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'Mandatory' excursions and the watersports platform


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To all Windstar regulars!!

 

We've just booked for the first Greek islands cruise on 19th June!! Yippee!! But we're not Windstar experts (we've done one (Panama Canal) cruise with them previously) and we don't usually do excursions with ANY cruise company. But it's my understanding that at this moment in time we will have to do the ship excursions in order to get off the ship because of the Covid restrictions. And that seems to be the same with all of the cruise companies at present so we will just need to grin and bear it.

 

And obviously they have us over a barrel because they are expensive! And some are astronomical!! I'm talking over $1000 for a car and driver for 4 hours for 2 people!! We won't be doing those!

 

My questions are.....

Do you think we need to book in advance if we want to book the cheaper excursions? Or do you think they will add to them given that everyone has to do one to get off the ship? I don't know whether to book now or leave it and see if any different ones are added. If I book now and then they add some different ones will we be able to swap onto them?

 

If we book and then cancel excursions will we get our money back? I'm thinking that if the Covid rules change or something like that? For example, if Greece was unexpectedly added to the red list and quarantine was then necessary.  My understanding is that we can cancel the cruise up to 48 hours ahead and get FCC but what happens if we have booked excursions?

 

If anyone has experience of the Greek Islands cruise, did they use the watersports platform much? Because this would be a good alternative to going ashore in some cases.

 

Thank you in advance for sharing your Windstar knowledge!

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Hello, we just got off the phone with our travel agent and discussed this very topic. We are booked on an 18 day cruise out of Athens at the end of October. Our TA spoke with a WS rep yesterday to get updated info. He told her to suggest that her clients book their excursions early. Since we are limited to WS excursions, they will book up. We had this same cruise booked last Oct. and had to cancel due to covid. I had already booked several excursions and had no problem getting a refund, so why not book early and not risk missing out on the excursions you want. I personally would not wait to book onboard. We have had the experience of not getting our first choice due to the excursion filling up more than a month in advance. Having taken multiple WS cruises and mixing their excursions with private; we have always had good experiences. 

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Regarding the watersports platform; when we did the Greek Island cruise several years ago, we used the watersports platform a few times. One of our favorite memories was being on an inflated tube and pulled behind a motorboat on the Agean Sea.

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Booked excursions (whether booked ahead on-line or booked on board) are generally cancellable up to 24 hours in advance. If any are not, it should say in the excursion description. The one hitch is that I don't see any way to cancel an excursion on-line and I don't think it will let you book a conflicting excursion. If a new excursion is added that you prefer to one you've already booked, you could probably cancel the booked one by calling Windstar since the on-line system doesn't handle cancellation. 

 

Since your cruise is less than 2 months away, it probably would be best to go ahead and book the excursions. With it that close, they may not add much and you can always cancel excursions on board if the policy loosens so you can do your own thing. 

 

The last column on the itinerary on the website has a check mark if the watersports platform is expected to be opened there. Weather/water conditions can impact whether the platform can open so the checkmark isn't a guarantee but it at least gives you an indication. 

 

If the cruise was farther out, I'd at least book any excursion I found very desirable, especially if it seemed like one where capacity might be limited (e.g. on our Panama/Costa Rica cruise one of the snorkeling excursions was limited to 15 people). I haven't quite decided what to do regarding booking most of the excursions for our Athens to Barcelona October/November cruise. I booked the overnight excursion to Cairo as soon as I made the booking because as we much prefer that to the day trip and I wouldn't want to arrange it ourselves in Egypt. I'm hoping the excursion policy is able to be loosened by the time our cruise goes. Maybe I should book some of the excursions anyway and cancel if we can do our own thing but we also have a large amount of OBC from our TA and that can't be used when prebooking. 

 

When there is a lot of demand for an excursion, Windstar usually will add capacity if it is possible. For example, on our Alaska cruise, they added additional boats one in the morning and one in the afternoon for a whale watching excursion that was much in demand. 

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Has it occurred to anyone how many passengers will be aboard a small ship that even in the best of times an carry only 148 people?

WS is looking to start out with 50 - 60% occupancy.

This means that one tour bus (not completely filled) could accommodate everyone onboard who wanted to go ashore on a tour.

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7 hours ago, Donald said:

Has it occurred to anyone how many passengers will be aboard a small ship that even in the best of times an carry only 148 people?

WS is looking to start out with 50 - 60% occupancy.

This means that one tour bus (not completely filled) could accommodate everyone onboard who wanted to go ashore on a tour.

Yoir numbers are off. 4 of the 6 ships carry ~300 passengers at full double occupancy. Most tour busses carry around 40 passengers but even pre-COVID Windstar usually ran them less than full for better comfort.

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Thank you all so much for the great advice! We’re going to go ahead and book excursions as advised and then maybe cancel if the policy loosens a bit. I notice Greek virus numbers aren’t great at present so just hoping this cruise isn’t cancelled- like all the others we’ve booked have been!!

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2 hours ago, new_cruiser said:

Yoir numbers are off. 4 of the 6 ships carry ~300 passengers at full double occupancy. Most tour busses carry around 40 passengers but even pre-COVID Windstar usually ran them less than full for better comfort.

My numbers are ON.

The poster has booked a Windstar Greek cruise in June.

That means on Wind Star, max capacity 148.

During the past 40 years that I have managed cruise ships, we normally use 60 seat tour buses.

 

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Hopefully the mandatory shore excursions will loosen as we get into the summer months and the COVID rates go down.

 

We are booked on a Caribbean sailing on July3rd and the ship is in Tortola for 24 hours. If shore excursions are mandatory does that mean that you cannot leave the ship at night to go out to dinner?

 

 

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1 hour ago, sail2day said:

Hopefully the mandatory shore excursions will loosen as we get into the summer months and the COVID rates go down.

 

We are booked on a Caribbean sailing on July3rd and the ship is in Tortola for 24 hours. If shore excursions are mandatory does that mean that you cannot leave the ship at night to go out to dinner?

 

 

No, you definitely wouldn't be able to go off the ship for dinner...... I think the idea is that they keep us in a bubble away from the locals so we don't pick up any virus!!

But the food on the ship is great! That much I do know from my previous Windstar experience. Better than anything I've had at restaurants in the Caribbean!!

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26 minutes ago, Mocamps said:

No, you definitely wouldn't be able to go off the ship for dinner...... I think the idea is that they keep us in a bubble away from the locals so we don't pick up any virus!!

But the food on the ship is great! That much I do know from my previous Windstar experience. Better than anything I've had at restaurants in the Caribbean!!

Sometimes when they are in a port overnight or for a late night, they will bring a local performing group on board to provide some entertainment/local culture. 

 

I'm kind of skeptical about excursions creating an effective bubble. Looking at the offered excursions, there are ones that include time for independent wandering around the town or marketplace - not much different that what would do when touring on one's own. Also, they have the private car/van + guide excursions where you can decide where you want to go (at a much higher cost than private guides I've booked independently).  Also, some excursions say that, at the end of the excursion, you can be brought back to the ship directly or spend time in town on your own. So you can do that but you can't leave the ship to go into town on your own? Have descriptions just not been updated or does the whole thing not make sense?

 

I'm hoping that they will have thought things through better and will loosen the restrictions by the fall.

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I agree that a lot of it doesn’t make sense!! And I’m concerned that the cruise companies will use it as a way of getting more money from us. I guess we’ll need to wait and see - as with so many things at present.

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I don't blame cruise lines for being ultra cautious. They don't want to get COVID onboard and have to shut down. Is there not reason to be concerned after last 13 months? It's always something new with this pestilence.

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I don't blame them for being cautious either but I don't think they should bump the price of excursions up. There are some astronomical prices on the cruise we've booked - like over $1600 for a private car and driver?? That just seems obscene! Would anyone really pay that?

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8 hours ago, Mocamps said:

I don't blame them for being cautious either but I don't think they should bump the price of excursions up. There are some astronomical prices on the cruise we've booked - like over $1600 for a private car and driver?? That just seems obscene! Would anyone really pay that?

That's not bumped up, that's what cruise lines tend to charge for that service.  You can do much better on your own, but I guess some people really want the assurance of the ship waiting for their return.

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9 hours ago, Mocamps said:

I don't blame them for being cautious either but I don't think they should bump the price of excursions up. There are some astronomical prices on the cruise we've booked - like over $1600 for a private car and driver?? That just seems obscene! Would anyone really pay that?

I have no problem with being cautious, for example mask wearing when close to others even if vaccinated. I think caution is appropriate. But I don't like illogical restrictions like it's okay to wander around town during a Windstar excursion and even to make your way back to the ship on your own but not okay to go into town on your own? How does that distinction increase protection?

 

The private car/van excursions from Windstar have always been super expensive. It is for a car with a driver and a guide (two people), not a single person, but still really expensive. I hope it's a really nice car.

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1 minute ago, new_cruiser said:

I have no problem with being cautious, for example mask wearing when close to others even if vaccinated. I think caution is appropriate. But I don't like illogical restrictions like it's okay to wander around town during a Windstar excursion and even to make your way back to the ship on your own but not okay to go into town on your own? How does that distinction increase protection?

 

The private car/van excursions from Windstar have always been super expensive. It is for a car with a driver and a guide (two people), not a single person, but still really expensive. I hope it's a really nice car.

It would need to be!! We won't be finding out!! We've had private cars in the past for $50 each!! And really good service. We're certainly not paying $800 each!! But we HAVE booked up for some other excursions which are suddenly looking cheap!

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11 minutes ago, Mocamps said:

It would need to be!! We won't be finding out!! We've had private cars in the past for $50 each!! And really good service. We're certainly not paying $800 each!! But we HAVE booked up for some other excursions which are suddenly looking cheap!

The price is per car, not per person even though it shows up on the excursion booking page as bookable for each of you - checking both would get you two cars. Still really expensive. I'm seeing prices on our Med cruise of $500 to $1200 depending on port and half or full day. If you doubled $800 to get $1600, it's just $800 per car.

 

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No, I did realise it was for the whole car - and I've just checked and I did exaggerate a bit!! It varies a lot but the most expensive is just short of $1500 and the cheapest is $599. The capacity of cars varies but the most expensive is $1259 with a maximum of 1-2 guests!!

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Do the math:  holding the ship for an hour because a bus with 60 people is late vs holding it because your private car with 2 people is late.  Somebody has to pay...

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We were going to book the July 03 Caribbean cruise but now I’ve found out about mandatory excursions, this for us is a deal breaker. We love to go roaming at each port and never book the organised tours. From what I’ve read above am I right saying that this is a Windstar restriction and not a port/ country of entry restriction, to keep everyone in a bubble.

Our other choice is the Seabourn Greek island cruise on the same date which would work out about the same price because of substantially less air fare. Is Seabourn employing the same restrictions.?

We crave for some cruising normality , but sadly I don’t see it happening just yet.

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2 hours ago, Tuscany4 said:

We were going to book the July 03 Caribbean cruise but now I’ve found out about mandatory excursions, this for us is a deal breaker. We love to go roaming at each port and never book the organised tours. From what I’ve read above am I right saying that this is a Windstar restriction and not a port/ country of entry restriction, to keep everyone in a bubble.

Our other choice is the Seabourn Greek island cruise on the same date which would work out about the same price because of substantially less air fare. Is Seabourn employing the same restrictions.?

We crave for some cruising normality , but sadly I don’t see it happening just yet.

Felt like you previously but now so desperate for a cruise I'd put up with a lot more than 2 months ago.

Hope it's sooner than later for all of us.

 

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On 4/22/2021 at 10:34 PM, Host Jazzbeau said:

Do the math:  holding the ship for an hour because a bus with 60 people is late vs holding it because your private car with 2 people is late.  Somebody has to pay...

We have always used private excursions and NEVER been late getting back to the ship. Not getting off on our own is a deal breaker for us. We've been to most if the countries and ports that Windstar visits and have made friends with guides, locals, have favorite restaurants m, etc. We're just not interested in group tours.

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3 hours ago, Petoonya said:

Felt like you previously but now so desperate for a cruise I'd put up with a lot more than 2 months ago.

Hope it's sooner than later for all of us.

 

Agree with you, Petoonya. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We are hoping beyond hope that our August 26 Tahiti cruise will be a go and have booked all Windstar excursions for the cruise. Meanwhile we’ll (hopefully) be sailing in the Bahamas with Crystal. No covid test required to enter the Bahamas if you’re vaccinated and you’re allowed to explore on your own. The trade off with that cruise is that it will be mighty hot in July. We’ll be on the lookout for any way we can get in the water!

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5 hours ago, sb44 said:

We have always used private excursions and NEVER been late getting back to the ship. Not getting off on our own is a deal breaker for us. We've been to most if the countries and ports that Windstar visits and have made friends with guides, locals, have favorite restaurants m, etc. We're just not interested in group tours.

I think you misunderstood my post.  I was arguing that the reason cruise ships charge such exorbitant fees for the private tours they arrange [much higher than their markup on regular tours] is that they are including the insurance benefit of holding the ship and have to amortize it against such a small group.  I have never missed the ship with many private shore excursions either [although there were at least 3 when it was a very close thing - at least twice we were 'passenger 1 and 0' and one of those we were a few minutes late] – but if you want that security you should expect to pay for it.  If it's not important to you, book a private tour privately – if that's allowed post-Covid.

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