Shore Excursions

So we’ve gone over the five ports that we will be stopping at on our cruise on the Caribbean Princess.  Now it’s time for us to decide what we will be doing and how we will be booking these tours.

In each port of call, there is almost always shore excursions offered by the cruise line.  In general, these excursions cost a bit more than setting them up independently.  This is because the cruise line wants to make money at the excursion as well.  So why would you book with the cruise line?  There are a couple reasons.

The cruise line has checked out the tour operators in the area.  When you get off the ship, you will see many tour operators, good and bad.  There is no way to easily figure out who is reputable and who is not.  You can’t just pick the ones with the most colorful signs and hope they are the best.  I generally do my research ahead of time and check to see which operators others are recommending.  This is not completely fool-proof as soon of the sites where you can find out this information may not be impartial.  For instance, the tour operators themselves can easily set up a user on one of these sites and post favorable comments about “a tour they just found” when they are actually affiliated with the tour company.

The second and equally as important thing is the guarantee the cruise line will make.  If you are on a shore excursion through the cruise line and something goes wrong, making you late for the all aboard time, the cruise line will wait for you and the rest of those on your tour.  This is a plus if you are in a port you have never been to before or if your excursion is close to the start or end of your time in port.  This happened to us once when we were in Cozumel.  The shore excursion with the cruise line got back less than five minutes before we were to be onboard.  There wasn’t any issues.  Also, when we were in Palermo, Sicily, we were very late leaving port and couldn’t figure out why.  All of a sudden a bus pulled up and a group of cruisers got out and onto the ship.  This was more than an hour late, but we waited for them because it was a shore excursion offered by the cruise line.

Usually we will do our own shore excursions if we have been to the port before or if there is little chance of “missing the boat”.  We always make sure that we are close to the terminal within a couple hours of the latest time to reboard just in case there are problems getting there.

For this cruise we have a lot of choices.  In Newport, Rhode Island, we can check out a number of the mansions there.  We can also do a number of different walks.  There are a couple options for harbor cruises.  We could also participate in an America’s Cup Sailing Experience.  Electric bicycles and segways are also options with the cruise line.

Next we are in Boston.  The cruise line offers a variety of tours for us.  The ones I would be most interested in would be the Culinary Tour of North End, a harbor cruise, Faneuil Hall & Quincy Marketplace or going to Salem.  In addition, we can do a number of tours that would take us around Boston, Salem, Harvard, Lexington & Concord or Cambridge.  We can take a land and sea tour of Boston either by boat and motorcoach or by a Boston Duck, an amphibious vehicle.

Touring the John F. Kennedy Library and Peacefield is another tour or we can go to Fenway Park via Upper Deck Trolley.

We do have friends in Boston who would like to get together so we won’t likely do an excursions with the cruise line, but we still can do the same activities.

Next stop is in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Here we have options to visit Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain.  We can do this a variety of different ways, by motorcoach, limousine, bicycle, foot or even see the water side by boat.  Of course there are many lighthouses in the area so we cal always take a tour to see a few of them.  There is also a Schooner Adventure combined with Cadillac Mountain.  Whale watching or seal tours are possible in this port of call, but we’re just not sure if this is what we should be doing here.

We are leaning towards an excursion that will combine Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain and a “downeast” lobster bake.  We imagine there are quite a few restaurants where we could get a lobster bake on our own so not really sure we need to include this in an excursion.  What would you do with a day in Bar Harbor?

We will arrive in Saint John, New Brunswick the next day.  Would it be piggish to have lobster every day on this cruise?  That definitely would be a dream!

Though it’s a little further to go, there are shore excursions offered by Princess to the Bay of Fundy and Hopewell Rocks.  Doing this excursion we would definitely use the cruise line.  The Reversing Rapids (sometimes called Reversing Falls) are very popular but we question whether a tour like this would satisfy us since we won’t have that much time.  One of the excursion says that every six hours the tides reverse the river flow, but all the excursions going there only last 2.5 to 3 hours.

We love to kayak so this excursion, coupled with a lobster bake is getting our nod right now.  Of course we can tour town and go to a restaurant there for our lobster if we want.  Venturing out of town sounds the most appealing.  We could see a working fishing wharf and Lepreau Falls or take a river boat cruise down the St John River.

We need your help!  Help us decide which shore excursions to do.  Select up to three options to give us your ideas.

Halifax offers a lot of options with historical sites, cathedrals, maritime museums and great restaurants and shopping.  Outside of the city you can visit Peggy’s Cove which has inspired artists and photographers for years.  How about finding out more about the Titanic?

A Historic Pub Tour would be fun for those who like beer (not me), so we will stick with the Valleys and Vineyards tour.  I just love the website from one of the wineries we will tour.  Here is a sample of one of the wines we can try at Domaine de Grand Pre.

Please answer the polls and be sure to comment.  Who knows, we might do what you want us to do!  We love the feedback!

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