Excursions

Royal Caribbean parent company launching new site to help guests book land tours

In:
24Mar2017

Royal Caribbean International's parent company has launched a new site dedicated to offering private excursions and tours.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. launched GoBe this week and is the first non-cruise venture for the company. GoBe will allow travelers to book trips in 97 countries and 896 cities around the world. Excursions range from a $14 bus tour in Cape Town, South Africa, to a helicopter tour of Rome, starting at $3,785 per person.

The goal is simple: Royal Caribbean hopes to attract all travelers, instead of just those with a love for cruising.

GoBe is headed up by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Destination Officer. Larry Pimentel. He also serves as president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, “Given our experience in working with tour and attraction operations around the world for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, the launch of a website that can bring this high-demand offering to all travelers was only natural for us."

On GoBe, users enter their destination and scroll through the different excursions, tours, and activities until they find something they like. Each option is accompanied by a full description, including languages spoken, duration and activity level. For an extra cost, customers can even call the GoBe customer care line to have a custom itinerary put together.

Royal Caribbean celebrates sustainable shore excursion milestone

In:
10Mar2017

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and 70 operators are celebrating the completion of a multi-year program aimed at increasing the number of sustainable tours available to the company’s five million annual guests.

Royal Caribbean's Save the Waves program has been an important part of the company's drive to raise awareness among its guests by designating tours whose operators have been verified to have adopted policies that align with international standards for sustainability developed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) for tour operators.

RCL worked with Sustainable Travel International to develop the Sustainable Tourism Education Program’s (STEP) Sustainable Shore Excursion Standard, a subset of criteria and indicators from the GSTC standard selected by STI as being applicable to cruise tourism shore excursions.  The SSE standard is designed to help identify providers who offer high-quality shore excursions that also support local communities and conserve the environment.

Sustainable shore excursions are more than just nature tours – they encompass a broader category that includes tours that responsibly manage environmental impacts, preserve local history and cultures, protect the rights and resources of the local community and have properly trained employees committed to quality service.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) represents a diverse and global membership, including UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, country tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.  

Barefoot Beach Cabanas on Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
06Mar2017

Barefoot Beach on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee is a private beach that is reserved for suite guests and Pinnacle Crown and Anchor Society members, and it includes a variety of cabanas to compliment a day at this exclusive beach.

In addition to the cabanas at Nellie's Beach, Barefoot Beach cabanas are available for an additional cost for guests to reserve. Guests may reserve cabanas at Barefoot Beach via the Concierge or via the Excursions desk onboard. These cabanas are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are three kinds of cabanas available for rent at Barefoot Beach

  • Standard ($295 per cabana)
  • Hilltop ($395 per cabana)
  • Over the water ($495 per cabana)
  • Beachfront ($395 per cabana)

Barefoot beach cabana layout map

Standard cabanas are in the main part of the beach, surrounded by trees and hammocks. They are ideal for guests who desire easy access to the beach and other activities in port of Labadee. These cabanas are wheelchair accessible; guests will need to able to climb 2 steps.

Hilltop cabanas offer breathtaking views of Labadee and the ship, providing excellent picture opportunities and a quiet environment to relax away from the crowd. These are the most private cabanas. They are not wheelchair accessible and guests need to climb a full flight of stairs and walk across uneven surfaces to gain access.

Over the water cabanas are in a premium location above the ocean, with direct access to the water and beach. These cabanas are not wheelchair accessible, and guests will need to walk in the water and up the stairs to get to the cabana.

Beachfront cabanas are next to the beach at the waters edge with full views of the bay. They are not wheelchair accessible, however guests with limited mobility may access them.

Cabana reservations are for the entire day in Labadee, and charges are per cabana and not per person. Each cabana can accommodate a maximum of up to 6 guests and includes a variety of benefits

  • Dedicated cabana attendant service
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Complimentary snorkel gear
  • Complimentary water floating mats
  • Upgraded private BBQ buffet access
  • golf cart service to anywhere on Labadee

Upgrade buffet available to Barefoot Beach guests only

Barefoot Beach bar

Royal Caribbean offering inexpensive Caribbean shore excursions starting at $19

In:
16Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Shore Excursions offerings are now featuring some inexpensive shore excursions for guests on shorter sailings to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida.  Many of our readers are always interested in good and low-cost shore excursion options, so perhaps some of these will be helpful.

 

Through March 7, 2017, guests sailing on Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas can take advantage of these fun and inexpensive tours.

Nassau Tours

Key West Tours

Excursion Focus: Peat Taylor Tours Falmouth

In:
15Oct2016

Please welcome Rick Cincotta, as our latest guest blogger.  Today, Rick is sharing his review of the Peat Taylor Tours in Falmouth while aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.

As I sat down to plan out my shore excursions for my upcoming Western Caribbean cruise on  Oasis of the Seas, one destination left me a little stumped. Falmouth, Jamaica. This recently developed port leaves a lot to be desired in the way of shore side activities, if sitting poolside at Margaritaville is not necessarily your cup of te-quil-a. In fact, many cruisers often look to this port as a day to enjoy the ship while the masses disembark for parts unknown. To be honest, that would have been exactly my plan had I not been traveling with my buddy, Mark, who was not only on his first cruise, but was also visiting Jamaica for his first time.

With that in my mind, my first thought was to look for an excursion that included Dunn’s River Falls, the infamous natural staircase waterfall, for which I have been to many times. However, my own selfishness was telling me to bypass the falls and find a tour that would include a stop at the Blue Hole, a destination that many experienced travelers have said is a must do in Jamaica. See the problem with docking in Falmouth is that you are about 45 minutes away from the major tourist attractions, which are primarily located in Ocho Rios, where only certain cruise lines (not to be named) dock. As a result, time is very much against you.

So as many of us do, I took my search to the internet to find a reputable tour operator that could bring us to both stops and ensure that we would return to the ship in time for departure. After reading many reviews and making many phone calls, I settled on using Peat Taylor Tours. After discussing my preferences with Peat, he suggested that we visit Dunn’s River Falls, the Blue Hole and Calypso River Tubing, which gave me room for pause given that we were only in port from 10 AM – 7 PM. However, Peat promised me that we would be back to the ship with plenty of time to spare to enjoy some patties and Red Stripe before setting sail. With my faith in Peat’s hands, I agreed to the $100 per person price and promptly paid my $10 deposit via Paypal.

I received a very detailed email from Peat shortly after reserving the tour, which told me to proceed to the white independent tour operator tent as soon as I could get off the ship. So Mark and I made our way to the gangway at 10:30 AM and easily located the tent, which is located outside of the pier area gates. We informed one of the representatives manning the tent that we were booked with Peat Taylor and he promptly pointed our guide (Carry) and tour van. We were only joined by one two others, which we had connected with online prior to sailing, so this was very much a “private” tour.

Once payment (cash only) was made we began our journey (11 AM for those keeping track) from the “historic” Falmouth area to Ocho Rios, where our first stop would be Dunn’s River Falls. During the 45 minute journey, our guide gave us the usual port talk about the area and various points along the way. The drive is very scenic and primarily takes you along the coast, where you can stop for some photo opportunities.

Once we arrived at Dunn’s River Falls, we were met by an attendant in the tour bus area, who provided us with our entrance wrist bands and introduced us to our guide for the falls, Wilson, who was very entertaining and full of energy (lots of singing as demonstrated below). Note: We were able to leave all of our belongings in the van and did not have to rent lockers.

After about 90 minutes of climbing, picture taking, enjoying the natural pools and saying “Ya Mon” more times than I care to remember we made it to the top of the falls.

After surviving the walk through the Craft Market on our exit we managed to get back to the tour bus with only $4 Red Stripes in on our hands (no DVDs or illegal substances here).

Back in the bus, we opted to bypass lunch (for now anyways) and make our way to Blue Hole. We arrived at Blue Hall at approximately 2 PM (three hours in and counting). This place is really spectacular and the natural beauty of the pools is not done any justice by pictures.

We were introduced to yet another tour guide, Jason, who ensured we were safely diving and took many pictures of us with our own personal cameras (no photo/DVD sales pitch). Our time here (just shy of an hour) consisted of about eight cliff jumps and rope swinging. The jumps ranged anywhere from 15 to 30 feet and really got the adrenaline pumping with the group.

One thing to note, keep your water shoes on. While they are not required, the rocks here are very much still in their natural state and there are no manmade stairs or walkways. Mark and I made the mistake of going foot commando.

Back on the van, we made the quick 15 minute ride to the Calypso River for some relaxing tubing to finish off the day. Once again, we were introduced to a new guide, George, who was extremely helpful and energetic (another a cappella singer). More importantly, he ensured that the group never got stuck and was constantly pushing our tubes to the center allowing us to drift into oblivion without worrying about getting stuck on rocks. The river has just the right current speed to keep you moving, but still providing for a very relaxing experience. Our group of four were the only ones tubing and it truly felt like we were on our secluded island.

As we hung up our tubes, a quick time check reminded us that it was now 4 PM and that we had about two hours to get back to the ship, which included the 45 minute ride back to Falmouth. However, we were starving at this point and informed Carrey that we would very much like to stop for food, but take it to go. With that we headed to Scotchies, which Carrey coined as “Jerk Center,” for some fuel for the ride back to the ship. I ordered a quarter pound of jerk chicken, a festival (Jamaican hushpuppy), rice and beans, which equated to $6. The food was excellent and we all quickly found ourselves thoroughly stuffed and snoozing on our ride back to Falmouth.

When I finally awoke, the Oasis was staring me in the face and I immediately turned to the clock to see that it was about 5:30 PM, which gave us about an hour before all aboard and clocked the tour at about six and half hours.

So now for my final thoughts. This tour currently sits at the top of my list with respect to excursions in the Western Caribbean ports of calls. The experience was top notch, from the locations visited (yes, even Dunn’s River was fun) to each of the tour guides we had along the way only to be capped by a truly fantastic authentic Jamaican meal. In addition, if you recall this tour was only $100 for three stops and six and half hours of “personal” tour time…what a bargain! To think this was a port I was going to stay on the ship and potential miss this unforgettable experience…

For anyone that has not given Jamaica the time of day on recent cruises and feels that there are no excursions worth their time or maybe is concerned with the limited amount of hours in port, I highly suggest trying this tour and can almost promise you will not return with anything but a mind and camera full of memories.   

Excursion Focus: Cozumel Food Tour

In:
04Oct2016

Thanks to Christie McLarty for joining us once again to share her review of the Cozumel Food Tour while on a recent Freedom of the Seas cruise to Cozumel!

If you are looking for something unique to do in Cozumel, you should definitely check out the food tour offered by Cozumel Chef. This two to three hour tour takes you deep into Cozumel with a couple stops at local favorite food establishments. We decided to book this tour to get a “taste” of the real Cozumel after reading great reviews online. Communication with Emily, the owner, was great and she was able to customize the tour to our particular likings.

We met Jerry, one of the tour guides, at Mega near the shopping area in Cozumel. Depending on where you dock, this could be walking distance or may require an $8 cab ride. While waiting for our transportation, Jerry talked to us about some of the local culture and the types of foods we would be trying. We wound up being the only two people that booked the tour that day, so we were able to move at our own pace. We had a cab driver who stuck with us all day.

Our first stop was to a local quesadilla place. He explained to us beforehand the two types of quesadillas we would be trying- cactus and huitlacoche. Huitlachoche is actually the fungus that grows on the outside of corn and tastes like a mushroom. Both were delicious and paired great with the home-made tomatillo sauce. Interestingly, the quesadillas were served on a corn tortilla instead of the flour tortillas that we are used to in America. We also had the option of hibiscus water, horchata, or Mexican coke to drink. My husband chose the hibiscus water, which was lightly sweet and refreshing. I chose the horchata, which was the best horchata I have ever drank. After we ate, Jerry took us to see how the food was prepared.

Our next stop was for a pulled pork taco. On the way to the restaurant, Jerry explained to us that they marinate the pork in a sour orange marinade with some sort of red paste, wrapped it in banana leaves and left it to cook all night. The pork was incredibly tender and was served with a spicy salsa, which was cut by the fresh pickled cabbage on top. We had the option of lemonade with chia seeds or several different types of beer to drink.

As we let the initial food settle, Jerry took us to a local market and showed us many of the different types of ingredients they cook with. He explained that most people go to the market every day because they do not have the means to keep food for very long or the money to buy in bulk. On the way back to the van, we picked up some tortillas that were freshly made and sprinkled them with salt. They were delicious.

The next restaurant Jerry took us to was for a very popular chicken soup with lime. He said this is the type of soup that most people would eat if they were sick. He had us taste the soup first and then mash the lime inside and taste the difference. He paired this with a local apple soda, which was very refreshing. Unfortunately, it had just started raining so it was incredibly hot and humid in the restaurant, so the hot soup really warmed me up too much. It would have been wonderful in the winter months.

The last main course stop is usually a place for a whole fried fish. This is the part of the tour that I contacted Emily about changing. We are not really fish people, and I especially did not want to eat one with the head still attached. She said it was no big deal and brought us to a shrimp taco place instead. The shrimp taco was great, but the better part came after when Jerry told us to pick out another taco on our own. My husband settled for another fried shrimp taco, but I chose the conch ceviche taco. This was easily the best thing I ate all day. The conch was fresh, not fishy, and as Jerry said “delicate”.

For dessert, the tour usually stops at a bakery. Because it was just the two of us, he gave us the option of going to the bakery or to a chocolate factory. We chose the chocolate factory and were really pleased with the decision. It appears as if this is actually a place that people pay to tour and it was included in our tour. They make all of their chocolate in house and even had us wash our hands with chocolate soap. We were brought into the gift shop where one of the employees gave us little nuggets to taste of about 15 different chocolates. The chocolate was delicious so we of course picked up some from the gift shop as souvenirs for friends and family.

The tour took just over two hours and was a really interesting way to see the “real” Cozumel beyond the tourist areas. Jerry was an excellent tour guide, spoke great English, and was an all-around great guy. Our cab driver drove us back to our cruise ship for the normal fare, which worked out perfect because we were stuffed. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone.   

Royal Caribbean offering 72-hour shore excursion sale with 20% off Caribbean, Europe and Australia tours

In:
Category: 
16Sep2016

Royal Caribbean has begun a 72-hour shore excursion sale with 20% off select tours in the Caribbean, Europe and Australia.

The excursions must be booked between September 16-18, 2016 and is valid on  on sailings that depart between September 21, 2016 and December 16, 2016.

Offer excludes sailings departing between November 18-24, 2016.

Offer applies to select standard shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean International. Offer excludes Shuttles, Private Journeys℠, overnight tours, Multi-day Adventures and other special tours. Offer cannot be combined with any other shore excursion promotion, price program or discounted rate.

Excursion Focus: Royal Palms Beach Club in Grand Cayman

In:
08Sep2016

One of the most popular spots to visit on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Grand Cayman is Seven Mile Beach for the clear water, beautiful beach and amazing views.  Across Seven Mile Beach, you will find lots of hotels, beach bars and other establishments that offer different experiences for guests to enjoy while there.  One such location is the Royal Palms Beach Club, which can be a great spot for those looking to spend some time on Seven Mile Beach with some extras included.

The Royal Palms is a quick taxi ride away from where Royal Caribbean's tenders drop guests off.  Simply exit the tendering area, go past the shore excursion area and into the parking lot.  From there, you can take a taxi that will be a short 9 minute ride for $4 per person.

The Royal Palms has a $2 per person entrance fee, and then it is up to you to pick and choose what you want. There is plenty to see and do at Royal Palms, and this means you can customize your day here to suit your needs.

Umbrellas will cost you $15 per day, beach chairs $10 and beach cabanas are $100 for the day.  There are also other optional activities that are available to purchase, such as jet ski rentals, snorkel gear, paddleboards, parasailing and more.

The Royal Palms has a restaurant and bar, which you can order from and enjoy the food on the beach or at the bar.

There is also a pool available for use.

Thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Ken Jarvis for providing these photos and details for anyone interested in checking out the Royal Palms for themselves.

Review: Beach Loungers on CocoCay

In:
07Sep2016

Please welcome guest blogger Kayla Gillman, who is here to talk about her recent visit to Royal Caribbean's private destination of CocoCay in the Bahamas.

For an upgraded beach experience on Royal Caribbean's private island Coco Cay without the cost of a cabana, you may want to consider the shaded Beach Loungers located on the South Beach of CocoCay (the beach formerly known as Barefoot Beach). 

I recently had the chance to visit the island while aboard Majesty of the Seas, and since it was my friend's first cruise, wanted to do something a little extra special during our visit.

We disembarked the ship in the morning around 10:30 AM, and made our way to the Shore Excursions desk on the island. Here, we were asked to step around to the back of the building where a tram quickly scooped us up, and brought us on our way down to the Lounger area. If you are not a fan of long walks on the beach, this would be a great option for you. However, I have found that walking down to this area of the island to be quite enjoyable as you get a chance to see the vast majority of the island along your way.

Upon arrival, we walked over to the shaded bar area where we were greeted by our attendant. She handed us our towels, and showed us which loungers were still available to us (the loungers are available on a first come; first serve basis so if you have a particular space in mind plan on getting there early).

We selected our lounger, and our attendant followed us with a cooler of water and a fruit plate. Our two beach mats were already brought out and leaning up against one side of our clamshell lounger.

We relaxed for a little bit and grabbed a Coco Loco (souvenir cup and all!) from the bar where we were first greeted by our attendant, who was available there for us the remainder of the day.

I have to say, I thought that for what we paid for two people this was an excellent value as the beach mats alone run $18 per person. We very much enjoyed floating along the beach with our drinks and relaxing in the shade of our cabanette. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a quiet, calm beach day.

It also appears that there is quite a bit of construction happening in the area – it looks like there have been some new cabana structures added to the area as well, but I did not notice them in use.

Need a break from lounging around? The excitement of the brand new Floating Bar is just a quick walk away – you can see it from your lounger!

We swung by here for a quick drink, and I have to say this is quite a welcome and fun addition to the beach.

At the end of our day, we turned our towels back in to our attendant and wandered our way back down the beach and made our way back to the tenders. Looking forward to the chance to book one of these loungers again and enjoy a fun day on Coco Cay!

Beach Loungers may be reserved ahead of your cruise via the Cruise Planner. They run $59.00 for two people, and included you receive 2 floating beach mats, 2 bottles of water, towels, and transportation in addition to the reserved shaded "clamshell" loungers. Keep in mind when reserving the loungers, that you will only need to book under one person – this will cover the admission for two people to your lounger.

 

#TeamCocoCay #ClubCocoLoco #SorryMatt

Is a Royal Caribbean Walt Disney World shore excursion a good idea?

In:
Category: 
13Jul2016

There are many Royal Caribbean cruises that stop in Port Canaveral and offer shore excursions to Walt Disney World. Often, guests wonder if it is worth it to take these trips and how much they can really do in the time they have.  The super-talented Laurel Stewart from TouringPlans.com wrote this guest post about visiting Walt Disney World for those on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

If you’re cruising between a US East Coast port like New York City or Baltimore and the Caribbean, you may have noticed that Port Canaveral is a stop on your journey. Two of the many port excursions offered here are PC11 - Disney World Express Service (Disney World Express Service - PC11) and PC50 - A Day at Walt Disney World (A Day at Disney World - PC50). We’ll take a look at the differences between PC11 and PC50 and try to help you decide if they are worth your time and money.

Photo by Richard Macko

First the basics. Walt Disney World is not in Port Canaveral. The trip from your ship to the Walt Disney World resort is around an hour (more with traffic) along FL-528. At least two hours of your port excursion will be spent on a bus traveling to and from Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World is four theme parks, two water parks, and the Disney Springs shopping area. There is no admission cost to visit Disney Springs. Guests who choose the Royal Caribbean Walt Disney World port excursions will be dropped off at Disney’s Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC). The TTC is a monorail or ferry ride to the Magic Kingdom, a monorail trip to EPCOT, and the bus transportation hub to all other resort areas. If you plan to visit a park other than Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to factor transportation time (and money, if you choose to take a cab or Uber instead of a Disney bus) into your plans.

Admission prices vary at the parks from day to day, and single day admission to Magic Kingdom is higher than to the other three theme parks. Water park admission costs less than theme park admission. If your excursion does not include park admission, check out https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/ for pricing.

If you’re interested in visiting Walt Disney World during your cruise, you might wonder how much you and your family can see and do in one day. TouringPlans.com offers tools for planning trips from a one day visit to any length of vacation to help you make the most of your time. A tool that is particularly useful to guests on an excursion is a customized touring plan. As part of the TouringPlans app, Lines, and online at TouringPlans.com, subscribers can enter the dates and times of their visits, schedule time for meals, breaks, and shows, and add the attractions they want to see, and TouringPlans will arrange them in the best order to save the most time in line. Doing this ahead of time, before booking a Walt Disney World excursion, will let you see how much you’ll be able to do during your day in the park.

Let’s look at the differences between the two excursions:

 PC11PC50
Cost per person$39$134
Duration10 hours9 hours
Time in park (approximate)7 hours6 hours
Includes admissionnoyes
Meals includednono

So what can you do in 6 hours at Magic Kingdom? Check out a sample day at http://touringplans.com/plans/print?id=2020916. This plan was optimized for a particular day at Magic Kingdom, with moderate walking speed, and no FastPass+ reservations. This includes the three “Disney Mountains,” three more attractions, and a break for lunch.

Recommendations

Photo by Richard Macko

If this is your only chance to visit Walt Disney World for awhile, these opportunities are a decent way to get a taste of the vast resort. But be aware, 6-7 hours is not much time to spend in the park. The cost of transportation is reasonable given the distance traveled, but paying for entire day’s admission (and single day admission is the most expensive admission on a per day basis) is somewhat expensive, not to mention that you’ll need to budget for meals during the day.

If you do decide to visit, we recommend PC11 and purchasing your park admission before your cruise. Why? Because you’ll be able to make FastPass+ reservations ahead of time, which will definitely save you time in line during your short trip. You should also create a MyDisneyExperience account, download Disney’s app, and link your park admission to your accounts before your cruise.

Other options

Book PC11 and visit a water park instead. This is less expensive. Allow one additional hour for transportation between the TTC and water parks, and pack a dry change of clothes.

Book PC11 and visit Disney Springs instead. Disney Springs offers dining and shopping in a themed environment without an admission cost. Again, allow time for transportation.

Visit Kennedy Space Center instead. KSC is much closer to Port Canaveral and can easily be experienced in a day.

For all Port Canaveral/Orlando Shore Excursions, check out these Royal Caribbean options.

TouringPlans loves RoyalCaribbeanBlog! Click this link for a special RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers discount. Discount code is automatically applied and is good for new subscriptions only.

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