk through history as you enjoy the sights of a town that was once the gateway to the Americas.




St. Thomas offers cruisers beauty and adventure

St. Thomas, USVI offers unparalled beauty and adventures by land or sea. Swim with the sea turtles at Buck Island, shop till you drop at a market originally built in the 1700's, or just take it easy at world-famous Magen's Bay beach.




St. Maarten brings you the best of two worlds

St. Maarten, or St. Martin depending on whether you're on the Dutch or French side, gives you the opportunity to easily visit two countries on one port of call. With its semi-arid climate, unusually loose international border, world-famous jumbo jet encounters, beautiful beaches and breathtaking overlooks, this island is anything but ordinary.


Cruise Shore Excursions -- What You Should Know

Although a cruise ship has enough activities to keep you busy onboard for your entire trip, it’s the chance to visit a foreign place that makes it really exciting. A great way to make the most of your days in port is through an excursion. The way that the cruise lines operate these excursions is generally the same, but not all cruise shore excursions are created equal. Here we’ll try to briefly cover the options, pros, and cons of various cruise excursions.

What Should I Expect to Spend on a Cruise Excursion?

Cruise shore excursions vary quite a bit in price, starting at around $20, and going well north of $100. You will find that walking tours, pub crawls, etc. are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. On the more expensive end are things like dune buggy/jeep tours, and wildlife interaction excursions, such as a dolphin experience.


Should I Buy Cruise Shore Excursions from the Cruise Line, or Go It On My Own?

This can be a difficult one. There are some great deals to be had on excursions through independent tour companies. These tour companies are often conveniently located right at the pier, and may offer trips that are identical to the ones marketed by the cruise line. Although there are some great deals to be had here, there are a couple of possible drawbacks. It’s important to remember that, with an excursion arranged by your ship, the cruise line has already checked out the vendors they use, with respect to things like safety, and the quality of the tour offered. With an independent tour operator, there are no guarantees on these types of things. Also, if the independent tour runs late, there is no guarantee that your ship won’t leave port without you.

If you’ve visited a port often enough that you know it as well as your hometown, you may even want to consider just renting a taxi, and having them take you to your favorite destination in that port. For example, we often do this when we’re in Cozumel. We know Cozumel backwards and forwards, so, even if the taxi broke down, we could make our way back to the port. But again, we’re taking our chances here, because the cruise line is not responsible for our return to the ship in this scenario.

Of course, the third option is to buy your cruise shore excursions directly through the cruise line. You will likely be able to do this several weeks before your sail date, either by calling or by visiting the cruise line’s website. You can also buy your excursions once on board the ship. We prefer to buy them in advance from the cruise line’s website – this gives us a chance to really look over all of the excursions without any time pressure.

We often research other sites around the web also, such as YouTube, when we’re looking for videos or information on a port we’ve never visited. Another advantage of buying the excursion in advance is that you’re more likely to get the ones you want, as opposed to having to take whatever excursions aren’t booked and full yet. And probably the biggest advantage to paying a little extra by booking through the cruise line is that, when you book through the ship, they’re responsible for getting you back on board before the ship departs. So, even though excursions organized by the cruise line are a little more expensive, they’re usually our preferred tour. For us, the peace of mind that comes with knowing we’re on a safe, quality tour -- and that we’ll be back aboard the ship that night – is worth the extra few dollars.


Of course, you’re not required to leave the ship at all when it’s docked. Some folks choose to just hop off the ship, walk and shop in the area at the port. Some people will take a high-priced excursion at one port, and stay near the ship at another.

How you do things ashore is strictly up to you, but here’s one thought to keep in mind: even though that excursion you’re looking at will cost you $100, remember that, next weekend when you’re back home, that $100 won’t get you back to Grand Cayman. You may never get back. Even though the excursion may cost you a Ben Franklin, it’s a small price compared to the overall cost of the cruise. And it’s the excursion that can take the cruise and turn it into an experience of a lifetime.



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