Mailbag Monday: January 23, 2012 Edition

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From time to time I like post answers to questions that I feel may help readers of the blog, I call it Mailbag Monday.  On this Mailbag Monday we talk about shore excursions, RCI dining and Bermuda cruises.  Hopefully, these questions will help not only the person who asked it but also others who may be reading.  Remember if you have any questions that you want answered feel free to use the contact form to send me an email.  If for some reason you don’t want your question used for Mailbag Monday just put it in the subject line or at the end of your email.

Shore Excursions to Book or Not to Book?

I will be going on a Caribbean Cruise in April.  When I looked at the cruise line website there are like 100 shore excursions that that can be booked ahead of time.  The cruises cost from 30-200$ a person which seems pretty staggering.  So really I have a couple different questions for you.

  • Do you need to book excursions in advance or can you book them on the cruise?
  • Is it worth booking these excursions is there enough stuff do and without having to pay for extras?

Okay, about excursions first let me tackle the question about when to book them.  First, yes you can book shore excursions after you board the ship but the more important question is if you should.  On the occasions where I book excursions through the cruise line I wait until I am actually on the ship unless, it is something I anticipate to be in high demand. Usually there is no real upside or downside to the timing of when you book an excursion but if there is an excursion you absolutely must have, book it now.  There is no point in taking a chance that a must have excursion gets filled up.

The answer to your second question of is there enough to do without having to go on an excursion is a resounding yes.  However, if this is your first cruise I would say you will probably want to book shore excursions through the cruise line. Later on, as you gain more experience cruising you will probably book ship sponsored excursions less frequently.  When you are new to a port sometimes it’s nice to let the excursion provider do the worrying for you but over time you will visit many of these ports multiple times.  Once you have been to St. Thomas a few times and have seen many of the sights you kind of find your own grove.

Necessity of Foreign Currency on a Cruise

I’ll be going on a cruise to the Western Caribbean.  We are visiting Cozumel, Roatan, Cost Maya and Belize do I need foreign currencies in those countries?

No you won’t need foreign currency in any of those countries on your cruise itinerary.  Every merchant you encounter in those countries will be more than happy to take good old United States legal tender.  Smaller merchants will be cash only but more established brick and mortar stores should also accept credit cards.  Just be forewarned that when paying in cash you will probably get your change back in local currency.  So, you will want to make sure you have small bills so that you can lessen the amount of change you have since they will be little more than souvenirs once you leave that country.

Dinner with Strangers

We are traveling on Royal Caribbean is it mandatory that you sit with strangers at dinner?

One of the best things about taking a cruise is nothing (other than the muster drill) is mandatory.  It’s your cruise so you can do whatever you want.  Now if you book traditional dining (early or late) seating your options for a table for two may be limited.  However, if you choose the option of “Anytime Dining” you will be able to eat whenever you want and with whomever you want (as long as they are complicit with you forcing yourself upon them).

Cruising From New York to Bermuda

I am planning a NY to Bermuda cruise for April but have a question about the weather.  I know the weather in New York can be hit or miss but what about the weather in Bermuda and also on the way to Bermuda?  This price is right but I don’t really want to book it if the weather isn’t going to be nice.

Well you already know how that time of year can be in New York, anywhere between 20 degrees and blizzard-like conditions and a perfect 80 degree day.  The weather in Bermuda is slightly more predictable with the average temperature being 71 degrees with an expected 4 inches of precipitation.  The sea in between those two ports will obviously be a mix of both but you all have to take into account the winds.  I have never sailed that trip at that time of year so I can’t speak from first-hand experience but I’d say things will be a little on the chilly side.  I would also expect the water temperature to be kind of cold in Bermuda.  My best approximation would be comparable to the water temperature of the NJ/DE/MD area in the early summer, mid to upper sixties.

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