Excursions (ship-arranged or private) can be a make-or-break experience on your cruise. I was curious to hear about other people's excursion experiences. Like the title says, share the most memorable aspects of your past excursions. Also, would you do the same excursion again or recommend it to a friend?
Excursion experiences - The Good, Bad, and Ugly
All excursions that we have been on have been great, that is not to say that they could not have improved. One stands out and that is the Old City Tour Carriage tour in Cartegena Columbia. There are armed guards with the tour. And street vendors are real pushy, I would do this one again.. The tour to the Cultural center in Hawaii I would do again, but on our own as we have to go too fast as a group. One of the best we have been on is the whole day tour of Astoria, Oregon. The whole damn town is so friendly and they come out to welcome every body.
we almost never do ship organized excursions. We have almost always found that we can get the same activity from locals near the pier, usually for less than half the price. Plus when we find something interesting or not, we get to decide how long we linger.
One of our fave cruises was in the Med. Our dinner mates were from South Africa and together we planned our on outings at each port.
I rarely do the excursions, but the few I have done have been great.
Our favorite (unfortunately no longer available) was on St. Lucia. We became "pirates" on the Brig Unicorn (the ship charted by Disney for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie). As soon as we boarded the captain said we were no longer passengers but crew. He sent people up the riggings to unfurl the sails. As we approached Pigeon Island we were "fired" upon so we "fired" back (the children got to pull the cords on the cannons which fired blanks but with smoke and a big bang) and then we lay siege to Pigeon Island. We were given a treasure map with clues to find 6 keys for the treasure chest. We also toured Pigeon Island (a real interesting island stronghold with an old cannon). Once everyone returned to the Brig Unicorn, the key holders were lined up to see which key would open the chest (we had two but alas not the right one). We returned to the dock with free flowing rum. Did I mention it rained the whole trip? We were a bunch of wet drunken pirates and it was a wonderful adventure. The winner received a bottle of sparkling wine and a certificate from Diamonds International. Many of the rabble (us included) followed the winner into DI, where we expected her to get a diamond chip. She got a 13ct trillion cut amethyst, absolutely beautiful. If this tour were to become available again, we would absolutely do it AND if you ever see it available... go for it!
Except for US ports we always use the cruise line packages, never had a bad one. Except for the first time in Livorno, when we went for almost 5 hours without a potty stop, but the rest of the tour made for one of our better excursions.
Now that we are a bit older we haven’t been doing the 8 to 15 hour shore excursions much anymore, so I suppose we could put together a 3 to 4 hour local tour on our own, but still, we have no complaints with what the cruise line(s) offer and nowadays, you go independent, you may get back to the pier and see your vessel “hull down on the horizon”.
We have always booked our excursions through the cruise lines and have never had a bad one. Some were less stellar than others but all were enjoyable. Favourite would have to be when in Tortola we took an excursion to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. Would love to do that again. In my opinion the Baths are a must see. A beautiful experience.
One more memorable excursion for a different reason was on our last cruise last year. We stopped at Grand Cayman and did the Taste of Grand Cayman tour. Little did we realize how tasty it would be. It started at 9 am. First taste was the rum cake factory for cake and flavoured rum tasting and then was the Seven Fathoms Rum distillery where we had to have full samples of all 9 rums that they made followed by a tour to the island brewery K Brew for unlimited sampling of the 6 local brews they made. Needless to say we were poured off the tour bus in the downtown by the port at 11:30 am wobbling like it was 11:30 pm instead.
When we were in Naples Italy we took the ship excursion to hike to the top of Mt. Vesuvius and then tour Pompeii. The bus ride along the freeway was fine. When we got to the mountain road (The old Roman road, thin road with drop off on one side) On the way up the driver was moving fast and as he got to the scissor turns he did not slow down at all just laid on the horn and rite around the corner. Lots of the guest were rather nervous with his driving. We had a stop at the parking lot and got to hike to the top to look in the volcano. When we got back to the buss, the driver was on his phone having a very loud and angry conversation. He did pull the phone aside to yell to the guest to brush their shoes off before getting into the bus. Once we were all back on the bus he got in and was still yelling on the phone as he started driving down the mountain. Now he was speeding down the mountain, phone in one hand, yelling on the phone, as we got to the curves again no slowing down, one hand holding the phone the other on the horn to honk as we zipped around the corner. From the 2nd row all you saw out of the window was over the drop off. By the time we got back to the freeway all the guest were more then happy to beck to flat land and most headed rite to the restroom at our stop.
The bus ride was one of the great white knucklers. LOL I would recommend the excursion but not that driver......... and no I did not tip the driver.
We mostly do excursions through the cruise line. Our favorites to date were cave tubing in Belize and Rain Forest Drive in San Juan. Both provided a nice tour of the country.
The Rain Forest Drive was amazing. Hector was our guide and he taught us a lot about the history and customs of Puerto Rico as well as information about the rain forest.
I have never had a really bad experience on a shore excursion. I would recommend almost all of them to others but I would rarely repeat any. I like to see something new. I would repeat the boat shore excursions.
Most memorable excursion was in La Romana, DR. We exited the terminal building and walked into a hornet's nest! The transport drivers didn't have signs to say which excursion they were going to, so you just had to keep telling different drivers were you were going...and they'd point you to someone else. There were a lot of angry people that day. We finally found a driver that was going to our excursion meeting point. We did the Saona tour, taking a boat to the island of Saona. Very nice beach, did some snorkeling; it was an all inclusive that included drinks and lunch. On the return trip we stopped at a natural sand bar in the ocean. Our guide taught us about the starfish, showed us how to properly handle them, and we spent almost another hour have a party and picnic in the water. It was fantastic and I'm hoping to do it again next year.