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Article Reviewing Pursuit in Croatia

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This is an article posted by CD Tony Markey reviewing a Pursuit cruise in Croatia.

 

Although not the same dates, it mirrors some of the experiences on our Sept./Oct. that I posted earlier. In a clearer way it develops why this is an itinerary worth considering.

 

No doubt more interesting to many, although we did not encounter any difficulties in this area, it confirms some of the criticisms posted on this forum concerning Azamara Shore Excursions in general.

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4 minutes ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Sorry  but I cannot see the link.

 

Neither can I, would be interested to read it has we did that cruise in June and Tony was CD.

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53 minutes ago, nordski said:

This is an article posted by CD Tony Markey reviewing a Pursuit cruise in Croatia.

 

Although not the same dates, it mirrors some of the experiences on our Sept./Oct. that I posted earlier. In a clearer way it develops why this is an itinerary worth considering.

 

No doubt more interesting to many, although we did not encounter any difficulties in this area, it confirms some of the criticisms posted on this forum concerning Azamara Shore Excursions in general.

 

The Missing Link!

 

https://www.creators.com/read/travel-and-adventure/10/19/explore-croatia-on-a-cruise

Edited by nordski

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Thanks,  good review but highlights the Shore Excursion problems again.

We did a “have lunch with a local family” excursion in Kotor.  The lovely lady who hosted it was extremely surprised and rather flustered when over 20 turned up when she was expecting fewer.  Extra places were hastily laid and we squeezed into the available space.  Luckily there was enough to go around but it just goes to show yet again the disconnect within Shore Excursion planning onboard.

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That looks like a very fair and balanced review.  Maybe now Azamara will wake up to the Shore Excursions issues in it as it detracts from the good news stories -  all the issues and responses are ones we have had on several different cruises but nothing has changed to date.

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43 minutes ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Thanks,  good review but highlights the Shore Excursion problems again.

We did a “have lunch with a local family” excursion in Kotor.  The lovely lady who hosted it was extremely surprised and rather flustered when over 20 turned up when she was expecting fewer.  Extra places were hastily laid and we squeezed into the available space.  Luckily there was enough to go around but it just goes to show yet again the disconnect within Shore Excursion planning onboard.

 

At their price point, the Shore Excursions should not include so many people. and your example is particularly telling. Difficult to have Destination Immersion when 20 show up for lunch.

 

This cruise I saw Viking excursions at 30 but they were, most likely, the complementary offerings.

 

On a ship's excursion  to Croatia's Krka National Park there were about 25 of us. Seemed acceptable at first, but the guide wasn't using a "whisper set" and we were navigating wooden walkways to protect the site. Hence, for much of the tour, the only participants who could hear her were those who could jostle their way to the front of the line.

 

What could have been an amazing experience became a "good" one. The only real benefit in taking it was the bus ride to reach the park.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, uktog said:

That looks like a very fair and balanced review.  Maybe now Azamara will wake up to the Shore Excursions issues in it as it detracts from the good news stories -  all the issues and responses are ones we have had on several different cruises but nothing has changed to date.

 

It was frustrating that on our final evaluation of our latest cruise we were unable to evaluate the shore excursions. Perhaps that was my inability to navigate to the appropriate page. And you may be correct, our response may not have mattered.

 

The larger point is that some (many?) cruisers seem to be decreasing the number of shore excursions selected. As has been pointed out, by you and others I think, OBC is the primary driver now. That suggests a "push" factor not a "pull".

 

As a result they may no longer be hearing feedback from some experienced cruisers. 

 

In our case, we now only tend to choose those that provide an easy bus service to a site we want to experience. 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, nordski said:

 

It was frustrating that on our final evaluation of our latest cruise we were unable to evaluate the shore excursions. Perhaps that was my inability to navigate to the appropriate page. And you may be correct, our response may not have mattered.

 

The larger point is that some (many?) cruisers seem to be decreasing the number of shore excursions selected. As has been pointed out, by you and others I think, OBC is the primary driver now. That suggests a "push" factor not a "pull".

 

As a result they may no longer be hearing feedback from some experienced cruisers. 

 

In our case, we now only tend to choose those that provide an easy bus service to a site we want to experience. 

 

 

Very fair points - they are also trying to screw margins by exceeding their usual "normal max of 25.  None of our excursions had less than a number that exceeded the desirable max - our cook school had more than the number of cook stations and bus tours were well over 25.  Our friends were on a walking tour in Calvi which had 39 and one guide, we realised we maybe had a better deal on our bus load of 29 that day albeit with a guide who just waved to the hilltop village and said you go up that path there.  So much for the guided walk through the town.  Trouble was we all got lost!  It was a pretty village but I doubt saw the best.

Edited by uktog

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This review just underscores my aversion to ship's excursions. You're always better off booking a private tour or just exploring on your own. In many ports you can find local taxi drivers who will take you around for a fraction of what the ship charges.

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This was our cruise and we didn’t take any ship excursions.  Quite frankly, the report and everyone’s comments on here and other threads is really putting me off taking any.

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12 minutes ago, Werangels said:

This was our cruise and we didn’t take any ship excursions.  Quite frankly, the report and everyone’s comments on here and other threads is really putting me off taking any.


In our case, as I mentioned, there are still times when they make sense. The “On Your Own” excursions often may well do so. And I’m not certain, but Uktog may agree that the excursion to Bayeux last spring was value for money.

 

The problem is that, as we cruise more and take a number of excursions, we have an increased experience to evaluate how some could be much improved.


We now have a concern that that experience may well be making us hypercritical.

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I think when absolute basics are missing and advertised ingredients are not delivered then we are not being hypercritical.  

 

There are indeed some good offerings, the problem is it is SO inconsistent and if it is your only shot at a place how much of a risk are you prepared to take? For us, the risk of poor delivery has increased at the same time that our appetite for risk is decreasing as we know we will not be able to return to some places again for a long time.

 

We  have also had bad private trips including one from someone in South America who was highly rated on these boards.  However, the chances of having a poorer quality excursion is greater on the ships tours based on the experiences we have.  We also find the feedback process highly unsatisfactory and the way land discoveries staff react very inappropriate as was highlighted in the article.  

 

We will still occasionally do ships tours where it might not be possible to set up a reliable alternative.  In our coming three cruises over 32 nights we have 5 excursions booked with none on the first leg

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45 minutes ago, nordski said:


In our case, as I mentioned, there are still times when they make sense. The “On Your Own” excursions often may well do so. And I’m not certain, but Uktog may agree that the excursion to Bayeux last spring was value for money.

 

The problem is that, as we cruise more and take a number of excursions, we have an increased experience to evaluate how some could be much improved.


We now have a concern that that experience may well be making us hypercritical.


Croatia was our first cruise and we are averse to being herded!  Seeing something with huge numbers is very unappealing and not getting what you have booked is just unforgivable.  I would be very cross if this happened and I don’t want to spend a minute of my holiday feeling cross, stressed, disappointed, etc.  
 

Last year we stayed at Reid’s in Madeira and one day there was an afternoon tea excursion for the Oceania ship in port.  The afternoon tea was served in the ballroom.  Beautiful though it is; this is not where ‘joe public’ partakes of afternoon tea.  Afternoon tea is served on the verandah which has stunning views over their famous gardens, Madeira and the Atlantic.  A rather different proposition to the ballroom which was absolutely packed and very noisy.

 

Seeing this made me very wary of ship excursions.

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I use shore excursions a lot with Azamara. Most of the times because I had on board credit to spend. I have not been yet on Pursuit, but in both, Quest and Journey, I have had several good excursions and some that were not good. The most disappointing ones are those who offer experiences that are not delivered. Very irritating are those excursions in which the guide takes us to places in the middle of nowhere, where they receive a commission and we are supposed to shop, shop, shop. I am always surprised about how many of the fellow passengers actually seem to like that...

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3 minutes ago, travelberlin said:

I use shore excursions a lot with Azamara. Most of the times because I had on board credit to spend. I have not been yet on Pursuit, but in both, Quest and Journey, I have had several good excursions and some that were not good. The most disappointing ones are those who offer experiences that are not delivered. Very irritating are those excursions in which the guide takes us to places in the middle of nowhere, where they receive a commission and we are supposed to shop, shop, shop. I am always surprised about how many of the fellow passengers actually seem to like that...

Hi TravelBerlin,

I always appreciate a few minutes allowed for shopping...but the stops are always noted on the tour itinerary.

Are you saying the shopping stops not listed on your tour itinerary...the guide 'went rogue' for a commission??  That should NEVER happen and if it does, you should let our Tour Desk personnel know, and if possible write it into the tour feedback survey.

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11 hours ago, wripro said:

This review just underscores my aversion to ship's excursions. You're always better off booking a private tour or just exploring on your own. In many ports you can find local taxi drivers who will take you around for a fraction of what the ship charges.

That is true, but many guests have OBC to use, even more prevalent these days so it's not as simple and straightforward. I know I've taken them to do that. 

 

Phil 

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14 hours ago, uktog said:

Very fair points - they are also trying to screw margins by exceeding their usual "normal max of 25.  None of our excursions had less than a number that exceeded the desirable max - our cook school had more than the number of cook stations and bus tours were well over 25.  Our friends were on a walking tour in Calvi which had 39 and one guide, we realised we maybe had a better deal on our bus load of 29 that day albeit with a guide who just waved to the hilltop village and said you go up that path there.  So much for the guided walk through the town.  Trouble was we all got lost!  It was a pretty village but I doubt saw the best.

I did a pasta making excursion in Italy in the last year that had no "making" in it. We were given ready made pasta to shape. There were far too many squeezed around a large worktop.  There was no elbow space and once again it looked like Azamara were trying to make a profit at the expense of guest experience. 

 

Phil 

Edited by excitedofharpenden

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7 hours ago, BBMacLaird said:

Hi TravelBerlin,

I always appreciate a few minutes allowed for shopping...but the stops are always noted on the tour itinerary.

Are you saying the shopping stops not listed on your tour itinerary...the guide 'went rogue' for a commission??  That should NEVER happen and if it does, you should let our Tour Desk personnel know, and if possible write it into the tour feedback survey.

Just a follow up, it happens a lot of the time.  You usually lose time elsewhere as a result though some guests are happy as they always want to shop.  Actually tour desk personnel usually defend the guide saying others probably wanted to shop, which while possibly correct doesn’t negate the fact others wanted the advertised experience and may have lost time at the part that interested them. 

 

This year we had a guide who went rogue, took us on a different route home with an additional stop.  Upshot was we were 45 minutes late back, the bus had problems navigating the route and we could see the original route returning the same way enabled both sides of the bus to see the spectacular sea views.  We saw the rock face all trip as a result.  It was clear the operators were following up with a call where were we and the guide proudly told us she’d lied to her boss. Fed back, the usual reaction no one else has said anything.  

 

 I think you don’t get feedback as there is no drive for continuous progress, feedback is seen as being wanting a refund.  Now there are times when a refund might be valid but coming from work where gathering and listening and reacting to feedback (positive and negative) every day is at the heart of how we operate, it’s disappointing that land discoveries doesn’t have this culture as the product needs improvement and just in time feedback is one way.  

 

One thing that would help, sometimes you send out tour escorts (my own view is it should be every time, not every bus but every tour). The escorts are always lovely but we’ve found they have no idea what trip they are going on, they should have a briefing itinerary sheet and be given guidance on how to handle deviations both on the trip and on their return.  One bridge tutor was excellent at this and saved a trip for us one time. 

 

I am not not sure what happens with the tablet surveys, we did highlight that some devices were automatically defaulting to 5 stars so feedback was flawed.  It was interesting our rogue alternative route lady was very unhappy about the tablet being used and was keen to tell us what to score.  She was not alone, i think the tablets are a good idea if they record accurately, feedback is acted on immediately with guests contacted for follow up if appropriate and the providers should be briefing all their agents that this will happen and not to challenge it either overtly or otherwise. 

 

So much of whats not right could be fixed by an eye for detail, basic training of front line staff and simple things but the culture has to be right.  Independent operators are also sales driven but they typically have a far better service culture and that’s why guests often prefer them. 

 

I am sorry that the positives of the original article got lost, which is an opportunity missed for Azamara.  But maybe it’s the wake up call that’s so desperately needed? 

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1 hour ago, uktog said:

Just a follow up, it happens a lot of the time.  You usually lose time elsewhere as a result though some guests are happy as they always want to shop.  Actually tour desk personnel usually defend the guide saying others probably wanted to shop, which while possibly correct doesn’t negate the fact others wanted the advertised experience and may have lost time at the part that interested them. 

 

This year we had a guide who went rogue, took us on a different route home with an additional stop.  Upshot was we were 45 minutes late back, the bus had problems navigating the route and we could see the original route returning the same way enabled both sides of the bus to see the spectacular sea views.  We saw the rock face all trip as a result.  It was clear the operators were following up with a call where were we and the guide proudly told us she’d lied to her boss. Fed back, the usual reaction no one else has said anything.  

 

 I think you don’t get feedback as there is no drive for continuous progress, feedback is seen as being wanting a refund.  Now there are times when a refund might be valid but coming from work where gathering and listening and reacting to feedback (positive and negative) every day is at the heart of how we operate, it’s disappointing that land discoveries doesn’t have this culture as the product needs improvement and just in time feedback is one way.  

 

One thing that would help, sometimes you send out tour escorts (my own view is it should be every time, not every bus but every tour). The escorts are always lovely but we’ve found they have no idea what trip they are going on, they should have a briefing itinerary sheet and be given guidance on how to handle deviations both on the trip and on their return.  One bridge tutor was excellent at this and saved a trip for us one time. 

 

I am not not sure what happens with the tablet surveys, we did highlight that some devices were automatically defaulting to 5 stars so feedback was flawed.  It was interesting our rogue alternative route lady was very unhappy about the tablet being used and was keen to tell us what to score.  She was not alone, i think the tablets are a good idea if they record accurately, feedback is acted on immediately with guests contacted for follow up if appropriate and the providers should be briefing all their agents that this will happen and not to challenge it either overtly or otherwise. 

 

So much of whats not right could be fixed by an eye for detail, basic training of front line staff and simple things but the culture has to be right.  Independent operators are also sales driven but they typically have a far better service culture and that’s why guests often prefer them. 

 

I am sorry that the positives of the original article got lost, which is an opportunity missed for Azamara.  But maybe it’s the wake up call that’s so desperately needed? 


A lot of good ideas here. I hope Bonnie shares it with Miami although culture change is always a big challenge.

 

In terms of the operators who supply the tours, my experience has been that consistently the best service has been provided on our excursions in Turkey.

 

At the end of each tour  an evaluation form was distributed and the process seemed to be taken very seriously indeed by the guides.

 

i realize that any evaluation system can be subverted, and tabulation of the results could prove onerous, but this might help establish how many people actually wanted to stop at the “essential oils” stand beside the highway in Sardinia.
 

The bonus of an evaluation system is that participants would feel they are being heard. There are times we have had an excellent guide. I have shared that with the Excursions Desk, but I have no idea if it went any further than that, 
 

That is a bit frustrating.

 

 

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8 hours ago, nordski said:

lot of good ideas here. I hope Bonnie shares it with Miami although culture change is always a big challenge.

Hi Nordski, I agree, there is so much great feedback here.

A big thank you to uktog for her insights, and the time and thought she invests in making our line better. 

I shared this thread yesterday and already this morning I have seen it being addressed internally. 

This is how change happens! Thank you to all for your help.

Bonnie

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4 minutes ago, BBMacLaird said:

Hi Nordski, I agree, there is so much great feedback here.

A big thank you to uktog for her insights, and the time and thought she invests in making our line better. 

I shared this thread yesterday and already this morning I have seen it being addressed internally. 

This is how change happens! Thank you to all for your help.

Bonnie

Excellent, look forward to experiencing the results in due course (don't worry I don't expect it to be immediate!)

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