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Old 07-09-2009, 09:22 AM
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I am sailing on the Enchantment of the Seas in a few weeks. this is my first cruise. I am unsure if I should book excursions before I sail or not? I am traveling with my husband and 4 kids, 17, 16, 14, and 12. I read that it is possible to book excursions with private companies and they are cheaper. How would I do that. Any advice would be helpful.
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Old 07-09-2009, 09:22 AM
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I am sailing on the Enchantment of the Seas in a few weeks. this is my first cruise. I am unsure if I should book excursions before I sail or not? I am traveling with my husband and 4 kids, 17, 16, 14, and 12. I read that it is possible to book excursions with private companies and they are cheaper. How would I do that. Any advice would be helpful.
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:01 AM
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Although I used to suggest new cruisers stick with the ship's tours on that first cruise, looking at your ports you will be fine doing tours privately. Is your cruise the 4 or 5 night? Cozumel, Key West, and Grand Cayman are all perfectly safe places to set things up on your own.

You can arrange something on the pier in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. There are always tons of vans and taxis waiting where you can do a tour exactly like those offered by the ship, or customize one. Key West can be a different scenario, depending on where you dock. However there are lots of options in and around Mallory Square. It is a small town and you can walk around to see the various things, or take the Old Town Trolley where you can hop on and off at your leisure. There is also the Conch Train but it doesn't let you come and go as you please. Just google Key West Tours and you'll see some good info.

If you tell us more about what you want to do we can give you more specific advice.

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Old 07-09-2009, 11:24 AM
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We are traveling to Key West, Cozumel, and Belize on our cruise. The kids are interested in the beaches while at Cozumel and Belize. In Key West we were thinking about getting kayaks. These are just some of the ideas we got from looking at the excursion options provided by the Royal Carribean. Any recommendations on beaches in Cozumel or Belize?
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:57 AM
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Hi Mann6, welcome to Cruise-Chat. If you'll look a little further down the main page, you'll see a Caribbean Port Chat section. By using your "find" feature in the upper left hand corner and typing in your ports, it will pull up all the posts made. There are tons on all of your ports. Chankanaab Park and Paradise Beach are two of the biggies in Cozumel. Key West, your only choice is Smathers, but walking around Mallory Square or taking the train is a bunch of fun. Belize I'd highly recommend taking a snorkeling excursion, there's great snorkeling there. Best wishes and hope your cruise is fantastic!
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:14 PM
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There are no beaches in or near Belize City, which is where you anchor. For those the best thing to do is go to one of the barrier islands like Caulker Caye. There are other cayes too. These can be reached by water taxi fairly quickly. One can find these tours for sale at the pier. Belize is one place where you might want to consider the ship's tours because it is a tender port and if you are on a ship's tour you will get priority for the tender ride ashore.

As Penny mentioned, you can't go wrong with Chankanaab or Paradise beach at Cozumel. I also recommend Playa Mia and Mr. Sanchos. All of these can be done just by getting a cab at the pier and telling them where you want to go. All of them have taxis waiting for the trip back so you have no worries about being stranded. You can buy admission at the entrance, although some have no entry fee - they just expect you to buy X dollars worth of food and drinks. Look here for more details on Cozumel beaches.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:19 PM
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Cave tubing in Belize is a must do thing. I think 9 out of ten people would agree with me.

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Old 08-03-2009, 04:11 AM
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I would not recommend that you use anyone else other than those associated with Royal Caribbean. I was on the Explorer of the Seas for 10 days Eastern Caribbean Island. Your kids will have a great time as they will find friends quickly as the teen-agers get together in packs. Two Australian 18 year olds decided that they would try to find cheaper excusions...bad idea...they got in a car about a block from the ship (Royal Caribbean has security by the boat and will lure away those not associated or licensed withe the ship so that passengers are safe..they take that very serriously and have an Excursions Director named Sara Michelle constantly on their T.V reminding you not to go with anyone not associated with the cruise line) obviously these kids did not listen. They got into a vehicle with someone that asked they did they want to tour the island for $20.00....the cruise line had it for $32.00...a $12.00 difference....well this driver took the two boys into an alleyway stopped the car and took all the money they had in their wallets....the kids were to embarrased to tell everyone how much that "thief" took from them. This situation could have been alot worse as they could have been hurt or worst...I don't even want to think about it. A lesson that was definately learned by them and they have stayed close to their parents since then.

I do not recommend AT ALL to go outside of the cruise line for excursions. The islands have been hit by the economy as well...people are hurting for money and will go to great lengths to get it....Tourists are it for them....easy target..please don't compromise your safety for a couple of dollars....the excursions are not the same....I have seen the difference with the unlicensed excursions....it is what we call "ghetto" and very scarry as these people are not looking for you to have a great time...they are just trying to get your money however they can get it.....
I am not saying that all islands are like that...they are exceptions.....why take a chance...I would never put my safety in danger..I hope you would not either....It scared the crap out of these kids....Unfortunately they knew who to do it with.....they were not street smart.....
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:04 AM
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These islands are foreign countries and most are not suitable for going off alone. However for most tourism is the only game in town and they try to protect their good standing with tourists and cruise ship passengers.

Tips on going it alone: know where you are--you can take a cab in Cozumel or Grand Cayman in relative safety, whereas I would never try this on Jamaica or Belize.

A slick website does not indicate these people are professional. Anyone can post great pictures and "reviews". A website like this one with experienced cruisers can be a wealth of information on vendors they have confidence in. After frequenting this site for several years I often feel I am getting a referral from a trusted friend.

Having had an extremely bad experience with a ship sponsored tour--far less safe than any I have done on my own--I do not have a problem looking around for other vendors. For instance Shoretrips.com is bonded, insured, USA based, and I have never had a bad experience with them--but there is no real savings.

It is all a matter of what your comfort zone is. I think price can be an indicator also--if it is just too good of a deal be very suspicious about what will be "included"!
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:57 AM
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I guess a lot of readers think that we moderators are paid by the cruise line because we always suggest going with the line. We're not, we're not paid by anyone. I suggest going with the cruise line because of things like this. There are some islands I feel perfectly safe doing on my own. There are some that I don't. Key West is part of the US, but unless you know where you're going, you can get into trouble there, too. The ship should have a shuttle to Mallory square, the Conch Train station is right down the road, which is a very safe tour. Make sure each port you visit you get a map so you will know your way around. (They usually have them in the papers they place in your cabin, if not, they'll hand them out as you're debarking). We're not trying to scare you, just want this to be your best vacation ever.
 
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