When you go on a cruise you have sea days and port days. Sea days are spent on the ship enjoying a wide variety of activities. During the FPBT Group Cruise we will be holding workshops and presentations on the three sea days with time scheduled for you to enjoy the ship activities as well.
Most port days are basically from 8:00 to 5:00 - depending on the port. On the FPBT Group Cruise we will be visiting Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan. All beautiful locations with a huge variety of options for "shore or port excursions."
You do have the option to stay on the ship while it is in port. Many long time cruisers chose to stay on the ship and claim it is so quiet and they "have it all to themselves!" The only real difference on the ship while at port is the casino is not open. All other areas are open and usually pretty quiet. The Carnival Vista is the newest ship in the fleet and has so many wonderful features. If you want to relax and not spend any money, this is a great option. Get some sun up on the Serenity Deck, take a dip in one of the pools, relax in a hot tub, watch a movie, play trivia games in the Plaza, eat a leisurely breakfast and lunch, explore the ship, play mini-golf, or take a nap!
Of course, it's hard to think about staying on the ship when you are visiting a tropical paradise!
There are so many different types of excursions available on each island. Your budget and physical abilities are the only restrictions!
You can experience the wonders of seeing the ancient Mayan ruins, enjoy a leisurely day by an exotic pool in a resort-style location, swim with the dolphins, go snorkeling in amazing reefs, take a tour of the local areas (which will make you feel blessed to have the home you have), enjoy swimming on beautiful white sand beaches, get a low-cost massage, shop at island flea markets for great souvenirs, ride on a tube in dark caves and so much more!
I strongly suggest you do plenty of research on each port and make a list of the excursions that interest you. After you decide the types of excursions you like, check pricing by going to the Carnival website, Shore Trips (through Carole Criddle of Planetcruiseship) and Trip Advisor.
Many cruisers will tell you to only book through the cruise lines because if you don't make it back to the ship on time with a private excursion you will be left behind. This is true. But, these excursion businesses make their living from providing great customer service and wonderful experiences for the cruise passengers. We have taken dozens of private excursions and have never been close to missing the ship.
What are the advantages of taking a private excursion? Typically you will find them much cheaper and far smaller crowds. This is especially nice when you are taking guided tours like the Mayan ruins. I found that beach excursions are a lot more money through the cruise lines when you can usually just grab a cab and go to the beach of your choice and pay a small entrance fee.
I also recommend before you book any excursion that you ask questions on our FPBT cruise group page as we have Carole Criddle, our travel agent, and quite a few experienced cruisers that can give you good advice.
Budget? When we first started cruising I budgeted $200 per port for excursions, shopping, food and beverages. This is for two people. We never over-spent our budget. Now we rarely spend more than $100 per port. It all depends on what you want to experience! I will discuss each port in later posts.