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Sheridan2014

Shore excursions

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Weve always booked shore excursions through the cruise line but I was wondering if anyone had some better 3rd party excursion websites they used? We’re looking to save money as this cruise turned from just the two of us into 5 of us.

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I don't know what ports you're visiting, but shoreexcursioneer is a broker for ports throughout the Caribbean. I have booked through them in several ports, and had great experiences with every one.

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Were going on the breeze in December visiting amber cove, st Thomas, San Juan and grand Turk.
I am doing those same ports on the Glory during Christmas week. You can search the Ports of Call section of CC and see who people like. I learn a lot from those boards.

 

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We usually book directly with the excursions company. You can research on the Ports of Call board on cc or TripAdvisor.

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Tons of information for each port on the port of call boards. Can give you an idea of what's offered in the port and recommendations for specific guides or companies.

 

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Tons of information for each port on the port of call boards. Can give you an idea of what's offered in the port and recommendations for specific guides or companies.

 

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Agreed that is the best way to go. If nothing than try some of the brokers mentioned above

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Do lots of research here on Cruise Critic and you will find info, pics, and reviews of third party tour operators.

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Just a word of warning. If you are on a third party tour. The ship will not wait if you are late. The second time we went to Panama. We got a police escort back to the ship. A group of about 15 took same tour thru a third-party. When we got to our cabin they were standing on the pier watching us leave.

 

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Just a word of warning. If you are on a third party tour. The ship will not wait if you are late. The second time we went to Panama. We got a police escort back to the ship. A group of about 15 took same tour thru a third-party. When we got to our cabin they were standing on the pier watching us leave.

 

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That is true. This is also the fear tactic the cruise lines use to keep people booking their excursions. I am sure that the situation has occurred in yours and others where a cruise line excursion made it back to the ship and a private one did not. However, Its not common. I book almost exclusively independently and many on these forums do and have never run into a situation where I felt any danger of being left behind. Tour companies that sell to cruise passengers make their living off getting you back to the ship in time. I always schedule myself to be back to the ship an hour before all aboard time and that builds in some traffic/slow downs. I am more likely to take a ship tour if the travel time in the excursion is long or takes you far from the port but for a normal tour on a normal island, I have no hesitation in booking independently. And we have had some wonderful tours that far exceeded the ship’s version for a lower price.

 

 

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Do whatever makes you the most comfortable.

The "Easy Way" is to book with the cruise line ... way less research is required.

You will be picked up, takent to have fun, returned, and you'll never miss "the boat"... all with no effort on your part. :D

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Just a word of warning. If you are on a third party tour. The ship will not wait if you are late. The second time we went to Panama. We got a police escort back to the ship. A group of about 15 took same tour thru a third-party. When we got to our cabin they were standing on the pier watching us leave.

 

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My goodness I just do not understand how DW and I have survived! More then 40 years of cruising for more then 1000 days (on over 100 cruises) to hundreds of ports on 6 continents and I think we may have taken 3 or 4 cruise line excursions....only because they did things we could not possibly do on our own. Somehow we survived, never missed the ship, avoided police escorts, etc etc. But thank you for clearing the air :). We will be sure to take lots of cruise line excursions in the future....NOT! And by the way, on all of those cruises (some more then 60 days long) we have yet to meet anyone who missed the ship unless it was on purpose (another story). I am sure they do exist...but we haven't found one!

 

 

Hank

Edited by Hlitner

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I was always afraid to use outside agencies unless we were somewhere I was familiar with like Cozumel or grand cayman. We used shore excursioneer in Roatan a few weeks ago to zipline. The drive was about 30 mins away but we made sure to leave super early, and when we stopped at the beach, my comfort level would not allow me to stay more than a couple of hours. All told, my time away from the ship was about 6 hours in a 9 hour port stop. I would also be scared if it were a tender port or a trip that takes us over an hour away. We had a blast, a driver that stayed with us the whole day and saved hundreds of dollars for our party of 14. If we were in Jamaica and going to Dunn’s river falls, I would only book something like that through the cruise line. If it’s a small island, I don’t mind booking elsewhere.

 

 

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TripAdvisor is a great resource, explore it for any destination and there will be options available.

So is the St. Thomas board right here on Cruise Critic, certainly worth a look while they are here and the OP can see just how big this site truly is and what it has to offer its members. :)

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So is the St. Thomas board right here on Cruise Critic, certainly worth a look while they are here and the OP can see just how big this site truly is and what it has to offer its members. :)

True, they are sister sites after all.

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I was always afraid to use outside agencies unless we were somewhere I was familiar with like Cozumel or grand cayman. We used shore excursioneer in Roatan a few weeks ago to zipline. The drive was about 30 mins away but we made sure to leave super early, and when we stopped at the beach, my comfort level would not allow me to stay more than a couple of hours. All told, my time away from the ship was about 6 hours in a 9 hour port stop. I would also be scared if it were a tender port or a trip that takes us over an hour away. We had a blast, a driver that stayed with us the whole day and saved hundreds of dollars for our party of 14. If we were in Jamaica and going to Dunn’s river falls, I would only book something like that through the cruise line. If it’s a small island, I don’t mind booking elsewhere.

 

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Having some fears is natural, but learning how to overcome or channel those fears is an important part of independent travel. For those that cannot handle the fear (without being miserable) the cruise line excursions provide an easy solution. But just be aware that you really limit your options when you rely on those excursions...so there is a huge downside.

 

Over the years we have helped a lot of folks with DIY issues. But as soon as somebody says to me "I am scared to go off on my own" or "I am afraid of doing anything because I might miss the ship," my response is that they should either stay on the ship or take a cruise line excursion :). You might wonder how very independent travelers (like me) overcome those basic fears. Most of us are always thinking and planning in terms or a "Plan B" or what to do when things do go wrong. For example, you might be afraid to go to Rome (from Civitavecchia) on your own because Rome is more then an hour distant and you are concerned about missing the ship. But in my mind I would be thinking, "if I do miss the ship what are my options." In this case it might be as simple as grabbing a train to the next port (easy to do in much of Europe) after notifying the ship's Agent of our situation. and DW's reaction would probably be to say "since we are stuck in Italy tonight, lets go have a nice dinner!"

 

We were recently on a cruise in Japan where we actually planned to miss the ship in one port so that we could spend an overnight in Tokyo. Our plan was to simply catch-up to the ship at its next port. In this case we actually requested (and obtained) written permission from the cruise line.

 

Hank

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We haven't taken a ship excursion in years and would only do so if there really wasn't any other viable option. Private tours are generally so much better and cheaper. Maybe if we ever had an insane amount of OBC we'd use it on a tour or two.

 

Also, sometimes you don't need a tour; with a little research we find that many ports you can just do on your own, either walking, using public transportation or (rarely for us) renting a car. Sometimes we pick up a tour on the dock.

 

The whole 'you'll miss the ship' scare tactic is very overblown. We haven't done as many excursions outside the ship as Hlitner, but probably way over one hundred and have never come close to missing the ship.

 

We do plan sensibly by booking tours that get back to the port with a decent amount of time to spare; usually at least an hour, and do at least think of back-up plans just in case. We use these boards and Trip Advisor for most of our tour ideas.

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Some great points, and as mentioned it is all about risk factors and contingency plans if things do go wrong. Note even with ship's shorex, these plans should exist.

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