Port and Shore Excursions
We did the "Canopy and Challenge Tour". The bus driver picked us up and drove us into the center of the island. There we suited up and did 9 zip lines which were extremely fun followed by a line challenge tour. This was mostly made up of walking across ropes strung between two trees with a balance rope in front of you or above you. You were always connected to a safety line, so there was no danger of falling, but some of them were kind of hard to get across and I think some of the older participants didn't know they were going to have to do this part in order to get back to the lodge, they thought it was just zip lines. The challenge part was fun once you got the hang of it, and we were all sweating up a storm by the end!!
We've been to San Juan twice before, so we didn't book an excursion, we just planned to walk around on our own. The only thing we (and RCI) didn't think about was that we were in port on Thanksgiving, which because Puerto Rico is part of the US, is still a federal holiday, which meant that all the historical sites were closed, as well as many stores and restaurants. It wasn't as bad as here in the 48 states where almost everything is completely closed all day, they did keep enough stuff open for the festive customers coming off the ship who wanted to spend their money, but it was definitely a misstep on the part of RCI. Most of the interesting things to see in old San Juan are the forts, which were all closed. Thank goodness we'd already been there before!!
You get some great views from the fort, but there's not much in the way of descritions of the history of the fort or a little museum or anything. We were told there would be a 10 minute video we could watch, but it wasn't working, so we just walked around for the 45 minutes while we were there.
We took the "Best of St. Kitts" tour. We were supposed to go on a 6 hour catamaran and snorkeling tour, but it was just barely raining when we arrived in port, so the tour operator cancelled and we were given a refund. In hindsight we should have booked another snorkeling excursion for the afternoon, because by the time we docked and were actually let off of the ship, the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day while we were in port. The excursion we went on was done very well, I had just hoped to be in the water that day.
We'd also been to St. Maarten on a previous cruise, but decided to do something different this time, so we booked an excursion called "Seaworld Explorer". We were driven from the ship up to Grand Case, which is on the French side, and we took a glass bottom boat (you actually went down into the lower level where there were portholes under the water so you could see all the sea life as it went by). It was very nice and we got to see lots of fish up close, but it was a little short for my taste. We decided to make our own way back to the ship because we wanted to see Marigot, which is the main town on the French side. One of the workers at the excursion told us where to catch a bus to Marigot for only $1, and we waited patiently for 45 minutes but nothing came. So we went back to ask someone else, and they said the bus "sometimes" stopped where we were told to wait (there was actually a bus sign) and sometimes stopped farther down the road. So we walked down the road, and sure enough, there were locals waiting there to catch the "bus". Well, it was actually a mini van stuffed beyond capacity with locals. You would never know it was a bus to look at. We had to hold on for dear life, but we made it to Marigot in one piece. Once there, we were a bit disappointed, it didn't seem to us to be the glory of the French Caribbean like we had heard. We decided to take a cab back to the ship after our experience with the local "bus"!!