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Subject: Shore Excursions? rss

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Eric McGlohon
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So as a cruise newbie, generally how do the shore excursions work?

- Will there be BGG-ers going on any group trips (informal, non-organized I'm assuming, but open to any BGG folks)?

- Should I reserve the Royal Shore Excursions right away (and Onboard Activities), or wait until we're on the boat?

- I'm very interested in going to Mayan monuments like Chichen Itza when in Cozumel, but it looks like there's no excursions to it via Royal, and most of the reviews of the Royal's monument tours seem mediocre to poor.
 
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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emcglohon wrote:
So as a cruise newbie, generally how do the shore excursions work?

- Will there be BGG-ers going on any group trips (informal, non-organized I'm assuming, but open to any BGG folks)?

- Should I reserve The Royal Shore Excursions right away (and onboard activities), or wait until we're on the boat?

- I'm very interested in going to Mayan monuments like Chichen Itza when in Cozumel, but it looks like there's no excursions to it via Royal, and most of the reviews of the Cozumel monuments tours seem mediocre to poor.


Chichen Itza is quite a trek from Cozumel. First you tender to shore, then get to a smaller boat that will take you from the island to the mainland where a bus will take you on a long ride to ruins. Take tour, then repeat to get back to ship.

Cozumel has some of the easiest snorkeling in the world.

With less than 200 of us, you are not guaranteed to have a fellow BGGer on any one tour. You can book your tour after on the boat after talking to other folks about what they're doing the next day or two.
 
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Rayne Smith
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Maybe we could all start posting the ones we sign up for on here so that way if others want to join along they can.
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Eric McGlohon
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Sam Houston wrote:
You can book your tour after on the boat after talking to other folks about what they're doing the next day or two.


So the excursions don't tend to fill up and not be available? That would make deciding things easier...

Do folks tend to just go off on their own on port days?
 
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Tiffany Rodriguez
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Last time I went on a big cruise with my family, we found local companies and organized our own excursions independent of the cruise line and it was so much cheaper. Additionally, traveling in a big group of 20 people felt a lot safer than going in twos or solo. My husband and I would be interested in going with a group of BGGers to do activities.

For Jamaica, I was looking at Dunn's River Falls, Green Grotto Caves and/or tubing/rafting.
For Mexico, there are some Mayan ruins in Cozumel but apparently they aren't much to look at. This tour looked fun http://salsaandsalsa.com/
For Grand Cayman, I've been there before and would recommend a stingray excursion or snorkeling. I was thinking of some kind of ocean activity since I've seen the town already.
 
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Tiffany Smith
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For shore excursions, we are doing:
Jamaica- Flavors of Jamaica: A Culinary Delight
Grand Cayman- Deluxe Stingray City Sandbar
Cozumel- Mayan Ruins, Island Tour and Beach

This is our first time cruising so we decided to play it safe and stick with RCI shore excursions. It's convenient and I like the idea of knowing the ship will wait for me if something happens. But it is unfortunately not exactly the cheapest option. I was interested in Mayan Ruins as well, unfortunately Cozumel does not seem like the best port for them. There is a Shore Excursion to Chichen Itza, but it is 10+ hours long and you will only be able to spend 1-2 hours there from what I understand. I wanted to go to Chichen Itza but ultimately decided I did not want to spend the majority of my day in transit to and from my shore excursion. Tulum is also supposed to be pretty cool and is a much shorter shore excursion at 6 1/2 hours. Coba is pretty well rated but sits at a hefty 8 hours. There are a couple options for ruins on Cozumel which is what I decided to do. It is not going to be the super site of a place like Chichen Itza, so if you expect it to be it will be disappointing, but it only takes up half the day, leaving time to explore in port, it's a way to learn something new about Mayan culture, and it also gives you a tour of the island and some time on the beach. All in all we felt it was the best choice for what we wanted. But if you really want to do Chichen Itza, it is definitely an option. As for when to reserve, it depends. We reserved early so we would be sure to get the excursions we wanted. Some of them (like Stingray City Sandbar) are very popular and likely to sell out of spots early. I'd say if there is something you really really want to do then sign up early. Otherwise you can wait and see, as long as you know that a lot of the best excursions may be sold out if you wait until last minute to sign up.
 
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Lina B
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Sheiliss wrote:
Tulum is also supposed to be pretty cool and is a much shorter shore excursion at 6 1/2 hours. Coba is pretty well rated but sits at a hefty 8 hours.


I have been to both Tulum and Coba. Tulum is small, and you would be able to see the entire area in great detail in a couple of hours. That being said, it is amazingly preserved and the grounds are well manicured. Plus there is a very nice beach at the bottom of the cliff the ruins sit on to swim at. If you go, take your own toilet paper. They charge by the square.

Coba is a very different experience. It is huge, and lots of it still isn't excavated. Lots of the ruins are still under jungle growth. It is very cool! However, I spent a 10 hour day there and felt like I barely scratched the surface. I don't think it would be a good option for a short excursion. If you do decide to go, take your own toilet paper, they didn't exactly have great bathroom facilities.
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Brian McCarty
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My roommate and I would like to go on a hike, and Jamaica seems the best place for that. Cockpit Country is highly rated, but seems tricky to do. But just in case people are interested
http://www.jamaicancaves.org/donations-funding.htm#hiking

If anyone has some ideas let me know

We probably are going to rent kayaks on Grand Cayman

Not sure about Cozumel

Neither of us are into large group tours.

Brian
 
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Rachel Atkins
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This is our first cruise, too, so we chose to do the shore excursions through RCI. Here's our plan:

Jamaica - Chukka Zipline Canopy with Dunns River Falls and Lunch
Grand Cayman - Catamaran Sail & Stingray City
Cozumel - 3 Reef Snorkel by Boat

After this time, maybe we'll be more adventurous as far as booking our own activities.
 
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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JadePhire wrote:
This is our first cruise, too, so we chose to do the shore excursions through RCI. Here's our plan:

Jamaica - Chukka Zipline Canopy with Dunns River Falls and Lunch
Grand Cayman - Catamaran Sail & Stingray City
Cozumel - 3 Reef Snorkel by Boat

After this time, maybe we'll be more adventurous as far as booking our own activities.


I've been on over 10 cruises and have traveled the world alone. That said, I take the cruise-sponsored tours unless we dock right where I want to wander or do beach. The cost of getting myself and a friend to the next port on our own is just too horrific to even chance.
 
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Marz Darz
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I think at Cozumel we are only in port what..9 hours? Plus there is time to get off the boat and back on right? I'd be hesitant to take a non RC excursion that was super long, I don't want to get stuck there and miss the ship.

So far of all the things at all the ports I think swimming with sting rays is the thing I most want to do.

In Jamaica has anyone done the Dunn River falls before? It looks gorgeous, but having seen videos, I don't trust my ability to safely climb those slippery rocks..I hear there is also steps up the side of the falls, and was wondering if the official tours let you go off on your own up the steps. I thought the rafting also looked cool. There is also some adventure pass where you can select any of a bunch of things. I've been looking at the reviews on the RC site and on cruise critic and aaieee...it's overwhelming.
 
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Rachel Atkins
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marzdarz wrote:
I think swimming with sting rays is the thing I most want to do.


Me too! I heart stingrays. This was my "we have to do this" excursion.

marzdarz wrote:
In Jamaica has anyone done the Dunn River falls before?


I did Dunn's River Falls with my family as a kid. I think I was about 10 years old and we all had a blast. It's a lot of fun and I'm going again since my husband will be on the cruise.

This is all about 18 years ago, so I don't remember too many details, but I seem to remember wearing aqua shoes. You go at a slow pace and I think that there were times when we held hands in a big group chain to go up. My parents (in their mid to late 40s at the time) are not athletic by any means and were able to do this.

Just a warning, there is a market of sorts at the top that you have to go through to exit the area. The vendors really hassle you to buy stuff. I've seen some reviews where that seems to really bother people because the vendors can be really pushy.
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Marz Darz
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JadePhire wrote:


Just a warning, there is a market of sorts at the top that you have to go through to exit the area. The vendors really hassle you to buy stuff. I've seen some reviews where that seems to really bother people because the vendors can be really pushy.


I've been reading all over trip advisor on these things especially Jamaica. There is a lots of great info there, but nearly everyone mentions the vendors being really aggressive. As to the falls themselves it sounds like some people found it easy and the guides great, but others say the guides rush you or that they fell.

I saw a video of tubing and of the rafting and both look quite awesome, and i've never done either. There doesn't seem to be any combo of Dolphin cove and raft or cove and tube though. The area where they were rafting (Martha Brae?) seemed like calm waters through a really beautiful area, and not so many crowds perhaps. The adventure pass seems to have several options though.

The top rated option listed for Jamaica (on trip advisor) is a place called Blue Hole, but sounds like you book your own small tour to go there.

Of all the dizzying options i've seen on the RC site, I want to see sting rays most. I've always found them fascinating.
 
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Jordan Booth
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Which are the best dolphin experiences?
 
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Marz Darz
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Born-of-Ashes wrote:
Which are the best dolphin experiences?


I'm curious too, I'm also interested in the dolphin one. Cruise critic and tripadvisor sites both have a lot of reviews on lots of things.
 
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Brian McCarty
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Earlier there was talk of BGG sponsored excursions. hearing nothing I assume these are not happening (probably too much bother)

Brian
 
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Jeff Anderson
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N9IWP wrote:
Earlier there was talk of BGG sponsored excursions. hearing nothing I assume these are not happening (probably too much bother)

Brian


Yeah we decided not to pursue it. There wasn't a ton of people crying out for it and with the variety of activities it just seems easier to let people go on their own and/or self-organize into small groups. I know our family is probably going to wait until we get on the ship to sign up for some.
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James C
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Lina688 wrote:

I have been to both Tulum and Coba. Tulum is small, and you would be able to see the entire area in great detail in a couple of hours. That being said, it is amazingly preserved and the grounds are well manicured. Plus there is a very nice beach at the bottom of the cliff the ruins sit on to swim at. If you go, take your own toilet paper. They charge by the square.

Coba is a very different experience. It is huge, and lots of it still isn't excavated. Lots of the ruins are still under jungle growth. It is very cool! However, I spent a 10 hour day there and felt like I barely scratched the surface. I don't think it would be a good option for a short excursion. If you do decide to go, take your own toilet paper, they didn't exactly have great bathroom facilities.


Lina is spot on. Having been to the Yucatan a few times I'd simply enjoy the beauty on offer on Cozamel to tell the truth. Cruises should be about relaxing and taking a cramped bus ride all day to see the ruins will be anything but.

Tulum is an amazing place. The beach area, the small town and the ruins are absolutely great. The Coba ruins are a nice car ride from Tulum, but having to take the ferry from Cozamel to Playa del Carmen and then a bus down there, well, no thanks. Things in Mexico aren't quite as timely as in the US either. Save your money and spend a week in Tulum on another vacation. You'll appreciate it a lot more.
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Caroline Cameron
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We've cruised many times in the past, including 5 as a family of 4. I'm relatively familiar with these ports from previous travel, so it was pretty easy for us to choose.

I do NOT like travelling with the ship tours. They are frequently overbooked, and I don't like crowds. We much prefer smaller local companies, that tend to take smaller groups.

Jamaica: I don't like the roads in most caribbean countries, and Jamaica is one of the worst. So, my one trip to the falls happened many years ago, and won't be repeated. I honestly found getting to the falls by bus far more frightening than climbing up those slipper steps, lol. So, we stay close to port in Jamaica. This time, we're doing the Jamaican Culinary Tour. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g612473-d493529... Our kids are foodies, as are my husband and I, so this looks like a great way to combine sightseeing and eating. 2 of my favorite activities. We did a similar tour in Asheville, NC last year and it has been one of our favorite city tours of all times.

Grand Cayman: Stingrays and snorkeling. There is nothing I'd rather do there. The water is just the most breathtaking water I've ever seen and it's hard to convince me not to get out on a small boat when we're there. It's crazy expensive to eat in Grand Cayman, so pack some snacks to tide you over if you don't want to drop at least $30/pp for lunch. We normally bring cereal boxes from breakfast, or maybe order a room service sandwich and wrap it up to go with us. There are several private companies available for snorkel tours. I just booked ours last week, and a lot of them are already booked. Captain Marvin's is one of the more popular ones, and they were getting an extra boat to take more people, if you want to check them out. We're going with Moby Dick Tours in my group. We might have space for a few more, if someone who can handle kids would like to join us. This won't be a quiet boat ride, lol.

Cozumel: Gorgeous! The ruins are reallllllly far from the port, and like someone else said, it's extremely long to get to them. If this is your one and only opportunity to get to any Mayan ruins, it's really amazing, but if you think there's a chance you'll cruise again, or travel to Mexico/Belize/Honduras/Guatemala another time, there are better ways to get there. We tend to like beach days in Cozumel. Food is cheap, alcohol is cheap, and the beaches have lots to do. If you want to swim with dolphins, we've been to Chankanaab park and they have several dolphin experiences there. There's lots of other things to do at that park, so even if you don't want to swim with dolphins, there's a great beach, easy snorkeling, restaurant on site, and plenty of other activities available. http://www.cozumelparks.com/eng/chankanaab.cfm and http://www.dolphindiscovery.com/cozumel/chankanaab-national-...

Next week we head down to Galveston! Yay!!!! I can't wait!
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Mike Cooper
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The wife and I got a recommendation for Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel. For $55 each, you get all-inclusive dining and drinks for the day. It's a $17/15 minute cab ride each way, so we were wondering if there's another couple that wants to go and split the cost each way, since you can get 4 to a cab.
 
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Marz Darz
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Has anyone ever been parasailing? Do you need any particular degree of athletic ability for it? It looks like not, and looks like a ton of fun.

Also lots of excursions say they require "reef shoes"..is this the same as the water shoes you get in target, or something more like dive boots or what?
 
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Marz Darz
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Re: Shore Excursions? (>Caroline )
That culinary tour actually looks pretty cool. Any idea how hard it would be do to do two things, such as rafting on the Martha Brae (I think that was one) and the culinary tour?

I really want to see the sting rays in Grand Cayman. Some tours say swim and some say sandbar. If it says sting ray "swim" does that mean it's in deep water and you need to be able to tread the whole time..or maybe you get a life vest? I hope I get to see them, it's the #1 thing I want to do.
 
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Brian McCarty
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marzdarz wrote:
Has anyone ever been parasailing? Do you need any particular degree of athletic ability for it? It looks like not, and looks like a ton of fun.

Also lots of excursions say they require "reef shoes"..is this the same as the water shoes you get in target, or something more like dive boots or what?


My (at the time) 60+ year old mom parasailed - no athletic ability needed (assuming it is a similar set up)

I think they just mean water shoes - something to protect your feet from sharp rocks/coral

Brian

 
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Marz Darz
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That sounds awesome.
 
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Jeff Anderson
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Here's our plan:

Jamaica: We're also doing the Jamaican Culinary Tour, thanks to your post on Cruise-Critic, Caroline - maybe we'll see you there!

Grand Cayman: Turtle Encounter & Island Tour - oldest daughter absolutely loves turtles and this looked like a nice way to spend the day, not too rushed.

Cozumel: Haven't booked it yet, but thinking about the Cozumel Amazing Race. We've been to Cozumel many times but this is the first time for the kids. We've never done this excursion before so it may be a fun family activity.
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