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Michelle1234

Tikal shore excursion review

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I couldn't find any reviews precruise and mine didn't post in the ship review so I thought I'd leave my review here.

 

Princess charged $599.95 for this excursion from Puerto Quetzal. Their logistics were excellent. They consisted of a short bus ride (about 15 min) to an army base where you board an 18ish passenger puddle jumper. You fly right by the belching volcano and it is fun to see the landscape of the coast and inland from above. Just over an hour later you land at a municipal style airport. Landing was a little rough because I think the co-captain was using it as a learning experience. It is actually an international airport so they ask you to bring your passports on the excursion for the flight back. Our tour had 12 people but could accommodate a maximum of 18. The plane and van were find for 12 but would have been very uncomfortable if fully loaded due to some seats having no leg room.

 

Tikal itself was spectacular. We got to climb 3 ruins to the top via wooden staircases with handles. The steps were some times oddly high or not evenly spaced so you should be able to handle that if you want to do the climbs. The ruins are also very tall. I think less than half the group climbed the third one. At other times we were able to walk among and over other ruins at our leisure. Our guide was lounging under a shade tree so if you want to hear any explanations you have to tag along with other groups and try to overhear their guide and/or see what they are pointing at. We saw monkeys and some very distant toucans. Water was provided by the tour operator. Lunch was excellent as was the driver. The trip back was very rough on the flight due to flying through clouds.

 

The only bummer was the guide was not interested in guiding and refused questions during the tour itself. He wanted to handle them afterwards but then fell asleep on the way back or chatted avidly in Spanish with the driver and other tour lady in the van. He also disappeared at lunch so no questions there. He didn't really have a prepared speech at the beginning and started with asking us if there were questions before stating he wouldn't take any until the end. It was a very odd vibe because when he asked he hadn't told us anything yet. Then he said he wouldn't take any on the tour until the ride back. Then he fell asleep. Just before getting back to the airport he asked if there were any but I was too discouraged at that point to ask any. When I asked on the tour itself he just ignored them (just as he said he would). There was a great model of the whole site at lunch but he didn't spend any time giving an overview of the parts we didn't see or the site as a whole. So for Princess logistics A+ but tour operator C-. With the right guide this could be a truly fantastic experience as the ruins themselves are spectacular. However our guide never made the place come alive.

Edited by Michelle1234

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I forgot to mention how good the tourist goods were at the Puerto Quetzal port. Unfortunately you need to steel yourself in advance for aggressive vendors. Also the bargaining process. Know that you can expect to pay half of what they initially ask. I wish I hadn't been so hot and tired as I would have dearly loved to get more of the carved puzzle boxes and the embroidered items. I also bought a great belt for $10. But the Tikal excursion is about 9 hrs long and when I got back it was a bit overwhelming to look at all the goods. The shopping area was huge compared to some other ports we went to.

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Thanks for the review. We are doing Tikal in December from the HAL Rotterdam. Really looking forward to it. A little bummed that HAL is charging us $100 more pp than what you paid.

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Daniel,

You won't be bummed if you get a great guide. It will be worth it. I think it is a definite do if you are in that part of the world. No regrets, even with our terrible guide.

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Edited by Michelle1234

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