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screen-gem

Beware AZ shore excursions that are not as advertised

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9 hours ago, nordski said:

I have never experienced a “horrible” shore excursion so I’ll reserve judgement as to whether the OBC is better spent in the shops.

 

Although I know there is a certain poster on here who would severely chide me for not having my priorities straight concerning shopping 😄.

 

I wondered why my ears were burning . . . 🛍️

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12 hours ago, wripro said:

I simply do not understand why anyone ever does a ship's shore excursion.

 

Sure you do.  Some want to put as little effort as possible in planning their vacations.  It can take an hour of less to pick excursions from a list and sign up and pay for them.  The more others sign up, the more they subsidize the cruise fare for the rest of us.  The last thing I want to see when I book private excursions is someone beating me to the puck and securing a private guide that I would have wanted to book.  In any case, I don't understand why anyone would need any kind of excursion to walk the city walls of Dubrovnik.  You pay at the gates for admission and walk.  If you want some background, purchase a cheap paperback guide or do a little reading, but there are markings in English along the way explaining what you are seeing.  

 

 

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There’s a difference, albeit perhaps not always a big one, between offering people advice and criticizing their choices and I think it makes more for a friendlier, more helpful forum if posters aim for the former over the latter (not that anyone asked me).  

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I totally agree that a bad excursion is a waste of time in port. Also, I wasted time waiting for shuttles with other ship’s guests.  In Sitka, shortly after we docked, Celebrity Eclipse docked next to us. Not only did it block our beautiful view, we had to wait in a very long line to get a shuttle to town. In Juneau, part of our excursion was a salmon bake. Tour guide dropped us at the bake telling us to get in the line to get food. He then left, never to return. The line for food was very long. We were there with the Radience of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and Coral Princess.  I took a small ship cruise and ship tour to avoid the long lines that you get on a big ship.  Excursion groups were also very large....full bus of 49.  Why  pay extra for a small ship excursion?  

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I’m a seasoned traveller who meticulously plans complicated itineraries, like this upcoming 3-month long trip - of which the 30 days of b2bs are just one component. I’ve also already planned (and filled) private group bookings for some of our shore excursions.

 

I would prefer doing a cruise-booked tour in some ports, mostly for logistical reasons.

I am also not so cheap as to not recognize the value of booking such tours.

I also have OBC to use, that I *should* wisely be able to use for ports of call where I’d want to do a cruise-booked shore excursion (that OBC was either paid for or earned - not “free”...)

 

Those who choose to buy a cruise-booked shore excursion should get the product that they have been sold and paid a premium for. Period.

 

The dismissive attitude of some “self-planners” posting here does not change that fact.

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We’re on the Journey in Norway and have done 2 ship’s tours to use OBC. Both were very good with experienced and knowledgeable guides who enhanced the experience. The first was the Flam railway, and yes we could have done it cheaper, but our guide was interesting and, as with all our tours on this cruise, had a great sense of humour. The second was a cruise on Lake Loen and a walk to the Kjenndal Glacier. That one is not available privately and was very good indeed, again with an excellent guide and with large buses each only about half full - and there was lots of spare space on the boat too.

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2 hours ago, Host Grandma Cruising said:

We’re on the Journey in Norway and have done 2 ship’s tours to use OBC. Both were very good with experienced and knowledgeable guides who enhanced the experience. The first was the Flam railway, and yes we could have done it cheaper, but our guide was interesting and, as with all our tours on this cruise, had a great sense of humour. The second was a cruise on Lake Loen and a walk to the Kjenndal Glacier. That one is not available privately and was very good indeed, again with an excellent guide and with large buses each only about half full - and there was lots of spare space on the boat too.

 

 

We took the same excursion several years ago and had the same good experience.

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I have never had a bad shore excursion in Norway. The quality of the agent they contract with is high. 

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Excursions can vary depending upon location. All ship excursions are contracted by 3rd party companies. Some are good, some bad.  The size of the tour group is important.  The people who book on a smaller ship expect smaller groups on a tour. Azamara tours were in big groups. We did not have listening devices. Not all buses had working microphones. The people at the back of the bus could not hear any commentary.  

Book your own tours.  There are lots of good info to help you pick great tours. Read posted reviews.  Take the time to read up on the ports that you will visit. While you may get good maps and port info on the ship, knowing what you want to do in advance will help you make the best use of your time in port. 

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We usually do private independently booked tours and have done hundreds all over the world. There is always a but, we used AZ in Borobudur as the distance was great and often told about trouble on the roads. We were extremely pleased with the product they provided. Yes several busses but broken into small groups for tour and police escort there and back. We did see many small vans stopped by accidents and street interactions.

Last year because of weather our stop was a changed day and the private company could not accommodate, so we used AZ boat to to-a seal colony. It was professional safety oriented and gave us exactly what we were looking for.

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I have taken many ship excursions. In some places, it makes good sense. Once in awhile things don’t go well.  Cruise lines usually take responsibility for errors. Azamara shore excursion said that they knew about the bus that had no AC or windows that would open. However, the response is still “looking in to it”.  Not acceptable!

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9 hours ago, Doh15 said:

There’s a difference, albeit perhaps not always a big one, between offering people advice and criticizing their choices and I think it makes more for a friendlier, more helpful forum if posters aim for the former over the latter (not that anyone asked me).  

 

Nobody criticized the OP for taking a tour with the cruise line.  The criticism really relates to the cruise line excursions themselves.  It would be nice if Azamara were to tell people the best way to see the city walls.  Of course, it also would be nice if they reached agreements with their vendors on itineraries.     

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16 minutes ago, hubofhockey said:

 

Nobody criticized the OP for taking a tour with the cruise line.

Suggest you read the first sentence of post #23, and Phil's very appropriate and thoughtful response in the following post.

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34 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

Suggest you read the first sentence of post #23, and Phil's very appropriate and thoughtful response in the following post.

 

Saw it.  I think post #23 is pretty general and is more of an attack on ship excursions than on the OP.  I don't think it was personal, but maybe that's just the way I read it because I find that ship excursions is such a revenue draw for cruise lines.    Their motivation is to sell passengers and not advise them of the best way to walk the city walls and make the most of your day or days in Dubrovnik.  There can be a tendency to take advantage of passengers who trust them.  Maybe Azamara is different, but the OP's initial post indicates otherwise.

 

 

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1 hour ago, hubofhockey said:

 

Saw it.  I think post #23 is pretty general and is more of an attack on ship excursions than on the OP.  I don't think it was personal, but maybe that's just the way I read it because I find that ship excursions is such a revenue draw for cruise lines.    Their motivation is to sell passengers and not advise them of the best way to walk the city walls and make the most of your day or days in Dubrovnik.  There can be a tendency to take advantage of passengers who trust them.  Maybe Azamara is different, but the OP's initial post indicates otherwise.

 

 

It may not have been an attack on the OP but it belittled anyone who isn't, according to wripro, smart enough to plan and arrange his or her own private tours in port. 

 

I think it's a mistake, as your last sentence does, to generalize from one or even a few anecdotal examples.  Worst tour we've ever taken was a private one in Roatan when someone arranged to go to what turned out to be an awful place called Bananarama and we made the mistake of joining via roll call.  Didn't sour us on private tours, however.  Taken some terrific ship tours and some not so.  Same with private.

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13 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

It may not have been an attack on the OP but it belittled anyone who isn't, according to wripro, smart enough to plan and arrange his or her own private tours in port. 

 

I think it's a mistake, as your last sentence does, to generalize from one or even a few anecdotal examples.  Worst tour we've ever taken was a private one in Roatan when someone arranged to go to what turned out to be an awful place called Bananarama and we made the mistake of joining via roll call.  Didn't sour us on private tours, however.  Taken some terrific ship tours and some not so.  Same with private.

 

Private tours have issues too.  Here's my quick list.

 

  • Overcrowded vans or minibuses - Just because a vendor has room for 8 (or any number), it doesn't necessarily mean he or she can take eight comfortably.  Maybe someone has to sit on a jump seat (ouch!) and often spouses or traveling partners are split up because of configurations of vans or minibuses.
  • Sometimes there are money issues on who owes what and misunderstandings (know that one first hand)
  • Sometimes one couple will veer off the beaten track and hold others up.
  • Sometimes you set them up and find out that someone in your party finds "something better to do" and the others are left having to pay more.
  • You need to be sensitive to mobility issues of some.
  • When you join someone else's roll call excursion, you need to remember that they are calling the shots and make sure everyone agrees on itinerary and how much time you spend in each activity.

I have gotten to the point where I'll share with one other couple, and sometimes two, but not with four couples or eight total.  I always make sure that there are spare seats in a van too.  I'm not a fan of cruise ship excursions, but blindly just signing on to roll call excursions is no way to go either.

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, hubofhockey said:

Private tours have issues too. 

Agree with all your points.

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On 7/12/2019 at 4:46 PM, BBMacLaird said:

Hi Screen-gem,

I will make sure this thread reaches the appropriate eyes!

I can't speak to why your shore excursion was changed last minute, something must have required it. And I do hope together we can get to the bottom of it all.

I can definitely apologize for our staff not getting back to you...not onboard nor ashore. That is not they way we do business, and as Phil writes it is a shame to read of this on a public forum. This tells me you've tried everything. I do apologize.

@BBMacLaird

Bonnie,
Thanks for responding. I appreciate that you took the time to offer an apology on behalf of your on-board and shoreside colleagues for whom Customer Satisfaction is apparently not a priority.

 

You suggested that our Walk the Walls excursion was changed at the last minute. Frankly, I don’t think that’s what happened. When I met with the Pursuit’s Shorex manager to share my feedback, he said nothing of the sort. If there had been some last minute change, that would have been the time for him to explain that they’d had to make adjustments due to X, or Y, or Z. And apologized for it. And then apologized for failing to notify in advance the Customers who had purchased that excursion. But he did none of those things. Instead, he denied there was any problem. That was contradicted by the facts at hand, so he then shifted to deflecting responsibility to the tour operator.  I was not impressed.

 

You said you would make sure that this thread will reach the "appropriate eyes". I hope the these eyes include those of Carol Cabezas. As the Azamara executive responsible for Sales, Marketing, and Shipboard Operations, she is clearly the person with the responsibility to initiate the appropriate interventions. The outpouring of replies to this thread since I posted on Friday indicate that there are some systemic issues that need her attention.

 

If I were in her shoes, I would certainly be troubled that the Shorex department is advertising inaccurate shore excursions that might mislead Customers and set false expectations.  This issue goes beyond our experience in Dubrovnik. See for example the post by @snowglobe about a number of problematic descriptions for upcoming excursions in NZ, linked here.

 

Ms Cabezas should be perplexed that some on-board managers are dismissive of Customer’s concerns and fail to follow up in a timely manner.  Not just my experience, but here (“shore excursion staff does not care”) and here (“zero empathy or people skills”). And of course the Dubrovnik experience reported by @Ithikan ("abject rudeness"), linked here.

 

I’m sure she was furious when she learned the Marketing department recently published a description of the Norwegian cruise that was mistakenly titled “SEE MORE OF ICELAND THAN EVER BEFORE” even though the itinerary didn’t go to Iceland.  An improved focus on Quality Control is surely indicated.  In case that gaffe didn’t come to her attention, it’s linked here.

 

In addition to incorrect information on the website, it also suffers from out-of-date or missing material. If you bring this thread to her attention, you might point out the WWF speaker schedule webpage, which has not been updated since last fall. That oversight is surely something that can easily be corrected, assuming that the WWF program still exists.


Finally, permit me to offer some related feedback from a customer perspective.   As I mentioned in my original post here, three weeks ago I received an email from my “Dedicated Guest Experience team member”, promising a follow-up in 3 business days.  The email was sent from a rccl.com email address. The first line said “Hello from Royal Caribbean”. The signature block said “Guest Experience Management, Royal Caribbean International”.  While I don’t know much about marketing, I know that this is not the way to build a brand. Azamara is a small fish in a big pond, and it should be taking every opportunity to imprint its own brand whenever/wherever possible. This is all the more important given the new corporate initiative to rebrand the company (farewell Azamara Club Cruises), establish a new logo, and launch the new Land program.  I would respectfully suggest that all correspondence to Azamara passengers, past and future, should come from an azamara.com address, and promote the Azamara brand, not RCI or RCCL.

 

That's it. I hope the "appropriate eyes" that you put this thread in front of don't shoot the messenger. Deflect the blame to a concerned guest who hopes to sail on Azamara again in the future.

 

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I have been reading for two days. I am going on Quest to Japan  in a few weeks. Some  of my tours listed on the web page are the same tours in two different cities. sorry i sailed overnight so I know the tours are different. When on the ship i seen typos on printed material coming into the cabin daily. People are not reading in some cases. I have talked to tour managers  who really do not care. Others who do. Sad but  in that area on the ship like needs improvement.  Since 2010  I have met  a lot of managers but only one is left.    

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, hubofhockey said:

 

Private tours have issues too.  Here's my quick list.

 

  • Overcrowded vans or minibuses - Just because a vendor has room for 8 (or any number), it doesn't necessarily mean he or she can take eight comfortably.  Maybe someone has to sit on a jump seat (ouch!) and often spouses or traveling partners are split up because of configurations of vans or minibuses.  When I set up a tour, I always take at least 2 people less than the tour operator says the vehicle can handle.  Costs a bit more but it is worth it.
  • Sometimes there are money issues on who owes what and misunderstandings (know that one first hand)
  • Sometimes one couple will veer off the beaten track and hold others up.  It is my tour.  People can make alternative suggestion but I always call the shots.
  • Sometimes you set them up and find out that someone in your party finds "something better to do" and the others are left having to pay more.  See above.
  • You need to be sensitive to mobility issues of some.  I make it clear when I post a tour that the tour will involve some walking, they must be mobile and they must not smoke.  Even if they don't smoke on the tour, we are sharing a vehicle and they stink from smoke smell.
  • When you join someone else's roll call excursion, you need to remember that they are calling the shots and make sure everyone agrees on itinerary and how much time you spend in each activity.

I have gotten to the point where I'll share with one other couple, and sometimes two, but not with four couples or eight total.  I always make sure that there are spare seats in a van too.  I'm not a fan of cruise ship excursions, but blindly just signing on to roll call excursions is no way to go either.

 

Quote

My maximum group size is 8, regardless of the size of the vehicle.

DON

Quote

 

 

 

Edited by donaldsc

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On 7/12/2019 at 1:46 PM, BBMacLaird said:

Would you share with us the booking number you sailed under on Pursuit Rome-Venice?

 

Hi screen-gem,

I am still awaiting your booking number, which is helpful for us to reach out to you. Since you’re comfortable using full names and titles of our team members I’m confident you’ll be equally comfortable posting here your full name and booking number.

Thank you.

 

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I don't think it's a great idea to share your name and booking number on a public message board. I know I would never do that. 

 

Phil 

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14 minutes ago, excitedofharpenden said:

I don't think it's a great idea to share your name and booking number on a public message board. I know I would never do that. 

 

Phil 

Me neither.  I’d hope if I’d already raised an issue onboard and by email the cruise line could find me. 

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Indeed you are correct re the attribution but the sentiment is appropriate as I do not feel Jonesies comment  " they do not like it etc." is suitable for this board.

Sadly the facts are as shown by many a comment that Miami lets down the brand more times than do the staff on board.

That is the issue.

If Azamara continue to use as in Dubrovnik what appear to be poor tour operators then that is THEIR problem.

It  is not as if they have only one choice unless it is based only on the cheapest

If when they come to Newcastle and the tours are bad then that is "unlucky" as it is a maiden port for them.and i cannot expect them to have tried all 5 of the tours

I do hope that is not the case as a Geordie.

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7 minutes ago, procter said:

 

If when they come to Newcastle and the tours are bad then that is "unlucky" as it is a maiden port for them.and i cannot expect them to have tried all 5 of the tours

I do hope that is not the case as a Geordie.

I disagree 

I do not think being a maiden port is an excuse. Full and proper research should be done and where location makes that impossible (not the case in Newcastle) the land agent contracted to provide the tour should be required to accept penalties which are passed to guests during that first call if there are issues with quality. 

And Land Discoveries staff should be trained to be more receptive to criticism and feedback. I got fobbed off with the maiden port line in December. Sorry, but it was probably my only visit to the port so some recognition even verbal of the impact would be appropriate. 

Attention to detail costs nothing. I go back to earlier comments please stop inaccuracies in marketing, spin blogs and land discoveries information Azamara. You owe it to the hard working hotel and marine teams onboard 

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