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  #1  
Old April 22nd, 2012, 04:32 PM
dgabriele1 dgabriele1 is offline
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Default Silversea Excursions - Specific Excursion vs. Private Car Guide

This is our first cruise and too Europe so I am starting to look at excursions for us. #5226 - Monte Carlo, Monaco to Barcelona, Spain in September. Yes, I like to plan ahead. Would you recommend cruise line excursions like a specific excursion or the private guide and car excursion? My first thoughts is if I don't like the itinerary of the specific excursions offered that I should book the private guide and car excursions. With the private guides do I specify every place we want to see or do they provide recommendations and does the person go with us at each place? Also, do I book these in advance or wait until I get on the ship? Thanks for any help.

Also, is there a place that other Silversea guest have written about the excursions? I can't find it if it exists on the boards.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old April 22nd, 2012, 08:25 PM
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Randyk47 Randyk47 is offline
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We did pretty much as you seem to have in mind though we decided on ship tours first before the cruise and filled in the missing sites or places we wanted to see with private tours. We were traveling with another couple and had a rather long phone conference where we went through each port. We looked at ship tous as the primary source but there were places we either didn't like what was offered, thought we could do a self-guided tour, or wanted the detailed and in-depth experience we might get from a private tour. Have to say our private tours in Naples, mostly Pompeii, and Athens were fantastic, just the four of us a driver and a guide. Our self-guided tour in Florence worked well for us as three of us had been there before a couple of times each so we kind of knew our way around. Sorry, our cruise was Barcelona to Istanbul but we didn't do much in Monte Carlo and Marseille but walk around on our own so I can't help much there. We had a couple of days in Barcelona before the cruise and self-toured and took one ship tour there.
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Old April 22nd, 2012, 08:47 PM
dgabriele1 dgabriele1 is offline
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From the website it states you can also do private guided tours as an excursion option. Did you do you own private tours outside of the ship option?
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 07:19 AM
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Randyk47 Randyk47 is offline
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We researched and booked our own private tours as we thought the private tours through the ship were a bit expensive. Cruise Critic is a great source of port and tour information so that was our starting point to find potential private tour companies. One of the critical considerations was what I call "time and distance". For instance we took a private tour in Naples to go to Pompeii. We looked at the ship's arrival and departure time, the travel distance and time from the port to Pompeii and decided the risk of being on our own was slight. As it turned out the tour company we used was quite used to taking cruisers on tours and made sure we we picked up as soon as we could be at the pier and back to the ship in plenty of time before departure. We would have preferred a private tour in Rome but decided the time and distance put us at too much risk and went with a ship tour.....if it's late getting back then the ship has responsibility. I will say Silversea tours, at least the ones we were on, were good and well organized. On a ship as small as the Wind it's not like you're going to get dozens of folks in three or four large buses all going to the same place. I think Rome was the largest group and I think there were 20 or so on that tour. A couple of other tours, to popular sites like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, only had 10.
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Last edited by Randyk47; April 23rd, 2012 at 07:23 AM.
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 02:31 PM
farbster farbster is offline
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We did a mix of ship excursions and private on our cruise from Athens to Istanbul last summer.

With the amount of shipboard credit, it made sense to use some for excursions. For example, we used one for Santorini, Crete and one or two others. We attempted to do our own tour in Rhodes (Jewish tour), but the taxi strike put the kibosh on that.

We used our own tour for Ephesus and thought that was worthwhile. Much cheaper than the private through the cruise company.

I second the idea of looking here for the name of private tours (also on tripadvisor).

The bus tours from the ship were good - not too crowded.
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  #6  
Old April 23rd, 2012, 08:09 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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dgabriele - I agree with the other posters that it is often good to consider a mix of ship tours and private tours, although we very much prefer the flexibility of private tours. We have found that in most cases, the private tours offered by the ship are much more expensive than private tours organized on our own. We have also found that if there are four or more people on one's self-organized private tour, it is comparable in price to a group (i.e. bus tour) tour offered by the ship.

In addition to this SS board, another excellent source of recommendations for private tour companies is the CruiseCritic board for "Ports of Call - Europe - Mediterranean Eastern & Western". You can search on that board for previous posts regarding guides for particular cities or simply post a new inquiry asking for suggestions for the ports in which you are interested. We've found many terrific guides and tour services by doing so. If you are going to spend any time in southern France before boarding the ship, I would enthusiastically recommend Dream Tours for transfers and private tours.

Alain@dream-tours.com

We have had great service from that company, as have several of our cruising buddies.

Have fun finding other tour services for your other ports. By the way, planning now for tours on a cruise in September (assuming that is September, 2012) is not at all too early. Many of the good tour companies are booked very far in advance, particularly if there are several ships in a port on the same day. Thus, you are not being OC in the slightest .

Cheers, Fred

Last edited by freddie; April 23rd, 2012 at 08:10 PM.
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  #7  
Old April 24th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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Randyk47 Randyk47 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freddie View Post
dgabriele - I agree with the other posters that it is often good to consider a mix of ship tours and private tours, although we very much prefer the flexibility of private tours. We have found that in most cases, the private tours offered by the ship are much more expensive than private tours organized on our own. We have also found that if there are four or more people on one's self-organized private tour, it is comparable in price to a group (i.e. bus tour) tour offered by the ship.
I'll second that you can sometimes get a private tour, through a non-ship provider, for the same or less than a ship tour. We were cruising with another couple so we were always pricing our tours for four and several times, if not most, we actually got our private tours for less on a per person basis. Other than the "time and distance" consideration I mentioned before the other reason we took ship tours was to use up the considerable OBC incentive we got when we booked our cruise. The truth is that we were extremely pleased with our private tours and without the OBC we'd probably done more tours that way.
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  #8  
Old April 24th, 2012, 08:48 AM
Northerncheapo Northerncheapo is offline
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We are sailing May 5-17th and I ran into an issue with a segway tour in Malta that I wanted to book privately. They asked if I was on the Silversea ship and because I was, they wouldn't take me because they were contracted to SS for that segway tour. To book with SS was approx. $100 USD more per person than had I been able to book directly with the tour operator.

I get it...but it bugged me that I was left with no other option than to book with SS (which I did) because there aren't that many segway operators in Malta,lol. I just don't like being told what to do .

We booked private tours on our cruise last year and it all worked out well...we always made sure we were back 2-3 hours before departure because you just never know with traffic/wild strikes/etc. And we did hit one traffic snag, so thank God that we did put in that buffer in France. We did cross-reference between Trip Advisor, Google, and CC to pick our operators.

And, of course, it always go without saying, be sure you have SS phone numbers, know where the next port is, and enough cash on hand to catch up if you miss the ship.

Enjoy your cruise!
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  #9  
Old April 24th, 2012, 07:13 PM
dgabriele1 dgabriele1 is offline
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Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I'm sure I'll do a mixture since I have to use up our $500 OB credit. Thanks again!
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