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Old September 14th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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Floridanamaw Floridanamaw is offline
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Default Booking excursions vs exploring on your own

We will be in Grand Turks, Half Moon Cay and Nassau. I know I want to go to Atlantis and have already received suggestions on just taking the taxi there. My question, is it to our advantage to book excursions or just explore on our own. I really hate to be tired down to a time table with booking excursions, but I don't want to explore on our own if it is not safe. Is it possible to check the Carnival each morning after we get up and moving to see if any of the excursions we are interested in still have openings. Or should I go ahead and book and forget exploring. I've heard Grand Turks is not that big and we can walk around and see about all that we would see on a site seeing tour. We won't be doing any of the water excursions. Mostly interested in just site seeing. If we don't book are the places that the excursions (mostly the walking tours) go off limits to people that are on their own? I'm really torn between booking or just exploring. Any suggestions?? Am I making sense here?? I guess the main question is: TO BOOK OR NOT TO BOOK??
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Old September 15th, 2006, 03:12 AM
Rev22:17 Rev22:17 is offline
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Floridanamaw,

My question, is it to our advantage to book excursions or just explore on our own.

There are advantages both ways.

>> Exploration on your own does give you more flexibility to do exactly what you want. This may include an independent tour tailored to your interests that you arrange with a local operator. OTOH, most cruise lines do offer a considerable variety of excursons, so there's probably an excursion in each port that's pretty close to what you want.

>> Shore excursions have priority for disembarkation in tender ports, where you might have wait, often over an hour, for your turn to leave the ship on your own.

>> Shore excursions are seemless, in that they leave from and return to the pier (or from the tneder pier in tender ports), though many excusions do offer the opton of leaving the excursion "in town" and returning to the ship from there on your own. If you book an independent tour, you will have to get from the pier to the departure point and from the termination point back to the pier on your own.

>> A tour that you book directly with the tour operator might be a few dollars less expensve than a similar shore excursion.

>> The cruise lines check out the tour operators very carefully, so you have reasonable asuurance of their safety and the cleanliness of their vehicles.

>> The cruise line guarantees refunds on shore excursions if, for example, the ship hss to cancel a port on short notice. If you book a tour directly with the operator, you may forfeit the price of the tour if you can't cancel in time.

>> If a shore excursion gets delayed, the ship will either wait for its return or make other arrangements to get the passengers back aboard. If you take a similar tour on your own and it has a similar delay, you are on your own -- it's your repsonsibility to get to the next port of call to rejoin the ship.

>> Shore excursions are programmed to go to areas that are safe by routes that are safe in places where there might be problems.

>> Finally, the guides on shore excursions generally explain differences between local customs and American customs that could cause embarassment or difficulty in interacting with the local culture pretty thoroughly. It could spare you embarassment or worse.

Of course, you can have the best of both worlds -- especially on Caribbean cruises. Why not take an excursion in the morning and then explore some more on your own?

Norm.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Floridanamaw Floridanamaw is offline
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Okay, thanks. I guess I will book a morning excursion and maybe just wing it in the afternoon. There are several things that sound good and I don't mind booking, I just didn't want to be tied to a timetable and have to rush to make the tour. But, I don't want to miss anything either!!! Anything I book will be through the cruise line. This being our first time I am a little leary of private tour companies. My daughter and son-in-law had some trouble with a private tour company on one of their cruises. I haven't read much, if anything, on here about Grand Turks or Half Moon Cay. Anybody out there have any suggestions on the two stops?? Must sees or what to avoid. Thanks for the help.
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Old September 16th, 2006, 03:08 AM
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Floridanamaw,

I haven't read much, if anything, on here about Grand Turks or Half Moon Cay. Anybody out there have any suggestions on the two stops?? Must sees or what to avoid.

Half Moon Cay is the private island of Holland America Lines. Most of the cruise lines' private islands are basically spots to hold beach parties. The crew takes supplies ashore and sets up the bar and the barbecue before passengers disembark. They also break out the wave runners, banana boats, volleyball net, hammocks, etc., stored in the service buildings on the island and set them up for passengers' use. Most of the private islands also have a small souvenir shop or two. Generally, there are no excursions that leave the beach area.

Norm.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 10:40 AM
fleaberry fleaberry is offline
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I have been on several cruises and have never booked a shore excursion. They are guarenteed and many people enjoy them, but it's just not my thing. I enjoy researching destinations before we leave and planning our own trips. That being said, I have never had a bad time or missed the boat. I think sometimes when you go out on your own with information about the place you are going you get less of a "cookie cutter" experience and really get local flavor....if that is what you like. I read on one of the boards it is the less "sanitized" version of cruising!
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Old September 25th, 2006, 03:47 PM
LisaK LisaK is offline
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what are you interested in seeing at Atlantis? If you want to tour the aquarium (The Dig) then just grab a cab(either water or land) and head over to Paradise Island. IF you want to use the beach, pool or waterslides at Atlantis you must be a registered guest. You are restricted to certain common areas of Atlantis if you are not a registered guest.
Half Moon Cay - beach party, rent water toys in advance, as they fill up fast.
Can't help with Grand Turks.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Floridanamaw Floridanamaw is offline
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I've had several people tell me to just take the taxi to Atlantis. We are not interested in using the pool, or the water slides. Would like to go to the gardens (I don't have the name in front of me at the moment). I understand this excursion has to be booked on the ship when you board. I guess I just wanted to know if we don't book on the ship, are the gardens open to anyone, can you just pay an admittance fee at the gardens and then walk through on your own without being with an excursion booked on board the ship? I really don't want to be tied to a specific time period while exploring and feel like we've had to rush through anything. Half Moon Cay only has a few things that we would be interested in doing. Apparently, not many people have been to Grand Turks, so I haven't recieved any feed-back about that. These decisions are almost has hard as it was to decide on which cruise to take. Thanks for helping though.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 05:31 AM
condobahia condobahia is offline
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Default Planning a visit to Puerto Rico

You never know when a tour can be more exciting than going on your own but in San Juan, they have a link to all the tour companies that might be useful in helping you decide what to do, check out www.puertoricoplanner.com click on sightseeing and then on experts
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Old September 26th, 2006, 01:04 PM
LisaK LisaK is offline
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floridanamaw - you can e-mail Atlantis and ask them about the gardens.
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