Updated October 10, 2019
If you've never been to the Caribbean, or are visiting a new set of islands, the abundance of activity options in port can be overwhelming. Do you go lazy with a beach day, get wet with a snorkel trip, get dirty on an ATV or pump up the adrenaline with a zipline canopy tour? However, there are a few activities you can cross right off your to-do list because -- while they might sound great at first glance -- they're not worth your time or money.
Here are 8 overrated activities you might encounter during Caribbean cruises that you can easily skip.
1. Duty-free shopping in port
With plenty of options online and in stores back home to find low alcohol prices, you are no longer guaranteed to score a fabulous deal on booze bought in a Caribbean port. You might not find cheap diamonds either -- especially when you factor in the taxes you might have to pay on jewelry brought back into the U.S. If you love to shop and are looking for souvenirs or an unusual piece you wouldn't find at home, go for it. But if you're spending a beautiful Caribbean day indoors trying to bargain hunt, duty-free shopping is just not worth your time.
2. Ship-sponsored beach breaks
Why pay the markup for a cruise line to facilitate your day at the beach, when you could probably walk or take a cab to one for much less? Large families and groups might be better off making their own arrangements to spend the day sun worshipping and frolicking in the waves than paying per-person prices for a shore excursion. If you're interested in a beach break, compare cruise line prices and inclusions with local resort day pass options and cab fare to a nearby beach. Some Cruise Critic readers complain that on excursions, transportation to the beach isn't always the best -- and sometimes the beach isn't that great either.
3. Segway tour
It's pretty cool to try out a Segway, we agree, but the thrill wears off quickly if you're not riding the two-wheeled scooter anywhere particularly interesting (such as down the tourist- and vendor-packed main drag of Mahahual, Mexico). You will also spend the first part of the tour watching safety videos, putting on safety gear and practicing in a parking lot or other not-particularly-scenic areas. And if it's particularly hot, all that padding is going to get sweaty and uncomfortable pretty quickly.
4. Hair braiding
On a port call to Jamaica, you could be doing amazing things like climbing Dunn's River Falls or ziplining through the jungle. Why spend your time sitting still in the hot sun while someone tortures your sensitive scalp by putting tiny braids in your hair? (Or, even worse, hanging around while someone braids your daughter's hair.) You might be all hip on that cruise, but come back home and we guarantee you'll get self-conscious and pull those braids out posthaste.
5. Straw markets
Looking for a souvenir from your Caribbean cruise? Unless you want something tacky, you likely won't find it at a straw market. The markets might sound like a hyper-local experience supporting native islanders, but generally they sell a bunch of crap you really don't want to take home.
6. Getting drunk at Senor Frogs
Or Carlos and Charlie's. Or Margaritaville. Or any other chain bar-restaurant. Not only are you not experiencing anything local, but you're likely to act like a frat boy or embarrassing American tourist, puke and/or miss the ship because you're too sloshed to notice the time. Not the ideal vacation memory.
You'll pay a lot for just a few minutes of air time, and the rush wears off after about 30 seconds. Plus, you'll spend most of your tour time sitting in the speedboat while other tour participants get harnessed up and take their turn parasailing. On a more serious note, strong winds and faulty parasailing equipment have led to accidents, injuries and deaths.
8. Glass-bottom boat tours
Glass-bottom boat tours and "submarine" rides have lots of potential to be a great way to see sea life if you don't snorkel or dive. But the reality is that many of the boats cram too many people onto a hot boat with cloudy glass and mediocre views. Definitely check reviews before you sign up -- otherwise you'll find yourself on a Caribbean tour that is totally overrated.