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Best time to book shore excursions?


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We are seasoned cruisers (20 sailings on DCL) but next summer will be our first Celebrity cruise (Eclipse to Alaska in a Celebrity Suite).  I'm curious to know your thoughts on best time to book shore excursions?   When sailing Caribbean or Canada, we always do our own thing, but with the uncertainty of requirements next year and Alaska being a very different sort of destination, I thought it would be a good idea to select Celebrity excursions in case we cannot book alternate options.

 

Do they ever go on sale?  (This is just not a thing with DCL)

Are you able to cancel for a refund if you change your mind?  (I understand you need to pay for them when you book - also different from DCL).

Any other tips/thoughts?  This is such a great group and I've learned so much from you already!

 

Kathi

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@kstetser

1) Even in Alaska you can book your own tours if you want - personally we only do the cruise tours as this way we don't worry about being delayed or anything else

 

2) Celebrity from time to time has done 10% sales on excursions

 

3) I believe as I recall there is a 24 hour before the port refund / cancellation policy - but I would read the terms before you book 

 

We've also had it where tours were cancelled between when we purchased them (months in advance) and when we got on the ship - often times we were given recommendations for replacement or just given credit to our onboard account

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Kathi, we too almost never book ship excursions in Europe or North America. That includes Alaska, as there is a great choice of excursion providers. I understand your concern over possible COVID-related requirements, but I doubt the ship excursions will still be mandatory by next summer. Why don't you give it some time and see what happens with Alaskan cruises this year, as bookings for next year's excursions won't really start moving for many more months. In the mean time, you might want to drop in on the roll calls for this year's Alaskan cruises to see what excursions people are talking about. The Alaska ports of call board is also a good place to get information and advice: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/33-alaska/

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42 minutes ago, kstetser said:

Do they ever go on sale?  (This is just not a thing with DCL)

Are you able to cancel for a refund if you change your mind?  (I understand you need to pay for them when you book - also different from DCL).

I've seen sales up to 30% off on some excursions for my Alaska trip this year. Sometimes not everything goes on sale, just select excursions. You can generally cancel up to 48 hours beforehand.

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Posted (edited)

2 out of 4 excursions were for sale in May on Silhouette staycations around the British Isles. Some filled out fast. 
possibly pointless booking, as now it looks as these ports will be taken off the itinerary!
 

 

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Edited by upwarduk
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5 hours ago, kstetser said:

We are seasoned cruisers (20 sailings on DCL) but next summer will be our first Celebrity cruise (Eclipse to Alaska in a Celebrity Suite).  I'm curious to know your thoughts on best time to book shore excursions?   When sailing Caribbean or Canada, we always do our own thing, but with the uncertainty of requirements next year and Alaska being a very different sort of destination, I thought it would be a good idea to select Celebrity excursions in case we cannot book alternate options.

 

Do they ever go on sale?  (This is just not a thing with DCL)

Are you able to cancel for a refund if you change your mind?  (I understand you need to pay for them when you book - also different from DCL).

Any other tips/thoughts?  This is such a great group and I've learned so much from you already!

 

Kathi

 

If there is a popular excursion that you REALLY want to do, then I would book asap.  As for sales, there have been 20-30% off depending on the particular excursion.  In Alaska, we did 2 with Celebrity and 2 with private companies which we booked.  Had a great time on all of them.

 

There is a cancellation policy which is fair.  

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19 minutes ago, keesar said:

 

If there is a popular excursion that you REALLY want to do, then I would book asap.  As for sales, there have been 20-30% off depending on the particular excursion.  In Alaska, we did 2 with Celebrity and 2 with private companies which we booked.  Had a great time on all of them.

 

There is a cancellation policy which is fair.  

Yes for sure book early if its something you really want to do.  Remember it is likely there will be other ships in port too. In Alaska we have done both ship and private, and I'm going to say most tours get you back in plenty of time.

 

If you are going on a fishing charter I would book early, same goes for the helicopter glacier tours, although weather dependent.  If its a walk off the boat local tour then not.  On our first trip to Juneau with 7 of us, I walked off the boat and hired a mini van taxi on an hourly rate and had a blast, saw so much, was like a mini tester for a lot of the excurions.  Driver even had gold pans in the back and took us panning.

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7 hours ago, kstetser said:

We are seasoned cruisers (20 sailings on DCL) but next summer will be our first Celebrity cruise (Eclipse to Alaska in a Celebrity Suite).  I'm curious to know your thoughts on best time to book shore excursions?   When sailing Caribbean or Canada, we always do our own thing, but with the uncertainty of requirements next year and Alaska being a very different sort of destination, I thought it would be a good idea to select Celebrity excursions in case we cannot book alternate options.

 

Do they ever go on sale?  (This is just not a thing with DCL)

Are you able to cancel for a refund if you change your mind?  (I understand you need to pay for them when you book - also different from DCL).

Any other tips/thoughts?  This is such a great group and I've learned so much from you already!

 

Kathi

We rarely take the ship's expensive excursions with a huge bus full.  Private tours are usually better and cheaper.  Do some research and find out that tours are available.  

We did a great private tour post cruise to Denali for 2-3 days that was great.

If COVID19 requires booking excursions, and you think your favorite excursion will fill up and not be available, consider booking.   Unless policy has changed, I think you can cancel.

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13 minutes ago, 4774Papa said:

Unless policy has changed, I think you can cancel.

Up to 24 hrs beforehand, unless you are ill and you then will need a sick note from the Ship’s Dr.

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We did private tours which included a seaplane and a trip to the Yukon.  Very popular and we booked early.  As mentioned, the helicopter trips to glaciers also book up fast.  Sometimes, it is not a good idea to wait if there is something you really want to do.  

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Posted (edited)

I probably wouldn't book any charters at this time.  I think the itineraries are only suggestions and I would changes in almost every itinerary.  I would be prepared to go with the flow and I'm happy to stay on the ship for my next several cruises.

Edited by ipeeinthepool
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Kathi, have you joined the roll call for your cruise?  You might find someone on there organizing private tours which would be smaller and cheaper and might interest you.  To answer your question, yes, I have seen specials on tours for a short time.

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We just booked the ship's shore excursions for our January Constellation cruise. We are both in our mid 70's and do not want to have to make a run for the ship. My wife likes taking the ship's shore excursions, even though they are more expensive. She has a fear of being left behind if we get caught out past departure sail time. On three ship's excursions, we were delayed past sail time and the ship waited. One delay was a serious traffic accident, one was the tour lasted longer than expected and the bus to the ship left early, and the last one the bus driver missed the harbor ferry. We have just seen too many dock runners in the past to be one of them....these old knees (artificial) and bad back do not move as fast as they used to.

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For those who are from the UK then when you book your first excursion will lock in the exchange rate from GBP to $ for the whole cruise. Keep an eye on the onboard credit you have and the amount will fluctuate according to the daily exchange rate. Once you make first use of that credit - whether for excursions, speciality dining, spa etc that is the exchange rate you will get for everything you buy. This can make quite a difference in cost over the whole cruise. 

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14 hours ago, TeaBag said:

Kathi, have you joined the roll call for your cruise?  You might find someone on there organizing private tours which would be smaller and cheaper and might interest you.  To answer your question, yes, I have seen specials on tours for a short time.

I joined, there only seems to be 2 other people - so hopefully it gets more active with time.  

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We are finding the same thing.  Roll calls are slow.  I wonder if people are reluctant to make any kind of plans for excursions etc until they are sure they are going to be sailing.

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As someone up thread suggested, go to the Alaska port forum.  I got a ton of help and suggestions there for when I took my elderly parents to Alaska.  We did a ship pre-cruise tour because of the convenience and did a ship tour at Icy Strait Point, but the rest I got advice and booked with private companies because they are far less expensive and usually small groups.

 

We're going to Hawaii next May and I'm assuming that we won't still be required to use only ship excursions.  I would assume the same for Alaska.

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On 6/22/2021 at 9:43 AM, kstetser said:

We are seasoned cruisers (20 sailings on DCL) but next summer will be our first Celebrity cruise (Eclipse to Alaska in a Celebrity Suite).  I'm curious to know your thoughts on best time to book shore excursions?   When sailing Caribbean or Canada, we always do our own thing, but with the uncertainty of requirements next year and Alaska being a very different sort of destination, I thought it would be a good idea to select Celebrity excursions in case we cannot book alternate options.

 

Do they ever go on sale?  (This is just not a thing with DCL)

Are you able to cancel for a refund if you change your mind?  (I understand you need to pay for them when you book - also different from DCL).

Any other tips/thoughts?  This is such a great group and I've learned so much from you already!

 

Kathi

I have booked shore excursions and if they go on sale I cancel it and rebook at the new price.  Never had any trouble.  

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