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Ne47

Staying on ship in 2 ports - good idea?

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We have an upcoming cruise on Harmony in late August and are staying star class.  First time on RCCL (we have sailed DCL) and first time on Western Caribbean itinerary.  It’s just me and my 9 year old son.  He doesn’t like the beach but loves swimming in pools.  I love lying around getting served frozen drinks.  We will be getting off at coco cay and at Costa maya (to zip line.).  I’ve considered getting a resort day pass in Cozumel but am also considering just staying on the ship in both Cozumel and Roatan.  It seems kind of silly to disembark to go somewhere to pay for food, drink and pools when we have all of that already on board.  But does the ship really empty out on port days and/or if we stayed onboard for 2/4 port days will we regret it?  I’m also super concerned about safety - as we will be traveling without my husband.  

So any advice?  Is using the ship’s pools on a port day with less people and enjoying our star class perks just as good as snagging a day pass for a resort?  Thanks for any advice!

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Check out https://www.boddentours.com/ for Roatan ideas. We will be doing a full day private tour going to their Monkey business park to see monkeys, hold sloths etc, horseback riding and a trip to a beach resort. The cost is <100pp for the whole day. Their tours are customizable so you can see if there is something you and your son will be interested in while in Roatan. We found these prices far better than anything RC has. They pick you up at the ship and make sure you are back to the ship in time.

Staying on the ship for the day will be fun as well if nothing there interests you

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1 hour ago, Ne47 said:

We have an upcoming cruise on Harmony in late August and are staying star class.  First time on RCCL (we have sailed DCL) and first time on Western Caribbean itinerary.  It’s just me and my 9 year old son.  He doesn’t like the beach but loves swimming in pools.  I love lying around getting served frozen drinks.  We will be getting off at coco cay and at Costa maya (to zip line.).  I’ve considered getting a resort day pass in Cozumel but am also considering just staying on the ship in both Cozumel and Roatan.  It seems kind of silly to disembark to go somewhere to pay for food, drink and pools when we have all of that already on board.  But does the ship really empty out on port days and/or if we stayed onboard for 2/4 port days will we regret it?  I’m also super concerned about safety - as we will be traveling without my husband.  

So any advice?  Is using the ship’s pools on a port day with less people and enjoying our star class perks just as good as snagging a day pass for a resort?  Thanks for any advice!

I think a 9 year old would enjoy many of the 3-4 hour excursions, and you would return in time for a lunch on the ship.  Our son at that age enjoyed excursions.  It boils down to why you booked the cruise -- was it to travel or just unwind?

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The ship will definitely seem more empty while the bulk of guests visit the port.  I kind of enjoy that.  You won't be alone but the pools won't be anything like they are on sea days.  

I often save the water slides for doing on port days with few if any lines.  

Some things are not open the whole day such as the Abyss slides but pools generally should be.

You can review a cruise compass from a past guest to see open times during port stops.

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass?ship=1071

Here is a day in Cozumel on Harmony in May as an example:

2088921481_HMCZM.thumb.jpeg.bd423f5621d8a5ffb68205510c1761cb.jpeg

Perfect Storm water slides 9am to 7pm, Splash-Away Bay 10am to 6pm, Abyss 3pm to 7pm.

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42 minutes ago, Ne47 said:

We have an upcoming cruise on Harmony in late August and are staying star class.  First time on RCCL (we have sailed DCL) and first time on Western Caribbean itinerary.  It’s just me and my 9 year old son.  He doesn’t like the beach but loves swimming in pools.  I love lying around getting served frozen drinks.  We will be getting off at coco cay and at Costa maya (to zip line.).  I’ve considered getting a resort day pass in Cozumel but am also considering just staying on the ship in both Cozumel and Roatan.  It seems kind of silly to disembark to go somewhere to pay for food, drink and pools when we have all of that already on board.  But does the ship really empty out on port days and/or if we stayed onboard for 2/4 port days will we regret it?  I’m also super concerned about safety - as we will be traveling without my husband.  

So any advice?  Is using the ship’s pools on a port day with less people and enjoying our star class perks just as good as snagging a day pass for a resort?  Thanks for any advice!

IMHO- you are on a floating mega resort in Star Class. As far as the cruising experience goes (minus the boutique lines like Regent), it doesn’t get better! Stay on the ship and enjoy the Harmony. There’s no need to get off in Cozumel and certainly you are missing nothing of note in Roatan. Enjoy!

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This community is so great!  Thanks for all comments and insights - from above I feel better as it seems like we could do a short excursion or non at all and we wouldn’t be totally amiss!  My purpose of this trip is to wind down, although I’m sure my 9 year old son would want to wind it up!

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The added benefit of not booking your schedule full is taking time to relax and wind down.  Some folks feel the need to do something at every port.  By the time the cruise is over they need a vacation from their vacation.  

You can also see how the weather is and make plans based on how the day plays out.  

In Cozumel there are a lot of shops in the cruise port area if you feel the need for the t-shirt to prove you went there.  That Cozumel compound is secure, only ship guests can access it, not than Cozumel has many safety issues.

Roatan has a small area of shops lining the port area.  

 

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50 minutes ago, twangster said:

The added benefit of not booking your schedule full is taking time to relax and wind down.  

I totally agree with @twangsterabout this. I'm guilty of trying to jam way too much into every minute of every day. Last cruise I booked 3 excursions out of 4 ports. All of them 6hrs plus. Next cruise we are only planning to take 2 excursions out of 5 ports and no more than 4hrs each. I do admit it will be hard to try and consider not getting off the ship in port, especially since we have not been to any of the ports on our upcoming cruise.

If your son is anything like my two boys were at that age, there would be plenty on board to keep them occupied, at least for one day.

Happy cruising!

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We had a stop in Labadee on one cruise and stayed on the ship.  There were two reasons,  We're not beach people.   And the food available to us on the ship was better than the last time we were there and ate BBQ.   

Then on a trip with an overnight stay at Nassau I mostly stayed onboard.  After we had completed 3 ports I had a snorkeling trip purposely set up for the 2nd day.   I wanted a day in between the port days but it was cancelled due to low interest.   I could have rescheduled for the first day in port but I was tired of running around.  Other than a quick walk down the shopping area I stayed on the ship.   

I didn't think I missed out on anything.  I'll just go another time.   It is super relaxing to be on the ship when in port.   The only thing that is any kind of irritation is some of the things that might be shut down, like bars or towel stations.  

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We have been all over the Caribbean and this is my personal list of “stay on/ get off” ports:

1. Nassau- stay on the ship. Mostly dumpy with few exceptions at the mega resorts for day passes.

2. Cozumel- Get off. Lots to see and do. Great snorkeling, diving, beaches and a safe downtown. Also- rent a Jeep and tour the island perimeter road stopping at light house. 

3. Falmouth- stay on the ship. Not safe, dumpy, constantly hassled for tip money. Dunn’s river falls just not worth the BS. 

4. San Juan- get off. Great walking downtown and shopping. Fort is pretty neat to check out. 

5. Labadee- get off. Great beach day. Dragon line zip line is great! Safe & fun.

6. Coco Cay- get off. Our personal favorite so far. Lots to do, awesome pool! 

7. St Maarten- get off. Nice walk to the downtown shopping from ship. Nice beach and bars/food service located on beach! Maho beach is an experience and a drink at the sunset bar is a must.

8. St Thomas- get off. Bus to fabulous Meagan’s bay beach!! 

9. Costa Maya- get off. Pool area right off pier makes for a nice day. Never left that area so can’t comment on the rest of the port. Mainland Yucatán is always a roll of the dice though IMHO. 

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We are most definitely ship people.  We've been fortunate enough to have taken enough cruises that we have been around to most of the Caribbean ports. 

When we went Star Class, we only got off at Labadee as we wanted to take advantage of as many Star Class benefits as possible.  I am also of the mindset (although I know that I am in the minority here) that I do not want to pay extra for food and drinks at a land resort/beach when I already have lots of food/drinks on board.  Like you, we are not really beach people either so that makes the decision to stay on board easier. 

The ship does empty out quite a bit on port days.  My kids look forward to those days to take advantage of a less congested pool deck and pool. 

I don't think that you will regret staying on board as long as you know what you are in for.  I recommend doing your research, make sure that there is nothing that interests you at the ports you visit that you really would want to do, then you won't feel like you are missing out.

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3 hours ago, tonyfsu21 said:

We have been all over the Caribbean and this is my personal list of “stay on/ get off” ports:

1. Nassau- stay on the ship. Mostly dumpy with few exceptions at the mega resorts for day passes.

2. Cozumel- Get off. Lots to see and do. Great snorkeling, diving, beaches and a safe downtown. Also- rent a Jeep and tour the island perimeter road stopping at light house. 

3. Falmouth- stay on the ship. Not safe, dumpy, constantly hassled for tip money. Dunn’s river falls just not worth the BS. 

4. San Juan- get off. Great walking downtown and shopping. Fort is pretty neat to check out. 

5. Labadee- get off. Great beach day. Dragon line zip line is great! Safe & fun.

6. Coco Cay- get off. Our personal favorite so far. Lots to do, awesome pool! 

7. St Maarten- get off. Nice walk to the downtown shopping from ship. Nice beach and bars/food service located on beach! Maho beach is an experience and a drink at the sunset bar is a must.

8. St Thomas- get off. Bus to fabulous Meagan’s bay beach!! 

9. Costa Maya- get off. Pool area right off pier makes for a nice day. Never left that area so can’t comment on the rest of the port. Mainland Yucatán is always a roll of the dice though IMHO. 

I agree with your list 100%, I would just ad that I would also get off at all the southern Caribbean ports as to me they are all fantastic and top anything on the list above.

 

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8 hours ago, tonyfsu21 said:

We have been all over the Caribbean and this is my personal list of “stay on/ get off” ports:

1. Nassau- stay on the ship. Mostly dumpy with few exceptions at the mega resorts for day passes.

2. Cozumel- Get off. Lots to see and do. Great snorkeling, diving, beaches and a safe downtown. Also- rent a Jeep and tour the island perimeter road stopping at light house. 

3. Falmouth- stay on the ship. Not safe, dumpy, constantly hassled for tip money. Dunn’s river falls just not worth the BS. 

4. San Juan- get off. Great walking downtown and shopping. Fort is pretty neat to check out. 

5. Labadee- get off. Great beach day. Dragon line zip line is great! Safe & fun.

6. Coco Cay- get off. Our personal favorite so far. Lots to do, awesome pool! 

7. St Maarten- get off. Nice walk to the downtown shopping from ship. Nice beach and bars/food service located on beach! Maho beach is an experience and a drink at the sunset bar is a must.

8. St Thomas- get off. Bus to fabulous Meagan’s bay beach!! 

9. Costa Maya- get off. Pool area right off pier makes for a nice day. Never left that area so can’t comment on the rest of the port. Mainland Yucatán is always a roll of the dice though IMHO. 

I agree with all of this!  I struggle with the "I've paid for good and drink on board" vs "gee I should see.......".  For example, if I have the drink pkg, should I really do a resort for the day?  I know it's a beach, which I enjoy, but I think the more I cruise the less it matters.  What I am increasingly doing is short days in ports and then back early to relax and enjoy the ship amenities.  Jane

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6 hours ago, mom2mybugs said:

 the more I cruise the less it matters.  What I am increasingly doing is short days in ports and then back early to relax and enjoy the ship amenities.  Jane

I think this is the sign of a “mature” cruiser.  That is not to say that there are not still adventures to be experienced....it’s just that you begin to be selective about your experiences.  The “beach day” just isn’t as exciting as it once was.  Nothing wrong with that.  ...and I completely agree about staying on the ship where all of your food and drinks are already included - especially when  you have purchased either the UDP, the DBP or both !

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We are planning on staying on board for at least one port in our upcoming cruises.  I would suggest going to see the sloths in Roatan if you haven't seen them.  We prefer not to pay again for food and drink since we get it with the cruise but do enjoy trying local food just not paying for all inclusive at a resort.

On 7/14/2019 at 4:04 PM, tonyfsu21 said:

We have been all over the Caribbean and this is my personal list of “stay on/ get off” ports:

1. Nassau- stay on the ship. Mostly dumpy with few exceptions at the mega resorts for day passes.

2. Cozumel- Get off. Lots to see and do. Great snorkeling, diving, beaches and a safe downtown. Also- rent a Jeep and tour the island perimeter road stopping at light house. 

3. Falmouth- stay on the ship. Not safe, dumpy, constantly hassled for tip money. Dunn’s river falls just not worth the BS. 

4. San Juan- get off. Great walking downtown and shopping. Fort is pretty neat to check out. 

5. Labadee- get off. Great beach day. Dragon line zip line is great! Safe & fun.

6. Coco Cay- get off. Our personal favorite so far. Lots to do, awesome pool! 

7. St Maarten- get off. Nice walk to the downtown shopping from ship. Nice beach and bars/food service located on beach! Maho beach is an experience and a drink at the sunset bar is a must.

8. St Thomas- get off. Bus to fabulous Meagan’s bay beach!! 

9. Costa Maya- get off. Pool area right off pier makes for a nice day. Never left that area so can’t comment on the rest of the port. Mainland Yucatán is always a roll of the dice though IMHO. 

Nassau - stay on ship

Cozumel - can go either way for us as we've been there so many times including a land vacation

Falmouth - we love Jamaica and always find something to do

San Juan - get off

Labadee - depends if we have another beach day.  We think the food is horrible here.

Coco Cay - get off

St Maarten - I could stay on the ship but hubby loves it

St. Thomas - stay of ship

Costa Maya - lots to do either at the pier or on a tour or in town

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NE47 - I'm going to give you another perspective.  How often does your child get a chance to see other cultures and venues?  Pools, slides, ping pong (and generic dock shopping) all run together - but Mayan ruins, botanical parks, exotic animals, zip-lining in jungle canopies, cave touring and beaches with coconut trees are rarer occurrences and maybe make better memories.   You can still relax.  Just sayin...

 

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Thanks for posting this - really good point and food for thought.  Especially as his favorite trip of his short life is an adventure tour we did in Costa Rica.  My favorite too - come to think of it!

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Maybe sit down with the kiddo and take a look at what is available in each port and let him be part of the decision making.  Maybe he can find one excursion that really sticks out and you make that be your get off the ship port.  Then for the other ports if he seems interested in getting off to walk around a bit, maybe spend some time doing that and then get back on the ship.  

For your itinerary, Costa Maya has the best area to walk around immediately at the port.  The port is very commercially developed and there's plenty to walk around and look at without leaving the port compound.  Roatan has one building with several shops but nothing else immediately there.  Visiting the monkeys and sloths is a big hit with kids, but it will require leaving the port area and arranging transportation to get there.  Cozumel would be the one I would skip simply because it's the most common stop on a western Caribbean itinerary.  They have nice beach clubs there but since you have CocoCay, it seems redundant.

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On 7/14/2019 at 3:04 PM, tonyfsu21 said:

We have been all over the Caribbean and this is my personal list of “stay on/ get off” ports:

1. Nassau- stay on the ship. Mostly dumpy with few exceptions at the mega resorts for day passes.

2. Cozumel- Get off. Lots to see and do. Great snorkeling, diving, beaches and a safe downtown. Also- rent a Jeep and tour the island perimeter road stopping at light house. 

3. Falmouth- stay on the ship. Not safe, dumpy, constantly hassled for tip money. Dunn’s river falls just not worth the BS. 

4. San Juan- get off. Great walking downtown and shopping. Fort is pretty neat to check out. 

5. Labadee- get off. Great beach day. Dragon line zip line is great! Safe & fun.

6. Coco Cay- get off. Our personal favorite so far. Lots to do, awesome pool! 

7. St Maarten- get off. Nice walk to the downtown shopping from ship. Nice beach and bars/food service located on beach! Maho beach is an experience and a drink at the sunset bar is a must.

8. St Thomas- get off. Bus to fabulous Meagan’s bay beach!! 

9. Costa Maya- get off. Pool area right off pier makes for a nice day. Never left that area so can’t comment on the rest of the port. Mainland Yucatán is always a roll of the dice though IMHO. 

Good list, except we stay on a Labadee. We don't do beaches. #3 goes for all Jamaica ports for us. I agree that getting off the ship doesn't have to include an excursion. 

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Hi, I'm joining in because I've got a further question. Will activities like ice rink, climbing wall, kids club, slides (apart from the bigger one) and all pools be opened all day in port? It's difficult to read a cruise compass when you're not familiar with the names (1st RC cruise, on Harmony).

I've cruised DCL a lot, and last year in Nassau I decided to stay on board to enjoy pools and the slide. Unfortunately, I found out DCL was using that day to clean up its pool and slide, and most everything was closed all morning; this was very frustrating. 

As frequent Carribean cruisers, we also tend to stay on board on ports we have already visited many times. But we like beaches, so we will surely get down in Coco Cay. For our first RC cruise, I decided to go basic: no fancy restaurants, no thrill park, just try what's included on the fare and see if we like it, everything will be new anyway. If we ever come back, then we may go for a change.

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It definitely depends what you cruise for. Is it for discovering things you normally wouldn't? relaxing? adventuring? I have been to Roatan and Cozumel in the past. I should have done an excursion in Roatan, because of the uneasiness outside the main gates. Local children were our tour guides and we tipped them afterwards. they brought us to little shops. I hear the monkey excursions are awesome! In Cozumel, i personally did a parasailing tour and then went shopping at the pier. the views were magnificent! Some friends of mine went to the Mayan ruins in the area and said they were awesome. I did a Myan ruin excursion in Belize- which was awesome, we actually got to climb the pyramid, the view was beautiful. 

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21 hours ago, FroggyFlo said:

Hi, I'm joining in because I've got a further question. Will activities like ice rink, climbing wall, kids club, slides (apart from the bigger one) and all pools be opened all day in port? It's difficult to read a cruise compass when you're not familiar with the names (1st RC cruise, on Harmony).

I've cruised DCL a lot, and last year in Nassau I decided to stay on board to enjoy pools and the slide. Unfortunately, I found out DCL was using that day to clean up its pool and slide, and most everything was closed all morning; this was very frustrating. 

As frequent Carribean cruisers, we also tend to stay on board on ports we have already visited many times. But we like beaches, so we will surely get down in Coco Cay. For our first RC cruise, I decided to go basic: no fancy restaurants, no thrill park, just try what's included on the fare and see if we like it, everything will be new anyway. If we ever come back, then we may go for a change.

They will have set times that they are open.  For example I snagged a same Cruise Compass from Harmony and for Costa Maya they were in port  11a-6:30p.  The activities schedule had:

  • Carousel   5p-10p
  • Flowrider Advanced    StandUp 8a-9a
  • Flowrider Boogie Boarding/StandUp   9a-11a/4p-7p
  • Rock Climbing Wall 3p-7p
  • Splashaway Bay (kids splash area) 10a-6p
  • Sports Court 8a-11p
  • Perfect Storm waterslides 9a-7p
  • Ultimate Abyss (dry side) 930a-11a/3p-7p
  • Zip Line 9a-11a/4p-7p

You'll notice no times for ice skating on this particular day. I only found ice skating available on the sea days.  They have to work around the ice shows and practices for this and other events that use the ice rink theater.

Pools should be open when in port.  They usually will only close one at a time for cleaning.

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