Shore Excursion Question

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#1
UK
292 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
I have been reading that cruise organized excursions are overpriced and wondered if they were more comprehensive than ones you can book yourself. I have found a site that looks kosher and claims to have prices up to 60% cheaper than cruise bought excursions. On reading what they offered I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. The list of what will be available from RCCL won’t be available for another 5 months so I can’t compare. My feeling is that I am already paying a lot for this cruise and don’t want to mess things up by not getting a good excursion so I am prepared to pay more if the cruise excursions actually are better value for money if you know what I mean (make the most of your time in each port). If they both offer the same but at different prices there is no contest. I was just wondering your thoughts/experiences on this subject.


thx
Gary

It is a RCCL cruise to the Med on AoS leaving Southampton 9 May 2013.
#2
Myrtle Beach
5,726 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Gary, Your post will shortly be moved to another location on the boards. In some ports I usually use the cruiseline's excursions because I have a fear of being left behind. On our upcoming cruise we just might use a local tour operator because of a specific tour we want to take.

On the boards if you go to specific ports of call and look see what other cruisers are doing that might help you decide.
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#3
Fredericksburg, va. USA
80,987 Posts
Joined May 2001
Yes...you can book things on your own. However, the ship's excursions aren't that bad! Depending on what you're doing, they are fine ways to have fun....the ship takes care of everything...no worries on your part at all, from start to finish. So, don't be afraid to use the ship's excursions, if there is something you'd like to do through them.

A guidebook on your ports will allow you to see what you want to do and if you even NEED an excursion at all! Many things require no one to "guide" you!
#4
Philadelphia area
6,726 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by garyb(uk)
I have been reading that cruise organized excursions are overpriced
Yes they are.

Best thing to do is go to the Port of Call threads. Tons of great info there on booking your own excursion.
#6
NJ
5,748 Posts
Joined May 2006
I agree with what the others have posted here. Pop on over to the ports of call section and see what others have to say about the best way to see the ports you will be visiting. In some places taking a ship excursion is the best (either due to timing, limited access, etc) while others are best seen with a private (outside cruise line) excursion, while others are best seen without any excursion at all.

Another suggestion is if you have not joined your roll call, do so. If you end up going the private route you may find others interested in joining you, or there may be some who already have tours booked and are looking for others to join them. Another great way to bring the cost down.

And last, also go to tripadvisor to see what reviews you can find there. For some reason they usually have some that aren't here. Or if they are just another way to confirm what you are reading here.

Do your research to decide what you would like to do in each port, what is the best way to see it, then go and enjoy!
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#7
Virginia Beach, VA
471 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Also depends on what country you are in, your comfort with that countries language and your travel experience. If it is a country where you may need translation services I would go with the cruise tour. For example, I learned how to ask "Where is the Restroom" in Korean and Japanese, but could not understand the reply to my question. Save a LOT of $$$$ on a Greek cruise hiring a taxi that followed the cruise ship tour bus to the exact same destinations.
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#8
Ft. Worth, Tx, USA
9,771 Posts
Joined Nov 2000
Your question is specific to you but so many folks ask very generalized questions, it is very hard to answer. First off, is it a long trek from the ship? Is the local infastruture good enough to give you options to get back to the ship on time? How close you are cutting it in relation to sailing time? etc...

The price difference is there, but often times it is so small that it is like buying an insurance policy and the few extra bucks are well worth the peace of mind it provides.

Give some more info and you might get a more definitive answer.
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#9
Buffalo
2,828 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
I view the extra cost of a ship's based excursion as a degree of insurance. There is the safety of being assured of not being left behind of course. Also, Royal checks out, sets standards, and backs the excursions that it sells. If there's a problem, you can work it out with the excursions desk back at the ship.

I've had two problem excursions. Once at Grand Cayman, Seven Mile beach was only about ten feet wide because of high tide strong winds. They gave us a full refund. At Cozumel our four hour bottom fishing excursion was cut short by two hours because of a Coast Guard inspection of the fishing boat. It took a little arguing, but they gave me back half the price of the excursion as an OBC.

I don't always use ship excursions, but I do have a greater confidence going into them. Less worry is a good thing on a vacation.
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#10
California
787 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
We have done both private and ship sponsored. For us, it depends on what port we are visiting. Definitely decide what you want to do while in the ports. We did a private excursion when in Cozumel and swam with the sting rays. It was the best excursion! We did the ships excursion, same cruise different port, to visit the Mayan Ruins. It was a very long day and we got back to the ship late (they were waiting for us before leaving!). We recently just returned from a Mediterranean Cruise and did both and some on our own. We have had awesome luck with private, and the ships excursions have been mediocre. Lots of people and it feels like they are rushing you from one place to the next. I think it's good to mix and match.
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#11
near Phoenix, Arizona
373 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
It hasn't been mentioned yet, but what I like best about the private tours is that you can have a real conversation with your guide. Last year in Spain, we talked to our guide about how the current economic situation was affecting her family. Then the three couples on the tour and the guide had a great free-ranging discussion about family life.

On the other hand, for our ship's tour of Sicily, the guide was reading from the guide book in the front, as the tourists all fell asleep. He kept saying "I know this is boring but I have to tell you all this information or I will lose my job." It got a little better when the walking tour started, but we still felt like he had a required history lesson he had to tell us.

On another ship's tour in Rome, there were several ships in port. Because they needed so many busses that day, I think they just hired people off the street to drive.. Our driver kept getting lost on the way to Rome, and he and the guide would have arguments about where he was supposed to turn. Also, on the way to Rome, all the busses stopped at the same gas station for the potty break at the same time. We spent almost an hour of our tour at that stop just waiting for all the women to get through the long line.

So I think you definitely get a better quality of tour, and guide, when you go private. That said, I'd continue to use ship's tour in certain ports - just because of the "wait for you" guarantee.
#12
Allentown, Pa.
1,422 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Most of our tours we plan with private operators and are very satisfied that we get more value. We recently returned from the Med and did private tours in Naples, Rome, and Messina. In those crowded cities, our minivan with 8 people got us around much more efficiently than the cruiseline busses and were significantly less expensive. Also, a group lunch with 8 is very doable and we were directed to a couple real good italian restaurants
In some Med ports, you can do it youself very easily, e.g. Venice, Croatia. We did take a ship tour in France because it was easy for our first stop. We had a good time but it seemed like we were always waiting for the bus or a late arrival. Have a great cruise
#13
3,752 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Originally posted by cb at sea
Yes...you can book things on your own. However, the ship's excursions aren't that bad! Depending on what you're doing, they are fine ways to have fun....the ship takes care of everything...no worries on your part at all, from start to finish. So, don't be afraid to use the ship's excursions, if there is something you'd like to do through them.

A guidebook on your ports will allow you to see what you want to do and if you even NEED an excursion at all! Many things require no one to "guide" you!
This is so true! For some ports you are docked right there and many local tour operators are there waiting or the town can be visited on your own. The ship tours are fine and can be depended on from my experience. Do research on the ports since at times, you can arrange a similar tour (I usually only do this when I'm sure I will be close to the port when time to board) for less cost. I always contact the ports/places I visit for any free local info. I have always found any place I've contacted ready and willing to send local free info from maps to schedules to general information. Have fun!
#14
UK
292 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
again thanks for the responses. I think I have made my decision as far as it goes.

We are newbie cruisers and as such the 'insurance' aspect of cruise excursions sounds compelling to me. The leave everything to them and have nothing to worry about sounds good for our first cruise until we get used to what to expect.

If we enjoy cruising and go again (no guarantees there) then I will probably explore other options.

thanks again,

Gary
AoS 9 May 2013
#15
Northeast
13,008 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
If you are going to use a ship's excursion, my advice would be to read through the tour description very carefully. Take note of travel times to and from, and whether they let you off the bus to sightsee or you are just travelling through sites and viewing from inside your vehicle. Also note whether lunch or drinks are included, and what they recommend you bring with you.

The problem with ship's tours is that they are inevitably expensive, but they will pack a lot of people in and your tour operator may be highly variable in quality.

With a private excursion you will have less people, usually cheaper, and you can make more specific arrangements to do what you want. Yes, you must pay attention to ship departure times, but the reputable operators are very careful about return times.

Sometimes the ship will have 'on your own' excursions where they provide transportation to and from but you make your own arrangements at the destination. That would be good if your port is far from the tour site and you are worried about getting back to the ship from Rome, for ex.

As people have said go to the ports of call boards and read through several pages. Also do a search for your tour name or number in the search window. If you cannot find anything, try google and include 'cruisecritic' in the search terms. I always use the ports of call boards, even if I think I may book a ship's excursion.

At the very least, you will get a good idea of what is possible in each port.
#16
394 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Originally posted by garyb(uk)
again thanks for the responses. I think I have made my decision as far as it goes.

We are newbie cruisers and as such the 'insurance' aspect of cruise excursions sounds compelling to me. The leave everything to them and have nothing to worry about sounds good for our first cruise until we get used to what to expect.

If we enjoy cruising and go again (no guarantees there) then I will probably explore other options.

thanks again,

Gary
AoS 9 May 2013
BBM

Cruising can be addictive.....