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Bennniee

Any tips on choosing excursions?

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I am a bit overwhelmed at the thought of trying to pick excursions for a 146 day cruise.  Does anyone whose world cruise doesn't include excursions have any tips on how to decide which adventures to do?   I'm trying to consider activity level, possible weather, cultural interests while avoiding sitting on a bus and driving by sights.  

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I use the same procedure whether we are completing a World Cruise, or a shorter one. The WC just takes considerably longer.

 

Once signed up, I thoroughly research each port, listing all attractions of interest and a brief description. I create a separate file for each port. We have an included tour in each port, but I also review and short-list all the optional tours.

 

For each port I then evaluate the risks to determine if we should consider private tours - distance from port, traffic congestion, vendor reputation, etc. In ports where we will consider a private tour, I research available options, shortlisting a few of them.

 

Final decision is made by comparing the short list of ship's tours to the private tours. We then select our preferred option.

 

Just completed the process for our 119 night WC starting Jan 4th. Entire process took a little over 1 year.

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You sound very organized, Heidi13! I'm impressed! I began working on our excursions a few months ago, for the January 4th 146 day cruise you'll be on, Bennniee. I read through all of the ship excursions for each port, a port or two per day, and mark those I think we might be interested in. I used the itinerary to create a chart, leaving space to pencil in possible excursions with their prices, because we were trying to get an idea of what we are likely to spend on excursions for the whole cruise. Research on ports is gradual, as it is overwhelming, and my husband tends to get more into the research and private excursion possibilities than I do. I also like to note the main language spoken at that port, and the currency, as well as noting if US$ are usually accepted. We've been very happy with our Seabourn ship excursions in the past, and tend to go with those if we are doing an excursion in a port. I know they are often more expensive, but I really like the convenience. So far we've only actually booked one of the excursions, but will gradually begin to book a few more, especially if they seem like a "must see." With that long of a cruise, we'll keep researching as part of our onboard entertainment, and book many as we go.

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Benniee, our WC does have excursions included, but that doesn't really simplify things, since we have a wide variety of choices, both completely free or some enhanced and with an added-on cost. 

 

So we do have plenty of studying to do, and thinking about heat, stamina, must-do sights, etc.  Which ports will we just want to stay onboard or walk around town locally?  When will we have opportunities to do some extended travel, perhaps overnight?  For us walking tours must now be limited, so we have to think about that. 

 

Some cruise lines have very active roll-calls here on CC, and on some, people share private excursions--this is ideal I think, but takes a lot of planning and organizing.  Somebody has to step forward and propose a private excursion, outlining costs, and then solicit companions.  Well worthwhile, but it only works on some lines.  Oceania passengers are very good at this, for instance.

 

I am still 18 months out from mine, but I'm keeping a large spreadsheet with tips and ideas for each port.  When I'm in the mood, I do some research on the area, look at what excursions might be offered, what the opportunities are for private, whether we'll likely be docked close in to town, all those things.

 

When it comes to actually excursion booking time, next May, we will probably spend a month prior studying the ports, then a week prior poring over all the information and making choices.  Then of course, once on the cruise, we can make changes to the plan.

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Wow.  Thank you all for your responses.  I feel better knowing that I'm not alone in feeling a touch overwhelmed.    And I very much appreciate the tips for getting organized.   

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If you don't belong to Amazon Unlimited, you might want to join during the planning stage.  Most of the Lonely Planet guidebooks are on Unlimited, so you can get them, use them for research, and return them. The Berlitz 2019 Cruise Guide is also on it, and it contains some very useful information even for veteran cruisers.

 

You public library also will have a selection of guidebooks that you can borrow.  

 

Through these guidebooks, you can identify things to do and see in the various places you'll be visiting, and then can see if an excursion there is offered, or use sources like Trip Advisor to find your own.

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For reference material, I borrowed the Lonely Planet & Eyewitness Books from our local library for each port.

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Some sources here on Cruise Critic include:

1) reviews - can be any ship that went to some of the same ports, just ignore the ship details and see what people did and what they thought of it.

2) The port of call area has lots of threads on activities in many ports

3) Go through old roll calls for world cruises that include some of the same ports to see what people planned

4) For other world cruises currently being offered, look at the itineraries and see what excursions they are offering.

5) use the search function to find port info

6) as you do any of the above, look for references  to "live threads" or blogs

 

Trip Adviser has a top list of things to do in many cities - many will not fit in to a ship timing but some will

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On 8/3/2019 at 9:10 AM, Wendy The Wanderer said:

Just remember that research and preparation are part of the excitement leading up to the big trip!

 Totally agree with this!  Its always been part of the fun for me.  But I've never had to research soooo much!  Have made significant progress since starting this thread, so thanks again for sharing tips. 

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27 minutes ago, Bennniee said:

But I've never had to research soooo much!

 

Yeah I know, it is a bit daunting, but hopefully you have some time.  I still have 17 months!

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I have implemented several of the suggestions posted here including:

1. using trip advisor and other forums for reviews

2. borrowed travel books from library.  Very helpful to combine with online info.

3. created a day by day spreadsheet

 

I have started to purchase some excursions that I really wanted directly from cruise line with the intention of using OBC to pay for them.  Confirmed with cruise line that they will credit my card once on board. 

 

I'm really getting into the swing of things and have stopped feeling overwhelmed.  Thanks so much to everyone for the tips. 

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Mine starts Jan 4.  Plenty of time to figure it all out.   I am holding off on booking excursions in some ports until I'm on board because I want to get a better feel for the type of excursions that I enjoy.  Also,  I'm holding off on booking excursions in ports that I've been to before as I will be more comfortable with booking privately.   Perhaps I'm mistaken but there seems to be less risk to book privately in Singapore than in Ghana for example. 

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5 hours ago, Bennniee said:

I am holding off on booking excursions in some ports until I'm on board because I want to get a better feel for the type of excursions that I enjoy.  Also,  I'm holding off on booking excursions in ports that I've been to before as I will be more comfortable with booking privately.   Perhaps I'm mistaken but there seems to be less risk to book privately in Singapore than in Ghana for example. 

 

Holding off until you are aboard?  Be careful that you may not be able to book an excursion because it is sold out.

 

Booking private excursions in ports where you have visited before?  Why book an excursion?  Do whatever you want to do without paying a tour company to do so.

 

Less risk in booking an excursion in Singapore than Ghana?  My opinion:  absolutely.

 

Consider overland, nights away from the ship type excursions.  If so, I always feel more comfortable booking such with the cruise line or with my travel agent if they offer a hosted overland excursion.  No doubt more expensive, but there is more security, financially and personally, I think,  than booking on one's own.

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5 hours ago, Bennniee said:

Mine starts Jan 4.  Plenty of time to figure it all out.   I am holding off on booking excursions in some ports until I'm on board because I want to get a better feel for the type of excursions that I enjoy.  Also,  I'm holding off on booking excursions in ports that I've been to before as I will be more comfortable with booking privately.   Perhaps I'm mistaken but there seems to be less risk to book privately in Singapore than in Ghana for example. 

We haven't had problems booking some excursions when we're onboard. Yes, some will sell out, and we do try to book ahead any that are a must-do. Sometimes, though, we find we get a better idea of what they'll be like after hearing the port talk onboard, or talking to the Destinations coordinator.

Estate Planning Questionnaire February 2019.pdf

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12 hours ago, Bennniee said:

Mine starts Jan 4.  Plenty of time to figure it all out.   I am holding off on booking excursions in some ports until I'm on board because I want to get a better feel for the type of excursions that I enjoy.  Also,  I'm holding off on booking excursions in ports that I've been to before as I will be more comfortable with booking privately.   Perhaps I'm mistaken but there seems to be less risk to book privately in Singapore than in Ghana for example. 

Most definitely less risk in Singapore. Totally safe country to visit. Last time there we hired a taxi for a few hours for a very reasonable price.

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One thing I will add is to pace yourself.

 

In other words, don't book so many excursions that it feels like work.

 

Identify ports that you can easily do on your own and also find some excursions that are three to four hours in length.  Save the full day excursions for places that you really want an in-depth look.

 

I found on our first couple of World Cruises that we booked too many excursions and midway through cancelled some of them. 

 

If you have questions about specific ports also post them.

 

Keith

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8 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

One thing I will add is to pace yourself.

 

In other words, don't book so many excursions that it feels like work.

 

Identify ports that you can easily do on your own and also find some excursions that are three to four hours in length.  Save the full day excursions for places that you really want an in-depth look.

 

 

 

Keith

Keith  - this seems like excellent advice, which is why I am going to wait to book some excursions.  I've booked the ones that I don't want to risk being full and will wait on others.   I am also going to rethink the full day vs. half day.  I tend to think the full day ones are better value but if they leave me wiped out I am not doing myself any favors. 

 

Heidi13 -  my taxi driver on my last visit to Singapore was wonderful and even taught me a bit of Chinese.  Such a beautiful city. 

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I don't think there's much risk in booking private excursions anywhere, as long as the tour guide or company has positive reviews from other travellers.

 

The risk of private is sometimes simply that you have to ensure you get back to the ship reliably, with plenty of time to spare.  If you book a ship's excursion they will wait for you, otherwise they won't, and you might find yourself having to fly to the next port.

 

That being said, I have found that private excursions are fairly reasonable in price in SE Asia at least.  In Singapore, I just too the Metro around and walked, walked, walked.  But I had a week.

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