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Figuring in Shore Excursions


catangeo
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My husband and I are considering a World Cruise for 2024, and I’ve been reading all the helpful information on this board about factors to consider when choosing which ship/line to book.  I’m having a hard time trying to compare costs when it comes to shore excursions.  It’s been pointed out that some of the lines include shore excursions at some, many, or all of the ports.  What I’d like to know is what kind of excursions are included?  Do you have a choice, or is it just the city-overview bus trip with a stop at the souvenir factory?  And what if you wanted to do an overnight excursion – like to the pyramids, or Angkor-Wat, or Machu Picchu?  I imagine those trips would be additional no matter what line you’re on.  How can I compare, and how much should I calculate for shore excursions when they’re not included at all?  Thanks for any/all information - Cathy

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51 minutes ago, catangeo said:

My husband and I are considering a World Cruise for 2024, and I’ve been reading all the helpful information on this board about factors to consider when choosing which ship/line to book.  I’m having a hard time trying to compare costs when it comes to shore excursions.  It’s been pointed out that some of the lines include shore excursions at some, many, or all of the ports.  What I’d like to know is what kind of excursions are included?  Do you have a choice, or is it just the city-overview bus trip with a stop at the souvenir factory?  And what if you wanted to do an overnight excursion – like to the pyramids, or Angkor-Wat, or Machu Picchu?  I imagine those trips would be additional no matter what line you’re on.  How can I compare, and how much should I calculate for shore excursions when they’re not included at all?  Thanks for any/all information - Cathy

 

Hi Cathy,

 

Not wanting to complicate the process further, but another factor to consider is the considerable difference in OBC that World Cruisers receive. When discussing OBC, I am not considering the OBC you can receive from a TA, but the OBC provided by the cruise line.

 

As a comparison, here is what we received on our 3 World Cruises:

  • 2015 Princess - No OBC, therefore all ship tours had to be paid.
  • 2020 Viking - US $8,000 OBC. We were able to use about $7,000 to book shore-ex online before the cruise. Once on board, we could use the remainder to book additional tours
  • 2023 Viking - over CAN $10,000 OBC

Complimentary Shore-ex

Generally it is only the Premium & Luxury Lines that provide a complimentary tour in each port. Viking Ocean, is one of those Lines. Most of the ports has a single "Included" tour, but in a few ports you have a choice of 2 tours. When an option is available, you can only take 1 of them. The "Included" tours are generally a bus tour or a guided walking tour, giving you an overview of the local port. However, we did have some excellent Included Tours - Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island and a 10 hr tour to Luxor in Safaga.

 

Viking does not push "Shopping" as per the mega ship lines and of all the Viking Tours, very few included shopping stops. We visited NO souvenier factories on any of the included or optional tours.

 

Overland Tours

Both Princess & Viking offer overland tours. Princess had less options, with the only one I recall being Machu Picchu. Viking offered numerous overlands - Australia/New Zealand, Alice Springs, Angor-Kat, Saigon, Meekong Delta, Taj Mahal and Egypt.

 

With Princess our budget for tours was $15K, possibly up to $20K. With Viking it cost us about CAN $3,500. With the 23 WC, we will allow up to CAN $5,000. I also note that at the end of the cruise, we will have no bill to pay, as other than optional shore-ex and onboard shops, the cruise is all-inclusive.

 

In addition to tours, you also need to consider costs for taxes, gratuities, wifi, laundry, drinks, Visa, flights, specialty restaurants, etc.

 

Good luck with the research and feel free to ask additional questions. Feel free to check out our travel blog, with daily posts from both Princess & Viking World Cruises - www.AndyandJudi.com

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Thanks, Andy and Judi, for your thorough answer.  I loved your website/blog about your previous cruises -  it gave me a real feel for world cruising, as well as a very fair evaluation of the Princess WC I thought.

A few more questions: When you did your Viking 2020 cruise, are you saying that although a tour was included in each port, you used your onboard credits of $7k to purchase additional, or more extensive tours offered by Viking?  Do you have a ballpark figure on what a typical overland excursion goes for?  Finally, did you also use any independent tour operators?

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4 hours ago, catangeo said:

Thanks, Andy and Judi, for your thorough answer.  I loved your website/blog about your previous cruises -  it gave me a real feel for world cruising, as well as a very fair evaluation of the Princess WC I thought.

A few more questions: When you did your Viking 2020 cruise, are you saying that although a tour was included in each port, you used your onboard credits of $7k to purchase additional, or more extensive tours offered by Viking?  Do you have a ballpark figure on what a typical overland excursion goes for?  Finally, did you also use any independent tour operators?

 

The oveland trips had huge price differences, all prices in CAN$:

  • 4-day Egypt - $1600 pp
  • 4-day Taj Mahal - $4000 pp
  • 5-day NZ & Tasmania - $15,000 pp

We were interested and did consider the Taj Mahal, but opted against it due to probable pollution at the site. It was a fair bit of money to have the site covered by pollution on the only day you visit.

 

However, we did book the overland in Egypt, which was very reasonably priced.

 

We used, or had planned to use private tours in about a dozen ports, with groups of fellow pax arranged on the Roll Call.

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23 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

We were interested and did consider the Taj Mahal, but opted against it due to probable pollution at the site. It was a fair bit of money to have the site covered by pollution on the only day you visit.

 

I visited the Taj in 2008 as part of a multi-day tour starting in Chennai, visiting New Delhi and Jaipur, ending at Mumbai.  The worst pollution was the oily, slippery dock where the Amsterdam docked at Chennai.  I recall no pollution elsewhere.  Certainly, nothing like what I experienced in Xian, China!  That tour to Agra was one of several highlights of that cruise.  

 

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We are booked on the 2022 Regent World Cruise.  Originally we were booked on the 2021 but it was cancelled due to Covid.  Originally, a world cruise was not even on our radar.  After taking a Regent cruise where we became acquainted with a number of people who were on that cruise for 95 days and who allayed our fears about being on a ship so long, we began to consider such a cruise.  We looked at several cruise lines that we had been on in the past, we chose Regent because it was the most inclusive and the itinerary hit a number of our bucket list locations.

When you are considering a World Cruise it is important to consider all of the costs.  My husband did an estimated apples to apples comparison for Regent, Oceania, and Crystal.  Not only did Regent include all of the shore excursions, but they also included all of the visas and other travel-related documentation.  In addition, the suites on Regent, at least at the lower categories, are larger than those of other cruise lines.  This makes a big difference when you are on the ship for more than 100 nights.  

When I speak of shore excursions on Regent cruises were are not talking about just walking or bus tours.

They can include meals, boat rides, all day tours of temples, etc.  While there are always options for more involved shore excursions that may have a supplement, we have rarely needed to choose a tour with an uncharge.  In addition, the overland trips such as our trip to Ayres Rock in Australia, includes the airfare to the location, staying at a five-star hotel, most meals, all touring, and all beverages at a fairly reasonable cost.

I hope this gives you something to think about.  While Regent may look expensive on the front end, you can come off a world cruise having no bill from the cruise line, and only souvenirs and memories.

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We have $8000 of OBC with our 22/23 Viking WC.  I went back and looked at ou4 excursion costs of our last 2 cruises on Viking, one a 15 day cruise and the other 18 day.  The 15 day cruise was more port intensive (Trade Routes) than the 18 day (South America).

 

Our excursion costs for each of these was $1700/trip for both of us (we both did the same excursions).  Normally we choose a combination of included and not included excursions.  We did bypass Viking’s excursion to Iguazu Falls, which would have been $2400 for both and chose our own at less than half the charge for a day longer, I didn’t include that in the $1700 cost.  


I anticipate we will probably need to kick in another $2000-4000 for the WC on top of our OBC.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/13/2021 at 5:47 PM, catangeo said:

My husband and I are considering a World Cruise for 2024, and I’ve been reading all the helpful information on this board about factors to consider when choosing which ship/line to book.  I’m having a hard time trying to compare costs when it comes to shore excursions.  It’s been pointed out that some of the lines include shore excursions at some, many, or all of the ports.  What I’d like to know is what kind of excursions are included?  Do you have a choice, or is it just the city-overview bus trip with a stop at the souvenir factory?  And what if you wanted to do an overnight excursion – like to the pyramids, or Angkor-Wat, or Machu Picchu?  I imagine those trips would be additional no matter what line you’re on.  How can I compare, and how much should I calculate for shore excursions when they’re not included at all?  Thanks for any/all information - Cathy

 

Cathy,

 

While I can highly recommend Machu Picchu, I would not recommend doing it as part of a cruise excursion.  Going from sea level to that elevation can be dangerous for one's health and you do not want the remainder of the cruise impacted.

 

For that reason, I passed on a cruise excursion there on an Around The Horn cruise several years ago and opted for a land tour there later.  We were given time to acclimate to the elevation and stayed overnight in the town of  Macchu Picchu, which was well worth the extra time.  

 

 

 

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On 5/24/2021 at 9:18 AM, SargassoPirate said:

 

Cathy,

 

While I can highly recommend Machu Picchu, I would not recommend doing it as part of a cruise excursion.  Going from sea level to that elevation can be dangerous for one's health and you do not want the remainder of the cruise impacted.

 

For that reason, I passed on a cruise excursion there on an Around The Horn cruise several years ago and opted for a land tour there later.  We were given time to acclimate to the elevation and stayed overnight in the town of  Macchu Picchu, which was well worth the extra time.  

 

 

 

You bring up an excellent point and I'm sorry to say I know all too well the dangers of traveling too quickly from high elevations to low.  I experienced the first of several lung collapses after visiting Machu Picchu and flying back to the States within 24 hours.   It was a bad example for my question about overland excursions I think.   And while I would love for my husband to see Machu Picchu, I think you're right about taking our time with a land tour instead at some later date. 

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On 5/30/2021 at 9:13 AM, Gail & Marty sailing away said:

We have been on 4 World Cruises on Holland America  2017 2018 2019 2020  , and have 2022 and 2023  booked .  people form small groups on Cruise Critic  and do semi private shore trips .

Wow, you two are the ultimate world cruise veterans!  Since you've traveled on HAL for your past world cruises, perhaps you could estimate for me how much you budgeted for your shore excursions on your first world cruise?  I'm finding it hard to compare the cost of the all-inclusive lines (Regent, Viking, Oceanic) to the less-inclusive lines (Holland, Princess, Cunard) when I'm factoring in shore excursion prices.  I totally agree with the idea of taking the smaller group tours formed through CC,  and they're always a better experience and rate than the cruise organized ones, though I'm trying to estimate the most we might spend for tours.

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FWIW - here's what I can add regarding our budgeting for our world cruise in January; since it's with Princess it does not automatically include any of the ship-sponsored shore excursions.  We've been on about 40 or so cruises, including back to back European cruises a couple of times, so we've seen some of the ports on our WC, but certainly not all.  I have made a list of our WC stops and earmarked a few as "more expensive" shore excursion stops and a number of others, mostly the ones we've seen, as "walk around the port for the day - no major expenses anticipated...".   There are 48 ports total, probably 10 of these that I'll  budget more than a couple of hundred dollars for.  I'm estimating in the $15k - $18k range all together, though that's not a hard cap - if there's an opportunity that comes up that we'd love I'd certainly take advantage.  I imagine that lots of folks will have their own take on this, but that's what I'm planning on...

~Bob

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Having completed 2 World Cruises - Princess & Viking. If opting for a mainstream cruise line I suggest $15 to 20K for all excursions, both shore-ex and private tours.

 

Another consideration when comparing WC's is the amount of cruise line "Onboard Credit" With Princess is was zero, Viking is over $10,000.

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3 hours ago, catangeo said:

Wow, you two are the ultimate world cruise veterans!  Since you've traveled on HAL for your past world cruises, perhaps you could estimate for me how much you budgeted for your shore excursions on your first world cruise?  I'm finding it hard to compare the cost of the all-inclusive lines (Regent, Viking, Oceanic) to the less-inclusive lines (Holland, Princess, Cunard) when I'm factoring in shore excursion prices.  I totally agree with the idea of taking the smaller group tours formed through CC,  and they're always a better experience and rate than the cruise organized ones, though I'm trying to estimate the most we might spend for tours.

On a 128 days I take $ 3.000 green cash .plus 2 different debit account cards  and each one has $2.500 in each ( for foreign currency )  plus some times We have to pry pay deposits before we leave .

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I checked Quicken. For the 2019 HAL WC, we spent:

  • $8255 for excursions -2 HAL and rest were independent  including 3 overnight tours (2 with flights - Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu)
  • $8510 for toiletries, car rental in FLL, cabs/Uber, drinks, wine package, 18 bottles of wine (purchased in FLL), corkage for those 18 bottles, 2 or 3 bottles of vodka, laundry, meals in ports and airports, souvenirs, snacks for cabin, lots of chocolate and ice cream in ports 🙂 ...
  • $535 "extra" tips (our standard gratuities were included in our HAL price)
  • $235 Visas
  • $380 photo package (it was our 1st WC so we bought all the formal and port photos)
  • $799 Internet package

 

We had a $1300 OBC from our TA (plus a rebate of $2265 after we got home from the cruise) that we used towards those expenses.  We used frequent flyer points for the flights and hotel. Plus we spent a few days in FLA with friends before the cruise. I didn't include cost of trip insurance since that is very dependent on the state you live in, your age, and price of the cruise.

 

Hope this helps!

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I should also state that we did 3 "free" HAL excursions that our TA gave us. We were underwhelmed by all. There was way too much time spent on buses, waiting for the hordes of HAL cruisers to get back to the bus/meet at the restaurant/bathroom breaks, and not enough time actually doing or seeing the sites we visited. We will likely skip most HAL tours in the future - even if free/included.

 

We did buy 2 HAL tours that we liked: snorkel in Bora Bora and quad rental in Wellington, NZ. Both were smaller groups (I think there were 8 or 9 on the quads).

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We have done 2 Oceania 180day world cruises.  They are not an all inclusive line-- alcoholic drinks and shore excursions are extra. Internet is free, 1 account per cabin.  They do include all non alcoholic drinks - including smoothies, specialty coffees and non alcoholic mixed drinks.   As with most other lines there are perks for the full world passengers -- including free laundry, luggage delivery,  visa services and medical care onboard. They also have a liberal policy regarding bringing wine and spirits on board for consumption in your cabin, or take the wine to a dining room for $25 corkage. 

 

For an idea of costs -- you can do a dummy booking (and quit before that paying part!) on the Oceania website and you will find tabs that give description and pricing for the various overlands and shore excursions.  

 

Oceania tours are expensive, IMO.  We either join someone's private group tour or arrange our own.  I have arranged 2 overland tours to China and one in South Africa - and took private tours to the Taj and Ayers Rock.   Oceania has many overland tours that are well run, but find I can mirror them for a more private experience, and in almost all cases at half the price.   The same is tour of shore excursions.  The handful of Oceania tours I have taken are well run -- I have never heard a complaint from those who take ship excursions.  I would say the private tours average between $80- $150 pp.  This would be for an all day tour. Lunches are often included.  

 

On our first ATW (thinking it would be our last) -- we had a private excursion in almost every port.  On the second we decided to relax more -- and took advantage of Oceania's free shuttles when available.  Because of the small Insignia, they also docked closer into the town centers where walking was easy.  Not rebooking so many tours also gave us the ability to arrange something with new friends on board.  Many ports have tour operators at the ports -- so last minute tours are possible.  We have also just hired a driver/guide for the day and made our personal itinerary-- $50-$100 for the driver for the day.  

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