Jump to content

RCI excursions vs private tours


Recommended Posts

Booking with the ship guarantees the ship will either wait for you or get you to the next port if there is some delay getting back in time.

 

Booking third part many times means less expensive, fewer people on the tour, and a better tour.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I start off by researching the port I'm going to visit and come up with the places I want to visit or things that I want to do. Then I look at private excursions and ship's excursions.

Depending on what you want to do - there are some excursions to certain beaches etc. that are only available through the ship's excursions and some that are only possible using private excursions.

 

If you're doing a private excursion - I recommend dealing with someone who gets good reviews here on cruise critic as these companies are used to dealing with cruise passengers and they know they have to get you back to the port on time etc. or else they will really suffer on these boards.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Booking with the ship guarantees the ship will either wait for you or get you to the next port if there is some delay getting back in time.

 

Booking third part many times means less expensive, fewer people on the tour, and a better tour.

Totally agree! Our only consideration.

Edited by easyboy
Link to post
Share on other sites

The one blatent rip off piece of crap tour I did was a Royal Caribbean offered one in Antigua. The 2nd worse one was a post cruise excursion in Fort Lauderdale, it was also a Royal sponsored one. After several months of bad reviews on their site they did both. The best ones I have done have been private. The private ones has had very fair and competitive cancelation policies and they depend on good online reviews and they usually know the ships schedule better than their customers.

 

Royal went through a period with me where about 1/3 of their excursions I booked were canceled before we got there or the day of arrival.

 

I rarely complain about Royal cut backs and always have a great cruise, but I've felt the excursions from about 2008 to 2015 were about maximizing profits and I did a lot more private during that time. I was pleased though to get a great diving excursion with Stuart Cove's in Nassau this October though.

Edited by BillOh
Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a judgement call. On my next cruise, I have booked my own shore excursion in Cozumel at Nachi Cocom. We've been there before and feel very comfortable with it. At Falmouth, Jamaica we have booked a ship based cruise for a couple of reasons. I don't feel safe in Jamaica and I think there is some added security with the ship excursion. Additionally, the excursion (Hilton Rose Hall) is some distance away from the ship and I don't want to risk being late back to the ship. You have to balance selection of excursions with price and security.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done both. Had good success with all. Cruise line tours are more crowded generally, but do give guarantee that the ship will be there. Sometimes the best tour companies are booked by the cruise line. For example we did a fantastic whale watching and salmon lunch tour in Juneau. Our DIL's sister works for the tour company. It is top notch, but fully booked by the cruise line. Same with a great tour we did in the Caribbean. Top rated tour company, fully booked by cruise line. On the other hand, we did a spectacular tour of Ephesus, Turkey through a private tour that was less than half the price of the cruise line's tour, was much more inclusive and we could adjust at our will, and it was only our party of 10. Same with our tour in Dominica.

My advice, read up on the port stop section and see who is recommending which tour company and the tour itself. Check the companies out via the web, for example Tripadvisor is good. Then look at the port an make sure it isn't somewhere that has only a single road to and from the port or some other aspect that could prevent a timely return. But see what others recommend and their reviews, then decide. If there is minimal difference, use the cruise line for "insurance" purposes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have done both. My cruise last year on Adventure we did all non RCI excursions. The companies I booked with were based on the many reviews and recommendations I had read on CC. When I do book non RCI excursions I book in the morning so that the excursions end and have us back to the port by 2 or 3 long before the ship is scheduled to depart. I am not bold enough to trust those that don't get back until like a half hour or hour before you are scheduled to be back on the ship! :cool:

Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a judgement call. On my next cruise, I have booked my own shore excursion in Cozumel at Nachi Cocom. We've been there before and feel very comfortable with it. At Falmouth, Jamaica we have booked a ship based cruise for a couple of reasons. I don't feel safe in Jamaica and I think there is some added security with the ship excursion. Additionally, the excursion (Hilton Rose Hall) is some distance away from the ship and I don't want to risk being late back to the ship. You have to balance selection of excursions with price and security.

 

Cozumel is a very...very small island. You can get back to the ship with any

taxi, since Nachi does not include the transport to or from the resort.

 

We also love Nachi Cocum and are once again booked in a couple of weeks.

You just need to be sure to leave on your own in time to make it back....

BEFORE the Margaritas kick in too much. ;) :D

 

We mix it up with RCI tours, private tours, and renting a car. Lots of

research helps.

Edited by island lady
Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a judgement call. On my next cruise, I have booked my own shore excursion in Cozumel at Nachi Cocom. We've been there before and feel very comfortable with it. At Falmouth, Jamaica we have booked a ship based cruise for a couple of reasons. I don't feel safe in Jamaica and I think there is some added security with the ship excursion. Additionally, the excursion (Hilton Rose Hall) is some distance away from the ship and I don't want to risk being late back to the ship. You have to balance selection of excursions with price and security.

 

Cozumel is a very...very small island. You can get back to the ship with any

taxi, since Nachi does not include the transport to or from the resort.

 

We also love Nachi Cocum and are once again booked in a couple of weeks.

You just need to be sure to leave on your own in time to make it back....

BEFORE the Margaritas kick in too much. ;) :D

 

We mix it up with RCI tours, private tours, and renting a car. Lots of

research helps.

 

Really happy to hear the feedback from both of you on Nachi Cocom. I was finally able to convince everyone in my group to do a beach day in Cozumel. After reading at the port of call forums & visiting their website, I feel like Nachi best fits what we want. If you don't mind my asking, how far in advance of your cruise did you book it?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Really happy to hear the feedback from both of you on Nachi Cocom. I was finally able to convince everyone in my group to do a beach day in Cozumel. After reading at the port of call forums & visiting their website, I feel like Nachi best fits what we want. If you don't mind my asking, how far in advance of your cruise did you book it?

 

I always book Nachi Cocum right after I book the cruise. They only take 100

people a day, which makes it limiting....but that is what makes it so nice at

the same time. Very relaxing...and not the crowded "Disney World" atmosphere of

the unnamed resort next door. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

After 6 cruises and 20+ excursions... I'd say about 20% of our excursions have been RCL sponsored. Ironically, the only excursion/tour that we've experienced as being late to the ship was a RCL sponsored excursion. It was our first cruise. Yes we did the Walk of Shame. Looking back, I think the driver of the van knew the ship would be waiting. My family sat in that van for 45 mins before he took off for the port. We couldn't figure out why he was waiting and he never told us either.

 

What you need to know is that a private tour company having late returns is devasting for their business. They pride themselves and service and timely returns.

Edited by Goodtime Cruizin
Link to post
Share on other sites
Really happy to hear the feedback from both of you on Nachi Cocom. I was finally able to convince everyone in my group to do a beach day in Cozumel. After reading at the port of call forums & visiting their website, I feel like Nachi best fits what we want. If you don't mind my asking, how far in advance of your cruise did you book it?

 

People mentioned private excursions and refunds. Nachi was a great example. They require only a small deposit. Back in 2015 that was $10 per person. If your ship doesn't stop in Cozumel, you are not charged and you are refunded your deposit. They were also great to work with. I made reservations for 4 people. The other couple had to cancel, they transferred the deposit for the other couple to our payment. Had a great time there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only good thing about tours by ship is your know ship will wait for you, I did ships tours for decades, but after some really bad ones we started doing our own, RCCL tours seem to be crowded and over priced, on last Europe cruise we just did 1 RCCL tour other 8 was private tours or on our own.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not sure if this is a fleetwide policy, but we've been with friends twice who have been injured on a ship excursion, and there was no charge for medical treatment on the ship.

 

I've read that in a recent review, might be a good point.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The only good thing about tours by ship is your know ship will wait for you, I did ships tours for decades, but after some really bad ones we started doing our own, RCCL tours seem to be crowded and over priced, on last Europe cruise we just did 1 RCCL tour other 8 was private tours or on our own.

 

On this subject, the Captain of Oasis made a great point in the Captain's corner that applies to private tours. The compass has port contact information for people going ashore. He said, "If you are late getting back to the ship call the number and advise us of your status. If you're running late we can consider delaying departure if we know you're on your way vs not having any info. "

Link to post
Share on other sites
On this subject, the Captain of Oasis made a great point in the Captain's corner that applies to private tours. The compass has port contact information for people going ashore. He said, "If you are late getting back to the ship call the number and advise us of your status. If you're running late we can consider delaying departure if we know you're on your way vs not having any info. "

 

Always a very good point. But how would I know what that number is to call?

My answer to myself was tear out the little piece of port information from the

Compass to take with me when we go into port that has all the port numbers

on it. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

On our first cruise (Brilliance OTS / January 2003) we took a RCL sponsored tour to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. A bit more expensive then we wanted to spend, but well worth it -- the ruins were incredible, and no issues getting back to the ship on time.

 

On our most recent cruise (Freedom OTS / November 2011) we took a non-RCL sponsored tour on Sint Maarten (via a tour group that has been well advertised here on the boards). Less expensive, we got to a couple of beaches as well as to SXM to watch the airplanes land. Again, no issues getting back to the ship on time.

 

Every other cruise (eight additional cruises over the years), we ask for beach recommendations and take local taxis ... and we work out an arrangement with the outbound driver to meet us at a certain time to get us back to the port / ship.

 

Michael and Silke

Link to post
Share on other sites

To add another similar response, we also do both. It really depends on what you want to do, how far from the port you will travelling, risk factors as well as cost. We usually end up with a combo on each trip. Our next cruise has 5 ports, 2 will be private, 2 cruise ship, and 1 will be a do it ourselves beach day.

 

If you do go private check out reviews here on CC and also trip advisor. Their livelihood is tourism and bad reviews can ruin them.

 

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Holiday Exchange - Jingle and Mingle 2020
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • Q&A with Chris Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...