Warning! Before You Book a Windstar Shore Excursion, Understand That...

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San Diego,California
20 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
In my opinion your characterization of Windstar as a “predator” and implying thattheir contractual practices relative to tours are in some way nefarious, improper or ”anti- trust” is unfair.The business of selling group tours to a cruise line or resort hotel is a very different business model from selling individual tours to travelers. So, in my view, they are not competing for the same business.

Suggesting that Windstar may have limited competition, is not founded in fact, since we have no information about how many tour operators may bid for the cruise line contract.Only the parties to the contact are privy to the terms, however it would be foolish to believe that the terms are beneficial to only one of the parties.

Although Windstar passengers may pay a premium for the tours offered, should they choose to buy them, my experience has been that they were curated,well organized and interesting/fun. Taking their tours also gave us some peace of mind, since there was always a crew member on the tour (unless it was a tour after disembarkation)and we were assured of making it back to the ship before it’s departure.

I don’t understand why Windstar would have denied you any ofthe advertised discounts. Although this winter’scruise will only be our third on Windstar, our experience has been that they were fair and even generous with us. Wereceived the early booking bonus, the alumni discount, price adjustments according to their price assurance policy and even an unsolicited complimentarycabin upgrade that was offered about a month before our last cruise, which was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise.
Miami, Florida
308 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Many inexperienced travelers do not understand the liability aspects of a cruise line selling tours. With primarily western passengers, frivolous - and not so frivolous - lawsuits are very common.

All the major cruise lines are required by their insurers to have a minimum $1 million liability coverage for every passenger who purchases a tour from them.

If that tour happens to be a visit to Florida's Disney World, the risks are minimal, and the premium for that liability insurance is rather low.
But if that tour happens to be with a local company in a third world country, the story is quite different. The local operator likely has no insurance. His equipment may or may not be safe and reliable. The cruise line is completely on the hook for any and all real or perceived damages on any tour they sell you. The cruise line's insurance company is going to assess a hefty liability charge on that tour to cover themselves as well.
Guess who ends up paying for that insurance?
The pax who buys the tour, of course.

There are many ports in many countries, where the cruise line does not have a monopoly on local tours. There, if you feel lucky, you can choose to independently buy the cheaper tour with no insurance. Or you can play it safe and buy the more expensive tour (with insurance) through the cruise line.
Tarzana (San Fernando Valley), CA
5,002 Posts
Joined May 2000
Just to be sure there is one other aspect that has not been mentioned; that is, what happens if the ship has to bypass a port. On a Windstar cruise we were unable to call at Santorini (Greece) because of seriously high winds and port congestion. The order to bypass was made by the Santorini harbormaster that morning as we were heading toward the island. We sailed around the island and wound up having a "day at sea."

All passengers who booked shore excursions in Santorini through Windstar were not charged or were refunded any payments already made. The excursion company lost all of the revenue because of the cancellations and the Windstar customers were all well handled apart from the disappointment of missing a fabulous port.

If one arranged private shore activities it would have been a real problem for them to recover whatever they may have paid to their private tour provider. (I don't know if anyone did that but I've been on other cruises (e.g., Princess) where this has occurred.)

We've always done comparative "shopping" to determine how much the "markup" was on excursions we've booked and have seen those "markups" to be rather modest.

Just one other matter. When we booked an excursion to Olympia, Greece through Windstar on another cruise, the provider arrived with a coach that would have been filled to capacity with the number of passengers booked. The Cruise Director told the operator that they must provide a second coach and host, which they did, which made the excursion even better.
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Blue Planet
2,392 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by Pudgesmom
As stated, most of your complaints are standard practice in the industry for shore excursions. Complaining won’t change anything. The small outfits on shore are probably much happy to have a shot at a well populated excursion from a ship than the off chance someone will find them on TripAdvisor.

I don’t know anyone who uses the airfare through a cruise line unless they pay a deviation charge. Again, no surprise.

I don’t understand your complaint about fares. We always get the return discount, and quite a few times we have lowered our price by following price cuts and updating our booking. Although a few times we might have saved with a very last minute booking, out time off is precious and inflexible and we like to choose our cabin. We prefer to book well ahead and don’t take those last minute deals

We like Windstar and their policies. If you don’t, there are many other cruise lines offering all kinds of pricing options. I hope you can find one that works better for you.
I have often booked air through Princess, it can be great for one way long haul flights. Way cheaper than booking direct with the airline.
And changeable/cancellable.
We have just booked our 2nd cruise with Windstar and we were cheerfully given free laundry and a few per cent off as past passengers and also more percent off for booking within 2 months of our previous Windstar cruise.
And that cruise is now listed as a Special but its now double the price we are locked in at.
Frankly its a 20 day unpopular repositioning cruise, but at $50 a day plus taxes we cant complain. Love being on board Wind Surf.
So at the moment at least we are pretty happy bunnies.
Rhode Island
527 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
I, actually, do not have a problem with a non-compete clause by cruise lines for a vendor. It is the vendor's business decision on whether to sign the agreement or not.

Here is what can happen (my personal experience) if there is no non-compete clause. Morocco port, Windstar cruise - probably the one and only time I will ever get to visit. Did a lot of research, found a highly rated tour guide and booked him in September for our April cruise. Had another couple (from Australia) who were going to join us. Verified the booking was OK about two weeks prior to cruise.

Got off the ship and found the guide with our name on a sign. It was someone different! Was told that our tour guide was requested by Windstar at the last minute and would be doing one of their bus tours. OK - we are go with the flow people, disappointed but did not make a fuss. Morning part of the tour was great - started to fall apart at lunch. He tried to charge us extra for lunch, fortunately we had the emails that clearly stated lunch was included. Then he began parading us through various stores and vendors - again we showed him the emails where we had stated we did not want any shopping. At this point he became angry, threatened to just leave us until we pointed out that our backpacks were in his van. When we asked about the three other places we were supposed to visit, he told us the tour was over.

Upon our return home, I emailed the guide we were supposed to be with. It was only then that I found out he had a contract with Windstar and did all their tours! He knew in advance when he took our booking that he would not be our guide since he knew we were on Windstar, but led us to believe he would be conducting our tour. This was extremely deceptive and had I known I might have taken the tour offered by Windstar. We received no refund, only a promise that should we ever come to Morocco again, he would give us a free tour.

So, this is the flip-side story of what can happen if a vendor does not have a non-compete agreement with Windstar. I would have been just fine with him saying he could not accept our booking - I would have then tried to find someone else or just do the tour through Windstar.
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Wind Star 2017 Jewels of the Windward Islands · Wind Surf 2016 Spain & Morocco · Wind Surf 2016 Yachtsman's Caribbean · Star Legend 2015 Gaelic Explorers · Wind Star 2014 West Med · Wind Star 2014 Caribbean · Wind Spirit 2013 Istanbul to Athens · Wind Spirit 2012 Caribbean · Wind Spirit 2011 Caribbean · Serenade of the Seas 2010 Southern Caribbean · Carnival Victory 2009 Southern Caribbean · M.S. Sun Boat IV 2008 Egypt · M.S. Galileo 2003 Greece · NCL Dream 2001 Baltic · Legend of the Seas 2000 Mediterranean · Galaxy 1999 Eastern Caribbean · Sun Princess 1998 Caribbean · Splendour of the Seas 1997 Southern Caribbean