Are you going on a Caribbean cruise? As someone who has been on over 25 cruises, 8 of which are to the Caribbean, I have made my share of mistakes. Below, I will share with you things to avoid when you go on a Caribbean cruise.
Caribbean Cruise Mistakes to Avoid
1. Falling Prey to Taxi Scams
If you do decide to wing it by taking a taxi at the port, make sure you know where you are going. Do your research beforehand, and ask the cruise shore excursion staff for recommended attractions and beaches to go to.
Sometimes, they will pull a bait and switch and say they know of a “better beach to go to” which may not be the case. They also sometimes will say they give you a tour but what happens is they end up taking you to tourist stores and tourist traps where they earn a commission by taking you there.
2. Buy from the First Vendor You Talk To
Don’t buy from the first vendor you talk to – cruise ports in the Caribbean have outdoor markets with vendors selling souvenirs. You will find that vendors sell the same souvenirs, so it’s best to do a little price shopping to get the lowest price.
3. Not Negotiating
It’s acceptable to negotiate with vendors in the Caribbean. Don’t be shy to ask for a little discount.
4. Feeling Pressured to Buy Because of Freebies
Be cautious of freebies. When you go on Caribbean cruises, you will be bombarded with flyers advertising free charms to collect at luxury jeweller places like Diamonds International and Effy. They use this offer to get you in their store and often tempt you into buying something. Be careful and don’t feel pressured to buy something just because they are giving you the free charm.
5. Not Booking Shore Excursions Early
Popular cruise shore excursions sell out quickly. To avoid disappointment, book shore excursions early online, don’t wait until you’re onboard. Also, if you want to save some money, I suggest you compare the prices of the cruise shore excursion to independent tour operators like Viator.
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6. Not Going to the Shore Excursion Talk
One of the biggest mistakes is not to go to the shore excursion talk. The cruise shore excursion staff will usually have a talk to tell you about where to go and what to do at the upcoming port of call. They will give you a map and other useful information about where to go. If it’s your first time at these Caribbean ports, then you definitely should attend these shore excursion talks.
7. Not Bringing Your Passport
Always bring your passport with you. Don’t leave your passport on the ship. In case you miss the ship and get left behind, you want to have your passport with you to fly to the next port to meet the cruise ship.
8. Port Agent
Your cruise line has a port agent in every port. This is the person to call in case you need help or get left behind by the ship. The port agent’s contact information is usually printed on the map that the shore excursion staff gives out. You should bring that with you and keep it just in case you need to contact the port agent for any reason.
9. Not Checking the Travel Advisory
One mistake that cruisers make when they go to the Caribbean is assuming that every port is safe. You should always check with the US Department of State for the latest travel advisory of the places you are going to. For example, the US Department of State has recently raised the advisory level for the Bahamas to Level 2 due to crime and water safety issues. Read about the new travel advisory: Beware Bahamas Travel Advisory Increases
10. Don’t Wear Your Lanyard on Shore
When you are out ashore sightseeing, shopping or at the beach, don’t wear your cruise lanyard. You will immediately look like a tourist and become a target for thieves and pickpockets. Also, it can work against you when you’re at a store negotiating because they know you are on the cruise ship and have a time limit as to when you have to get back on the ship.
Looking for Last Minute Caribbean Cruises? I like to check with Cruise Direct
11. Not Researching Day Pass
When you go on a Caribbean cruise, most likely, you will be spending the day at the beach. Research day passes at beach resorts. For example, the British Colonial in Nassau sells day passes which give you access to their pool, private beach, and discount on Food & Beverage. It’s a nice way to spend the day if you don’t want to go to a public beach. It’s also an easy walk from the cruise port. I took my family there once during a Caribbean cruise, and it was a pleasant experience because the beach was not crowded.
Check out: 11 Most Annoying People to Avoid on a Cruise
12. Leaving Valuables Unattended at the Beach
When you go to the beach, don’t make the mistake of leaving your valuables unattended. Don’t leave your device exposed on the chair. People can easily swipe your cellphone, kindle and ipads if you leave them unattended on your beach chair or towel. If you need to get in the water, it’s best to bring your phone and keep it in a waterproof phone case or a waterproof bag that is bigger for your phone and wallet.
If you do need to get in the water, keep your things in a beach bag with a zipper so your things are not out in the open. I like this beach bag because it is waterproof and has a zipper closure.
13. Don’t Bring Designer Bags and Expensive Jewelry
It’s best not to bring designer bags and expensive jewelry to your Caribbean cruise. They can make you an easy target for thieves, and you’ll have to keep an eye on them at all times, which can be stressful. Since you’ll likely be spending most of your time at the beach, it’s best to leave them at home or in a cabin safe.
14. Drink too Much
Many Caribbean cruise ports are surrounded by bars. Some shore excursions are party boats with unlimited alcoholic beverages.
Although it may be tempting to spend the day drinking at popular places like Senor Froggy’s, it’s important to be careful. Drinking alcohol while being exposed to the sun can be a dangerous combination. Just be careful, because you don’t want to get too drunk that you miss the ship!
Check out: 10 Food I’ll Never Eat at a Cruise Buffet
15. Underestimating the Sun
The Caribbean sun can be intense, and it’s easy to underestimate it. To avoid getting sunburned, apply sunscreen before getting off the ship, even if you don’t plan to go to the beach. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat to protect your face from the sun. Trust me, it’s no fun to be sunburned during your Caribbean cruise!
If you need to book Caribbean Shore Excursion tours, a great platform to book tours is with viator.
Check out our Caribbean cruise packing list with free printables