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When you take a cruise to the Caribbean, you want to make the most of your time in the sun.
For me, this means getting to the sands and blue waters.
I'm talking about a beach day, that classic excursion most cruisers crave when they reach the islands.
You have several options.
Book a beach excursion on your ship. These can be pricey and crowded. You pay a premium for the convenience of booking onboard, and you probably will be traveling to and from the beach resort with hordes of others loaded onto coaches. Plus, your schedule is likely to be extremely structured and allow for a shorter time ashore than you would like.
Or stroll off the ship, snag a taxi and tell the driver to take you to the best beach on the island. This can work out well for the adventurous traveler, but it also can be a bit sketchy. Some drivers can be unreliable, won't charge a fair price or drop you off with no way to get back to the ship.
You also can find a kiosk or hawker in port rounding up cruisers looking for a snorkeling trip or beach outing. I like to try this sometimes because you can often get together with a group of fellow cruisers and negotiate a deal for a shuttle van to the beach (or a tour of the island or however you want to customize your excursion). This can be affordable but won't include any extras.
How about if you want an all-inclusive, no-hassle reasonably priced beach day?
On a recent sailing on Carnival Vista, I discovered the company Resort for a Day and used its Curacao day pass for my time in port there. I joined a group of about 20 people who were taking the excursion, and we were shuttled about 30 minutes from the port in Willemstad to Santa Barbara Beach Resort.
[READMORE]READ MORE: 4 Cool Curacao Experiences[/READMORE]
The resort is one of 20 offered by Resort for a Day, a World Travel Holdings Inc. company. Resort for a Day features properties in popular cruise destinations like Cozumel, Barbados, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. (One is coming soon in Kauai.)
The most popular resort is Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. We'll chat about this playland in a bit.
In Curacao, at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, we quickly found our beach rhythm. We soon were indulging in all the resort goodness: stretches of sand, swimming pools, food and drink. For $114, you get round-trip transportation, unlimited food from the poolside restaurant Splash, which serves appetizers like fish tacos, wings and nachos and meals like half-pound burgers, Caesar salads, paninis and pulled pork sandwiches. Drinks are included, too. We enjoyed sodas, local beers, margaritas and frozen cocktails.
The beach is just steps from the pool area. Bring along your snorkel gear and jump right in, or you can rent snorkels and other watersports gear like kayaks and standup paddleboards. Hiking trails, golfing and bike rentals also are available.
Our Curacao resort was a blast. But not all Resort for a Day properties are all-inclusive, and some don't include transfers to and from your ship. Each resort offers a different package, so pricing differs because of this, ranging from $60 to about $120 per person for the excursions.
Resort for a Day sells about 20 to 40 passes at the properties depending on whether it's high season or low season, and you'll have a full day to play -- six to eight hours. The excursions are available for cruise passengers only and can be reserved online.
Atlantis Resort is such a big attraction with so much to do that it stands alone in the Resort for a Day portfolio. A higher number of passes are available at Atlantis than for the other resorts, but they still sell out quickly, says Lynn Walters, the manager of day passes for cruisers.
You'll find seven different options for passes to Atlantis, ranging from simple tours to the best deal: a $194 combo pass that includes lunch, a dolphin swimming encounter and an Aquaventure pass that allows you to experience the waterslides, rivers slides, Dig Aquarium, marine habitats and pool area with loungers and towels.
John Roberts is a perpetually restless soul with a home base in Central New Jersey. He loves to share his adventures and...
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