Ths DIS is a great place to ask Disney Cruise Line questions and share tips.
Dreams Unlimited Travel - The official sponsor of the Disney Cruise Forums Dreams Unlimited Travel - the official sponsor of the Disney Cruise Forums  

Go Back   The DIS Discussion Forums - > Disney Cruise Line > Disney Cruise Line Forum
Find Hotel Specials & DIScounts
facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates
Register Chat FAQ Tickers Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 06-01-2013, 11:30 PM   #1
DIS Veteran
scrappinginontario's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,459

Cruising without Excursions?

We are in the early planning stages of our first ever cruise and I have so many questions!

Have you ever cruised and not partaken in any of the excursions? The extent of my travel history is 25+ visits to WDW and visiting friends at their homes. I have never been to an island so it's hard to grasp what this will be like.

Is it possible to enjoy a port without going on a formal excursion? My DD will be 4 (short of 5 by days) when we visit St. Thomas and St. Maarten next February. Have you ever visited either of these islands during your cruise but without going on a formal excursion? Is it possible/safe to wander around and see things and possibly shop?

On the contrary, have you done any excursions on either of these 2 islands with a child that is under 5yo? If so, did you enjoy them and would you recommend it to me?

We have 3 days at sea and since we haven't been to any islands I'm guessing we'll want to get off the ship and see them but just not sure how to go about this.

Any help, suggestions, information, experiences you can share would be greatly appreciated!
Mommy DD5

Amazing Trips with DD: Nov 2014 (MVMCP with Nana & Papa), Sep 2014 (10 days with Cousins), Feb 2014 (7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Fantasy), November 2013 (2 days with grandparents), Aug 2013 (11 Mommy and DD days. Perfect!!), Nov 2012 (2 days AoA LM with grandparents and DN), Aug 2012 (10 awesome days with just the 2 of us!), Nov 2011 (2 days with grandparents), Aug 2011 (8 days with DN and Nana), Apr 2010 (3 days), Nov 2010 (2 days with grandparents)
scrappinginontario is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2013, 11:36 PM   #2
Missin' Mickey
silence's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 1,317

I book Disney excursions as I don't want the stress of the unknown on my vacation. Plus, I don't want to be late back to the ship.

Just got back from the Eastern last month. I did not get off the ship in St. Maarten. None of the excursions interested us. Hubby went and walked and did a little shopping though, we stayed on board and enjoyed the empty pools, spa and aqua duck.

In St. Thomas some of us did Coral World which you might enjoy. The rest of our group did zip lining.
Me, DH, DS (16) DD (11) and My Mom
Future trips: June 22: BW Meridian Orange / July 13: BW Meridian Orange

Past Trips: Feb/Mar '14 - GCH Cheer Comp / Dec '13 - Candy Cane Inn / June '13 Candy Cane Inn / May 4 13 DCL FANTASY cruise and MK / Jan '13 GCH / July '12 DLH / April 1 '12 DISNEY CRUISE on the WONDER! / Feb 20 11 DISNEYCRUISE to MR and DISNEYLAND - Candy Cane Inn / Oct 10 - GCH / Nov 10 - HoJos / July 10 - HoJo's / July 09 - HoJo's & DLH / May 09 - HoJo's / April 09 - HoJo's & Candy Cane Inn / January 09 - HoJo's / November 08 - HoJo's / October 08 - HoJo's / Aug 08 - Desert Inn / May 08 - Desert Inn and Suites / Mar 08 - Desert Inn and Suites / Nov 07 - Ramada Inn Maingate / Sept 07 - Hawthorn Suites / May 07 - Paradise Pier / Aug 06 - HoJo / Dec 05 - DLH / May 03 - Hawthorn Suites / Sept 02 - Hilton Garden Inn / Nov 00 - Hilton Garden Inn / Sept 99 - Hawthorn Suites
silence is offline   Reply With Quote
Register to remove

Join Date: 1997
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,000,000
Old 06-01-2013, 11:40 PM   #3
The bridge has been built and crossed
Old cups are just that.......old cups
quentina's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Northeast, PA
Posts: 2,169

We are excursion free....have never done one. Personally, I have no interest in spending hundreds of dollars to swim with dolphins (and similar). We will get off boat, look around, maybe take a cab ride and back to boat. I don't even consider eating in town....way too much already paid for food on the boat.

I am guessing because this is our norm, it does not bother us.
quentina is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2013, 11:59 PM   #4
If you can dream it, you can do it.
MikeAndNick's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Fresno, CA
Posts: 745

We do excursions, roam the ports on our own and stay on the ship. Every port is different and we look and see what looks best for us. Some of the time we book excursions and end up canceling them on the ship because our mood changed. Do not look at ports as one way or the other but all of the above and everything can change based on a mood. That is why I love cruising.
Mike and Nick
Disney Cruise Lines: Wonder Land and Sea – Bahamas 2005, Magic Eastbound Trans Atlantic 2010, Magic Mexican Riviera Nov 20, 2011, Fantasy Western Caribbean June 23, 2012, Wonder Bahamian December 14, 2013
Princess Cruse Lines: Panama Canal 2006, San Francisco Alaska June 19, 2011, Pacific Coast Nov 24, 2013
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines: Mexican Riviera 2009
Carnival Cruise Lines: Encanta Mexico 2009
NCL Cruise Lines: Mexican Riviera 2008

Last edited by MikeAndNick; 06-02-2013 at 12:08 AM.
MikeAndNick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 04:01 AM   #5
Crazy for DCL
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 208

Actually, port days are the best time to take advantage of the ship since most passenger are off the ship. We love it. We do take a walk around town or even taken the bus in Mexico. Not a big deal. We have done excursions as well so we have enjoyed cruises equally with or without an excursion. The pools and public areas on the ship are empty and very nice during port visits!
slowly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 07:15 AM   #6
DIS Veteran
kapoof's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Chicago
Posts: 2,890

we are booked for our first cruise going to nassau. i have no interest getting off the boat except at cast away cay!

me dh ds

2006 wilderness lodge 2007 beach club
2008 dolphin
2010 downtown disney hilton/ poly cl :
2011 akl . 2013 bwi and dream cruise

there are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, the other is getting it...oscar wilde
kapoof is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 07:39 AM   #7
ALCooper3's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Alabama
Posts: 95

We don't book excursions. We have only been to bahamas so far so i don't have any idea what is available at the ports you are visiting. For our last cruise I went online and searched for info about what there is to see and do at Nassau from various travel sites. I recommend doing this if you don't go with a disney excursion but still want to get off the ship. You might find some free or inexpensive things you would enjoy doing. Or things not available from disney.
ALCooper3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 08:00 AM   #8
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 95

We have been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten on RCL. We travelled with a 2 year old a couple years ago. Both islands are beautiful and you can walk around the port area at St. Thomas easily. We took a short water taxi ride to the public beach in St. Thomas and had a great time. There are shops there also and beach chairs for rent or free if you buy food/drink from the restaurants that own them. Our son loved playing in the sand and water. Then we caught the water taxi back to the boat.
I wasn't as impressed with the port area at St. Maarten. We took a taxi to Magen's beach and had a great time. But it was a bit of a drive through the hilly terrain. Might be better to enjoy the ship there. Or maybe there is something closer to port to do.
Either way, there are plenty of options to suit everyone. Just do some research to see what might interest your family. Have a great trip!
allison0523 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 09:50 AM   #9
DIS Veteran
pillow's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 2,189

We like doing the ports on our own. In St. Thomas, we took a cab to Magens Bay. It was beautiful - perfect beach for your little one. Then in St. Maarten, we went to Orient beach. The cab rides were not expensive. We paid for beach chairs and lunch. A cheap and inexpensive way to enjoy the islands.

pillow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 09:55 AM   #10
DIS Veteran
IBelieveInTheMagic's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,380

I definitely think it depends on the length of the cruise and the itinerary. For our 4 night Dream sailings, we only got off in Nassau enough to walk around by the ship, take a few pictures, then right back on. We wanted to spend our time enjoying the ship. On my 7 night Fantasy sailing with my Mom, we did the same - just ventured out to the ports by the ship, took a few pictures, took the tender in Grand Cayman, then right back on the ship. My Mom didn't even want to do that, but she was glad she at least did a little I should say - we have cruised five times prior to DCL and also prior to by DS being born and had been to several of the Caribbean ports before. We have actually never done any excursions on our DCL cruises - yet!

In Alaska, like many others say, it's all about the ports and the excursions and the experiences. On our upcoming Alaskan cruise, we have excursions planned with DCL in every port and we are very excited about them.

I definitely say do what you feel like doing and have a great time!

(Me), (DH), (DS)
WDW: 11/2008 (MVMCP), 9-10/2009 (MNSSHP, F&W, Pirates Pal Cruise & Pirates League), 4/2010 (Flower & Garden Festival & Jedi Training), 10/2010 (MNSSHP & F&W), 6/2011 (SWW & Universal Studios), 11/2011 Girls Trip (MVMCP & Osborne Lights), 6/2012 and 11/2012 (Osborne Lights), and WDW/MNSSHP 10/2013. Next: 10/2015 WDW/MNSSHP/F&W
DCL (Platinum): 6/2012 (KSC & Dream), 8/2012 Dream, 12/2012 Fantasy (Mom & I), 6/2013 Wonder(Alaska), 9/2013 Dream (girls cruise) & 12/2013 Dream (girls cruise), 1/2014 Magic, 4/2014 Fantasy, 9/2014 Dream (Mom and I), & 12/2014 Wonder Next: 6/2015 (Magic-Europe), & 3/2016 Magic/WDW.
IBelieveInTheMagic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 10:37 AM   #11
DIS Veteran
cmesq61's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 792

When my kids were younger, we did excursions and the kids enjoyed them. This Sept it is just us adults. Since the excursions I'd be inclined to try are not handicapped accessible and I am handicapped, we are not booking any excursions. At some ports we don't plan to get off, at others, we'll take a cab into town so we can look around and do some shopping.

Sept '13 DCL; Jan '13 The Poly; Sept '12 BWI; Nov & Sept '11 The Poly; June '09, The Poly; Sept '08 The Poly; Jan '05, DCL
cmesq61 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 10:41 AM   #12
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 312

We did a 7 day Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy. I agree.. I would go with Disney excursions just out of fear of missing the boat. anyhow, I don't think I would have missed a thing by not booking the excursions--except for now we have discovered flavored Bacardi! Big deal since we are not generally drinkers.

Last edited by msd1776; 07-05-2013 at 07:21 PM.
msd1776 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 10:46 AM   #13
DIS Veteran
fairfax's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 847

In fifteen Disney cruises, we've done a total of two excursions. We like to either explore a little on our own, or in the cases of some ports (Nassau, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman) don't even get off the ship anymore.
Next cruise: Disney Wonder 10/1 - 10/6, Our 18th Disney Cruise
fairfax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 10:51 AM   #14
DIS Veteran
huffjoann's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: GA
Posts: 680

it is completely fine not to do them. We have done both. If u don't plan one, depending on the port, the shopping will be walking distance and you can stretch your legs on land a bit and take in the culture.

Pop Century 6/10; All Star Movies 6/11; off property 11/11; Dream 5/24/12 3 night;
Dream 5/26/13 4 night; Magic TBA
huffjoann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2013, 11:01 AM   #15
DIS Veteran
Ellester's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Columbus, GA
Posts: 1,502

Good friends just sailed on the Fantasy with the St. T/St. M itinerary. Their son is 4 (they also had their 17yo daughter and 22yo son along). They loved the Coral World excursion, they said it was perfect for all ages and really enjoyed it. They also did the "Two Flags" tour in St. Maarten and were not impressed at all. They said it was basically a bus tour of the island with a 45 minute "shopping break" in an area that had all the same stores at at the dock. They said that they should have just taken a taxi to the beach or stayed on the ship.

We cruised on Carnival a few years ago and did not do any excursions. Our ports were Key West and Cozumel. We were with a big family group and had fun just wandering the ports.
Ellester is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:04 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 1997-2014, Werner Technologies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.