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Off the beaten path Dec 16

The cruise lines offer pricey shore excursions, generally of good quality, and with a vague assurance that you will be safer if you take one of their excursions. You do get something for what you pay—although the companies that provide the excursions are local businesses, they are checked by the cruise lines and held to fairly high standards of performance.

But ain’t competition a wonderful thing? The folks not retained by the cruise lines can offer essentially the same services, and often for noticeably less. The island governments tend to watch over their flocks of entrepeneurs fairly well—after all, you don’t want golden-egg-laying tourists to depart your island unhappy.

Rent for the business owner goes up the closer you get to the port, so a short walk can take you to where the taxis have lower overhead and can afford to take you down the same roads for less. Always negotiate the fare in advance, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a fare you don’t want to pay. Remember, though, most of the fairs are fairly standardized, even if informally, and if you lowball someone, you might get less of a tour than someone willing to pay the usual amount might get.

Another thing that works in your favor: tips are not negotiated in advance, so your driver is Highly Motivated to be personable, informative, and helpful. Actual horror stories are few and far between.

So how have you done on your own? Tell us your adventures or horror stories in the comments.

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