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I will be traveling with Vantage in May (1st trip with them) and they are the only cruise line that I have taken that has asked for the optionals to be book, and paid for, before the trip.Vantage always sends an email or letter about the optionals. Althought they are "asking" ...these tours are always available when we have gotten on the tour and booked them. No need to pre-book or pre-pay.
I have traveled with Viking, Uniworld, Grand Circle, AMA and Gate one. All optionals for those companies were booked the first or second day of the cruise.
We are doing a Gems of the Danube cruise with ScenicTours, this will be our first river cruise. Can anyone tell me how much, if any, time you have to look around on your own after or before taking the included tours.pthardy - It depends on the stop. Some stops (ie: Vienna) include extra time, and a shuttle service into the town centre.