Date of Trip: September 2008
On Aug. 5/09, we departed New York Harbour, on Explorer of the Seas. Bermuda, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and San Juan were the Ports of Call.
For my wife and I, it was our second cruise. Our two teenage daughters came on this one with us – aged 14 and 19.
Once planned, booked, and paid for, we received a package from Royal Caribbean outlining the available cruise-organized land excursions, at each port of call. It became painfully clear, that unless we were prepared another $1,000+ in adult priced excursions, we had to do some planning.
Each ship-based excursion is well planned and offers enough. What is not explained, is that with some thought, creativity, and planning individuals can accomplish the same, at a fraction of the price.
Transportation on local islands is plentiful. Once ashore, there are plenty of cabs, buses, and scooters. It’s simply a matter of doing your research in advance. Not to mention, doing things on your own without constraints of an organized tour, is much more satisfying. Once off the ship, don’t be afraid to wander off the pier, and look for these. In many cases, you won’t have to look more than a few feet.
Shopping is shopping. Beaches are beaches. Sites are sites. Historical monuments are historical monuments. Simply pluck the information from that supplied by the cruiseline, and figure out the best way to get there.
Also, don’t be afraid to walk off the beaten path. Not necessarily into less desirable parts, but not always the main st.
Of the four ports of call we enjoyed, each and every island offered friendly and welcoming locals who were more than willing to help you. Keep in mind, these islands live off tourism. It’s in their best interests to make sure you enjoy your visit, and want to return.