Posted June 3rd, 2011, 09:18 PM
I don't think Oceania or any other cruise line makes any real "killing" on shore excursions...
They all contract with local companies for the tour packages...They will add a small premium for all of their other costs in administering the program...Sometimes it seems a bit much, sometimes not...
Remember, in Amsterdam, it's not just admission to the Rijksmuseum, its the bus, the driver, the tour guide and maybe some other parts to the tour...
Personally, I think the best thing to do in a foreign port that you are NOT FAMILIAR with is to get a tour of some sort...
It usually makes sense to arrange a private tour with a group of between 6 and 10...With fewer people, the cost will, generally, be greater than that of a shore excursion...so, if you cannot join or put together a group, go with the shore excursion...
For most, look to your roll call here on cruise critic...
When we visited Amsterdam last summer, we put together a group on our Roll Call and hired what I think is the single best guide I've ever hired in any of my travels (and I do this all the time)...
We had a group of 12 and our ship docked not in Amsterdam but in Rotterdam (an hour's drive away)...I foundf this guy from several recommendations here on Cruise Critic...Here is what I wrote in my review upon my return:
Rotterdam: Here I arranged for a private tour for 12 with “The Dutch Travel Advisor” (129€ or 139€ pp, depending on the variation, see below, including ALL museum fees and extra guides), Edwin Groeneweg. I think we hit the absolute jackpot on private guides. This guy was the most organized and efficient private guide we’ve ever had. He met us at the ship in Rotterdam at 9 am with a minibus and took us directly to the Canal Boat in Amsterdam, providing commentary throughout the bus ride and canal boat ride. After the boat ride, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, then to lunch at a sandwich café in Museum Square. At this point, he split up the group, bringing four to the Rijksmuseum while the rest of us finished lunch, then returning and bringing the other 8 to pre-arranged taxis to the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum (including the Great Synagogue). Note: There was simply not enough time in our port stop to see everything, so this is the one election we all made and our group could not agree, but Edwin deftly accommodated the split. At the Jewish Museum, Edwin handed us off to a specialized guide, Marika, who took the 8 of us through the Synagogues and Museum while Edwin returned to the Rijksmuseum to pick up with the other four. After our portion of the tour, Edwin brought the other four to meet us at the Jewish Museum along with yet another specialized guide, Andre—an expert on Canal Houses and Gardens, who, along with Edwin, led us all on a walking tour of Amsterdam’s older sections, including a visit to a private historic double canal house mansion and gardens—where we were treated to drinks and snacks along with a tour—and through the Red Light District and, finally to the Anne Frank House. At each stop, Edwin had pre-arranged tickets and reservations, so we waited on no lines, bypassing large lines and entering each attraction immediately upon arrival. After the Anne Frank House, our minibus was waiting and we arrived back at the ship at 10:00 pm, exhausted. But we saw more by far in Amsterdam than any shore excursion offered by the ship (their offerings were incredibly unsatisfying, bypassing any museums or major tourist sites, probably for fear of getting 40 people through the lines and not taking advantage of the midnight departure time).
Here's his contact info:
The Hague, The Netherlands
Email: [email protected]
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