Posted March 30th, 2012, 11:55 PM
Thank you all for the replies thus far-I appreciate it.
Good tips Dr. Pam...though I'm not sure I want my daughter playing with all the feral cats around Epehsus.
Back to my OP-Are there any Crystal excursions that you recommend? Or ones you'd suggest skipping?
There prices are quite high, which I expected but some are outrageous. I was given a quote of $125 per person transfer fees from Civitavecchia to Rome and that is in a bus with 40 others. For 6 of us that would be over $700.
I could hire a private mercedes round trip for less.
So that begs the question, not with the bus transfer obviously, but if Crystal is charging so much for their tours, are you getting more for your money?
I agree, that transfer charge is rather ridiculous for Rome!
What do you get on a Crystal tour? If you have been following Keith's World Cruise thread you may have noticed his comment about the 60 passenger buses to Beijing that only carried 30 guests. This is quite common for Crystal. With few exceptions, Crystal only allows half to two-thirds the number of passengers as seats on a bus. Most other lines pack them full.
Crystal's tours are always
escorted by a member of the staff to ensure there are no issues and to help keep the groups together. On more than a few occasions, in our experience, this escort was responsible for keeping a tour "on the rails" so to speak. Also this tends to prevent "sales pitches" from the tour guide.
Often Crystal's tours go to places other lines can't. In St. Petersburg last summer we took a tour that included the Repository of the Hermitage, where the vast majority of the collection is kept and where the restoration work happens. Our guide told us this was the first time she had ever seen a ship's tour allowed in the Repository.
That same cruise we did the full day Moscow tour. It was VERY expensive, but it included almost a full afternoon in the grounds of the Kremlin, including the Kremlin Palace which is normally not open for tours. And this Cold War kid never in his wildest dreams ever thought he would find himself in Red Square!
Where tours includes meals, these are normally in top quality restaurants/hotels and include wine/beer.
Are all Crystal's tours this exotic or even "fairly" priced? Not by a long shot, but many of them are unique and unusual experiences you will not get on other lines. We do a simple calculation; is the tour unique or exotic enough/once-in-a-lifetime-enough to justify the cost? If the answer is yes, we go and if it's no, we don't. Only you can make that decision for your situation.