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Sandra1616

Non Cruise Line Shore Excursions

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On 2/15/2020 at 1:47 PM, bbwex said:

We have done about 99% of our tours via private tours.  There are many options out there.  We have used shoretrips.com many times and been very pleased.  I have started to also use Tours by Locals (toursbylocals.com), though I cannot yet report on how well they work out.  Another thing I have done is to spend a fair amount of time on the Ports of Call section for ports that we were going to visit, and after reading a lot of the postings, you will get a feel for who is a good guide and who is not.  Do not go by a single posting, but rather by the overall tenor of lots of postings.

 

The Ports of Call section is also a good source of things you might want to do in some ports.  Remember, if you are on a private tour, you can add and subtract things as you and others in your group wish. 

 

While you can find a guide when you get there, it is hard to know who or what you are getting.  I think some extra pre-planning will make for a much better experience.

 

You did not say where you are going, and islands in the Caribbean are not as involved, but elsewhere, I would make arrangements in advance, and then if you need to find others to reduce the cost --- private tours get cheaper with anywhere from four to eight people --- join your cruise's Roll Call in the Roll Call section, and tell others what you have and see if anyone wants to join you.  You might also find people who have already posted some opening for some tours.

 

Private tours offer much more interaction with the tour guide, a much more nimble vehicle in traffic, and ability to do much more in the same amount of time.


I just checked out your suggestion about www.shoretrips.com.  I was very impressed that there are options to help serve the community, whether preparing lunches, working in Thrift stores, with children, elderly or at the humane society.  This is definitely a different opportunity while on vacation!  Thank you so much.

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We rarely book an excursion through the ship.  Trips and excursions are pretty easy to come by as you walk off the ship.  Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time.  The ship won't wait for you if you are not back in time...unless you are on an excursion booked through the ship, that is.

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Depending on WHERE your ports are, it's rarely needed to take ship's excursions....however, not ALL ports have folks standing around waiting on customers!  Research is key.  Most things are quite doable ON YOUR OWN, without ANY excursion at all....but not ALL places are the same! Get a guidebook or google your ports....that way, you'll know what to expect!

For instance...the Caribbean has PLENTY of "last minute" guides....but Hawaii?  Not so much....do your research!

 

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On 2/14/2020 at 3:47 AM, Sandra1616 said:

Hello,  I expect to take most of my cruise's shore excursions.  However, if I am on a cruise and desire to go on excursions not offered through the cruise, how easy is it to find and hire people at the port to take me to these sites?

Are there people waiting at ports  (perhaps wearing a sign, "I will take you to the world famous garden") to take cruisers places, or do you hire a taxi?  Any advice?

Sandra

 

 

 

 

Yes. They will be waiting. But you have other options.

We have done all four options.

1. Take ship’s tours. Well organized, a bit plastic (not personalized), well executed. More expensive than most options, often worth it.

2. Go off on our own. Do a bit of advance research, download a map or pick one up n the pier, just walk or use public transport to interesting sites. 
3. Walk down the pier, grab a cab/guide, tell him/her where we want to go, negotiate the details and price, and move on out. Obviously requires knowledge of the destination and the sites you want to visit.

4. Contract ahead of time for a tour operator. Maybe on your own, maybe you get others to join you, maybe you join others. The “joining” notion assumes you are on your Cruise Critic roll call, sharing with others on your itinerary. I have had great results with Tours by Locals and with Spain Day Tours (Top Day Tours more generally) as well as others. Look at the Destinations section herein.

 

All options can be very satisfying.  We have been in ports where the only interesting options were thru the Cruise company. But all options should be considered, none are bad, none are the only obvious choice. Depends on the port and your interests.

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We are going on our first cruise in August (hopefully). We are only doing excursions in 2 ports. We are booking them both on our own. First, it is much cheaper. Second, they get better reviews than those from the cruise line. 

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We hardly ever book with the cruise line. You can either find agencies online or book some on the spot depending where. The Caribbean for instance, it's easy to book a tour just outside the port.

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Posted (edited)

We book with independent operators or DIY.  The vast majority of our cruise ports are in Europe and there are rarely opportunities to find a tour on the spot in European ports - it is a very different experience from the caribbean where it is generally quite easy to find a tour when getting off the ship.

 

Edited by dogs4fun

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48 minutes ago, dogs4fun said:

We book with independent operators or DIY.  The vast majority of our cruise ports are in Europe and there are rarely opportunities to find a tour on the spot in European ports - it is a very different experience from the caribbean where it is generally quite easy to find a tour when getting off the ship.

 

As I read your comments I started "scrolling through" my recollections of the European ports we have been to, and I have to agree. Gibraltar is the only one that I can think of where there are excursion hawkers clustered at the shore end of the pier or other gathering spot trying to sell trips. There are several independent companies I have dealt with that provide good value for the price. But also note that sometimes there are advantages to using the ship's excursion offerings. E.g., with Celebrity in Santorini, those booked with an excursion through Celebrity are tendered to a spot sea-side where the tour buses are waiting. If you DIY or have an independent local operator, then you get tendered to a different spot,  the base of the cable car for a ride up to the city.  With an overnight in Athens, the first day we did a ship's excursion for orientation (and entrance to the Parthenon before the crowds built up), then the second day we took a cab back to the same region, comfortable with knowing what we wanted to see and do. 

 

Stan

 

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Also check your roll call!!  There are usually people that have arranged an excursion and need more people to fill it out.  And if you have an excursion in mind, see your roll call to help fill it!

 

 

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