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Old 09-29-2012, 12:39 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by onemaybaby View Post
Since I've never been on a cruise before, I am unsure as to what expect on the days when the ship visits the different ports. Do most people do excursions? stay on the boat? Is the boat just docked in the middle of nowhere so you pretty much have to do an excursion?
These probably seem like such silly questions, but I honestly have no idea.
The only silly question is the one you refuse to ask.

As far as excursions vs. exploring vs. staying on the ship, you'll get different answers depending on what port, and what person! Some people like to do excursions through Disney. Others swear by booking independent excursions. Still others will tell you to research the port on your own and walk around or taxi and skip the "organized" excursions altogether. It's a VERY individual choice. DH and I have done all three at one time or another, depending on what port we're visiting!

The ship will be docked, or set up for tendering, in the same place all the cruise ships dock or tender from. (I know, it sounds snarky, but I promise I'm going somewhere with this!) Wherever you are, there will be shops/carts close by, and transportation will be readily available (taxis, buses, etc.) to take you to nearby places (museums, beaches, etc.). For most ports, the locals RELY on tourists spending money, so they make it easy for you to do that by keeping things to do, see, and buy easily accessible!

Most ports DCL visits, and most excursions they offer, have been discussed on the boards at one time or another. I suggest you skip the boards' search function and just google "disboards" with the port or excursion you want to know more about, I've found those results to be more helpful. If you can't find info on the DIS, then you can ask in a new thread, or search other websites (cruise critic, etc) and probably find some good sources.

Congrats on planning your first ever cruise. I have no doubt you'll be hooked and start planning your second before the first is over!

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Old 09-29-2012, 01:07 PM   #17
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I think it really depends on your family.

For us, we didn't do official excursions, and won't next time. Our son is pretty young still (and special needs, so developmentally he is younger) and we don't always know how he will react to things. We try to just keep flexible, and change plans at a moments notice.

And the practical reason... The cost. I stay home with my son, and we don't have lots of extra money. We save up and spend our money on the cruise. We would rather spend the money for a great dcl experience, than to spend tons of money doing touristy things in the ports.

In Alaska, we got off each morning, walked around, and found things to do. In Skagway we went to a playground, and took a nature type walk. In Juneau we did end up riding the mt Roberts tram, and then walked the strip. In Ketchikan, we stumbled upon a free shuttle, and took it to the park district and took a walk in a beautiful park, and watched salmon going up a ladder. All free.

We then got back on the ship for our paid-for lunch, and spent the afternoon on a pretty empty ship! It was perfect!

We are doing the L.A to Vancouver repo next. We plan to walk to pier 39 in San Francisco, maybe ride a cable car to see the sights, and come back to the ship again!

When DS is older, we may look into more active things, but this works for us now!

Me DH DS 5

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Old 09-29-2012, 02:16 PM   #18
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We always at least get off the ship. For some ports we do the DCL excursions and for some we just either walked around or went to a beach on our own. For our upcoming cruise as of right now my thought is one of the ports a beach day and then an excursion on the other two.
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Old 09-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #19
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We have done all options. Booked excursions through Disney and not Disney(others), stayed on boat, got off boat and just walked around.

Since we have a child with us I decided to do this based on the port and the ease and safety of the island. That is a personal choice and everyone has a different comfort level. Good Luck and have a wonderful time.

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Old 09-29-2012, 03:03 PM   #20
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Depends on which itinerary you are doing. When we went on the Baltic Cruise, at some of the ports we we docked right within walking distance to everything in the city. For Oslo it was just a few mintues walking along the water right into the city center from the boat. In Stockholm and Talin it was a very short bus ride from the port to the city. Same thing in the Med, for Malta and Palma de Mallorca you are docked right in the city, just a few minutes walking to all the sites.

We are fairly comfortable getting around new locations on our own, so we usually do our own transportation in the ports. Our teenage daughter loves trying to figure out buses, trains and metro systems so that is part of the adventure for us.

We have done full days and half days in various ports and stayed on the ship for some locations we have explore before. It can be very nice to have a quieter boat to enjoy on your own.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:19 PM   #21
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Thank you for all the great replies! I would be quite happy wandering around a port, rather than pay for an excursion for this vacation. My kids would not be into snorkelling, catamarans or the like, we have tried these will visiting islands down south. They are quite happy with a pool or a beach. However, I would love to find a beach on the island and hang out there for the afternoon.
Me DH DD (8) DD (4)
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:21 PM   #22
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Many people get off the ship, but after that it really depends. ITA with the advice to do a bit of research on your ports, there is some wonderful history and interesting adventures to be had in almost every port. Some cost several hundreds of dollars a person, other involve printing off a map from the Internet and doing a self guided walking tour. Cruise critic has been a great source of information when planning excursions for my family and I.
I'm always sad when I read that people are going to foreign ports with no intention of leaving the ship. Yes the ship is a destination, but so are the ports!
BTW, someone posted that the ship will be docked where all the ships are docked...this isn't always true. There are two sets of docks in St Thomas and Roatan, these are the two we have been to and had to ensure we go back to the right one, but I'm sure there are others. Not to worry, often the tour companies and taxi drivers know where the ships are better than we do
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #23
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We've always done excursions except for this cruise. It's a ca coast on the wonder and the stops are all areas we've been many times, or live an hr away from. So we'll be enjoying the ship for 7 days! Leaving tomorrow.

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Old 09-29-2012, 04:00 PM   #24
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We pick cruises based on itineraries and we do do port excursions.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:24 PM   #25
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We never book excursions. We just don't want to be tied to specific times etc. We usually get off the ship at every port and do something DIY.

However, some port days have become a ship day for us as we don't fancy getting off the ship at those ports. Example would be Nassau in the Bahamas.
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