As some of you already know if you follow me on Instagram, I recently went on an 8-day cruise aboard the Carnival Vista (you can check out the first part of our series all about the ship here). For the second installment, I wanted to share tips for planning shore excursions and share what I did with my 5 year-old and my mom. For starters, one thing that I absolutely loved about this ship was the ports of call. Unlike other cruises I have taken in the past, this one went to Aruba, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and Curacao.
So in case you're planning to sail on the Carnival Vista, here are some excursions you'll definitely want to check out and best of all, they're perfect if you're traveling with smaller kids.
First Stop: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
The first stop in our cruise was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. As soon as we got off the ship, we took a taxi to a nearby beach called Governor's Beach after reading some reviews about it. It was about a 5 minute-drive from the cruise center and approximately 15-20 minutes walking. In case you're looking for a less crowded beach, but without going too far, you can check this beach out. When we got there, we were actually the only people there! The water was absolutely gorgeous--it was crystal clear.
In case you don't want to venture off too far from the ship, you can always stay at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. It is pretty much a destination in itself. It has a really nice beach with free chairs and umbrellas, a shopping plaza as well as a Margaritaville, so you really don't need to leave.
Quick Tip: Since Governor's Beach is a bit secluded, it might not be that easy to get a taxi back to the port, so be prepared to walk back. There's also no amenities in Governor's Beach. My tip would be to stay at the Cruise Center and just relax there (especially if you're traveling with little kids).
La Romana, Dominican Republic:
This was one of my favorite ports of call. We ended up doing the VIP All Inclusive Saona Island Excursion, which we booked directly on the ship (as we did with ALL our shore excursions). When we got off the ship we were transported in a air-conditioned bus to Bayahibe (a small fishing town) where we boarded a fast Moto catamaran to Isla Saona. It was about a 30-minute boat ride, but it made a stop in a sandbar called "Palmilla." At the sandbar, we got to go for a swim, drink some rum and coke, listen to merengue and take pictures. The sandbar was pure heaven. Along with Bora Bora and Phi Phi Islands, this was one of the most turquoise waters I've ever seen. After the sandbar, we hopped back on the boat and continued making our way to Saona Island.
The island itself was also gorgeous. They had a delicious buffet lunch and open bar waiting for us with some yummy paella (the buffet is also included in the price). Overall, this excursion was well worth it and I highly recommend it.
Shore Excursion: VIP All Inclusive Saona Island
Price: $94 for adults and $71 to children (ages 5-12). *minimum age is 5
For our stop in Curacao we decided to take a taxi to a beach called Cabana Beach (a man-made beach approx. 15 minutes away). The beach was beautiful and there's also lounge chairs and umbrellas you can rent. There's also several amentities like shops, a kids playground and bathrooms. After our beach day, we headed back to Willemstad (the town) to walk around before getting back on the ship. We loved seeing all the colorful buildings.
Quick Tip: Once you get off the ship, you'll need to cross the bridge to be able to grab a taxi. It's about a 10-minut walk.
Activity: Grab a Taxi to Cabana Beach/ Walk Around Willemstad
Price: $20/one way taxi to Cabana Beach
After looking over all the shore excursions in Aruba (they all sounded great) we finally decided on the Kukoo Kunuku Open Air Bus and Beach Break. I can't say enough great things about this excursion. My mom and toddler absolutely loved it. Aruba is actually known for being very windy, so the open air bus was perfect (it wasn't hot at all). As soon as you set foot on the bus it's a party all the way. Our tour guide was the best. He was jamming great music, singing and everyone was having fun playing the maracas.
We enjoyed one hour of sight-seeing; making stops at the Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse (all while learning about the island). They really don't call it the "Happiest Island in the World" for nothing. Then we stopped at Aruba's famous white sand beaches where we got to relax on the beach, swim in the azure waters and enjoy complimentary lounge chairs. There's also some great restaurants on-site. After that, we headed back to our cruise.
Shore Excursion: Kukoo Kunuku Open Air Bus and Beach Break
Price: $62.99 Adults; $47.99 Child (Ages 5-12)
Duration: 4 hours
Minimum Age: 5
One quick tip is to make sure you book your excursions ahead of time (don't wait until the day before). I booked mine while I was on the ship, but did them 2 days in advance. I also recommend booking excursions through Carnival instead of going off on your own. Especially if it's an excursion that will last more than 4 hours (you're fine getting a taxi if you're just going to a nearby beach).
The good thing about booking through the cruise, is that they guarantee that the ship will remain in port until all guests are back onboard.
Overall, between the cruise ship and the excursions, this was definitely a trip I'll never forget.
Have you cruised through Carnival Vista yet?