I am wondering a couple of things - what are peoples' opinions on whether its better to buy an excursion through Princess, or whether to buy on shore -- I'm sure it depends slightly on which excursions...a simple snorkeling trip might be cheaper and well worth it ashore. I know on my last cruise, we booked everything through the ship, having the fear instilled in us that if we didn't, we might get stranded and the ship would not wait for us. The prices are outrageous however to have this little "insurance" and peace of mind. How do the ships even know to wait for you if you're stranded on a SHIP sponsered excursion?
Also, does anyone have any suggestions or favorite excursions for the ports of Montego Bay, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Princess Cays? Any beach suggestions?
The tour guide is always in touch with his dispatcher by cell-phone or radio and the dispatcher keeps in touch with the ship or the ships port agent.
You shouldn't be afraid of being stranded even on a non-ship excoursion--they have contact numbers also.
If you are familiar with a port or tour operator, or have a good recommendation from somebody who has used them, then by all means use them.
On the other hand, if you are new to a port, at least you know Princess (or any line) has screened their tour operators pretty thoroughly; after all, their reputation is on the line and they are well aware of the power of word-of-mouth.
Some of the ship tours are higher but I wouldn't call them outrageous. And I've heard that some are actually lower; some of the independents have figured out that ship passengers expect them to be lower so they actually charge more knowing that most people don't bother to compare prices.
We've booked tours both ways & have had good results with each. You can save money with independent tour operators BUT on our cruise last week, one group on a Princess booked tour in Hawaii were returning to the ship when they had a road closure due to an accident & were over two hours late. The ship left as scheduled to avoid additional port fees & waited a few miles out for a ships tender to get them back to the ship. If it had been a private tour the pax would have had to foot the bill to get to the next island.
Thanks everyone - that was helpful. Does anyone have any good suggestions for excursions or nice, secluded beaches for my ports of call? (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Princess Cays) Thanks in advance.