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Old 06-01-2013, 11:30 PM   #1
scrappinginontario
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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!
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:36 PM   #2
silence
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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.
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:40 PM   #3
quentina
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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.
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:59 PM   #4
MikeAndNick
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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.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:01 AM   #5
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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!
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:15 AM   #6
kapoof
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we are booked for our first cruise going to nassau. i have no interest getting off the boat except at cast away cay!
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:39 AM   #7
ALCooper3
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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.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:00 AM   #8
allison0523
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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!
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:50 AM   #9
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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.

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Old 06-02-2013, 09:55 AM   #10
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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!

Heather
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:37 AM   #11
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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.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:41 AM   #12
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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.

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Old 06-02-2013, 10:46 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:51 AM   #14
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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.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:01 AM   #15
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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.
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