Carnival Expands Shore-Ex Program, New Private Tours and More

Carnival Cruise Line has  expanded its shore excursion offerings, adding new landside experiences and customized private tours, as well as new family-friendly enhancements, including fun complimentary beachside activities, value pricing and free tours in select ports for children under age five.

The new options build upon Carnival’s leadership position in the shore excursion arena, according to a statement, with nearly 1,200 unique landside experiences offered by the line in more than 50 ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bahamas, Canada, New England, and Central and South America.

“Shore excursions are an important part of the Carnival vacation experience and we’ve gone to great lengths to provide our guests with even more choices and offer families unique value-added services and pricing options that are exclusive to Carnival,” said Erika Tache, Carnival’s director of product development.

The new tours include:

La Casa en la Playa (Cozumel) – Recently named Carnival’s “Tour of the Year,” this five-hour-long tour offers an exclusive luxury experience limited to 30 participants with access to a beach house with five-star service for the day, complete with a personal chef and wait staff. Participants can also learn how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine, make refreshing Margaritas and mojitos, or simply relax on a white-sand beach while enjoying pampering and attentive service.

Eat, Drink & Dance (Ocho Rios) – This tour is definitely on “island time,” designed to please guests’ palates and awaken their senses through Jamaica’s unique food, music and culture.  After savoring spicy samples at a traditional jerk hut, guests enjoy a delicious meal at Miss T’s Kitchen which was featured on Guy Fieri’s Family Vacation on Food Network. The day continues with a visit to a beachside bar where mixologists create hand-crafted Jamaican rum cocktails and concludes with a spirited reggae dance lesson.

Jamaican Home for the Day (Ocho Rios) – Just like the name implies, this day-long tour offers guests their own Jamaican home for a day where they can relax, kick off their shoes, and enjoy ahome-cooked island lunch in their own private paradise.

Photo Safari & Beach Expedition (Cozumel) — Taking place over the course of two days, the tour begins with a one-hour photo seminar on board led by the ships’ photographers who offer tips on camera equipment, lighting, photo composition and more. The tour continues the following day with a visit to gorgeous Mexican beaches and a national park where participants are offered an informative hands-on demonstration to “Capture the Moments that Matter.”

Eat, Drink & Walk (St. Thomas) – This self-described “walking culinary/culture tour” begins with a drive through the lush countryside to St. Peter Mountain Great House & Botanical Gardens, home to diverse plant and animal life and an observation level where guests can see the 15 islands that comprise the Virgin Islands chain. Participants can sample 24 different island rums as they learn how to make banana daiquiris and nosh on island-inspired food like saltfish, plantains, jonny cakes and West Indian pumpkin soup.

New Family-Friendly Services and Tours:

Carnival is offering new “family friendly” shore excursion options in ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico, with tours offered at multiple price points to provide parents the ultimate in flexibility, value and convenience.  Children age five and under receive complimentary beach excursions with their parents’ paid tour.  Sample excursions include:

Family Beach Escape (Freeport) – Designed with all-ages appeal, this tour begins with an air-conditioned ride to a breathtaking beachside resort.  Here, under the watchful eye of trained youth specialists, kids can enjoy such activities as sandcastle-making competitions, treasure hunts and face-painting while parents can relax under oversized umbrellas and sip a cool tropical drink.  Lunch is included and water toys, paddle boats, kayaks and other watercraft are available for rent.

Island Beach Escape for Families by Power Catamaran (Cozumel) – After an exhilarating power catamaran ride, families arrive at Passion Island, which boasts white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters along with full resort facilities with plentiful beach chairs and hammocks. Guests of all ages can enjoy volleyball, water trampolines and pedal boats, while kids get their own special beachside play area.  A Mexican-style buffet with guacamole, grilled mahi-mahi and a kids’ menu is included in the price.

Family Treasure Hunt with Lunch at Blue Lagoon (Nassau) – Families are sure to have a blast during this fun-filled adventure where participants must discover hidden treasures, collect clues and answer trivia questions on their journey to win the Pirate’s Bounty!  After their plunder, families can soak up the sun on a stunning powdery beach as they enjoy a grilled lunch and icy beverages at Blue Lagoon Island, one of the top destinations in The Bahamas.

All Inclusive Family Beach Resort Getaway (Montego Bay) – Hosted at the Mediterranean-inspired Seawinds Beach Club, one of Jamaica’s premier oceanfront properties that is home to magnificent beaches and world-class amenities, this tour includes lively island entertainment, along with a complimentary buffet lunch and drinks. When it’s time to cool off, families can take a dip in the ocean or one of the many on-property pools and enjoy fun water sports like sailing, snorkeling and kayaking.

Well-staffed beachside excursions provide families with extra assistance with services such as stroller storage as well as hosted fun activities like beachside games, and arts and crafts, along with play areas and water slides and toys, all available on a complimentary basis. Offered in all of Carnival’s Caribbean ports, the new activities are designed to keep kids entertained while offering parents some much-needed “we” time.

Unique Valued-Added Options

For guests seeking a more authentic landside experience, there are exclusive private tours – operated via custom motor coaches, sailboats, yachts, and even helicopters – that take guests on off-the-beaten-path excursions tailored to the guests’ specific preferences.  These excursions showcase non-traditional sightseeing sites typically not available to other guests, all under the guidance of an experienced local who provides an “up close and personal” view of the destination.

And with Carnival’s new on-board lounge tour dispatch system, tour operators come on board to meet shore excursion participants and tours depart from a shipboard venue versus the previous method of tour operators assembling large groups of guests on the pier, thus providing a more streamlined, organized and expedited departure.  Carnival is the only cruise operator in the Caribbean to have local tour operators involved with this enhanced service option.

Programs and Offerings

All of these new offerings complement Carnival’s industry-leading programs such as the Shore Excursion Best Price Guarantee.  The only one of its kind in the cruise industry, the program provides a 110 percent refund in the form of a shipboard credit should consumers find a better price on a similar tour, providing much-needed peace of mind knowing that they’re getting the best price.

Each of Carnival’s 24 ships also offers a dedicated shore excursion desk with highly trained and experienced staff members who can recommend particular tours and answer any questions guests may have. Shore excursion personnel also personally experience the wide array of landside options in every port and obtain feedback from guests to strive for continuous improvement in the line’s shore excursion choices.

Carnival has also revamped the shore excursion section of its web site to include a greater variety of photos and videos, enhanced navigation and on-line reservations for both desktop and mobile devices, as well as guest-written reviews of the various options ashore.

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