Port and Shore Excursions
This stop at Royal Caribbeans private island made the otherwise disappointing trip worthwhile. It was a full beach day, relaxing, lots of chairs and space available, lots of things to do for young kids, great lovely beaches, and yummy BBQ lunch.
I have read that many times if seas are rough RC will skip this port...how disappointing! It really is the best stop on the cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the shopping, beaching, relaxing, and drinks. And the best part of all is that the ship arrived early at 8:30 AM, so you had a full day on CocoCay.
The only negatives were all the flies around the food (gross! - get some covers for goodness sake!) and the constant pushing of alcoholic drinks. Sure the "Coco Loco" drinks were yummy, but they were $12/each! One was certainly enough!
I would have given this shore excursion 5 stars, except it was too short. Our Royal Caribbean ship didn't get into Nassau until approximately 12:30 PM on Christmas Day, so we didn't have enough time to do anything. The boat/ferry ride to Blue Lagoon island is advertised as being 40 minutes long, but it was much closer to 60 minutes at least. The ferry made another stop on the way. Was definitely longer than advertised. We didn't get to Blue Lagoon island until 2pm. Had enough time to eat a quick lunch, swim a little bit, and then had to board the ferry again at 4:30 pm for another 60 minute ride back to the Nassau pier. Basically we spent the same amount of time riding the ferry back and forth than we did on the island.
That aside, Blue Lagoon island was beautiful. There was a calm lagoon side which was perfect for young children with water toys, soft beach, and calm shallow water. No sharks! :) The other side was more open-ocean and also had soft sand, nice water to swim. The BBQ lunch was very good with hamburgers, veggie burgers, grilled BBQ chicken (delicious!), fruit, salad, and french fries. TO note, there was lemonade and fruit punch offered, but it was made very clear that you could only have ONE cup and there were no free refills. Of Cool-Aid. LOL. But the staff didn't really care.
This was definitely a worthwhile shore excursion. We did not do the Dolphin or Sea Lion enounter, but definitely enjoyed the boat rides (by Oprah Winfrey's estates!) and the lunch. We only wish that we had another couple of hours there on the beach.
Our shore excursion to Walt Disney World was a complete fiasco and the worst experience of our entire Royal Caribbean Cruise. I have no idea why Royal Caribbean even bothered to advertise a shore excursion to Walt Disney World for the stop in Port Canaveral on Christmas Eve. It was an expensive waste of time and money.
The boat didn't get into Port Canaveral until 11am, we were disembarked by 11:30am and it took an hour by bus to get to Disney World. We got to the park at 1pm only to be told that the Magic Kingdom was CLOSED because the park had reached capacity and was full. This was the one stop my two children were really looking forward to and had talked about for weeks in advance. You can imagine the tears when they couldn't see the Magic Kingdom. And the upset parents, grandparents, and children all on the bus.
Even worse, we were out $300 for park tickets and $100 for the bus ride. And we were supposed to wait until 7pm to take the return bus back. We also had a character dining reservation in the Magic Kingdom that we couldn't get to because we couldn't get into the park. So I had to spend nearly an hour on the phone with WDW reservations trying to avoid a no-show penalty. It was an AWFUL experience!
The shore excursion bus didn't drop us off at the Magic Kingdom as promised, but instead took us to the WDW transportation hub and basically made us fend for ourselves. With two elderly grandparents and two young children, this was no easy feat. We ended up packed in the Animal Kingdom, which no one really cared to visit. And because we didn't want to have to wait until 7pm or 8pm for the return bus, we ended up shelling out nearly $200 for private transportation back to the boat.
When I went the next day to the shore excursions desk to ask for a refund, the gentleman at the desk was rude and hostile. Apparently a lot of other families had complained about the Disney fiasco and he was not in a good mood. He started to write up a report for his supervisor, noting my complaints. When i started to read the report over his shoulder to make sure it was accurate, he yelled at me, put his hand over the computer screen, and said it was "private" and "not for me to read!" WTF? This is MY report, and I wanted to make sure it was accurate. I received a phone call the next day from a supervisor, saying I would be refunded the shore excursion bus ride, but I have yet to see the credit on my credit statement, and it's been nearly a week! Guess I need to call back on that one.
The Bottom line - Don't bother with a Disney day trip as a shore excursion from Port Canaveral. The ship gets in way too late (11am) to have enough time to enjoy anything. It's a waste of time and money. In fact, the Port Canaveral stop should just be skipped altogether. It's not really warm there, there isn't a whole lot to do, etc. Royal Caribbean would be better off just skipping over it and going straight to the warm and tropical bahamas for another day.
And don't bother with anything Disney during Christmas vacation week. The Magic Kingdom park was closed at capacity of 75,000 before 12 noon on both December 24 and I heard also December 25 and December 26 and December 27. The Animal Kingdom was packed body to body. We only got to go on two rides for the entire time we were there. And then we left. Save your money!
To add insult to injury, we found out after we got back to the boat that we could have gotten into the Magic Kingdom, despite it being closed, because we had a dining reservation. No one on Royal Caribbean or the Shore Excursion bus told us this or explained the exception to us. And the parking attendant at the Magic Kingdom just blanketedly turned everyone away instead of checking to see if anyone had dining reservations in the park.
It was a mess to the 1000th degree. Just don't do it!