Excursions

Excursion Focus: Emerald Beach in St. Thomas

In:
09Jan2016

Most Royal Caribbean guests looking for a shore excursion in St. Thomas are likely to consider something at the beach and for good reason.  St. Thomas has a reputation for having some of the best beaches, including the world famous Magens Bay.

On our recent visit to St. Thomas, we tried a different beach that was much closer to the cruise ships at Emerald Beach.

Description

Some background is necessary for understanding why one would want to consider a lesser known beach, like Emerald Beach.

We had been to Magens Bay many times and while beautiful, it requires a long taxi ride across the interior of St. Thomas to reach there and then a modest entrance fee.

We endeavored to return to Magens Bay until our taxi driver pointed out two basic facts: almost any beach in St. Thomas is beautiful and there are beautiful beaches closer and for less money.

Enter, Emerald Beach, which is located just a few minutes drive from Charlotte Amalie.

Emerald Beach is a public beach that anyone can access, although there is a hotel that is located near the beach as well.  Despite the hotel, anyone can use the beach.

There is an outdoor bar and restaurant at the Best Western that anyone can go to to get drinks or food.

Comments

As our taxi driver promised, Emerald Beach is indeed quite beautiful and certainly a lot less crowded than what we have experienced on previous visits to Magens Bay.

If you want to be really picky about the details, Magens Bay is situated in a lush tropical valley, whereas Emerald Beach has a hotel behind it and the airport is across the street.  I would not characterize either as a problem, but it is worth noting.

Emerald Beach is a good choice for anyone looking for a quiet(er) beach experience with less crowds and/or a closer drive.  At five minutes from Charlotte Amalie, it is a really quick ride.

Address: 8070 Lindbergh Bay | West, Charlotte Amalie 00802, St. Thomas

Cost: Admission to beach is free

Spotted: Royal Caribbean offering shore excursion combination packages

In:
Category: 
14Dec2015

Something we discovered (and is new to us) are Royal Caribbean shore excursions that combine individual shore excursions across multiple port stops into one package.

On an upcoming Allure of the Seas Western Caribbean sailing, the Cruise Planner is offering a "Caribbean Must-Dos Package - Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel" combination package that includes these excursions:

The combination shore excursion package does appear to save guests a little bit of money.  For an adult, the combination saves $30.50 compared to booking the three shore excursions individually.

The idea to offer a combination shore excursion option is part of a larger fleet-wide initiative lately to bundle aspects of the cruise experience together, with beverage packages and dining packages offered to guests recently.

Would you book a combination shore excursion package? Tell us in the comments!

What you need to know about snorkeling on Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
10Dec2015

There is so much to do on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee and snorkeling is something a lot of guests look to try.

Labadee's clear and calm waters are great for giving snorkeling a try, and if you are interested in going snorkeling on your next visit, here is what you need to know.

Can I rent snorkeling gear on Labadee?

Guests cannot go to Labadee and rent snorkeling gear on the island, but guests can get snorkeling gear via any of the snorkeling excursions.

On many Royal Caribbean ships, there will be snorkeling gear to purchase onboard the ship.

Guests staying in a cabana will receive complimentary snorkeling gear to use.

Can I bring my own snorkeling gear?

Yes, guests can bring their own snorkeling gear to Labadee for use in the water.

How "good" is the snorkeling at Labadee?

While the ocean water is clear and fairly calm at Labadee, the snorkeling in the areas immediately surrounding the beach do not have a great deal of underwater sea life to see.

The excursions Royal Caribbean offers brings guests to some of the better spots nearby for snorekling, where there is more to underwater life to see.

Given Labadee is often the first port stop, veteran snorkelers often use Labadee as a chance to check their snorkel gear to make sure it all worked properly.  For those new to snorkeling, Labadee can be a great place for getting some practice in before snorkeling in other ports.

The real benefit of Labadee is that the ocean depth is pretty shallow. Often, you will be swimming in water of 1' to 5' of water, which is much shallower than other snorkeling ports and allows  to swim around coral in many places.

There is a lot of coral and a good variety of fish. There are lots of urchins including some big basketball size ones. It is a unique experience you don't get at the other places.

Where is the snorkeling?

The snorkeling area is off of Adrenaline Beach, on the north east side.

Getting there is fairly simple and about a 10 minute walk once on Labadee. Guests can follow the path or take the tram to bring you closer.

There is also some decent snorkeling at Nellie's beach, closest to the rope on the ship side.

What are some tips for anyone looking to snorkel at Labadee?

  • Go early for optimal water conditions. As the day progresses, the water can get hazy due to guests kicking up the sand.
  • Due to the rockiness, be sure to wear water shoes or fins.

Have you gone snorkeling in Labadee? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Paradise Beach guest shore excursion review

In:
05Dec2015

Paradise Beach is a popular beach excursion for Royal Caribbean guests visiting Cozumel, Mexico and today we have a great overview of what to expect here.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Keith Davis recently visited Paradise Beach, and shared his thoughts with us!

Description

Paradise Beach is a beach club that is open to the public for $3 per person. 

Once you arrive at Paradise Beach, here is what is available to all guests

  • Beach with chairs, loungers and umbrellas
  • Freshwater pool with lounge chairs
  • Two bars, one at the beach and one at the pool
  • Two bathrooms and changing areas, one at the entrance the other behind the bar

For an extra fees there are the following available:

  • Paddle boards
  • Kayaks
  • Water toys that include trampolines, slides, climbing iceberg, launch bags, water rocker & water mats
  •  Snorkel Equipment (Additional fee)
  • Massage tent adjacent to beach
  • Jet skis (separate vendor)
  • Paragliding (separate vendor)

​Guests can purchase a Fun Pass for $15, which gets them use of the paddleboards, kayaks, water mats and water toys.

All food & drink are available a la carte.  

Beers are $4.50. Tropical drinks $8.50/$14.75 for a souvenir yard glass. Burgers $11.25-$13.25, Chips and salsa $6.00, Nachos $9.25.

There is no all-inclusive option available.

Paradise Beach is located about 6 miles south of the International Pier, which will cost guests about a $15 taxi ride roundtrip.

Comments

The entrance into the water does have several areas where there are rocks, the best place to enter the water is the north end (far right) there are no rocks in this area.

Generally when there are several ships in port the beach can get crowded.  This last trip there was the Brilliance of the Seas, Independence of the Seas & Carnival Freedom but the beach remained fairly empty.  I think the threat of rain definitely came into play there.

It did rain twice, once we went into the roofed bar area and second we just stayed under the umbrella.  As is typical the showers passed in 10-15 minutes.

Cabs are plentiful for the return trip back to the ship.

Have you been to Paradise Beach? Share your thoughts on this excursion in our comments below!

Excursion Focus: Nachi Cocom Beach Break in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
04Nov2015

If you have an upcoming western Caribbean cruise, chances are you are visiting Cozumel, Mexico. 

 Royal Caribbean has been coming to Cozumel for decades and it has recently become one of my favorite stops.  There are so many options for beach days, excursions, and hotel’s for the day; it can be a little overwhelming.  

I’m going to share with you about my recent experience at Nachi Cocom. 

What is Nachi Cocom?

If you have never heard about Nachi Cocom, it’s an all-inclusive beach day that you can reserve online prior to your next Royal Caribbean cruise.  

The cost for the day is $55 per adult/$35 per child. When you make the reservation, you are required to put down a $11 deposit per person and the balance is due on check-in which is cash only.  

If you are interested in booking you will need to book direct through their website, as it’s not offered through Royal Caribbean.

Why book Nachi Cocom?

One thing that makes Nachi Cocom stand out compared to other local beach break places is they only let 100 people per day visit.  

With that being said, once they have 100 reservations they are sold out for the day.  To me if gives you more of the exclusive feel when you are here, because it never feels busy.  

I’ve been here three times now and the one thing that just keeps me coming back is their customer service is always outstanding.  

I have seen the bar staff running drinks over to ensure their guest don’t have to wait too long. 

What’s included in the price?

They provide each guest with a nice beach lounger and an umbrella as soon as you arrive, in fact they walk you over to it.  They also include unlimited alcohol and bottled water in the cover charge, which always makes for a fun day.  

Lastly, they include menu service delivered right to you on the beach, or they have sitting area.

I’ll mention most beach break places I’ve seen before are buffet style lunch, but at Nachi you get everything fresh and made to order.

And the food is absolutely outstanding; I usually order a couple of rounds of their fresh guacamole!  

Some other things that are included in the price are cabana’s poolside, hammocks, swimming pool, and swim up bar hot tub. 

What’s not included in the price?

Transportation is on your own when visiting Nachi, but not to worry taxi’s are $16-$18 each way.  Most of the time I take one alone going there, but have found new friends and split the ride going back.  

When you arrive a lady will take a picture of you and the group and later bring it to you for $12, I usually say no thank you since it’s just me.  

They also offer snorkel equipment, and beach massages for an extra charge.  I have not done either; so I don’t have any feedback, I’m always just looking for a lazy beach day. 

Have you ever visited Nachi Cocom before?  If so, please comment below and let us know what you thought.  

Royal Caribbean rolls out new shore excursions and offering free shore excursion sale this weekend

In:
13Aug2015

Royal Caribbean announced today it has revamped its shore excursion offerings and to celebrate the new offerings, is offering free shore excursions this weekend only.

Royal Caribbean's shore excursions have been grouped into seven special interest categories designed based on guest’s interest and vacation needs: Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries, and the Royal Premium Tour Collection.  

In celebration of the new tour offerings, Royal Caribbean is offering free shore excursions on all new reservations completed this weekend, August 14-16, 2015. Bookings for sailings departing on or after September 14 will receive a credit of up to $150 to use towards the shore excursion of choice.

The new shore excursion categories group together various excursions to make it simpler to find related activities.

Active Adventures 

Guests can get their hearts pumping with activities at every level, from riding a dune buggy and boat rides to high-energy excursions that will take their vacation’s adrenaline factor to the next level. From tackling six exhilarating zip lines and two skybridges in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to rappelling through small waterfalls, sliding toboggan-style down boulders and jumping off cliffs into natural pools at a thrilling watercourse in Madeira, Portugal, adventure seekers can test their metal on any one of these excursions.

Family Connections

Creating lifelong memories are what family vacations are all about. What better way to ensure those come to life with shore excursions that kids, parents and even grandparents can enjoy together. Families can share exciting experiences while attending gladiator school in Rome, Italy, where they can learn Roman gladiator combat skills with a hands-on fighting lesson and earn a certificate of Roman citizenship. Or embark into the great outdoors with awilderness kayak experience at Chilkoot Lake in Skagway, Alaska, where adventure seekers might spot bald eagles, brown bears, seals, sea lions or even whales. 

Royal Tour Challenge

In the spirit of good fun and some friendly competition, guests can spend their days in port with challenge-based activities designed especially for families and groups. Families and friends can spend some quality time together with a half-day laser tag adventure in Cozumel, Mexico, where participants will hit targets to gather points by following a jungle path filled with Mayan ruin replicas. Or better yet, guests can enjoy a five-on-five soccer game in Gijon, Spain, followed by a game of paddle tennis, a raquet sport played extensively in Spain.

Culture and Sights 

For travelers looking to explore history and culture with local experts and enrich their understanding of the world, they can select classic sightseeing tours, guided visits to archaeological sites and museums, live performances, and more. Guests can visit a sprawling Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand, which was built in honor of two famous kings, or explore Rome, Italy, in an Ape Calessino, the little vehicle eponymous to Italian style which launched in 1948 to help with post-WWII reconstruction.

Culinary Delights 

Want to know what’s on the menu, in the fields or on tap? Discover a destination’s authentic, essential flavors through excursions that introduce guests to local chefs, specialties and purveyors. Visit Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, Bahamas, and delight in making truffles, bonbons and bars with a tropical flair, or learn pizza-making from the experts in Naples, Italy, where the Italian favorite was invented in 1830.  

Caring Discoveries 

Guests wanting to make a difference in the places they visit can select tours committed to wildlife, the environment and local communities. Whether it issaving a sea turtle in Cozumel, Mexico, where approximately 20 percent of turtles aren’t quite ready to head for the seas, or meeting an Iditarod musher and their racing dogs at a dog sled camp in Skagway, Alaska, visitors will leave a lasting impression.

Private Destinations: Labadee, Haiti and CocoCay, Bahamas

These secluded escapes boast experiences that range from soaring 500 feet above the beaches of Labadee on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, to tranquil beachside escapes appreciated through guided nature walks or lounging on the white sandy beach of CocoCay.  Exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests, the dynamic offerings in Labadee and CocoCay tantalize guest’s individual craving for adventure or relaxation.

Excursion Focus: St Thomas Sky Ride to Paradise Point

In:
05Aug2015

If you are going to see the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, why not see it from over 700 feet above sea level?  The Skyride to Paradise Point allows guests to go to the top of a mountain and enjoy a stunning view of the island.

Description

The premise of the Skyride is simple, take a cable car from the base of the mountain all the way up the hillside in just minutes.

Located within walking distance from the Havensight Pier, the Skyride is a 5-10 minute walk.  No taxis or transportation needed, it is easily accessed.

There are no set times for this excursion.  Guests may purchase tickets from the ship's Shore Excursion Desk or purchase tickets at the attraction.  If you bought tickets on your Royal Caribbean ship, you can exchange your tickets for wristbands at the ticket office.

Admission to the Skyride is good for the entire day, so you may return later on and experience it again.

Once you have your wristbands, guests will walk up a set of stairs to the loading area.  

Guests will be lined up in the order they arrived to board the next available cable car to the top.

The cable cars can hold about 6-8 people and there are windows on all sides to allow a view on the way up.  The ride itself takes roughly five minutes and is fairly tame.  There is little in the way of swaying or motion and the ride is quite smooth.

Once at the top of Paradise Point, guests disembark the cable car and can walk to a number of platforms to enjoy the view.

In addition to the view of the harbor, Paradise Point features shops, a nature trail, a restaurant and a bar.

Guests may return down to the bottom at any time.

Comments

There is no question that the skyride offers some fantastic views of the harbor, Charlotte Amalie and the surrounding area.  It is the perfect perspective to see your Royal Caribbean ship in the harbor.

Getting to the skyride and up the mountain is pretty simple and the only caveat worth mentioning is there are a lot of stairs involved, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair, keep in mind that there is no alternative to the stairs.

Once at the top, the view is impressive and it makes for great photos.  

The Paradise Point folks advertise a Carnival show everyday, although we were not present for it on our stop. 

The shops and bar at the top are your typical tourist-centric diversions and we opted not to go there.

If you have never done the skyride, it is an impressive attraction that can be completed fairly quickly.  You should have plenty of time to do other activities on St. Thomas even after experiencing the Skyride.

Royal Caribbean also advertises that the excursion is risk free, so if you purchase a ticket at the Shore Excursion Desk and then decide not to go for whatever reason, you may return the unused ticket to the Shore Excursions Desk onboard for a full refund.

Reservations

The St. Thomas Skyride has a tremendous capacity and the benefit of a full refund is reason enough to purchase tickets in advance either on Royal Caribbean's web site, or at the Excursion Desk on board your ship.  

Cost: $21.75 per adult, $10.75 for kids.  

Royal Caribbean offering new shore excursion to Pope's private summer residence

In:
12Jul2015

If you are taking a Mediterannean cruise, Royal Caribbean has a new shore excursion for those stopping in Rome.

Royal Caribbean rolled out a new shore excursion to the Pope's private summer residence estate, along with stops at other well-known landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

Since 1626, the estate has served as a second home to the pope. View majestic gardens and a working farmhouse set amid Roman ruins of the ancient Amphitheatre and Villa built by Emperor Domitian and dating back to the 1st Century A.D.

This is the first time this residence has ever been opened.

Royal Caribbean guests will also visit the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo, the estate’s majestic gardens and the on-site working farmhouse, a panoramic drive across Rome, and an in-depth tour of the world-famous Vatican Museum.

Following the tour, enjoy a panoramic drive through Rome—passing by the Colosseum—before arrival in Vatican City.

The price for the Pope's Summer Residence and Vatican City - CVR2 shore excursion is $165 per adult and $129 for children.  The tour is approximately 10 hours.

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