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Non-Viking excursions

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I'm on the Trade Routes cruise in 2020, and I'm concerned I won't get some of the optional excursions that I'd like. What's the best way to find (in advance) non-Viking tours/excursions that include pick-up at the port? TY.

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Check the CC Roll Call thread for your cruise, to see if there are others interested in private excursions.  Also, go thru Roll Call threads for previous cruises on this itinerary to see what companies others recommend.

 

Then you can find lots of ideas on sites like Trip Advisor.

 

We mostly did private excursions last fall on Orion from Venice to Hong Kong.  Worked out great!  Usually cheaper than the VO excursions and we were able to visit places not offered by VO (notably Taj Mahal in India and Siem Reap in Cambodia).

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That is exactly what we do MarkTapley. We regularly book private excursions. The forums on TA for the city you are Interested in are really helpful, along with the cruise ports section here on CC. Just ask, and there are so many helpful people! 

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Yes, we use the forums and I do a lot of searching on TripAdvisor and other sites. We just did the Trade Routes cruise and loved it. Let me know if you want any ideas.

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And don't forget the Ports of Call forum. There is even more information shared there about private tours than there is in Viking roll calls, simply because it isn't segregated by cruise line and the audience is bigger. Even if don't find new information there, you can see what folks have said about the tour companies you are looking at.

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Agree Peregrina. That is the cruise ports section I was referring to. Often times there is more valuable information there due to actual cruisers using the private excursions rather than often land visitors on TA.  Both are valuable tools. When you get recommendations you can research them separately to see how their reviews are. 

We have had great times using private excursions. Sometimes it is just DH and me, sometimes it takes a small group - and when that is the case you can very often take the lead and negotiate for the maximum number of people. 

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I just booked our excursions yesterday for our upcoming cruise this summer. Because it is peak season and the ship is full and we are three cabins traveling together, I was stressing that we would not get the included and optional tours that we wanted.

 

Well, all that stress was for nothing. We all were able to easily book the included and optional tours at the times we wanted.

 

I think the dire warnings on Cruise Critic to be hovering over the keyboard to strike when bookings open up may be overkill.

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11 hours ago, Homosassa said:

I just booked our excursions yesterday for our upcoming cruise this summer. Because it is peak season and the ship is full and we are three cabins traveling together, I was stressing that we would not get the included and optional tours that we wanted.

 

Well, all that stress was for nothing. We all were able to easily book the included and optional tours at the times we wanted.

 

I think the dire warnings on Cruise Critic to be hovering over the keyboard to strike when bookings open up may be overkill.

 

You can never tell. It may be because you stressed out and were prompt that everything went so smoothly.

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On 5/25/2019 at 11:14 PM, Homosassa said:

I just booked our excursions yesterday for our upcoming cruise this summer. Because it is peak season and the ship is full and we are three cabins traveling together, I was stressing that we would not get the included and optional tours that we wanted.

 

Well, all that stress was for nothing. We all were able to easily book the included and optional tours at the times we wanted.

 

I think the dire warnings on Cruise Critic to be hovering over the keyboard to strike when bookings open up may be overkill.

 

Several of the excursions were booked out before DV could book their excursions on our Alaska cruise and new slots never opened. The warnings were accurate for some excursions but there’s nothing you can do about it except book the more expensive cabins. 

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11 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

You can never tell. It may be because you stressed out and were prompt that everything went so smoothly.

We are also traveling with our daughter and son-in-law. They didn't book their excursions until after work and a visit to the vet for their kitty. It was about 7 PM eastern when they booked and they also had no problem matching either the times for excursions we doing together or the times for the ones they are doing on their own.

 

In any case, I am a lot more sanguine about our dinner reservations that we can make this Friday. I will not be able to make then until later in the evening.

Edited by Homosassa

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We're in the DV category and had no real difficulty booking the excursions we wanted for our July Midnight Sun cruise. I did make the bookings within minutes of the opening of our eligibility window, though, and in some cases had to settle for our second-choice time slot. Even so, we're very pleased with the overall outcome.

 

Dining reservations, however, were another story entirely! We really had to scrounge for them! By booking the moment our category opened, we were able to get Chef's Table reservations for the menu of our choice but had to settle for a 9 p.m. slot on our last-choice day. Manfredi's was a little better: Even though we couldn't get in on a sea day as we'd hoped, we did snag a good (in our opinion) time slot on a busy shore day. We're quite flexible, so all will be good.

 

It all seems to depend on the particular cruise!

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On 5/25/2019 at 11:25 PM, Pushka said:

 

Several of the excursions were booked out before DV could book their excursions on our Alaska cruise and new slots never opened. The warnings were accurate for some excursions but there’s nothing you can do about it except book the more expensive cabins. 

 

No you can always set something up before the excursions open with an alternative outlet.  Many do not require a deposit.  If they do, you can probably get a refund if you do get on Viking tour.  Then you're covered.  In some cases there is oone price for the excursion regardless of number booked.  If you post here and enough people are interested in may cases it will be the same or lower(excursion dependent) than you will pay on board and probably less than paying for the cabin upgrade.

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On 5/26/2019 at 9:08 AM, Homosassa said:

We are also traveling with our daughter and son-in-law. They didn't book their excursions until after work and a visit to the vet for their kitty. It was about 7 PM eastern when they booked and they also had no problem matching either the times for excursions we doing together or the times for the ones they are doing on their own.

 

 

 

AND, if you hadn't been able to get the same times, an e-mail to the folks at TellUs@vikingcruises.com would have straightened things out easily.

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Do not forget to get the Viking app.  You can often rebook a dinner reservation or get more at a time earlier than 9pm once on board.  Also, last summer, we had no trouble booking included tours and the optional we wanted second to last sign up time.  However, later there were some that we though were interesting that were completely booked.  On the Midnight Sun cruise, there are other options in all the Norway ports-other private tours on the day, buses to some of the interesting sites, walks to some of the good things.  There are many other options than ship tours.

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22 hours ago, Dauntless said:

 

No you can always set something up before the excursions open with an alternative outlet.  Many do not require a deposit.  If they do, you can probably get a refund if you do get on Viking tour.  Then you're covered.  In some cases there is oone price for the excursion regardless of number booked.  If you post here and enough people are interested in may cases it will be the same or lower(excursion dependent) than you will pay on board and probably less than paying for the cabin upgrade.

 

And that’s exactly what we did. Most are private. But some prefer to book only with the cruise line for perceived security. 

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4 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

And that’s exactly what we did. Most are private. But some prefer to book only with the cruise line for perceived security. 

"Perceived security"? You mean, the ship would still sail without you if you were late returning on a Viking excursion?

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19 hours ago, Mahogany said:

"Perceived security"? You mean, the ship would still sail without you if you were late returning on a Viking excursion?

The final decision on whether the ship waits or sails rests with the Captain. He/she will consider many factors in making the decision. Regardless of whether the ship waits or sails, the cruise line is responsible for any costs associated with getting you returned to the ship.

 

However, many factors may dictate that it is necessary for the ship to sail - weather, tidal conditions, pilot availability, longshoreman availability and also the ability of the ship to make it to the next port.

 

While cruise lines will never admit it (I have no information on Viking's policy), financial consideration may also come into play - cost of forwarding passengers to the next port against the additional costs of delaying departure.

 

 

 

 

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As an aside to this. Our current cruise requires a lot of tenders. Viking booked excursions are given significant priority in getting onto a tender than the rest of the passengers. Some have missed getting their privately booked excursions after one port where only 1 tender was being used and we waited in a large queue for 75 minutes after port clearance had been granted. 

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On 5/25/2019 at 9:44 AM, Homosassa said:

I just booked our excursions yesterday for our upcoming cruise this summer. Because it is peak season and the ship is full and we are three cabins traveling together, I was stressing that we would not get the included and optional tours that we wanted.

 

Well, all that stress was for nothing. We all were able to easily book the included and optional tours at the times we wanted.

 

I think the dire warnings on Cruise Critic to be hovering over the keyboard to strike when bookings open up may be overkill.

We’ve lost out on many and we are in the second group. 

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On 5/28/2019 at 2:08 PM, Pushka said:

 

And that’s exactly what we did. Most are private. But some prefer to book only with the cruise line for perceived security. 

Now that makes me concerned. We tender on the Falklands stop in February there’s no other way.And we’ve booked a private tour. We haven’t paid, and if we can, after seeing this we may end up going on a Viking tour if we can get it. 

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1 hour ago, LadyImpactOhio said:

Many use Viator for tours which is owned by Trip Advisor. 

 

Agree. A lot of people use them on this cruise. 

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1 hour ago, LadyImpactOhio said:

Now that makes me concerned. We tender on the Falklands stop in February there’s no other way.And we’ve booked a private tour. We haven’t paid, and if we can, after seeing this we may end up going on a Viking tour if we can get it. 

 

I think it’s Orion that does not have its act together. 

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Private tour providers tend to be VERY careful about getting cruisers back to their ships on time because they realize the online reviews that would result from failing to do so would be disastrous to their business.

 

I've heard of people left behind who were out touring on their own (or drinking!) but never anyone who was on an independent tour. Not saying it never happens, just that the reputable operators are very conscious of how important a prompt return is.

 

Check online reviews of providers you're considering.

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19 minutes ago, Pushka said:

 

I think it’s Orion that does not have its act together. 

 

6 minutes ago, Mehroswitha said:

Private tour providers tend to be VERY careful about getting cruisers back to their ships on time because they realize the online reviews that would result from failing to do so would be disastrous to their business.

 

I've heard of people left behind who were out touring on their own (or drinking!) but never anyone who was on an independent tour. Not saying it never happens, just that the reputable operators are very conscious of how important a prompt return is.

 

Check online reviews of providers you're considering.

 

We tendered twice on the Amazon trip. That was the Sea.They knew what they were doing, it was very quick and one loaded at each end. 

 

As far as tour companies we set up a tour with Patrick Watts in the Falklands and I read the reviews on Trip Advisor, which all were very good. I think there is only one other tour operator on the island. I know Viking won’t we able to accommodate all who want to go on this tour so that’s why we booked with him. And I understand about this is these people’s livelihood and they have to get passengers back on time. We’re going on a new ship as well, the Jupiter and I think they had some issues in the beginning in the Med but I don’t know about tendering. 

 

You may may not have heard, and I hate to be the bearer of this news. But a Viking river ship hit a tour boat on the Danube in Budapest and sunk it. No one on the Viking ship injured, but 7 are dead on the tour boat and quite a few are missing. The captain of the Viking ship was arrested. It happened In a storm with fog while both boats were going under a bridge at the same time. 

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