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Old 04-29-2013, 02:08 PM   #1
WineCountryMom
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Afraid of missing the boat!!

Will be doing the Eastern Caribbean Fantasy in July with a stop in St. Thomas with my DS and 2 DDs ages 10 and 7. We would love to do a sailing excursion with some snorkeling and while doing some research have found some boats that do these excursions for up to about 18 people. The marina is on the other side of the island and the boat doesn't get back until 3:30. While is says on the websites and tripadvisor that they do have cruise ship passengers, I'm afraid that we won't get back in time and miss the ship. I would love to hear anyone's experiences about doing a sailing excursion (not through Disney) and how it went. What form of transportation did you use getting to the sailboat, how did it go, and were you able to get back to port in time to board the ship. We wanted to avoid the crowds of larger groups. TIA!!
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:30 PM   #2
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I don't have personal experience here, however, we just got back from the same itinerary 2 weeks ago. When we were in St. Thomas, there were 3 other cruise ships there - the Carnival Dream, the Oasis of the Seas and another RCL ship - and Anthony (the CM that was organizing us for our excursion) told us that with that many ships in port, going from where we were docked (Havensight) to the "downtown Charlotte Amalie" area was a short distance (I think he said 2-3 miles) but could take an hour to over an hour to navigate in traffic. That being said, I don't know how much farther away it is to the side of the island where you would be looking to catch this boating trip, but the traffic could put you in a bind.
Clayton (Cruise Director) was always quick to remind passengers that the ship will leave on time. His staple quote on the trip was many folks want to catch that panoramic shot of the ship...and the best way to do that is to be late back to the dock as you'll have the best vantage point as the ship was sailing off.
Not trying to scare you.....just trying to give you a realistic vantage point considering the traffic issues in Charlotte Amalie that Anthony spoke of.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WineCountryMom View Post
Will be doing the Eastern Caribbean Fantasy in July with a stop in St. Thomas with my DS and 2 DDs ages 10 and 7. We would love to do a sailing excursion with some snorkeling and while doing some research have found some boats that do these excursions for up to about 18 people. The marina is on the other side of the island and the boat doesn't get back until 3:30. While is says on the websites and tripadvisor that they do have cruise ship passengers, I'm afraid that we won't get back in time and miss the ship. I would love to hear anyone's experiences about doing a sailing excursion (not through Disney) and how it went. What form of transportation did you use getting to the sailboat, how did it go, and were you able to get back to port in time to board the ship. We wanted to avoid the crowds of larger groups. TIA!!
If you book your excursion through DCL they will wait until you get back before leaving the port. If you book your excursions independently they will not wait for you to get back.

As the PP noted, traffic on St. Thomas can be a nightmare when there are multiple ships in port and it can take quite awhile to get back to the ship. It's extremely frustrating to be inching along on the hillside with the ship in view and know it's going to be a long time before you get there (and to a bathroom).
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:16 PM   #4
MikeAndNick
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I book excursion both from the cruise line and on my own. I look at price and try to remember how much I will spend if I miss the ship.
My rule of thumb:
  1. If the excursion is very far from the port I book through the cruise line
  2. If there is a chance of being late because of time I book through the cruise line
  3. If the excursion is close to the port and I have time after the excursion in case there is trouble I book independent if it is less expensive.

Note: The one exception was when there were 70 of us together from the DISboard group. I figure the ship will not leave with 70 people missing.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:17 PM   #5
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I have never been to St. Thomas and not see the run to the ship as it pulls away by many people!

It's a great port to have this happen to you in.

Sorry, but be careful. Disney leaves earlier than other ships and it is very, very hard to get back to the ships in the afternoon traffic.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:31 PM   #6
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My husband and I went on an RCL cruise with a stop in St. Thomas. We had booked an independent excursion riding wave runners and snorkeling. We took a taxi to get to the facility. But I would NOT do it again!!! The taxi dropped us off quite a distance from our destination even though we told her where we were trying to go. She just stopped the vehicle! That left us asking for directions and jogging/running to the facility, getting there as they were about to leave us. Trying to find a ride back to the ship was worse. Thank GOD the other people on our tour were staying on the island and offered us a ride in their rental car. I've never been so panicked!! I'm sure others have had perfect experiences, but that is ours and it's the reason I'll only book through the cruise line for an excursion.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jestocost View Post
If you book your excursion through DCL they will wait until you get back before leaving the port. If you book your excursions independently they will not wait for you to get back.

As the PP noted, traffic on St. Thomas can be a nightmare when there are multiple ships in port and it can take quite awhile to get back to the ship. It's extremely frustrating to be inching along on the hillside with the ship in view and know it's going to be a long time before you get there (and to a bathroom).


This is not quite correct...........if you book a Disney excursion and your late they will while as long as possible, until the ship needs to sail to make it on time to the next port. If the vessel does leave, Disney pays to get you to the next port and join the vessel.

If you book a non Disney Excursion, they will not wait and you have to get yourself to the next port to join the ship.


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Old 04-29-2013, 03:40 PM   #8
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The only other option I could suggest is to go through priceline / shore excursions group (I think its shoreex.com) as they provide absolute guarantees. When you look for your port, it asks you for your ship and date and it will provide only tours that you are able to take. (So the one we bought for Nassau had to be sure to have us back before 1:30 since the all aboard was 2pm. So it only offered excursions that we were able to take based on our cruise ship itinerary.)

Their guarantee I think is $500 cash for the trouble, all the hotel and transportation fees and costs. It's there on their website. We got a nice snorkel and catamaran for $56 with them. The rum punch on the way back was very freely flowing and we got to swim at a gorgeous beach and then snorkel on a reef and saw tons of fish and big ones too. So I would recommend them with the only caveat being that they packed us on to the catamaran and it was FULL. but everyone was nice. They liked that I was a mermaid and took a lot of fun photos with me.

That is the only independent tour company I have seen with a ship guarantee. Whether they offer what it is you are looking for, I don't know, you will have to look it up and see what they offer. They also have combination island tours (one at this port, one at another port on your itinerary) if it's something you are interested in, at a price break.

Don't forget to pick up your guava berry rum if you are going to St Maarten.

Have a blast!
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAndNick View Post


Note: The one exception was when there were 70 of us together from the DISboard group. I figure the ship will not leave with 70 people missing.
Oh yes it will. On the 2011 WBPC on the Wonder there were about 50 people late in Cabo from a DCL tour. My wife was one of them. Anthony, the Port Adventures manager at the time, was asked by me what would have happened if this was booked independently. He said the ship would have sailed and everyone would have to buy plane tickets to L.A, So I would say it's not a good idea to think they will not leave a independently booked tour with 70 people behind.

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Old 04-29-2013, 07:06 PM   #10
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Oh yes it will. On the 2011 WBPC on the Wonder there were about 50 people late in Cabo from a DCL tour. My wife was one of them. Anthony, the Port Adventures manager at the time, was asked by me what would have happened if this was booked independently. He said the ship would have sailed and everyone would have to buy plane tickets to L.A, So I would say it's not a good idea to think they will not leave a independently booked tour with 70 people behind.

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And this proves Anthony knows the official line.

Since I have had cruises wait a short period for 2 guests, my bet is for 50 they would give you at least a small grace period. But hopefully we won't ever find out

I have non cruise line excursions and will continue to do so. Do your research and you should be fine. In other words 'bubba's shore tours at 75% less then anyone else and no reviews' is probably not a good bet LOL
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:10 PM   #11
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And this proves Anthony knows the official line.

Since I have had cruises wait a short period for 2 guests, my bet is for 50 they would give you at least a small grace period. But hopefully we won't ever find out
Do you want to find out if its just a line or not? I sure don't. For me it's a DCL tour or I am just staying by the dock.

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