Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
DMT1970

Shore excursions

Recommended Posts

My husband and I will be cruising on the crown Princess 11/7/19.    We are not very adventurous and quite frankly a little afraid of touring on our own in ports.  However the shore excursions seem so pricey.   Does anyone have any suggestions/words of advice about touring outside the cruise line?  I have been advised by other people we know to ONLY book excursions thru the ship.  We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and are really looking forward to this trip but honestly I am REALLY stressing over these dang shore excursions..  Thanks, Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might help to say which ports you are visiting.  We have done combos of touring on our own and using Princess excursions. All depends on the ports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not sure what is your itinerary, but if you are interested in trying services of proven operators please check Ports of call section for particular ports. There are usually great suggestions. Operators who cater to cruise pax simply cannot afford not to bring them back to the ship on time. Their reputation depends on it.

We use them from time to time or just take taxi to beaches or rent cars.

43 cruises, never a problem.

We do of course plan and watch time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, DMT1970 said:

My husband and I will be cruising on the crown Princess 11/7/19.    We are not very adventurous and quite frankly a little afraid of touring on our own in ports.  However the shore excursions seem so pricey.   Does anyone have any suggestions/words of advice about touring outside the cruise line?  I have been advised by other people we know to ONLY book excursions thru the ship.  We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and are really looking forward to this trip but honestly I am REALLY stressing over these dang shore excursions..  Thanks, Denise

Didn't think about putting in exact ports of call.  we will be visiting St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St.Kitts, Antigua and Barbados.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will try to be very honest (perhaps too honest) when responding the OP's post.  DW and I have been traveling extensively for many decades (on cruises and land) and generally go our own thing.  We only book cruise line excursions when they do something we want to do and that its nearly impossible for us to reasonably do it on our own or perhaps with a small group private tour.

 

Over the years we have helped many folks who wanted advice on doing their own thing...especially in Europe.  We have also spent hours talking with other cruises (while on our cruises) about how to do things on their own.  We eventually learned that there is a segment of the cruise/travel world that are not well suited to doing anything (or very little) on their own.  At one time we tried to convince some of these folks that they could save a lot of money and have more fun by doing their own thing.  But we finally realized that, for whatever reason, some folks just cannot be comfortable on their own.  The OP and spouse sound like they fall into this category.  So, in their situation, we would advise spending the big bucks and sticking to the cruise line excursions.  Perhaps on a future European trip you will feel ready to venture out on your own, but just reading your post makes it sound like now is not the time.   We hope you have a terrific cruise :).

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

DW & I have used non cruise line excursions and they were fine and had a guarantee to get you to the next port if you missed the ship.  DW is not very adventurous either and on each of the non cruise line excursions, she kept looking at her watch and worrying about the van breaking down or something else so that she never relaxed and enjoyed the excursions.  Now, we only book Princess excursions because the guarantee that the ship will wait for the Princess excursions lets DW relax and enjoy herself on the excursions.

 

The way I see it, the extra money Princess charges is for us to enjoy a comfort level on the excursions.  If you think you would worry, then Princess is the way to go.  If you think you can enjoy yourself on a less costly non Princess excursion then by all means go for that option.  The difference in cost between the two types is what we are paying for DW's peace of mind.

 

I hope this helps.

P.S. Happy Anniversary!  :classic_smile:

Edited by Daniel A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shore excursions that cost 70 dollars per person thru Princess can usually found for less than 60 dollars per person thru a private company.  You have to decide if the savings of $20 is worth it.  We take about half our excursion thru Princess and half thru private companies.  I highly recommend you check out the ports of call area.  Always have good info on the different ports and recommendations for what to do in each.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We almost never do ship excursions and like to explore on our own or use well-recommended non-cruise tours, which we generally find by going to the ports of call boards here.  We like saving money and usually the private tours are a much better experience.

 

But, for a first time cruiser, especially ones who are already nervous and not adventuresome, perhaps ship tours are the right choice.

 

That said, all of the ports you listed are pretty easy to either do on your own or with a reputable tour company.  Visit the port of call boards for ideas, or use Trip Advisor, etc.  I could go through the many different things we have done on these islands (been to each multiple times), but that would take a long time and the information is easily found elsewhere.

 

Nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone; the extra dollars mean little if you will spend all your time worrying otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We generally book through outside agencies. We have visited all the ports you listed and have ventured out on our own in each of them. 

 

When you contact outside vendors, ask them specifically what happens if the ship is unable to make it to their port at the advertised time. Make sure that you get a refund if you miss the tour for reasons outside of your control.

 

~Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, read through the descriptions of the ship’s excursions, to see what the options are.

 

To me, the ship’s excursion vs a Do It Yourself or a private tour operator  depends on what you would like to do.  If you want an island bus tour, just seeing the highlights, you can safely do this through a reputable tour company. In the event of a bus breakdown (we’ve never had that happen), you could always grab a cab back to the ship!!

 

if you want to go out on a catamaran trip or off into the wilds, and there is a breakdown, you are in trouble.  Well, not in trouble, but you might not be able to get back to the ship on time.  So for this type of excursion, I’d stick with the ship’s tour.

 

Have a great time!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ship tours are guaranteed to get you back to the ship no matter what happens.  Many times we have had to wait in port for a ship excursion to return to the ship.  Private tours and self tours one can return to the ship to find the ship gone.  We weigh the potential of not making it back to the ship with a ship excursion.  On private tours we only book if the tour ends back at the ship at least one hour before the ship pulls up the gangplank.  We also look at what the ship excursion offers versus what private tours offer.  Consequently we do ship tours and private tours on each cruise.  

 

Ship tours come with insurance that the ship will wait until your tour returns.  Also that if you have a medical issue, they will assist you and their tour operators are totally vetted since their reputation is riding on your having fun.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest you join the Cruise Critic roll call for your cruise and see if anyone on the roll call has organized any private excursions you might like to join. This will usually take the stress out of finding acceptable excursions by your self.

 

Do not be scared by the cruise line into only booking ship's excursions. I do not remember any posts here on cruise critic by anyone who had an independent tour and missed the ship. Those who do not get back to the ship on rime are usually those who have lost track of time while shopping, dining, or drinking or who did not know what time they needed to be back on the ship.

 

The benefits of a private tour are several:
o A smaller group than a ship's tour which means you will ride in a smaller vehicle.
o A smaller vehicle often means you can be dropped off/picked up closer to sites than the big buses can go.
o A smaller vehicle often means you can go to sites the bigger buses cannot
o A smaller group than a ship's tour which means people get back to the vehicle quicker. Less chance of having to wait for someone who lost track of time. Certainly quicker at a rest room stop to wait for ten people than 30 or more.
o A smaller group means you can often see more sites in the same amount of time that a ship's excursion takes.
o A private tour does not have to spend time at a souvenir stop unless your group wants to. Almost every cruise line's tour involves a shopping experience that could be a waste of time at a shop the tour company gets a kickback from.
o A private tour usually costs significantly less than a cruise company's tour. Sometimes it costs about the same or a little more, but the benefits of the smaller group make it worth it.

The main advantage of a cruise company tour is that you do not have to do any planning or research.

One important thing about private tours: If they want part or full payment in advance, be sure to know what the cancellation policy is, especially if the ship cannot make the port. I always avoid tour providers who will not refund any advance payment if the ship cannot get to the port.

What I do not recommend is getting of the ship and looking for a tour vendor or what is a random taxi driver to give you a tour. Some people do this and post they had the best tour ever. But some also post it was the worst tour ever. This is because you have no way to know how good a guide you are hiring or even how well he speaks English.

If you have been to a port before and are familiar with it, then going off on your own may be practical. For example, we have been to Barcelona several times and can use their subway system to get where we want to go. Having seen the major attractions that cruise line tour and private tours go to, we now go to different sights that we want to see at our own pace, for example the chocolate museum in Barcelona.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One I other thing that no one else has mentioned, there is a program that will match private tours if they are the same and give you 10% of the difference as OBC.

 

So if you feel you will only be comfortable with ship's tours, see if there is a private tour the same and apply for the matching price and OBC.

 

For your ports, we actually did this for the Harrison Caves in Barbados. (And the ship's tour was small rather than a bus of 50 which may have been because we were on a small ship, Carnival Fascination.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check out the ports of call boards for each port. We have taken several island tours by picking them up at the port. They're usually half the price of the ship's tours or even less. It's easy to catch one of the open air taxis in St. Thomas if you want to go to a beach. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We do both ship tours and independent tours. If what we want to do is far from the port or we don't speak the language we do ship tours. In the Caribbean you should be ok using reputable tour companies. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last April, DW came down with strep throat on a 15 day cruise.  She was so ill that she went to the medical center for treatment and she spent much of the cruise in the cabin or on the balcony.  We failed to show for three excursions as DW didn't feel up to the trip each morning.  Of course, I didn't go either.  After missing those Princess excursions, the medical center stamped our vouchers and Princess refunded the cost of those excursions - for both of us even though I wasn't sick.  Another advantage to booking through the ship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

The Caribbean islands are so easy to explore on your own. But if you prefer booked excursions, either ship or local travel guides will do a great job too. Cruise ship tours will guarantee they will be back on time or if not, the ship will be waiting for your tour to and everyone on it to come back safe. With a tour guide you are kind of on your own. You have to be really careful when you do your research and look at the legitimacy of the tour agency you are booking with. Have fun!

Edited by Kate P.C
additions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/7/2019 at 10:32 PM, Daniel A said:

DW & I have used non cruise line excursions and they were fine and had a guarantee to get you to the next port if you missed the ship.  DW is not very adventurous either and on each of the non cruise line excursions, she kept looking at her watch and worrying about the van breaking down or something else so that she never relaxed and enjoyed the excursions.  Now, we only book Princess excursions because the guarantee that the ship will wait for the Princess excursions lets DW relax and enjoy herself on the excursions.

 

The way I see it, the extra money Princess charges is for us to enjoy a comfort level on the excursions.  If you think you would worry, then Princess is the way to go.  If you think you can enjoy yourself on a less costly non Princess excursion then by all means go for that option.  The difference in cost between the two types is what we are paying for DW's peace of mind.

 

I hope this helps.

P.S. Happy Anniversary!  :classic_smile:

Seems like your wife and I have a bit in common.  Thanks so much I think I will be sticking with the Princess Cruises. 

PS.  Currently live in FL but grew up on Long Island...I will always be a New Yorker..LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We almost always book private excursions. They are most cost effective when you can book them with a few other couples. As others have said, a good place to look for shared excursions is on the Roll Call for your sailings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with other responses that for first-time cruisers, it's better to use ship excursions.  We started cruising in 1994, usually doing the Caribbean in Jan.  Eventually, we started doing Transatlantics, often an EB in the spring and WB in the fall.  Also have done several Alaska and Mexico cruises.  I don't think we started doing private excursions until we started doing the TAs.  For one thing, the roll calls for TAs are generally much more active than those for the Caribbean, Mexico, etc.  But it all depends on your comfort level.  These days I have no problem walking around on my own in almost any port if one can see a lot that way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone,  I decided to stick with the ships excursions for this trip.  I have seen other posts where people have referenced their excursion tickets.  I have booked an excursion at each port but do not see anywhere to print tickets.  Will these be delivered to my stateroom or did I miss something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DMT1970 said:

Thanks everyone,  I decided to stick with the ships excursions for this trip.  I have seen other posts where people have referenced their excursion tickets.  I have booked an excursion at each port but do not see anywhere to print tickets.  Will these be delivered to my stateroom or did I miss something?

When you get into your cabin there will be an envelope on your desk with all of your vouchers.  (We bring a good magnetic clip and put them up on the wall by the desk so we always know where they are.)

 

In case this is your first cruise, the walls of every cabin are steel so magnets stick very well to the walls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, DMT1970 said:

Thanks everyone,  I decided to stick with the ships excursions for this trip.  I have seen other posts where people have referenced their excursion tickets.  I have booked an excursion at each port but do not see anywhere to print tickets.  Will these be delivered to my stateroom or did I miss something?

 I would suggest bringing a printout of your travel summary which shows the excursions that you have pre-purchased in the event that your excursion tickets are incorrect (has never happened to me but I like to be prepared).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, jsquared said:

 I would suggest bringing a printout of your travel summary which shows the excursions that you have pre-purchased in the event that your excursion tickets are incorrect (has never happened to me but I like to be prepared).

Great suggestion!  The summary should also show other pre cruise purchases you may have made in addition to your excursions. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We diy in the ports you will be visiting. They are very easy to navigate on your own. You can hire a taxi for an island tour. We always plan to return to the ship at least an hour before sailing. That really shouldn’t be an issue for these islands. 
If you want to go to the beach, I recommend that you look into a hotel day pass. It is usually easy to get a taxi to the hotel and it’s very easy to get one back to the pier; if a taxi isn’t waiting, the desk will call one for you. We have done this a few times. Shopping in St. Thomas is super fun. No excursion necessary if you enjoy that lol. 
It is a special vacation for you. If you really aren’t comfortable then splurge and take the Princess excursions. Life is very short. Make beautiful memories and enjoy your trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...