Go Back   Cruise Critic Message Board Forums > New Cruisers > First Time Cruisers
 
Register here!
Forgot Your Password?


Notices

First Time Cruisers You May Also Want to Read: Over 4,000 Published Cruise Reviews by First Time Cruisers

Best advice for first-time cruisers; learn how to pick a cabin, find the best cruise bargain, tips on what to pack.

Browse Cruise Critic's First Time Cruiser Resources (articles)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Old January 14th, 2013, 10:36 AM
svm8 svm8 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 35
Default

This is wonderful information--you guys are making me feel much better about looking into non-ship sponsored excursions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bull View Post
And they tend to be folk who explore independently and lose track of the time, or mis-judge journey time, or don't make a reasonable allowance for delays, or misunderstand back-on-board time, or foul-up ship's time vs port time. Alcohol is often involved. Even exploring independently, its exceptionally rare that a cruiser with a modicum of common sense misses a sailing.

And I've not read a single incidence on Cruise Critic of anyone on a private tour missing a sailing.




JB
We are looking at highly rated tour operators in the Bahamas, with organized tours. We aren't drinkers, and are one of those families that is always on time or early whereever we go, so I think we will be fine.
It is very reassuring to see that no one on the boards has missed a sailing
Reply With Quote

  #22  
Old January 14th, 2013, 10:41 AM
svm8 svm8 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 35
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by maryred View Post
The secret to a successful independent tour with out he worry of missing the ship is to make sure that the tour is scheduled to be back at the pick-up area at least 90 minutes prior to the ship leaving port. That will give you an hours worth of time for alternate transportation to get you back to the dock. Also make sure at least 1 time piece is set to the ship's time, mobile phones will default to the local time of the nearest tower.

Before meeting the tour group make sure you stop at the local tourist info booth or desk in port and get the phone # of a couple of cab companies that uses a dispatcher or the driver can be directly contacted. That way if the tour operator is running late for any reason & you feel uneasy about their back-up plan, you can take the prerogative of making your own way back. Now of course this only works if the tour is fairly local and not to an isolated place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bull View Post
........ in which case its up to the tardy cruisers to phone the ship or ship's land agent - always a contact number in ship's daily newspaper. I guess the ship is much more likely to wait, at least a few minutes, if it's known that a group - or even a solitary passenger - is ten minutes away, rather than simply "missing".
No promises though

JB
Excellent suggestions-adding these to my ongoing list of cruise information and things-to-do.
Reply With Quote

  #23  
Old January 14th, 2013, 10:54 AM
paul929207's Avatar
paul929207 paul929207 is online now
40,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Greenville, SC, USA
Posts: 44,568
Default

Where possible, we start with the place furthist from the ship and work back to the ship. This often puts us within walking distance of the ship for the last site(s). If we were ever running late, we would just skip the last stop(s)
__________________
Paul
Reply With Quote

  #24  
Old January 14th, 2013, 12:07 PM
kitty9 kitty9 is offline
20,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Moon Township, Pa
Posts: 22,064
Default

OCruisers, I beg to differ with you on whether the ship will leave if ship sponsored tours don't get back on time. I've been on three cruises where the ship did leave passengers who were on ship tours. There are circumstances where the ship has no choice but to leave, and it doesn't matter if everyone is on the ship. Once we had to leave because the tide was going out and if they didn't leave the ship would be sanded. Another time, the ship left more than 500 on an island because a hurricane hit and they had to put out to sea. And finally, the port commissioner told a captain they had to leave on time because the dock was needed for cargo vessels and they would not allow the cruise ship to stay beyond their time, even though 4 tours were not back yet. There was an accident on one of the main roads that shut that road for more than 3 hours, hence the late tours.

So, you can't count on the ship staying even for their own tours. If they have to leave, they WILL leave.

JB, seeing that a tiny fraction of actual cruisers know and post on cruise critic, not reading that anyone has missed the ship is not all that impressive. Plus, there are quite a few incidents that can happen with private tours, like the one I referenced above, that will cause tours done by private contractors to miss the ship. Not saying that happens often, but it does happen.
__________________
Darcie

Last edited by kitty9; January 14th, 2013 at 12:12 PM.
Reply With Quote

  #25  
Old January 14th, 2013, 12:35 PM
bunnyfoofoo82's Avatar
bunnyfoofoo82 bunnyfoofoo82 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 124
Default

Personally, I would rather play the premium on a cruise excursion where time is tight but a long stay at port and a short excursion, why not save the money?
__________________


October 2013 Carnival Pride First Girls Cruise

May 2013 Carnival Pride Anniversary Cruise

January 2013 Carnival Pride First Cruise, Merry Christmas!
Reply With Quote

  #26  
Old January 14th, 2013, 01:46 PM
John Bull John Bull is online now
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Romsey England
Posts: 7,700
Default

[quote=kitty9;36671952]

JB, seeing that a tiny fraction of actual cruisers know and post on cruise critic, not reading that anyone has missed the ship is not all that impressive. quote]


Hi again. Kitty.
You're right of course, that CC members are only a fraction of the cruising public.

But bad news & schardenfreude are always worth a gossip, so I'm pretty sure we'd have seen reports on these forums.

And if you search You-Tube, it's the same dozen or so incidents over and over again of folk just catching / just missing the ship or hitching a lift with the pilot boat, all caught on a variety of cameras. Cos they're worthy of posting. Nearly all the latecomers in their twos & threes, & not a tour bus in sight.

Not saying it's never happened with a private tour group.
In fact it probably has.
But I think we all agree that risks need to be seen in perspective.

Alhough, as Hank's post, we have our views on the subject, others prefer the safety net of a ship's tour.
And what counts is what the individual is comfortable with.

Because of that safety net, ship's tours do often seem to cut it fine, presumably more at ports where a delayed departure is no big deal.
We were held up 30 mins at SPB due to a late-returning ship's tour - screwed up in traffic coming back from St Cath Palace. But (see Aquilegia's post) what sort of tour organiser puts such a location at the end of a tour
And ship's buses straggled into Safaga from Luxor after all-aboard time - with us in one of them . Yep, despite our dislike of ships' tours, a 3.5hr journey back to the ship in Egypt is way beyond our DIY limits.

JB

Last edited by John Bull; January 14th, 2013 at 01:48 PM.
Reply With Quote

  #27  
Old January 14th, 2013, 01:54 PM
1025cruise 1025cruise is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,337
Default

In the case where a ship's tour doesn't make it back on time and the ship does have to leave, the cruise line will take care of you to get you to the next port. If you are on your own, you are on your own.
Reply With Quote

  #28  
Old January 14th, 2013, 03:23 PM
PROCRUISE PROCRUISE is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,867
Default Private Tours

Leaving on Wednesday for Singapore and 2 week cruise aboard Celebrity Millennium. At all seven ports of call we have, through CC roll call, scheduled private tours at a drastic savings in cost compared to the ship sponsored tours. That is basically the bottom line - one saves a tremendous amount of money by scheduling private tours. Most of our tours will be with only a total of 10-12 fellow travelers, and in each case, the tour companies have confirmed that we will be back at our ship no later than an hour before ship departure. Could something happen to cause a delay, yes, but as others have mentioned, the tour companies are very much aware of the internet, Cruise Critic, and how they would be put out of business with poor reviews.

We are cruised a few times and used private tours all over the world with no problems and end up with a lot of extra money in our pocket as a result.
__________________
3/02 Carnival Paradise, Western Caribbean-7 Days
4/03 Carnival Destiny, Southern Caribbean-7 Days
4/04 Carnival Spirit, Hawaii-12 Days
5/05 Norwegian Star, Panama Canal-17 Days
12/05 Carnival Liberty, Eastern Caribbean-8 Days
12/06 HAL Veendam, Western Caribbean-7 Days
2/07 Carnival Legend, Southern Caribbean-8 Days
9/07 Carnival Freedom, Western Mediterranean-12 Days
12/07 Carnival Triumph, Eastern Caribbean-7 Days
2/08 Carnival Miracle, Western Caribbean-8 Days
10/08 Carnival Splendor, Eastern Mediterranean-12 Days
12/08 Carnival Glory,Western Caribbean-7 Days
6/09 HAL Eurodam, Baltic Sea-12 Days
12/09 Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean-9 Days
3/10 HAL Noordam, Southern Caribbean-7 Days
9/10 Presidential Nile Cruises, Egypt-5 Days
12/10 Carnival Valor, Western Caribbean-7 Days
3/11 Celebrity Equinox, Ultimate Caribbean Cruise-11 Days
1/12 Celebrity Constellation, Southern Caribbean-12 Days
2/12 Princess Grand, Southern Caribbean-7 Days
12/12 Carnival Breeze, Eastern Caribbean-8 Days
1/13 Celebrity Millennium, S.E. Asia-14 days
8/13 Viking Bragi, Budapest to Amsterdam-15 Days
1/14 Norwegian Sun, Southern Caribbean- 11 Days
6/14 HAL Oosterdam, Land/Sea-Alaska - 14 Days
12/14 Celebrity Silhouette, Eastern Caribbean - 7 Days
2/15 RCCL, Allure of the Seas, Western Caribbean -7 Days

Last edited by PROCRUISE; January 14th, 2013 at 03:25 PM.
Reply With Quote

  #29  
Old January 14th, 2013, 07:07 PM
Newbie41's Avatar
Newbie41 Newbie41 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: West Allis, WI
Posts: 335
Default

In April, 2012 I DH and I went on a very port intensive week long cruise. We didn't take any ship sponsored excursions and had no problems. In St. Thomas we went to the aquarium and Coki beach, taking cabs both ways without a problem. In St. Marten we went to Saphire Beach, then shopping and a late lunch on the French side of the island, again using taxis and had no issues. On St Kitts we went to a plantation, shopping in the downtown area, and lunch, and again had no problems. In Barbados we went shopping in the downtown area, to a rum distillery, and to an wildlife preserve taking taxis and not a problem. In St Lucia we went downtown shopping, had lunch, and went to the beach again using local taxis without any issues. We will do more of the same on our next cruise.
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #30  
Old January 14th, 2013, 07:35 PM
chipq chipq is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 2,292
Default

I choose independent tours about 90% of the time and only once came close to missing. We were on a catamaran snorkel and beach tour, the same one offered by the cruise line but at 40% less. The currents as we were sailing back north to Puerto Vallarta were much stronger than usual and the cat was having a heck of a time. Well, the Captain of the cat was concerned we would miss the cruise and he had his first mate pull up the power boat the had in tow to transfer guests from cat to beach. We hopped in and skipped across the ocean the last 30 mins back into PV. We walked onto the gangway about 3:55 for a 4:00 sail away. PHEW! As our ship cleared the PV harbor on our way out to sea, we saw the cat just entering the harbor. We were mentally prepared to taxi to PV airport and find a flight to Cabo. Fortunately we made it by a nose.

http://luv2cruise.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote

  #31  
Old January 14th, 2013, 10:16 PM
ibfishing2's Avatar
ibfishing2 ibfishing2 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: California
Posts: 307
Default We ALWAYS book Cruise Sponsored Excursions

Quote:
Originally Posted by svm8 View Post
I've been reading the boards obsessively and understand the pros/cons of ship sponsored excursions and independent excursions. The main risk that is mentioned is being left if the independent excursion is delayed and doesn't return in time to catch the ship.
I'm curious if anyone here (or someone you know personally) has actually experienced something like this. We are trying to decide on excursions and how much risk we want to take.
Thanks!!
We were on a Holland America sponsored excursion in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. We were two passengers of the bus of approx. 50 - 60 people. On the way to our destination, the driver stopped to help fix the flat on another bus which help to add time to our excursion. After we left our tour, we had a long ride back and of course, the traffic was very, very heavy. We were all quite concerned and the tour guide assured us that she had been in contact with the ship and that it was waiting. We were about 55 minutes late and when we arrived, there was the ship,,,,waiting. They quickly got us aboard the ship and we went straight to our cabin, to the balcony and saw that the ship was already well away from the port.

We ALWAY take ship sponsored excursions and this experience has insured that we always will.
__________________

5 Night Discover Australia Pre-Cruise & 14 Day Cruise


12 night Spirit of the Rockies / Alaska Cruisetour


21 Day South America and Antarctica Explorer

Rotterdam - 21 Day Midnight Sun and Norwegian Fjords 2014
Oasis - Eastern/Western b2b 2013
Veendam - So. America and Antarcticia 2012
Coral Princess - Panama Canal 2010
Island Princess - Alaska CruiseTour 2008
Island Princess - Alaska 2007
Carnival - Ensenada/Catalina New Years '06
Royal Caribbean - Alaska CruiseTour 2006
Carnival - Ensenada 2005
Reply With Quote

  #32  
Old January 15th, 2013, 09:23 AM
HokiePoq's Avatar
HokiePoq HokiePoq is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 2,337
Default

I imagine it's the quality of private excursions that makes the difference. We've had wonderful experiences with private excursions arranged through our CC roll call groups. Always pays to check Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor before selecting a private excursion.
If DH and I are traveling alone and not with friends or CC group, we use the ship's excursions. I remember being in Belize on the ATV jungle tour when one of the ATVs lost its transmission in the three foot ruts we were driving through. Sat there and thought how glad I was we were on a ship's tour.
Same cruise the ship waited some time for its plane excursion to Honduras ruins to return. On our December cruise, our excursion was late returning from the Dead Sea (long drive to Haifa) and the last gangway was pulled up just after we got on.
__________________




Volendam,Alaska, June, 2007
Veendam, Western Caribbean, December 2007
Celebrity Millennium, Australia/NZ, January 2009
NCL Jade, Eastern Mediterranean, April 2009
Westerdam, Southern Caribbean, December 2009
NCL Gem, TA/Greek Isles, April 2010
NCL Sun, Baltics, August 2010
NCL Epic, TA/Med, May 2011
NCL Jade, Canary Islands, December 2011
Rotterdam, Hawaii/South Pacific, Jan. 2012
Jewel of the Seas, TA to the UK, May 2012
NCL Jade, Rome to the Holy Land, December 2012
NCL Dawn, Western Caribbean, January 2013
Legend of the Seas, Singapore to Rome, April, 2013
Westerdam, Eastern Caribbean, December, 2013
NCL Star, Panama Canal, January-February, 2014
NCL Jade, Western Mediterranean, April 2014
Reply With Quote

  #33  
Old January 15th, 2013, 09:40 AM
paul929207's Avatar
paul929207 paul929207 is online now
40,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Greenville, SC, USA
Posts: 44,568
Default

One thing to consider is personal comfort. If you are not comfortable with the chance a private tour cold miss the ship, then stick with the ship's excursion. You will pay extra, but your piece of mind may be worth the extra money.
__________________
Paul
Reply With Quote

  #34  
Old January 15th, 2013, 11:31 AM
BruceMuzz BruceMuzz is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Shanghai, PRC / Sete, France
Posts: 3,432
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by svm8 View Post
This is wonderful information--you guys are making me feel much better about looking into non-ship sponsored excursions.



We are looking at highly rated tour operators in the Bahamas, with organized tours. We aren't drinkers, and are one of those families that is always on time or early whereever we go, so I think we will be fine.
It is very reassuring to see that no one on the boards has missed a sailing
Don't get too excited yet.
Total Cruisecritic Members represent only 1% or 2% of total cruisers.
The number of people who have responded to this post are not even 1% of that 1%.
You should be more shocked if someone who actually was left behind had read this post and responded to it.
Reply With Quote

  #35  
Old January 15th, 2013, 11:38 AM
BruceMuzz BruceMuzz is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Shanghai, PRC / Sete, France
Posts: 3,432
Default

One more consideration.

Many American cruisers do not have passports.
If you are traveling with a birth certificate and driving license, and your independent tour is late and you miss the ship, there is a very good chance that the country you are in will not allow you to board a plane to fly to the next port.
There is also a 100% chance that you will not be allowed to fly back to the USA (until you spend a lot of time and money getting an emergency passport).

Last edited by BruceMuzz; January 15th, 2013 at 11:39 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #36  
Old January 15th, 2013, 01:41 PM
Ellusionz Ellusionz is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 321
Default

I always book non sponsored tours right when we dock so we get it out of the way and if there's any issues the rest of the day is there to fix it Plus I swear I've seen on one or two sites that some even have guarantee's that you won't miss your ship, but I don't know how they back it up or if they really do. If I even did a super long far away tour I might be more inclined to do the ship one. But so far (knock on wood especially for our upcoming March cruise) we'll be just as safe as my past cruises!

If you've never cruised/done excursions before definitely do ship the first time or two til you see how it runs. Once you feel comfortable and you see something you wouldn't be able to do ship sponsored, try it out, just schedule your time, check reviews and ask as many questions as needed until you feel comfortable (for the most part anyways!).
__________________
Disney Wonder - 5/14/2009



Reply With Quote

  #37  
Old January 15th, 2013, 01:44 PM
John Bull John Bull is online now
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Romsey England
Posts: 7,700
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceMuzz View Post
Don't get too excited yet.
Total Cruisecritic Members represent only 1% or 2% of total cruisers.
The number of people who have responded to this post are not even 1% of that 1%.
You should be more shocked if someone who actually was left behind had read this post and responded to it.
Hi Bruce,

You & I & others have been on many many cruises, & mixed with others who've been on many many more cruises, & we've been on these boards for a very very long time
Any CC contributor who's missed a sailing while on a private tour is surely not going to keep quiet about it. So by your figures 1 or 2% of those occasions would appear on these boards.
Yet I've seen not one. Not one, out of thousands of posts by folks about their experiences.
Nor have you, with your long professional cruise ship background, mentioned one instance of cruisers on a private tour from your ship missing a sailing, or of your coming across such a thing on CC.
Nor have I even heard about such a thing elsewhere on my cruising travels, not first-hand, not second-hand, not even tenth-hand.

Not saying it's never happened, in fact as my earlier post I've no doubt it has.
But let's all please put the risks in perspective.
Especially on a board for "first time cruisers".

I cringe when I see long & sometimes frantic threads about what happens if the ship sinks, pickpockets in Barca or Rome, medical evacuations, re-patriations, pirates, physical dangers in Cairo or Athens or London, etc ad infinitum.
And I wonder how many potential cruisers, or those planning a land vacation overseas, or as in this thread those considering private tours, are put off because such dangers are blown waaaay out of proportion.

Several folk on this thread, including yours truly, have made the point that the choice will be the individual cruiser's comfort level.
But that comfort level needs to be based on realistic prospects of a problem, not over-hyped risks.
Otherwise none of us would dare walk out of our own front doors.

Guess we'll have to agree to differ, Bruce

Kind regards

JB
Reply With Quote

  #38  
Old January 15th, 2013, 11:25 PM
svm8 svm8 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 35
Default

Definitely food for thought. . .
In our case, we are not necessarily considering an independent excursion to save money (it is cheaper, but only by about $100) but the combination of activities available that aren't offered on any of the ship offered excursions. Specifically, we are looking at a kayak/snorkel excursion in Freeport using a highly rated tour provider. Our next port would be Nassau.
I know there is some risk involved, and it is helpful so get some perspective on how much risk that is.
I appreciate all the input and information that will help us make our decision as we approach our cruise date.
Reply With Quote

  #39  
Old January 16th, 2013, 09:38 AM
lisiamc's Avatar
lisiamc lisiamc is online now
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 2,210
Default

As others have said, it's a good idea to weigh the risks (usually pretty small, since the private companies have a reputation to uphold), have a good Plan B ready, and know your comfort zone. In 14 cruises, we have taken many private tours and never missed the ship, or even come close. The only time we've been late was on a ship's tour, and the ship waited for us.

The only people I've seen miss the ship, and I've seen a few over the years, and many near misses who were really cutting it fine, were individuals, couples, and a family or two. No groups who appeared to be independent tour groups.

We love to hang over the railings and watch for latecomers. Will they make it? Will they be left behind? We never jeer, but just enjoy the drama.

Last edited by lisiamc; January 16th, 2013 at 09:39 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #40  
Old January 16th, 2013, 10:01 AM
Hlitner Hlitner is offline
10,000+ Club
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: New Cumberland,PA, USA
Posts: 19,040
Default

Forty years do extensive travel have simply taught us that we do not like excursions! To us, being trapped on a bus with. Group of 50 fellow cruisers is akin to be part of a herd on a cattle drive. DW and I enjoy doing what we want, when we want, with whom we want. This means going off on our own (nearly anywhere in the world) unless a tour is the only possible alternative. On a recent 62 day cruise to 31 ports of 13 countries we did take 2 excursions....and did the other 29 ports on our own. We probably saved over $5000 on tours...saw many things not even available on excursions.....had time to relax and sample wine/cuisine in a dozen countries (and not at large restaurants that cater to bus tours) etc. It's all about choices. By the way,,,,if you hang around the tour desk or Guest Relations on most cruises....a majority of the whiners are complaining about their excursions. Independent travel is not for everyone.... But it's very rewarding for those of us with a spirit of adventure.

Hank

Last edited by Hlitner; January 16th, 2013 at 10:01 AM.
Reply With Quote

Reply

Bookmarks


Ad Sponsored By
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:49 PM.


© 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved.
"A Community of People Who Love To Cruise"
All of the information contained within Cruise Critic is protected by copyright. You may, however, download a single copy only for your personal use.