In fifty years of cruising we stopped using the Cruise Tours forty nine years ago. If you want to pay treble the price & join fifty or sixty people on a bus, that's fine, However if you want the freedom to stop, start, move on as you please, then go it alone. As for your question on how difficult, the hardest part is NOT getting a taxi as at most ports they will hound you like a pack of wolves. The advise given by Guy is good advise to bear in mind, but don't let it stop you doing your own thing. Hundreds will be doing the same & be aware that every taxi/van driver knows every cruise tour by heart. Regards.
I think a lot depends on how far you plan to go. If you're going to be round about the port then it's not likely to be a problem, but make sure you know what time you have to be back on board!
I'd be wary of, e.g. going to Rome fron Civitavecchia (sp?) under my own steam as you only need an accident on the motorway or a delayed train and you're in trouble.
Sorry but your answer doesn't hold a lot of water. Strangely I do know what time to be back on board & at Christmas we did the pyramids by taxi, a 300 mile round trip as an example. As for worrying about the motorways being blocked, if I can't get, back neither can the coaches, so what's the panic?
Actually the answer is neither of the alternatioves you propose. The best thing to do is simply fix up your trips when you reach the islands, all of which have "taxis" waiting on the quayside. These are often large van type vehicles holding quite a lot of people, and you can barter with the drivers for the best deal. They often have "dispatchers" who will arrange a trip for you. If you can become part of a group you can get an even better deal. For the popular tours, the cost will often be less than half of the ship's price.
Just a couple of examples. On St Thomas, you can get to Magens Bay, a fantastic beach spot, very easily, and you can even be dropped of in Carlotte Amalie town on the way back if you wish.
On St Martin, you can get a tour of the island (ours included a naturist beach!) and again drop off in Philipsburg, one of the nicest caribbean towns with a good beach, on the way back, then local ferry to the cruise dock.
Whatever you do, make sure you leave plenty of time to return to the ship!
Cheaper to do your own thing and the farther from the docks you get the cheaper they can get.the down side is if you don't get back on time (most unlikely)they may sail without you,agree the price before you get in make sure the taxi has air-con and if you can share with some fellow passengers.
I could only emphasise the answer below, if you're on an excursion booked through your cruise company and you get delayed they will either hold the ship for you, or take responsibility for getting you back to it. If you've booked it independently they will leave you, and it's your responsibility for catching up with the ship.
In case you think they'd not leave you, I can assure you they will as I've been on ships when people have been left.
Overstaying your time at a mooring costs a lot of money!
What a very sensible answer, as recently a taxi driver refused to take them back to the ship on time unless they payed more money, and held them to ransom , a fight broke out and the cruise guests were arrested and spent 5 days in an infernal caribbean jail imagine this happening to a family . go with the cruise line excursions , you are safe , as for it never has happened to me , then their is always the first time . NOT WORTH THE WORRY !
KEITH GARDNER .
Do it yourself! Always plan to be back at the latest 1 hr before the 'back-on-board' time. Most Caribbean islands or their attractions are small enough to do it easily within the 'ship in port' time. Never pay the guide/driver until you are back portside. We have sailed extensivly in the Caribbean & never had a problem, although we have also seen people get back late/too late. Walk off the ship & listen to what the other passengers are deciding upon. Ask if you can join up with them. They will very often be looking for other passengers to make up a mini-bus full. Deflect guide's insistance by saying "we have been here many times & we just want to wander around here for a minute thanks" Barbardos; trip must include trip to St. John's church at Bathsheba, with incredible views over the wild coastline. A walk around town, time permitting is good & safe. St. Maartin has two sides, Dutch & French. The French side is more 'upmarket' but the streets are full of doggie poo! Decent beach just off the dockside, with a great bar that the crew frequents.St Lucia; a trip can include a visit to the sulpher springs, lying in a dormant volcano. Also can include a close-up visit to the twin peaks, The Pitons. St Thomas is for Americans! Great if you like lots of blingy diamond shops, one after the other. Two great beaches are Megan's Bay, busy, crowded, lots going on, if you like that sort of thing, but a beautiful curve of beach; or a trip on the ferry to Trunk Bay on St. Johns. This is a quieter beach, but absolutely stunning & virtually hassle-free, decide on the dockside & talk to the driver about co-ordinating it all, drive to ferry, ferry times, driver on the other side, etc. he should be able to sort it all out.
I think it is St.Lucia where there is a train ride either out to the sugar plantation from the centre or vice versa. The train is two tier with air conditioning on the lower part and open air on top. We like the shopping in Barbados the drink is the lowest we found in the Caribbean, albeit you have to hnd it over when you return to the ship and not see it again until the day before you disembark. In St.Maarten we like the french part, the dutch part has so far never apealled to us. The only island we know of where it is an international telephone cost to make contact between the two parts.
My wife advises the train ride is in St.Kitts and not in St.Lucia !!