Posted June 5th, 2017, 05:21 PM
We are doing our tenth cruise in August. Thus far, we've only ever booked one shore tour via P&O – primarily because of the higher cost. Of all the excursions we've arranged for ourselves, only one didn't work out as planned. The small tour bus that we were to go on apparently had no signage on it and we couldn't find it. The arrangement was that we would pay upon meeting them so no money was lost. We learned later they were searching for us as well! Still, we had a great day because we located another means of transport (the back of a ute) and had one of the very best tours we've ever had.
We research at home what we think we'd like to do and usually arrange some form of transport on land. At other times, we sort things out via a fantastic Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/redVanuatu/
If you book tours ahead of time that are not with P&O, you won't normally miss the tour if the ship is late to dock. They don't have anyone to take on tour until the passengers have disembarked, so they'll still be sitting there waiting for you.
Some are also concerned about ships leaving with them. The simple workaround is to set your return time WELL AHEAD of departure time and don't pay taxi drivers until they've returned you to the ship. That way, they won't leave you stranded at some remote location. Most drivers are fantastic; just one or two that have done wrong by their paying passengers.
On the topic of taxi drivers, just be prepared at Vila for the onslaught of eager drivers wanting to take you places. There's yelling and waving and offers galore. Plan what you want to do before you hit the wave of drivers, and pleasantly but firmly say that you've already got things arranged. Or, if you want to hire one of them, be ready to negotiate a fair price. Incidentally, a cheap and fun way of getting from the dock to the centre of Vila is by water taxi. Come out of the gates and look for signs for water taxi (or ask a stall owner).
Pacific Pearl, Pacific Sun, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Dawn, Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas