Post # 1
We booked a Royal Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon, yay! We leave from San Juan, and go to Curacao, Aruba, Dominica, and St. Thomas. A lot of the shore excursions look like alot of fun, but we are on a very tight budget. Can anyone tell me if you can still do some of the excursions without going through the cruiseline (for less money)? We are interested in beaches, snorkeling and hiking to waterfalls for the most part, but some of the kayaking sounds good too.
Post # 3
Most places you port you can find the same things as the ships shore excursions for less – you just have to hunt around. The one plus of going through the ship though is that the ship will wait for you if you’re late getting back for some reason. Something booked on your own through an outside vendor gives you no such guarentee.
I’d say get online, find some outside vendors for the things you like and look at the difference (it usually isn’t a lot). You may find that the differences really won’t save you much and it is worth it to just book through the boat and have the guarentees that go with that.
FYI – my Fiance and I are doing an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon and have booked two excursions through the ship and will have one through an outside vendor – so I’m not opposed to either option!
Post # 4
Those are some beautiful ports, you will have a great time! I wouldn’t recommend vendors not associated with the cruiseline for the reason mentioned above and that they are usually recommended and trusted for a reason. What you can always do too, to save $, is taxi to a close by recommended beach and rent snorkel gear from the ship.
Post # 5
Just a warning: If you don’t do shore excursions through the cruise lines, those other excursion places have no contract with the cruise company guaranteeing you will be back on the boat when it sails. The excursions companies affiliated with the cruise lines have contracts to make their excursion more fun and with a guaranteed “will be on boat” clause.
My friends learned this the hard way when they went diving through an outside company. They left in the morning, did their dives, but then some of the guests on the boat wanted to do some fishing (so they paid the captain extra). They just stayed out on the boat all day and when it finally pulled back into shore they were a half hour late and their cruise ship had already left. It cost them $1800 to hop a plan and catch the boat at the next harbor. They joke that it was the most expensive dive excursion they ever had.
I wouldn’t dive with anyone outside the cruise line, but they are also held to higher standards when it come to equipment and such. Town tours would probably be fine.