This is part 2 in a series of 21 tips on saving money I learned on a recent Carnival Cruise to Cozumel, Mahogany Bay Honduras, and Belize. In this article we will look shore excursions both in general and specific to Cozumel, Mahogany Bay, and Belize. In part 1, we looked saving money on booking your cruise and getting to the port.
Excursions are the day trips you take when your ship arrives at a port. They can be expensive, but they can also be good deals in the long run. Think about it this way, on these excursions I can do lots of things that I could never do at home like snorkel, see Mayan ruins, or swim with dolphins.
It doesn’t make any sense to pay $1,500 for a cruise to some exotic part of the world you may never see again, but then not pay an extra $100 to do something really cool you will remember for the rest of your life. Here are a few ideas on keeping the costs of those excursions down though:
Tip 8: Book your own excursions
Carnival offers tons of excursions and most cruisers feel more comfortable booking the Carnival excursions because Carnival guarantees they won’t leave without you if your excursion is late getting back. I booked my excursions through Carnival, but I wish I had known how easy it was to book your own excursions to save money.
I now know that Cruisecompete.com also sells excursions at a discount.. Cruisecompete also guarantees their excursions meaning you will get a refund if your ship doesn’t make it to port for any reason, and guarantees you will be returned to your ship on time. If I had known about this before my trip I could have saved myself a little money.
Tip 9: Beaches are the cheapest excursions
You don’t have to go on a wild adventure every day in port. Maybe you just want to spend a nice day on the beach. If that sounds like a good time to you then you can save yourself some cash because excursions to the beach are the cheapest excursions you can buy.
If you have been on a cruise or two already and feel comfortable going out on your own, you don’t even need to book a beach excursion. Nothing is stopping you from taking a taxi to the nearest beach, and creating your own beach excursion.
Tip 10: Bring your own snorkel gear
I went snorkeling for the first time on this cruise and had a great time. It is something I will definitely do again. Because it was my first time I felt it was a good time to go with a guide and get the proper instruction. I spoke with some more experienced snorkelers though who saved some money by making their own snorkeling excursion.
First they brought their own snorkel gear, then they took a taxi to the same places the official excursions went to. They saved a lot of money by not having to pay for the guide they didn’t need anyway. This method has the added benefit of not forcing you to put a rented snorkel in your mouth. I might go with a guide the next time I go snorkeling, but after that I might feel comfortable enough to go it alone.
Some notes on the ports I visted
While a lot of the advice in this article will help you save money on any cruise you go on, I also wanted to include some specific advice on the port’s I visited which are Roatan Island in Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico.
Tip 11: What to do on Roatan Island
Roatan Island was the first stop on the cruise, and might be the best opportunity to save money on an excursion. For one thing, the excursions here just didn’t seem as exciting to me as at the other stops. For another, there is a great beach within walking distance of the port that you can enjoy for no extra fee. So if you want to spend a little less money on excursions by spending a day at the beach, this is the day to do it.
Carnival ships stop on a tiny little island that is entirely owned by Carnival and you will find yourself surrounded by a little village of souvenir shops as soon as you get off the ship. These shops are fun to look at, but in my opinion didn’t offer any great deals. There is a chair lift you can pay around $10 to take you to the beach, but this is completely unnecessary.
For one thing, it’s just a short walk that only the laziest person would want to pay $10 to avoid. For another, there is a nature trail to the beach that I saw as a fun little stroll through the jungle with jungle plants, birds, and lizards to look at along the way. The restaurants in the area don’t have great prices, but that is OK, because the boat is close enough you can just walk back to the boat, grab some free food, then go back to the beach for the afternoon.
Tip 12: What to do in Belize City
Unlike the other stops, you will probably want to go ahead and go on an excursion while you are in Belize. For one thing, Belize City isn’t the type of place you want to go hang around in unsupervised. It’s dirty and multiple sources have let me know it can be dangerous as well.That’s OK, because there are at least 3 great types of excursions you can go on in Belize.
My wife and I went to see Mayan ruins at a place called Altun-Ha. The old Mayan temples are huge and will interest anybody with even the vaguest interest in history. Souvenir stands at Altun-Hawere some of the best deals on souvenirs I saw on the whole cruise. You can either have a pretty tasty lunch near the ruins or just have yourself a little snack and be back on the boat in time to have a free late lunch mid afternoon.
Another popular thing to do in Belize is to go tubing through underground caves. It’s quite a bus ride to get there, but the people I spoke to who went on this trip had a great time.Finally, did you know Belize had the second biggest coral reef system in the world? Neither did I, but it makes for some great snorkeling. You can either go on an excursion, or just take a taxi to the beach yourself if you are adventurous.
Tip 13: What to do in Cozumel
The final stop on the cruise was in Cozumel, which was by far the nicest port to visit. The port area had a large shopping area with all types of souvenir shops, and plenty of restaurants. There are all kinds of excursions to go on in Cozumel.My wife and I went snorkeling, but there are lots of other things to do as well. Pick out your favorite excursion and know that it is difficult to make a bad choice here.
21 Tips for saving money on a Carnival cruise part 1-Bookings and transportation to the port.
21 Tips for saving money on a Carnival cruise part 3 – Food, drink, shipping, and communication- Coming soon
Disclosure: Links to cruisecompete.com are affiliate links. 10% of the advertising revenue generated from affiliate links goes to support the charity noted on the right hand side of this page. The recommendation to use cruisecompete.com was not influenced by this affiliate relationship as I have twice made purchases from cruisecompete.com before an affiliate relationship existed
Snorkeling picture by Doku Resort Fiji
Beach at Mahogany Bay picture by Michel