View Full Version : Alternatives to Paid Excursions on the Western

02-14-2012, 01:52 PM
Hey everyone! We're sailing on the Western Caribbean out of Galveston in February 2013. Since it doesn't go to Castaway Cay (:sad1:), we want to be sure to hit the beach at one or two of the ports. We have small kids (3 and 6) so we don't need anything fancy - just some sand and our beach toys and we'll be good. We also don't want to be stuck out there for hours and hours. I'm thinking 1-2 hours total would do it.

Unfortunately, all of the excursions to the beach are crazy expensive or way too long (or both). Does anyone have any tips for finding a good beach and getting there safely? Our ports are Key West, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

Thanks in advance!!!

02-14-2012, 02:39 PM
We are going on the Western that leaves from Port Canaveral, so we are swapping Key West for Castaway Cay. We have two teenage sons and a DD3 and we are doing everything on our owm, basically because we are forced to, since almost all of Disney's excursions are for ages 5 and up. We are going to Paradise Beach for the entire day at Cozumel ( check out their website), at Costa Maya,we are going to a beach club called Tropicante, and ten shopping in the little village in town, and in Grand Cayman, we are going snorkeling at Eden Rock, which is right off the tender pier ad much cheaper than a tour. My husband will probably walk around town, which is very safe, with our daughter while we snorkel. After that, we are going to one of the local spots for lunch nearby and then hopefully catch a cab to Seven Mile Beach for a bit.

02-14-2012, 03:01 PM
I know what you mean! The few excursions my 3-year-old can go on want to charge us $50-$60 bucks for her! That's insane! She won't even take up a seat on the bus because she'll be in my lap.

Thanks for the great tips. I'll definitely look up those locations. Have you been to any before or have you just found them online?

02-14-2012, 03:26 PM
No, this was just literally months and months of Internet research, much to my husband's chagrin! He thinks I over plan, but I look at it this way, what if my children never get back to these places, I want them to have a memorable time. To be honest, our DD is holding us back a little, as I really would like to take my boys on more adventuresome excursions, but I don't want to be seperated as a family and leaving her in the nursery/kids club would not fly with her:). So, after the great reviews I read, I decided that these places sound easy to get to by cab and should be fun.

02-14-2012, 03:42 PM
Some thoughts...
ALL the beaches at Grand Cayman are free and open to the public. Of course the most popular ones have lots of vendors there who will happily rent you beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. There are little brown road signs that indicate the public walkways to the beach (while the beach is free, you don't have the right to trespass on someone's property to get there). There are beaches within walking distance of the tender port. Sea Grape and 7 Mile Beach are a bus or taxi ride away--there are public buses that will get you there. We find that the bus there is fine, but take a taxi back to the tender port to be sure there are no other stops, etc. Everyone speaks excellent English and the people are lovely.

Captain Marvin's offers island tours for $30, as well as snorkel/Stingray City tours. The island tour included the turtle farm; adult admission to the turtle farm alone was $30 if you did it on your own!

Key West--totally easy on your own. There is a small aquarium right by the port that the kids will like. If you do the tram, do it on your own because it is a Hop on, hop off then. Thru DCL, it is a single loop. There are lots of inexpensive things to do right near the port. And don't forget the CVS for anything you forgot to pack!

Cozumel is...another thing. OK, taxi fares are posted at the port and are per cab, not per person. Paradise beach is free to use the beach; $10 gets you an all day pass for "non-motorized water toys." Again, for $30 in cab fare, you have a beach day for the family....you can add whatever other rentals you might want or just spread your towel on the beach.

02-14-2012, 06:54 PM
Thanks for posting this. I have been looking for info, also. We will be on the Jan 18, 13 sailing, so I will report back.

02-17-2012, 09:22 AM
Awesome Sarasein! Definitely let us know how it goes!!

Thanks kcashner! Those are some great tips. I figured Key West would be the easiest but I hadn't thought of them having a CVS - brilliant!

"Cinder" Ella's Mom
02-17-2012, 11:47 AM
We were at Paradise Beach right after Christmas this year. Easy cab ride. It was lovely. They do charage $2.00 per person for chair and umbrella, even of you don't plan to use it. We also paid the $12.00 for wristbands to use the huge inflatables out in the water which were a blast (our kids are 8 and 10...wouldn't get them for kids younger than that). We had lunch there as well. They have a beautiful pool area, beach, clean changing rooms/washrooms. Service was wonderful. It was our favorite day on our Western cruise!

02-17-2012, 02:20 PM
GRand Cayman--there used to be minibus taxis that load up 20 or so persons right off the ship for $3pp or so and go to a local hotel on 7 mile beach where you could pay a small fee to use the chairs/ bathroom, etc. My 18 mth and 5 yr olds loved this. We took our own cheap buckets/sand toys. I would post on Cruisecritic.com to see if they still have this---but, I'm sure they do. There are always cabs at the hotel to get back to the ship, if you do not want to wait for the minibus.
We have done this 3X--love it.
Costa Maya--we just sat on the little "Beach" right by the port. There is a very nice pool area with a few shops that is free--this is strictly for cruise guests. Do a google search for photos.
Cozumel--we also took a cab to Paradise beach. Fun inflatables in the water for bigger kids/adults. You can buy a wristband to use the inflatables and $10 or so for 2 chairs and umbrella. We have also taken a cab to Chakanab(sp?) and gone snorkeling---but Paradise is better for gentle water, sandy beach.
Key West---you can just walk around. No great beaches here. THis is also a good place to take a boat/snorkeling trip.