Jump to content

Booking Shore Excursions on our own


crhunt01
 Share

Recommended Posts

Thank you in advance for any advice! We are taking a NCL cruise in Hawaii in March and the shore excursion prices are pricey; when I add up what we want to do - one excursion per day - it's over $4,000, almost more than the cruise itself.  I can save some by booking tours through Viator or similar but that has its own headaches (namely transportation from the pier to the tour start, and just coordinating with a third party). 

 

So my questions are:

1. Is it worth trying to do some third-party tours to save money or is it not worth the angst?  If so, are there particular ports where it is easier than others?

2. There are places where we may just want to hike in the national park; are there options to just uber or cab into the park and then be on our own or again, more of a headache?  I know a day rental at Enterprise would be an option too at some ports.

 

While I've cruised seven times (including this exact itinerary as a teenager), it's always been with others who did the coordinating, so this is the first time the decisions have been all on me! I don't want to get it wrong.

 

Ports are Maui (2 days), Hilo, Kona, and Kauai (2 days). Traveling are me, my husband, my MIL (who won't go on the active tours) and kids 8 and 13.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, crhunt01 said:

1. Is it worth trying to do some third-party tours to save money or is it not worth the angst?  If so, are there particular ports where it is easier than others?

Yes-- it can easily be booked and there are plenty to choose from. You are in now way locked into what the cruise line is offering. The only reason you would want to book through the cruise line is if it was going to be tight getting back to the ship. For example if you were going to do an excursion to Hana on Maui the 2nd day and it was scheduled to end right before departure-- booking the excursion through the cruise line and knowing the ship will wait for you might make your day a lot more enjoyable. Offsetting the pricier ship excursions with a few do it yourself or less expensive third party tours will help lower the overall cost down. 

 

1 hour ago, crhunt01 said:

2. There are places where we may just want to hike in the national park; are there options to just uber or cab into the park and then be on our own or again, more of a headache?  I know a day rental at Enterprise would be an option too at some ports.

Hawaii is very easy to do on your own. There are some places this is easier than others. For example, the west side of Maui from Kapalua to Lahaina to Wailea, you can easily Uber all day long and not have to rent a car if you don't want to. If you venture to the more remote other side of the island to see Hana you'll need a rental car or book a tour as Ubers or taxis are not plentiful and you cant rely on it. Ubers are reasonably available in Kauai but not as plentiful as in Maui or around Honolulu. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never use a middle man like Viator. I would much rather book directly with an independent local operator. 
 

We just returned from our cruise with a total of six family members.  We spent probably $2500 on two tours on the Big Island, a small plane tour over Kauai, and rental cars on Maui and Kauai. Renting a car is the most economical, gives you the most freedom, and allows you to see the most.

 

I would not want to rely on Uber except in maybe limited circumstances. It is certainly not more economical than renting a car. Like us, you would need Uber XL and every time we priced it, it was going to be expensive and take forever. To get to the west side of Maui is an hour drive from port. 
 

There are are shuttles In some of the ports like Hilo and Kona. I didn’t really look into these as I don’t think it’s the best option, but some people use them. Also you can often get discounts by booking tours online.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having been to Maui 12 times, yes, rent a car and enjoy this beautiful place on your own!! So much to see! I would for sure go on the other side, depending on where u dock. We’ve never cruised there, as we spend 2 weeks each yr. assuming you’ll dock by the airport. Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Kapalua..... all that area and drive is so nice with a wonderful beach in Ka’anapali. Feel free to ask about places to visit or ? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our favorite experience was in Hilo with an independent operator....we found a tour that included the Volcano National Park as well as swimming afterwards, we all loved it 🙂  we got to see the National Park and then we got to cool off and swim, it was the best of both worlds. the company we went with had no one else booked for this tour when we went, it was just us and our tour guide, we loved it. if you get the chance, I would recommend this for your day in Hilo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 8:24 PM, crhunt01 said:

Thanks @SunshineGirl100. Do you mind sharing the name of the independent operator? I ideally would love to go with something similar but there is comfort (though expense) in going with a known entity!

the email I have for them is reservations@hawaiicruiseexcursions.com

we paid around $120 each including the park entrance fee

it was fabulous 🙂

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hawaii is a very EASY DIY place.  Do some research BEFORE you book anything.  What interests YOU might be super-easy to do on your own!  Honestly.   You rarely need a "guide" to do and see what you want to do!  Research is KEY.  Google or a guidebook is your BEST FRIEND!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DIY is worth it. You already have some great suggestions. I just posted my excursion experiences a few days ago, all but one was DIY. Not sure if any would interest you. FYI, my ship docked in Honolulu and Hilo. Lahaina and Kona were tender ports.
 

My one suggestion is to really think about renting a car. Who will drive? There are some roads where the driver really has to focus on the road, so unless he or she has no interest in the surrounding vista, it is a bit unfair. Driving through cities and towns does not matter as much, but once outside of the cities....

 

Enjoy your cruise & excursions.

 

Ann

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

My wife and I are on the POA March 14-21, 2020, and would love to hear what you find out or decide to do...we historically never use cruise line tours, and have always found independents more enjoyable and less expensive.

 

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@champdds, perhaps against my better judgement we are going with the HNL excursions. If it was just me, or just me and my husband, I'd do much more on my own. But with his mom and our kids, I know all of the stress would fall on me.  I'd be dealing with gassing up rental cars and worrying about missing the boat. Yes, it's going to cost more but I think the trade-off mentally for me will be worth it. As a compromise, we only booked 3 tours and will leave the other days open to uber or book something locally at the last minute.  We will be there the week after you!

 

Edited by crhunt01
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/17/2019 at 9:30 AM, crhunt01 said:

Thank you in advance for any advice! We are taking a NCL cruise in Hawaii in March and the shore excursion prices are pricey; when I add up what we want to do - one excursion per day - it's over $4,000, almost more than the cruise itself.  I can save some by booking tours through Viator or similar but that has its own headaches (namely transportation from the pier to the tour start, and just coordinating with a third party). 

 

So my questions are:

1. Is it worth trying to do some third-party tours to save money or is it not worth the angst?  If so, are there particular ports where it is easier than others?

 

While I've cruised seven times (including this exact itinerary as a teenager), it's always been with others who did the coordinating, so this is the first time the decisions have been all on me! I don't want to get it wrong.

 

I think it’s totally worth it — not only is booking independently a cost savings, you can usually have a better experience since you have control over the group size. I HATE big bus excursions, so I look for tours with a maximum of 10-12 people. I wouldn’t use Viator — I find it’s better to do the research (I love it!) and eliminate the middle man. I don’t like paying for a tour if I don’t know  who the provider will be.

 

 

16 hours ago, CHAMPDDS said:

My wife and I are on the POA March 14-21, 2020, and would love to hear what you find out or decide to do...we historically never use cruise line tours, and have always found independents more enjoyable and less expensive.

 

David

 

David, I did a lot of research for our April cruise and ended up booking a combination of completely private and small group tours. Since it’s just two of us traveling, we decided not to rent cars because we want it to be a vacation for both of us!

 

Maui — Unique Maui Tours is who we booked with for a private tour both days. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Valley Isle Excursions.

https://www.tourmaui.com

https://www.uniquemauitours.com

 

Hilo — Mauka Makai

https://maukamakaiadventures.com

 

Kona — Mauka Makai

https://maukamakaiadventures.com

 

Kauai — Tours by Locals and Wings Over Kauai

https://www.wingsoverkauai.com

 

For rental car car and route information, read Beachiekeen’s review on the NCL board. Her review is full of great information!

 

Edited by Cindy
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in 2011. We are going again this February. The last time we used a company called Roberts for our excursions. We were told that they own most of the buses in the Hawaiian Islands and rent half of them to the cruise ships and use the other half for their own excursions which are much cheaper than what the cruise lines offer. We were so pleased we are using them again. They also guarantee that if you miss the ship, they will pay to get you to the ship. They also say this has never happened.

https://www.robertshawaii.com/

Link to comment
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
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: PONANT Cruises & Expeditions
      • Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with American Queen Voyages
      • 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
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...