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Strenuous Excursion ?

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HAL has a reputation for having older cruisers, and I am no Spring chicken myself. Just how, I wonder, strenuous is an excursion labeled strenuous. I am aware that the site supplies some information but am concerned about getting in over my head. If anyone has experience with this level of excursion, please advise. Thanks.

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It could mean lengthy walking over uneven ground or lots of steps.  It may not be accessible for wheelchairs or walkers. Some tours now say that they are for people who want a faster paced tour. The best thing to do is read the complete tour description carefully and see what it says. If you still cannot decide, speak to shore excursions and get their advice.

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To be honest, most of the tour descriptions are woefully inadequate when describing what travelers will encounter.

We just spent 41 days on the first half of the South American Grand Voyage. I have collapsed disks, so can't stand very long. I had to take my chances on all the excursions, and often ended up sitting on steps or anything that was sittable. There's no mention about available seating out how much walking most excursions require.

Last year, we were on the 21-day Alaska voyage, and wanted to visit the oyster and kelp farm excursion. However, the description mentioned uneven ground and boarding boats. Fortunately, somewhere in the descriptive material was the name of the farm. I called and talked to the manager, who was quite helpful in explaining exactly what the uneven surfaces were made of (small gravel) and the ramps and other things we'd encounter. We signed up, and enjoyed it considerably...but not because HAL provided enough information,.

HAL doesn't help at all, because there's no way I've found to review excursions on their Web site. What reviews there are (and the majority have none, and most have only a few) are usually several years out of date. I was told by the excursion desk staff on the ship that i was welcome to write a review and give it to them, and they'd enter it. 

As an aside, if having a place to sit is important, you may want to check out the Walkstool, a very nice lightweight collapsable stool. 

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I stay away from anything that is listed as "strenuous" knowing that there could many steps to climb, hills to climb or long distances to walk.

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6 hours ago, kwb101 said:

To be honest, most of the tour descriptions are woefully inadequate when describing what travelers will encounter.

We just spent 41 days on the first half of the South American Grand Voyage. I have collapsed disks, so can't stand very long. I had to take my chances on all the excursions, and often ended up sitting on steps or anything that was sittable. There's no mention about available seating out how much walking most excursions require.

Last year, we were on the 21-day Alaska voyage, and wanted to visit the oyster and kelp farm excursion. However, the description mentioned uneven ground and boarding boats. Fortunately, somewhere in the descriptive material was the name of the farm. I called and talked to the manager, who was quite helpful in explaining exactly what the uneven surfaces were made of (small gravel) and the ramps and other things we'd encounter. We signed up, and enjoyed it considerably...but not because HAL provided enough information,.

HAL doesn't help at all, because there's no way I've found to review excursions on their Web site. What reviews there are (and the majority have none, and most have only a few) are usually several years out of date. I was told by the excursion desk staff on the ship that i was welcome to write a review and give it to them, and they'd enter it. 

As an aside, if having a place to sit is important, you may want to check out the Walkstool, a very nice lightweight collapsable stool. 

 

HAL lies a lot on the descriptions, especially about travel times. The "less than an hour" drive on one tour was more than an hour and a half, and the road was so rough there should have been a warning for people with back issues. I wanted to post a review about that tour and also a really good one that had no reviews yet, but that function is gone.

 

One trick I've used is to go on Tripadvisor and look for similar tours. Sometimes the wording on a tour website is so similar that you can pretty much figure out who it is. If you have a specific tour in mind, try asking about it on the ports of call boards.

 

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The suggestion to go on Trip Advisor is a good one.  Just about every port has a "standard set" of tours.  They may be run by different vendors, but you can get a good idea of the level of difficulty involved on the tour.  Another thing I have done is gone on a different cruise line's website and read their Shore Excursion description.  Princess and Celebrity do a much better job of describing the level of difficulty than HAL.

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I think the descriptions tend to over state the physical ability required. For example, almost every snorkeling trip is listed as strenuous but you just float/swim. Maybe climbing up the ladder is tough for some. I did see the tour guide ask our snorkeling group if anyone had previously had a heart attack and one guy raised his hand and they promptly pulled him off the boat. Not sure what happened to him but he didn't go with us.

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I don't know about the '3-walker' tours, but I find the '2-walker' tours to greatly underestimate how strenuous they are, even for the so-called 'easy' tours. Unless something is listed as 'panoramic', it will take more effort than I think a 1-walker tour should. 
It seems as if the level of difficulty is perceived by someone younger and more able than most of the HAL passengers. When asked what is the distance from Point A to Point B, the answer generally comes back to the effect of 'not far', which not only doesn't answer the question asked, isn't helpful, and usually turns out to be inaccurate. 

In advance of a cruise you can call the HAL access and compliance unit and ask specific questions about the tour you are considering. They will either have the answer, or contact the vendor to get the correct answers. Once on the ship, you can have the Shore Excursion office do the same thing. 

Good luck.
 

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It would be good if HAL would fix the glitch on their tours listings so that updated reviews can be written.  I have tried several times in the last few years & it's still not working.  I have also called HAL about it (more than once) & of course they are "working on it".  Not!  

As previously stated the reviews on TripAdvisor can be useful for specifics & it is possible to post a question if the info you are looking for is not there.  

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I've find that the walker symbols are, at best, quite broad, so that 1 walker is a bus ride, 3 walkers is climbing a sheer cliff, and 2 walkers is everything in between. I exaggerate, but not by much, at least on the middle one.

Good idea on using TripAdvisor.

One thing that bothered me about a few of our longer (6-8 hour) excursions was that, at least in South American ports, it wasn't unusual for the time to be divided one-third interesting places to see and two-thirds travel time. We had one that stated with a ruin (with a five-minute quick look around), followed by a buffet lunch accompanied by deafening amplified music. Of yhe seven hours allotted, I think we spent less than 90 minutes actually doing something, the rest on the road. 

Nonetheless, I have to say that I wouldn't trade the time observing some of the driving practices iwe saw n Peru for anything I've ever experienced. I'm not sure to classify it as a thrill ride or a house of horrors.

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4 hours ago, RuthC said:

I don't know about the '3-walker' tours, but I find the '2-walker' tours to greatly underestimate how strenuous they are, even for the so-called 'easy' tours. Unless something is listed as 'panoramic', it will take more effort than I think a 1-walker tour should. 
It seems as if the level of difficulty is perceived by someone younger and more able than most of the HAL passengers. When asked what is the distance from Point A to Point B, the answer generally comes back to the effect of 'not far', which not only doesn't answer the question asked, isn't helpful, and usually turns out to be inaccurate. 

In advance of a cruise you can call the HAL access and compliance unit and ask specific questions about the tour you are considering. They will either have the answer, or contact the vendor to get the correct answers. Once on the ship, you can have the Shore Excursion office do the same thing. 

Good luck.
 

I totally agree with this post.  I have found that a frequent answer to the question of how far from Poina to Point B is __minutes.  This __minutes will be totally inaccurate unless you are a young and very active adult. Even on the 'easy' tours the guide is usually a young 20's or 30's person who walks at a rapid pace from Point A to Point B with no rest and catch your breathe breaks.

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2 hours ago, kwb101 said:

I've find that the walker symbols are, at best, quite broad, so that 1 walker is a bus ride, 3 walkers is climbing a sheer cliff, and 2 walkers is everything in between. I exaggerate, but not by much, at least on the middle one.

Good idea on using TripAdvisor.

One thing that bothered me about a few of our longer (6-8 hour) excursions was that, at least in South American ports, it wasn't unusual for the time to be divided one-third interesting places to see and two-thirds travel time. We had one that stated with a ruin (with a five-minute quick look around), followed by a buffet lunch accompanied by deafening amplified music. Of yhe seven hours allotted, I think we spent less than 90 minutes actually doing something, the rest on the road. 

Nonetheless, I have to say that I wouldn't trade the time observing some of the driving practices iwe saw n Peru for anything I've ever experienced. I'm not sure to classify it as a thrill ride or a house of horrors.

 

I look at googlemaps to see how far the stops are from the port and from each other. Of course, the map assumes normal roads and reasonable (no traffic) driving conditions, but it gives you a bit of perspective. My personal rule is that time on the bus should be less than half of the total time of the tour.

 

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Thanks all. Per your recommendation I googled similar excursions and I think I'll be ok. Y'all are the greatest.

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I find the description is sometimes on target sometimes not with how strenuous the excursion will be, but I find it also depends on the tour guide. I had one tour that was marked as a 2 person gentle nature walk, but the tour guide was a competitive walker and thought everyone else was too. She took us on a walk through a nature park with cleared paths, but all I saw as my feet because we were walking so fast I had to look down to keep from tripping on the gravel. Three people fell, and the fitter members of the group had to run to catch up with the guide to alert her to the injuries. My companions and I still call that tour the "nature death march" because it was so horrible.

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23 hours ago, RuthC said:

 When asked what is the distance from Point A to Point B, the answer generally comes back to the effect of 'not far', which not only doesn't answer the question asked, isn't helpful, and usually turns out to be inaccurate. 

I agree. I'm so tired of hearing, "not far... ten minutes maybe", which also turns

out to be a half mile hike - each way.

 

 

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I guess it depends on what a person wants, their fitness level and their normal activity level. .  I only rejected one strenuous HAL tour - zip lining.  My niece came back and told me I should have gone and after she explained the level of activity, she was right.  I have rarely seen truly strenuous tours on HAL.  I have participated in a few on other cruise lines.  

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I usually translate every 10 minutes of walking time to a half mile (and closer to 15 minutes for us slugs), and every block as a tenth of a mile. Time to climb stairs or gradients isn't mentioned (I have to take steps one at a time, and grades can be a pain going down, hence slower yet).

Also, outside the U.S., there's a dearth of handrails for steps and stairs, so they take even longer, even with a cane or someone to lean on, and don't even mention ramps, inside or out. I think there are a few countries that have ramps at some street corners, but they're few and far between. 

I realize things are different around the world, but I wish HAL would pay attention to things that really would help many of their guests, not only for safety's sake, but also to help their excursions run smoothly for all. 

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