You must tell us the ship you are booked on, otherwise your questions are impossible to answer properly. If dressing up is important to you, check it out before you book. There is no cruise ship that I am aware of that has compulsory trips. You can do your own thing free if you wish, but you will be limited to the environs of the port, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. I'm afraid I don't hav e the knowledge, time and inclination to go through all the islands if you can't be bothered to let us know which ones you are visiting.
Hello, One piece of the puzzle...... You can do your own thing in all ports of call or choose one of theirs. There are some ports in which it is advisable to take more that extra care but as we don't know your itinerary I can't advise you thoroughly. I will leave the dress code bit to someone else as well, Bon Voyage. ....Neil.
You can do your own thing in any port of call with enough research and planning. No need to take their over priced shore excursions where you get herded around like cattle.
It is up to you, not used Thomas Cook but with other cruise lines you can access the excursions on the web and if you fancy it book it, at the moment with the pound weaker against the dollar booking and paying for in the UK might have a slight advantage. With other cruises if when we get onboard we decide we did not want to go on the tour we could cancel and get a refund, usually there is a few days notice you have to give. On all the trips you can do your own thing and it is usually cheaper but if you have not done this before it might not be wise unless you meet up with some people who have and know all the ropes, but certainly what tours you do is up to you. I can't help much with the informal option, but that does not mean if you want to dress up for an evening for some celebration you can dress up never mind the rest it is your holiday. There might be a speciality restuarant and you could book that and go there rather then the main diningroom. Others may comment further on this.
It is easy to find recommendations of local tour operators if you look in the right place - go to a browser and enter 'message barbados cruise' and the first link returned should give you all the info you need. Repeat as necessary for each island.