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My husband and I are the same way--we only book excursions with the cruise line. On a Princess Panama Canal cruise probably 12 years ago, there were extreme delays with the ferry boat on our partial transit Panama Canal excursion and we returned to the ship more than two hours late! Fortunately, we had booked with the cruise line and they were waiting for us (and the 100+ other passengers from the ship that were also on the excursion.) It was kind of embarrassing with everyone who had a balcony room and people on the open decks watching us return to the ship and clapping, whistling, etc., but, hey, it was't our fault! On that same cruise, we had an excursion to the Xunantunich Mayan ruins in Belize--and the bus broke down, causing us to be 30 minutes late! Again, thankfully we had booked with the cruise line and the ship waited for us. After those two experiences, we decided it was worth the extra cost (and peace of mind) to book the excursions with the cruise line rather than roll the dice and potentially be left behind.

 

We always get balcony rooms and enjoy watching sailaways (and pier runners) from the comfort of our balcony. Most recently we saw a van load of people get left behind in the Bahamas. The ship had waited about 30 additional minutes and repeatedly honked the ship's horn and called the names of the missing passengers on the PA system to no avail. When the ship started pulling away and was maybe 30 feet away from the pier, we saw a van drop a bunch of passengers off at the end of the pier. The passengers ran, yelled and waved their arms wildly, but it was no use--they were late and were left behind.

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My first cruise we did ship excursions. Now I feel sorry for those that do so and pay WAY more to have subpar experiences. A little research and trip insurance that covers missed ships, and I fully enjoy my third party excursions and beach days. Highly recommend Resort for a Day. Not only do they offer many choices, their customer service is excellent in answering questions. I bring my atm, AAA and credit cards along with my license and copy of my passport.

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You would contact Royal's port agent and they could help you. The port agent is listed on the Cruise Compass for each port day.

 

That's why I always make sure to take a Cruise Compass with me when going ashore. Never had even a close call, but never know. Mainly book independent excursions. We do take into account how far away from port we'll be going. If any doubt at all, then we book that particular excursion through the ship.

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I scuba dive and NEVER book through the ship because they don’t use the best providers, they overcharge, and they herd you in giant groups of people. TripAdvisor is a great tool for finding reputable excursions. I also dive first thing in the morning so I’m usually back on board in time for a late lunch.

 

 

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Belgium/ ypres is particularly bad as you are coming back to the ship at rush hour...been twice on ships trips with two companies and been an hour late each time....both times the coach has come up to the ship and the gangplank has been raised, the doors shut and off, before we were out of the check in area! would not go on a full day trip with a private company there,Always use private trips in the carribean though

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I am reluctant to book shore excursions not offered by Royal because of concern about no guarantee for return to ship by all aboard time. We have had break downs of a van and of a bus on a couple of excursions and although it worked out, it could have been a problem.

 

If you miss the ship, what could you do? Will Royal be of any assistance?

 

Please make sure you only miss the ship by a minute or two so we can all clap and WOOO HOOO you and put you on social media , you could become famous :)

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I feel sorry for the folks who don’t know any better than to book only RC excursions. They are overpriced, overcrowded and subpar. The only thing I book through RC are things in Labadee because obviously there’s no other choice since they own that stop. That place is a gold mine for them.

 

Use trip advisor, do you research, and you’ll be fine. There’s a good chance the 3rd party excursion you take will be far superior to what the ship has to offer. It’s often relatively affordable to even hire a private guide and fully customize the day to do what YOU want to do, not what the ship wants you to do.

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The Balcony watch is fun, 4 people late getting back to the Freedom in Jan at San Juan. Boy the caught heck., lost track of time drinking at senior Frogs..

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On my first ever cruise (11/2017), a Princess (Caribbean) Panama Partial Transit, I booked all my excursions through Princess. The group I can with just went to the docks and found the cheapest and hopped in and only stayed in the vehicle. The majority of what I booked, except one, was eco-tourism, rain forests hikes, canoes, etc. A stop at an insect research center. etc.

 

My second one coming in Feb 2019 is 49 days of the 17 excursions I've booked, 3 are Princess, 9 are booked through my Travel Agent's WEB SITE (Shore Excursions) and 5 are Private put together by veteran cruisers I communicate with on the Roll Call. All of the excursions booked through my Travel Agent guarantee either back to ship or transportation to the next port. The five private ....well I'm going by their "Elite" status with Princess and their having been to S.A. two/three times, and some four, and are familiar with the tour agents. I'm taking them by strong faith.

 

Ramona

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I remember reading on here a few years ago a very detailed story about a passenger who missed his ship. I think he was in Nassau. I’m not able to find the thread though.

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The Balcony watch is fun, 4 people late getting back to the Freedom in Jan at San Juan. Boy the caught heck., lost track of time drinking at senior Frogs..

 

I'd guess that Senor Frogs is the number one cause of missing the ship, with mechanical breakdown a distant second. :D

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I feel sorry for the folks who don’t know any better than to book only RC excursions. They are overpriced, overcrowded and subpar. The only thing I book through RC are things in Labadee because obviously there’s no other choice since they own that stop. That place is a gold mine for them.

 

Use trip advisor, do you research, and you’ll be fine. There’s a good chance the 3rd party excursion you take will be far superior to what the ship has to offer. It’s often relatively affordable to even hire a private guide and fully customize the day to do what YOU want to do, not what the ship wants you to do.

 

I agree 100% with most of your post and do feel somewhat sorry for people who only book cruise line excursions. Most of them are subpar compared to 3rd party excursions. But there is a percentage of the population that is not capable of doing research. Or thinking on their own. Even doing a google search is beyond their capability. Not everyone is internet savvy. You can tell that by many of the questions asked on Cruise Critic that are repeated over and over. Also some people need to be taken care of, need something simple like a cruise line excursion. They probably could miss the ship if they went DIY. They know their own capabilities. Cruise line excursions fill a need for a segment of the public. Some people should be taking cruise line excursions. Everyone can't be or is not going to be savvy traveler. Be thankful that you can be.

Edited by Charles4515

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I agree 100% with most of your post and do feel somewhat sorry for people who only book cruise line excursions. Most of them are subpar compared to 3rd party excursions. But there is a percentage of the population that is not capable of doing research. Or thinking on their own. Even doing a google search is beyond their capability. Not everyone is internet savvy. You can tell that by many of the questions asked on Cruise Critic that are repeated over and over. Also some people need to be taken care of, need something simple like a cruise line excursion. They probably could miss the ship if they went DIY. They know their own capabilities. Cruise line excursions fill a need for a segment of the public. Some people should be taking cruise line excursions. Everyone can't be or is not going to be savvy traveler. Be thankful that you can be.

 

Very well said. You make some good points.

 

I also think that some folks simply don't even realize there are options outside of what the ship offers. They just assume, "I'm on an RC cruise, when I get off the ship I have to do something offered through RC." These are also probably the same folks that don't realize prices fluctuate, and end up paying double the cruise fare that savvy CC readers would pay because RC advertises "sale" so they just assume they're getting a good deal.

 

But like you said, we should be thankful that we're able to be savvy travelers. Personally, if I wasn't savvy, I wouldn't be able to afford to cruise.

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We always did smhios shore excursions , but after several over priced and over crowded excursions we now avoid them. We do our research for new ports and Also like doing excursions with fellow roll call members.

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30+ years cruising with Royal seen it all. Ship waited for stranglers & left some. Couple times they got on a Pilot Boat to ship as we left Harbor, and more then once joined us at next Port in a day or 2 later, at own cost. Spoke with them...

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I agree 100% with most of your post and do feel somewhat sorry for people who only book cruise line excursions. Most of them are subpar compared to 3rd party excursions. But there is a percentage of the population that is not capable of doing research. Or thinking on their own. Even doing a google search is beyond their capability. Not everyone is internet savvy. You can tell that by many of the questions asked on Cruise Critic that are repeated over and over. Also some people need to be taken care of, need something simple like a cruise line excursion. They probably could miss the ship if they went DIY. They know their own capabilities. Cruise line excursions fill a need for a segment of the public. Some people should be taking cruise line excursions. Everyone can't be or is not going to be savvy traveler. Be thankful that you can be.

 

 

Umm and what does this have to do with getting left behind.

 

Ramona

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Umm and what does this have to do with getting left behind.

 

Ramona

 

The fear of being left behind is why people book ship sponsored excursions.

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While researching excursions in each port, I will often see what RCI is offering on their Cruise Planner pages....It doesn’t take mad detective skills to figure out what particular 3rd-party/private vendors they are using to facilitate the excursions they are selling.

 

I then book directly with the 3rd-party/private vendor, as it will save a LOT of money. Oftentimes, the vendor is sending a bus or van to pick us up at the pier - and getting on that same bus are the passengers who booked directly with RCI - who probably paid a lot more $$$ than I did, and yet are getting the exact same experience as I am. We’re all riding the same bus and all going to the same place.

 

We've learned to do this as well, booking privately at 1/2 the cost and often ending up on the same bus as the "official" tour.

 

We only book ships tours now to use up excess obc's.

For private tours we try to join large ones organized through our Meet & Mingle boards, taking the attitude that "misery loves company". The larger the group delayed by a breakdown, the greater the likelihood the ship will wait for us.

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The fear of being left behind is why people book ship sponsored excursions.

 

No I think I'm right in what I wrote. There seem to be a lot of looking down at all those poor folks who didn't know they could save money on Private Excursions which has nothing to do with getting left behind. You can get left behind on Ship Sponsored Excursions if you're not at the pick-up point at the pick-up time.

 

Ramona

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We still book the occasional cruise ship excursion. When we're in St. Thomas, we always do the ship tour to St. John because the ferry picks up and drops off at the ship's pier. The last one we did was a pirate ship cruise to the Grand Piton which was highly recommended. Other than those, I can't remember the last time we've done a cruise ship excursion. We would rather go on our own.

 

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The ship will leave without you. We watched a very drunk couple on the dock at Cozumel sit and cry as their ship went sailing off. I am not sure what happened to them.

 

 

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If we only booked shore excursions thru the ship we would have missed some of the best experiences we’ve ever had. We just used someone in Curacao who showed us places where we were the only ones there. It was just Wow!

 

I do my homework on each port of call. I read reviews and only once or twice have we ever just grabbed something at the port to do. I want to know that the company or person we use has a good reputation of getting you back on time.

 

It also depends on where you go...if you are going on a seven hour excursion and the ship is only there 8 hours I go with the ship. In St. Kitts the ship books out the only cat that goes over to Nevis. You don’t have a choice. We have been to the western Caribbean so many times that we feel very comfortable using private excursions and rarely use the ship except in Belize where tendering takes so much time.

 

Do your homework, read reviews and use your roll call to go in groups. Use ship excursions in special situations but know that 80% of the time you can do the same thing, often cheaper, in a smaller group and get back to the ship in time. Those small tour operators don’t want a bad review or they will be out of business. Most have a back up plan to get you back.

 

To use a Royal saying “ Get out there”!

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Those small tour operators don’t want a bad review or they will be out of business. Most have a back up plan to get you back.

 

What you pointed out is key. If even only one excursion was late and a group missed their ship, and the negative reviews started flooding the websites, the company would be destroyed. Those reviews are their livelihood, their bread and butter. They WILL get you back to the ship. And if they can't, they'll get you to the next port of call. Whatever expense it costs them, it is worth it to avoid the demise of their company, which bad reviews will do. I only go with tour providers that have 100+ outstanding reviews on Trip Adviser, especially those designated as award winners. If you go with one of those, your odds of missing the ship are no greater than if you took the excursion directly through the ship.

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The ship will leave without you. We watched a very drunk couple on the dock at Cozumel sit and cry as their ship went sailing off. I am not sure what happened to them.

 

 

They were at Senior Frogs, Carlos & Charies or similiar joint. When passengers miss the ship in Cozumel that is the usual reason. On Grand Princess once they were brought to the ship on a pilot boat. The Captain told us to make a lot of noise when they were handed over from the pilot boat to give them a memory. I ran into them on the ship later. They had been at C&C They had no memory of the greeting or the pilot boat though.......they had been too drunk.

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