Ship vs. private excursions

Jan 31st, 2009, 04:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 155
Ship vs. private excursions

We have booked a southern caribbean cruise out of san juan and want to know if it is better to book the cruise's excursions or private? Where do I get recommendations for private tours (st maarten, antigua, st. lucia, grenada)
brandonmd is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 09:36 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,201
We prefer private tours because I like to pick what we're going to see and how long we're going to dpend at each spot and I don't like being herded around in a big group.

The ports of call message boards at provide lots of information.

We've been to Grenada and St. Lucia twice; all four times we negotiated with a cab driver when we got off the ship to take us where we wanted to go.

In St. Maartan, we rented a motor bike and circumnavigated the island, stopping at several places.

In Antigua, we rented a car with another couple to tour the island.

I always research online and at the library to decide what to see at each port.
abram is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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I think most experienced cruisers on this board will suggest you are better off taking private tours. They are usually far less expensive and often more interesting as your are not herded among the gift shops and "free drink" restaurants.

For example, we did a holiday cruise several years ago and wanted to take the helicopter tour of Montserrat from, I think, St. Lucia or Antigua. Taking the tour for two cost $698 through the ship, transportation to Jolly Harbour included. With the internet and one phone call, I got the tour for $270, plus the cab fare. In the event, we met a couple going to the same flight at the cab rank and shared the cost of the taxi. Total cost $290.

If you need to find other cruisers on your ship to share costs, get onto the Roll Call section of
Jeff801 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 07:48 AM
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Posts: 738
We have actually enjoyed the tour through two of the ships we've been on (Crystal and Celebrity), and not so much on Princess (it was the Caribbean/Panama Canal - maybe that's why). We tend to use them because we don't usually make the time to do all the research due to work, and have been pretty impressed with the quality of the guides. For the Caribbean, I think it would depend.... I've been to a few of the islands, and could find my way around, but for a new one, I would a) go to CruiseCritic to get recommendations or b) go through the ship. Maybe we've just been lucky......
Debi is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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As a Devil's Advocate for ship excursions, we have been on quite a few excellent ones. We haven't felt "herded" or that we were taken advantage of. We have also done quite a few private tours and some were good and some were just okay. Many weren't that much different in price either in the end. It all depends on where you are and what you want to see and do. I am mainly speaking about other places in the world not the Caribbean which, for me, is just beach and sun - I can do that myself. I just don't agree with the general statement that private tours are always better than ship tours.
charli is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 02:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 11
It depends on the port of call but we tend to mix both and hasve generally had good experiences
Cruzingforfun is offline  
Feb 9th, 2009, 03:54 AM
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I generally avoid the cruise tours. They tend to cost more, move slower and have bigger groups.

The plusses are the boat won't leave without you, you will be in the cruise video, and the tour will cater to slower-moving, less fit passengers (could be a negative if you don't fit that category).
bdjtbenson is offline  
Feb 10th, 2009, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 351
You buy a pig in a poke when you do excursions, ships or private. Most of the drivers have some kind of deal with a commercial establishment for you so spend a considerable amount of your tour looking at t-shirts or the equivalent. If an island doesn't have a special sight or site to see, a walk around the port may be enough. Otherwise get a cab at the dock.
Aristotle is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I agree. If there is no special site you want to see, don't do a tour at all. Less than 10 min. in a taxi will, in most cases, get you to a nice beach, good restaurant or shopping depending on what you're looking for.

Any city tour is simply a long ride in a bus that stops too long at a shopping area that pays kickbacks to the operator.
bdjtbenson is offline  
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