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Our family of 5 (3 kids ages 9, 8, and 3) are doing an Eastern Caribbean cruise in May on Symphony. We're trying to plan excursions, but are getting confused. I feel as though the Ports of Call boards are slow and since most of you cruise often, you have a lot of insight that we wouldn't be able to get from the other boards.  Our cruise planner states we'll be in St. Thomas from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.  Am I correct that we're to be on board the ship by 2 p.m.?  Also, we'd like to do a food tour there, not through the cruise line, starting at 11. Is there much open at 7 a.m.?  Also, are the cabs able to hold 5 people or would we need to book excursions for all of it? Are the prices typically on the cabs?  Thank you! 

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The "taxi" in St. Thomas is more like an open air bus ride.. but that "bus" is more like benches on back of a modified truck... think the Safari ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom but with out the doors. They also have passenger vans, but you'll more likely find the open air taxis. It's a flat fee per person but it isn't much. $4 per person each way for a ride to the main shopping area. If you want to go elsewhere on the island, the prices would be higher and pretty sure everything is per person. 

All aboard is normally 30 minutes prior to the departure time... but if you're touring on your own, it's a good idea to be back to the port terminal at around 2 pm.. you can still shop around the port before actually returning to the ship. It's best to check the all aboard time on the gangway before leaving the ship... sometime there might be a change to the schedule last minute and sometime the all aboard time can be earlier or later than posted. My last cruise we were suppose to leave Port Canaveral at 7PM but morning of they decided to changed it to midnight so "we can enjoy more time at the theme parks" but they really mean "we need more time to fix something on the ship". So who knows, just check the all aboard time before you leave the ship and make sure you are back on the ship, or at least in the port, a hour before that time.

Not sure which food tours you are looking at, but make sure they're family friendly. There are a lot of food tours that feature food that aren't really kids friendly or they also focus on local adult beverages. See if the tour operator do anything that would ensure that your whole family can take part of the experience. I honestly would just spent the money at a local restaurant and also buy some local snacks from the local stores.. it would come out cheaper than doing a tour. 
 

Edited by SkaterJasp

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The requirement to be on board 2 hours before sailing is only for the first day, checking in and and boarding.  This is because the manifest is due 90 minutes prior to departure.

 

Other port stops, typically all aboard is 30 minutes before sailing.  But you don't want to be late.

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When my kids were young we once did a pirate tour through the ship. They really enjoyed it. I was actually surprised because I didn’t find it particularly interesting, but they did. Just a thought for something else to do. 

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If you work with an experienced tour operator, they will know the ship's schedule and make sure you get back in time; watch out for differences, if any, in ship's time vs. local time. For our recent excursion with Captain Bob in St. Maarten, I was confused about times until I had an email conversation with Capt. Bob, and then I felt confident that he would get us back to the ship on time (and that was for an all-day boat tour far from the cruise pier).

 

My experience in most ports has been that, if you are near the cruise pier, you walk to the taxi area, tell them how many people you have, and they arrange your ride.

 

Regarding a food tour, we did one in San Juan last month, and it would have been appropriate and fun for kids who are willing to try new foods. We had one alcoholic beverage, but a non-alcoholic option was available. We got to see local sights in between stops - fun for everyone. At one stop, we were served the pre-cooked ingredients for a local dish and used a mortar and pestle to finish the preparation - hands-on fun. I think food tours can be fun for the whole family!

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Thank you all SO MUCH!  I appreciate you all taking the time to respond with such detail!  The food tour is family friendly and our oldest kids are willing to try new foods!! 

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3 hours ago, SRF said:

The requirement to be on board 2 hours before sailing is only for the first day, checking in and and boarding.  This is because the manifest is due 90 minutes prior to departure.

 

 

 

And the requirement is to be checked in 90 minutes before sailing, not two hours.

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