You're correct in assuming that you can't book early tours on Carnival. I find this as a tremendous drawback, as is their unloading facilities for shore excursions. Everyone meets in the theater, and very disorganized (Spirit 4/4/02). I would really be careful about doing tours on your own, as some places can be rather dangerous. Check out the State Department website for updated info. They won't steer you wrong, while some cruise lines will land where they shouldn't. As example of this was we went in to Columbia 8-9 days after a State Department alert. Harrassment was common getting back on the ship, by armed guards. We stayed on the ship, as did numerous other people. Cozumel has LITTLE cabs that can take you into the city for a nominal charge. They're supposed to hold 4 people, actually 2 and very uncomfortable at that. People that did the Mayan Ruins were 50/50 on it. Had to do a boatride to get there. Have fun, and be sure to check out the State Department site before you do anything.
Sue, If your interested I booked a snorkle/stingray tour in Grand Cayman that was not affiliated with any ship. It was awewsome, we only had 25 people on our tour versus the 100 that are on the cruise ship tours. In Cozumel we also booked a tour on our own. We went on a Jeep Safari tour. We had such a great time. It was a bumpy ride but worth every bump. We toured some ruins and then went to a deserted beach and had the most wonderful lunch. Again a small group, only 13 people. The guides were Americans living in Mexico and they were so much fun.
Am I selling the tours enough for you. Just a side note we saved a little money, the sting ray was $35 and the Jeep was $75, but honestly the big selling point for us was not being with the crowds that are one the tours from the boat. Let me know if you want the contact info.
Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I have been swamped at work.
For the Cayman Tour the website is www.captainmarvins.com
I just can't say enough about this company. We absolutly loved this tour. My suggestion for this particular port is to book the first tour with Captain Marvin, I think its at 8:30, the reason being is your not there for very long and you want to get to the sting rays early before the crowds.
For Cozumel is is http://www.cozumel.travelnotes.cc/tours/jeep.html
The man that helped us is Alex. He was just fatastic. I emailed him numerous times with all kinds of questions and he was very quick in responding. Fantastic Tour, not for the faint of heart though. Bumpy Roads, but beautiful beaches and the most friendly people.
I hope you and your husband have a wonderful time. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.
I wanted to also give you a piece of advice. Stay with one of the tours on Ochos Rios. We didn't feel safe at all there and were glad that we stuck with the boat. One of our tablemates was almost assualted by a local, they blew a white powder in his face. He started to feel woozy but was able to maintain his composure. Good thing also. Better to be safe than sorry.
Good advice on Ochos Rios. Travel agents all have warnings about that, and warnings on State Department site. Have never been there personally, but friends that have felt very uncomfortable. Still haven't really figured out why the problem is there. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]