Shore trips

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Apr 23, 2018
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This novice cruiser is back to ask more questions. I would like to hear the pros and cons of signing up for shore trips via the cruise ship itself, or through independent tour operators. I am thinking that a private tour might be more intimate (not feeling like being herded around) and interesting and I see positive comments on review sites for them. However, we are just two and most require minimum of four or more. I am open to your suggestions. Our ports will be Labadee and Falmouth in the Caribbean.
 
Jan 11, 2015
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If you haven't already done so, check out Cruisecritic.com. Once you've informally registered there with email address and chosen "handle", you are free to read the roll-call boards, and find out about what is happening on your cruise in terms of small-group activities or people wanting to put together shore excursions with others.

One of the advantages to private tours is, as you mentioned, a smaller group of perhaps 6-16 (instead of a busload of 50-60) that doesn't end up waiting for stragglers, souvenir shoppers etc. etc. A private tour usually also ends up being considerably less costly than ship organized excursions, and can often make decisions as to the planned stops, lunch break, etc.

OTOH, on a private tour, you are not insured that the ship will wait, should there be a delay getting back to port in time. This rarely happens, because the private tour operators depend on good feedback and recommendations to stay in business. But, it is something to be considered if you are hesitant about taking a private tour.

Another alternative is simply taking a private taxi once you get into port. Settle on a total price and length of time you want for your tour before getting into the taxi. This is generally quite easy to arrange in the caribbean islands. Just be sure not to cut it too close getting back to port at the end of your tour, or you will be waving to the ship as it sails away.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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@VISERENDIPITY Here's always the great debate... It risk vs reward. A ship excursion, at some level, has been vetted. You're probably safe on it and if something happens you've got the cruise line to complain to. On most cruise lines, they also guarantee that you won't get, what one of our cruise director's called, "the best picture of the ship .... sailing off into the sunset." The cruise line will accept responsibility if something happens that causes your delay (almost always they hold the ship).

If you go off on your own, you accept the risk. Those risks include everything from a scam to a flat tire that causes you to miss the ship (I've seen people running down the dock as we pulled out ... guess what they aren't stopping). Now you'll gain something that isn't what you and 300 of your closest friends are doing at a price less than what the ship is charging...
 
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Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#4
If you have never been in cruise before I would suggest doing them through the cruise line. If you do them on your own and you aren’t back to the shop ontime you might be waiving to the ship as it leaves without you.

Once you have experience a cruise you will know what to expect- the earliest time you can get off the ship for a tour, with you need to back, etc.

You also need to make sure whatever company you use is insured. It anything should happen and they aren’t insured, you may get nothing back if there is a disaster that happens.

There is no need to book anything in Labadee. It’s Royal Caribbean’s Private “Island “ and it’s beach and water sports. You do NOT want to go off by yourself there. It’s Haiti is right on the other side of the fence and it’s very poor.

Do a ship excursion in Falmouth. Dunn’s River Falls and The Jamaican Bobsled are fun.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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If you are going to Labadee and Falmouth then you must be on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Labadee is one of their 'private' island ports.

Regarding Labadee, there is nothing you can do independently there. Everything available is booked through the cruise line; you will not be able to leave their area. That's an easy one.

With respect to Falmouth, Jamaica, the port area is full of shopping and is fenced in. Taking a private tour is OK but I'm with Neil and as a first-time cruiser would recommend ship tours. Private tours you book prior to the cruise often have high costs unless you can find people to share with you to lower the per person cost. There are private tours available right on the pier (there will often be taxi drivers and others trying to entice you to jump in their vehicle to tour the island/see the sights) but if you are not familiar with traveling in the Caribbean islands you may not be prepared for the way some of these operators do business. Some taxi drivers are registered with their home country and considered 'official' tour guides, others are not and just trying to make a buck. You have to know the difference to make sure you get what you pay for.

I know for my husband and I, we don't even regard Falmouth as an interesting port stop. We treat it as a sea day and enjoy a largely empty ship.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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I would say private tours, but that is as someone who has been on a few cruises. I would also make sure the tour agency is highly recommended and that you do ask about insurance. Be aware that as ships get in and out of ports at different times, you need to make sure the tour you arrange, if private, is one that fits inside the parameters of your ships all on-board time.
 
Apr 18, 2018
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I have only been on a couple of cruises but what also sways my decision is if the ship is tendering (smaller boats bring you to shore) or docking (step off the cruise ship on land). When tendering I recommend going with the cruise ship as you have priority getting off the boat. Cruisecritic.com (as mentioned earlier) is a great source for independent tour operators and reviews of them. My first cruise I went with a group of cruise critic members on an independent tour and had a great time. The members knew what they were doing.
Beware of ship time vs. local time as this might get you in trouble.
 
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Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#9
I have only been on a couple of cruises but what also sways my decision is if the ship is tendering (smaller boats bring you to shore) or docking (step off the cruise ship on land). When tendering I recommend going with the cruise ship as you have priority getting off the boat. Cruisecritic.com (as mentioned earlier) is a great source for independent tour operators and reviews of them. My first cruise I went with a group of cruise critic members on an independent tour and had a great time. The members knew what they were doing.
Beware of ship time vs. local time as this might get you in trouble.
Both of the ports the shops are docked. But I do agree about going to the role call section of Cruise Critic and looking for someone to share with. Jamaica is not a place a first time cruise should go off on your own.