St. Lucia, Antiqua, St.Kitts, Tortola, Grand Cayman, Grenada all OK. Not sure on Samana [Montego Bay is a bit 'dodgy' go on an organised Tour] Been to Aruba and Bonaire not commercialised from what I remember so perhaps a trip again. Not been to La Guaire. Make sure that you are back on board at the specified time if going off on your own!!
In Tortola, we hopped on one of the plentiful opensided tour buses which took us a tour of the island, we had the option of stopping off at a lovely beach,( driver would return later to collect us ) went to pussers landing, a lovely harbour full of catamarans, and the guide took us to the islands highest point where we could see the surrounding islands, including richard bransons necker island.......an amazing trip for just 15 dollors each. Far better than bookng a ship trip.
All can be done ( I have not been to Samana so cant comment) on your own EXCEPT La Guaire. You MUST book an excursion for this port, which is access for Caraccas, Venizuela,, as it is very dangerous. You will be warned when on the ship (take off ALL jewellery and carry a little cash as it was vital you had something to hand over if you were mugged) but not before. I think the reason they stop here is for cheap fuel. As I have asthma I was advised not to go into Caraccas so I was not one of those who, ignoring ships advice, went out on their own and were severly injured during their muggings. One was disabled in a wheel chair and had not even left the Port Buildings !
I can only back this up, La Guaira is not the port to go ashore and Caracus is uninviting and dangerous, tourist buses have been shot at there. Mrs. M. is quite right that he port is used as a stop for cheap fuel by Princess and they should use one of the other South American coast line ports instead. Again I agree that a ship's excursion is best in Jamaica but if you want to go it alone then pick a taxi from inside the port enclosure as they are registered, outside you leave yourself wide open. The rest of the ports are ok but you should always be street-wise. There are great beaches on all of them. .... Neil.
Thankyou for your answer . I have taken your advice and pre booked a trip from Sea Princess for Montego Bay . Now I find all trips for this stop have been changed to book on board.This is the only port this applies to.I wonder if you can come up with any reason why this should be ? Also I want to do some trips on our own but am a bit of a novice at this -I am terrified of missing the boat . Any tips would be most welcome .
Sorry for the delay in answering but as you may have seen from the front page we have been busy with a blog on Solstice.
No idea why the trips are onboard booking only except that it could be a re-arrangement of tours by Princess and they won't firm them up until later in the year, just don't worry about it. Virtually every port that you will visit will have a load of taxi/van drivers who will be vying for your trade and you will be able to do a tour they suggest or a copy of the ship's tours or indeed a combinations of the places visited by ship's tours missing out what you don't want to see. These guys are very familiar with the fact that the ship sails at a certain time and it is important to you that you don't miss it. They will get you back well before the sailing time and if they breakdown they have back up facilities to get you back. We have never ever been even close to missing a sailing. Touring is often much better going with other company as it cuts the costs and allows you to share the enjoyment. I would not take any tours or go ashore in La Guaira, as I mentioned, and you will see, it's the pits. Regards. ..... Neil.
I am also off to the caribbean on jan 03/09, with the family and feel the same about missing the boat,are you on the same cruise? Ernie.
No.We are going on the 24th Jan.09. Perhaps you could let us know how you get on.Have taken heed of Neil's advice, could do with them chaperoning us! Will try a few trips independently, but nothing too adventurous. Thanks again to Neil and Ida.
We caught a ferry (which is very near where the ship docked, just a little walk) to Virgin Gorda which was amazing, there was transport to take you to the volcanic boulders etc which were fantastic and certainly worth seeing. We have a meal in a restaurant at the top with a beautiful view overlooking the sea and looking down on all the lush trees and flowers.
I'm Mike also from Nantwich. We are doing the same cruise in April, same itinary. Interesting answers especially La Guaire! We will definitely give that one a miss! Also beware of Montego Bay! We have visited all the others except Samana, and Grenada but usually we try to to do some sort of island tour at least. You may never visit again and there is often enough time for shopping etc. afterwards. If you just get off the ship you might as well be anywhere in the world so make the most of it.
We would be interested in your comments after the cruise.