Cruise tips for family of 6

Old Dec 17th, 2011, 11:34 PM
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Cruise tips for family of 6

We are going on a 7 day cruise of the Eastern Caribbean on the Ruby Princess-grandmother (me), mother, father and children-11,10 & 7. The itineray is:
Princess Cays, Bahamas, St. Maarten, St.Thomas (we have plans for this day)Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos (1/2 day)
This is first time for everyone but me and we are not savvy. Shore excursions for the 6 would be very expensive, so I am looking for tips-what to do and how to keep the costs down. I have heard that it is possible to do excursions not arranged by the ship. What are the pros and cons of this?
I have relied heavily on the advice from Fodorites for all my travels and I am looking forward to hearing all the good advice
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 05:40 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,218 is a wonderful site for learning about cruising. There are message boards for the various ports, for each crusieline, about family cruising, and roll calls for each particular sailing.

We don't do the ship's excursions--too expensive and we don't like being herded around with 40 other people, waiting for everyone to get on/off the bus, use the restroom, etc.

Sometimes we negotiate with a cab driver/guide to take us to the places I've researched, sometimes we rent a car. On cruise critic, you can find information about private guides.

Princess Cay is the cruiseline's "private" island and a good beach day; the ship will have tenders to/from the island and will serve a buffet lunch on the beach.
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 05:44 AM
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Go to for specific reviews on your ships.
Over the years I have saved a tonne hiring driver/guide cheaply out of the port or walking to local attractions.Pack in my own drinks stick with the free stuff do not spa or gamble much.Save a tonne that way.

Happy Cruisin'
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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Look on the Port of Call forum on cruise critic. You'll find several recommendations for top attractions, tour guides and what to do in each port.

Princess Cays is nothing but a beach day. You won't have to worry about setting up an excursion or activity. However, if you want shade, you need to pre-reserve on the ship's web-site tour excursion area for a cabana. I would highly recommend. Don't wait until you get on the ship as they will be probably all reserved. We saw that happen on our cruise.

Here's what they look like:
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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thanks, I reserved 2 clam shells today. What about reserving equipment for snorkelling? How far in advance do I have to do that?
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 06:50 AM
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We always take our own snorkle gear. It ensures that it's a proper fit, plus my mask is prescription.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 08:55 AM
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Here's a page for discount Ruby Princess shore excursions that might help. Company guarantees return to your ship:

Even if you don't actually buy the excursions they offer, they might give you some ideas of what to do in particular islands.

Also, here's a YouTube video about how to save money onboard your cruise:

Good luck!
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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has anyone used this discount company? How can they guarantee your return? Would the ship wait for them?
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 01:18 PM
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Whar discount company?

The ship will not wait for you if you're on a private excursion.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 02:53 PM
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Unless you book your excursions with the ship, the ship will not wait for you if you are late, and you will literally missed the boat.

Booking outside of the cruise ship's excursions will definitely save you money, and people do it all the time, but be aware of the potential pitfalls, and unusual things happens, usually.

We have been on an excursion that was more than an hour and a half late and it was a good thing that it was the cruise ship's excursion. They arranged to get us back to the ship on time (barely). The delay was casued by a big accident on the highway.

We have also been late getting back (on our own tour) and we were the last one boarding the ship. They were pulling the neetings under the gangway as we were boarding. They were actually looking for us at the gate of the entrance to the port facility. When they saw us, they were polite about it but they did said "hurry".

Just be aware of the potential challenge.
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