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chelsea922

New to Oceania - Excursion Question

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We are taking our first trip on Oceania in 2021 but are veteran cruisers on other lines - Princess mostly.  My question is - is there a place to see what excursions are offered for my itinerary and what the cost will be for those excursions?  I've cruised around the web site but I've missed that if it's there.  Also, any feedback on how people feel about the ship excursions would be appreciated - positive or negative.  Are they crowded?  Fairly small in size?  Well run?  Thanks for any information.  We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

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Another newbie who has cruised Princess!

You can look up excursions for each port.  But l learned here to pull up an upcoming cruise at your port(s) that now has booking open. Then you can see prices and info.

The Olife fare can include excursions at a rate of $100 each. So if you take Olife excursions and choose excursions that are up to $199. each,  you can get some good value there. 

I believe excursions available with Olife include any under $199 but not the more expensive excursions or OE or other special excursions. 

 

With Oceania sailing smaller ships I think there won’t be the huge large-group excursions that you can sometimes find on Princess 

Edited by Wishing on a star

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42 minutes ago, chelsea922 said:

We are taking our first trip on Oceania in 2021 but are veteran cruisers on other lines - Princess mostly.  My question is - is there a place to see what excursions are offered for my itinerary and what the cost will be for those excursions?  I've cruised around the web site but I've missed that if it's there.  Also, any feedback on how people feel about the ship excursions would be appreciated - positive or negative.  Are they crowded?  Fairly small in size?  Well run?  Thanks for any information.  We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

Once you register your cruise on the Oceania website, you'll be able to shop for excursions for that specific cruise. The list will start populating about 6+ months prior to embarkation. You can also call O and ask for a PDF of the excursions (same basic time frame).

We mix O ship tours and private excursions. 

Peruse threads here regarding excursions and you'll learn a lot.

BTW, you may very well not be returning to Princess.

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If you see a similar itinerary in 2020 as the cruise you're on in 2021 it will give you an idea about the excursions.  The prices are usually listed approximately 240 days before the cruise but it depends on the ports.  It would help us to provide better feedback if we knew what your itinerary and ports are.  If you choose OLife with excursions you will save some money. 

 

I have taken ship's excursions and have found most of them to be good.  I know there are some who would never sign up for one as they prefer DIY or a private tour. You're going to get a lot of different opinions on this.  Ship's excursions are going to be a larger size than private tours but I have never found them to be unmanageable.  They are not jam-packed 40-passenger buses as some think. We've had some excellent guides on most of them. It all depends on the port.   Enjoy your first O cruise!

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Hi Sunlover 12,

You mention that the ship’s shore excursions are not jam packed with 40 passengers. How many people approximately are in each group? We are new to Oceania.

Thanks,

Jean

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I have done a Mediterranean and a Caribbean cruise on Riviera, one of the big ships, and usually had 10-25.  A lot of Oceaniers seem to like doing their own thing; and it is always about 50% cheaper when you book the same tour company that Oceania uses.  One type of  Oceania-run excursion to take advantage of, on Riviera and Marina, are the food oriented ones led by the culinary class chef.  You go to markets and meet with chefs onshore who cook you lunch, or you buy on shore and cook back on the ship.  I found those to have great settings, nicely chosen itineraries, and engaging guides/chefs.

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3 hours ago, chelsea922 said:

We are taking our first trip on Oceania in 2021 but are veteran cruisers on other lines - Princess mostly.  My question is - is there a place to see what excursions are offered for my itinerary and what the cost will be for those excursions?  I've cruised around the web site but I've missed that if it's there.  Also, any feedback on how people feel about the ship excursions would be appreciated - positive or negative.  Are they crowded?  Fairly small in size?  Well run?  Thanks for any information.  We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

The best way to see the tours offered is to go to the Oceania site, select "plan your cruise", select the month and ship of your planned cruise, then select your cruise from those listed for that month and ship.  You will see each port highlighted in light blue ink under the itinerary.  Click on that port link, it will give you the excursions that are "generally" available for that port.  This listing of all tours may be adjusted according to the specific cruise.  Prices are not listed until 240 days prior to the cruise but you get a very close price by clicking on the "cruises that offer this port" and selecting a cruise that is within the 240 days- that will show the price.  A little complicated in the process but if you really want to know the details before you reach the 240 day point on your cruise...copy and paste the drop down description of those tours in which you have interest from the Oceania site to a WORD file for continued research.

 

Our next cruise is Sept. 20, 2020,  the excursion listing for that cruise was available for booking as of this morning.  But I had already had a listing of tours and prices from the last 45 days with selections ready for each port. Some of the tours in the general port listing are not available on this cruise- or at least not processed as available by Oceania- maybe not contracted as of this date??

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3 hours ago, sunlover12 said:

If you see a similar itinerary in 2020 as the cruise you're on in 2021 it will give you an idea about the excursions.  The prices are usually listed approximately 240 days before the cruise but it depends on the ports.  It would help us to provide better feedback if we knew what your itinerary and ports are.  If you choose OLife with excursions you will save some money. 

 

I have taken ship's excursions and have found most of them to be good.  I know there are some who would never sign up for one as they prefer DIY or a private tour. You're going to get a lot of different opinions on this.  Ship's excursions are going to be a larger size than private tours but I have never found them to be unmanageable.  They are not jam-packed 40-passenger buses as some think. We've had some excellent guides on most of them. It all depends on the port.   Enjoy your first O cruise!

well   several years ago  I took the Shore excursion option.  on a R class ( 650 pax) ship.   Took 5 tours in the med region.    Of those 5  only one was below 25 people  and the rest  were   50+.     And yes, they were packed buses.....big buses   ( Gibraltar, Istanbul, Miknos, Santori)    in some  there were 2, 60 pax buses for   the same tour...

So yes, depending on port  they can be cattle calls.... and more time getting on and off and waiting for stragglers.    50% of the time  guides sucked.

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I just got back from a 16 day trip on the Sirena... never had more than 25 people on a full size bus.  One excursion only had 6 people, another only 12!!!!  But they ARE more expensive than finding your own outside excursion.  All were very well run.  It was my first time on Oceania ( have cruised Princess and Holland America previously).

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As to ship's tours, we haven't had Dan's experience.  We've been on some large buses, yes.  (I never counted what the capacity was.)  But most of the time there were a few vacant seats, so they weren't totally packed.  And O does have the option of those "select" tours which are limited to what, 16 people?

 

In general the guides have been very good to wonderful.  We've had one or two over all the years who were just average.  (This can depend on the port.  When we were in Murmansk and had to depend on ship's tours, our guide was a college student.  He was quite good actually but he was NOT a licensed guide.)

 

We do a lot of private tours as well, and we've had a few lemons there as well.  But at least we weren't paying as much as we would have on an O tour.

 

I prefer private tours myself (DH prefers ship's tours but since he delegated planning to me, he goes where I tell him).  Mainly because they are less expensive, smaller, and more "customizable".  On a ship's tour you go where they tell you -- of course, on occasion a guide has been amenable to a change, but that's not typical.  It probably depends on the extent of the suggested change.

 

Mura

 

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Would it be too much to ask if anyone has done Ephesus with "O".

That is one of the ones we would book, as there are better outside private tours in a couple of our other ports.  At a couple of ports, the ship simply doesn't offer the tour that we really want.

 

We are not the most adventurous, and especially my husband likes the fact that with a ships tour, you are escorted right from the ship and back.   We did that to go over to St. John and Trunk Bay, even though we would have had more freedom and a lot more time there if we had taken taxi's and ferry on our own.   We lucked out, and it didn't even have the obligatory tourist shopping stop!

 

Edited by Wishing on a star

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42 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

well   several years ago  I took the Shore excursion option.  on a R class ( 650 pax) ship.   Took 5 tours in the med region.    Of those 5  only one was below 25 people  and the rest  were   50+.     And yes, they were packed buses.....big buses   ( Gibraltar, Istanbul, Miknos, Santori)    in some  there were 2, 60 pax buses for   the same tour...

So yes, depending on port  they can be cattle calls.... and more time getting on and off and waiting for stragglers.    50% of the time  guides sucked.

Sorry to hear you had that experience.  The ship's excursions that I have done have been well-managed and NEVER a packed bus like you described.  Never been on one that was 50+. I've been on some that were 16-20 people and there was no waiting for stragglers.  95% of the guides have been very good to excellent. 

I guess it does depend on the port. 

 

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3 minutes ago, Wishing on a star said:

Would it be too much to ask if anyone has done Ephesus with "O".

That is one of the ones we would book, as there are better outside private tours in a couple of our other ports.  At a couple of ports, the ship simply doesn't offer the tour that we really want.

 

We are not the most adventurous, and especially my husband likes the fact that with a ships tour, you are escorted right from the ship and back.   We did that to go over to St. John and Trunk Bay, even though we would have had more freedom and a lot more time there if we had taken taxi's and ferry on our own.   We lucked out, and it didn't even have the obligatory tourist shopping stop!

 

We have been to Ephesus twice, both with private tours.  The first time was absolutely private (just the two of us) for a 6 day land extension after a cruise.  This was in February 2000.  The second time was on an O cruise; we shared a private tour with another couple on our cruise.  These were absolutely excellent.

 

Obviously, I can't comment on what tours O offers at Ephesus.  But if you book a private tour -- there is still the option of finding people to share with you at your Roll Call, even though I admit it's more difficult these days because of oLife tours -- they will pick you up at the ship and return you.  Occasionally you may have a walk, usually short, out of the port itself.  But we've had many where the tour operator could drive right up to the ship.  If you opt for a private tour, be sure to ask them if they can come right to the ship.

 

With a smaller tour you can take time to look more deeply at some things, as opposed to the large escorted tour where you need to keep up with the group.  And sometimes you can't hear the guide all that well, depending on the size!

 

All in all, if we were to return again (would love to do so), I'd still aim for a private tour.  If we saw an oLife tour to Ephesus that looked interesting, we might do that ... but only because we've been there twice already.

 

Mura

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I’ve been on Oceania tours with everything from 12-40 on the bus. No way to predict.

 

We are one of those that avoids Oceania tours. We are active in late 60s now. We travel for the Ports. I’ll repeat that: We travel for the Ports, not the ship. In many ports, Oceania only offers tours 3-4.5 hours long even though they are in port 9-10 hours. Not personally interested , while for many that do participate in those, that is all they are capable of doing. If We sign up for one, it’s for the all day (8-9 hours) tours.

 

We have found that, even though overpriced, Oceania often puts together and offers interesting tours with typically good tour guides. They have rarely been the problem. Our problem is typically fellow cruisers. We have far to often been burned by the here much proclaimed “sophisticated traveler” that are intellectually incapable of reading a tour description and thus signing up for tours they are physically incapable of participating in.  We have been on O tours that state “ no wheelchairs “, yet fellow passengers show up with walkers and wheelchairs! They get to go on the tours while the rest of us stand around and wait and wait on them. I’ve been on tours where we’ve only completed 60-70% of the tour because we have stood around all day waiting on those mentally incapable of grasping that they can’t do “3 level” tours. I’ve helped carry a lady up a long flight of double stairways  because she was incapable of negotiating them in her wheelchair. I’ve known of groups that have gone to Destination Services and complained about couples, only to find them back again on a tour they can’t reasonably complete. Etc, etc, all of this while paying a premium for those tours. Oceania tours are a crap shoot. If you sit on your thump and rotate or have a great tour, it’s just a luck of the draw. Both are possible.

 

Buyer beware! You’ve been warned. We now have few expectations when we sign up for Oceania tours.

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That also has been something we have not experienced!  Maybe we've been lucky.  (No, I don't think you are exaggerating!  You are reporting your experience.)

 

On our first Renaissance cruise (October 1999) we took the ship's tour to the Alhambra.  They also warned about "walkability" and yet we had one member in the group who was in a wheelchair.  He DID manage, but that is not always possible, I agree.  There weren't many stairs there, as I recall after two visits, and if there were he may have been able to negotiate them.

 

Others have talked about elderly people wearing diapers who stank ... never experienced that.  Maybe my smellofactor was out of order ...

 

Again, I won't deny that many passengers who are not capable of walking a lot will still sign up for a 3-man tour.  These days I don't walk as fast as I used to, and sometimes I use a cane.  But I've been complimented by other passengers on a tour (note:  this was always on a private tour, not a ship's tour) for my persistence in keeping up without complaint.  And I don't sign up for a tour that I can tell will be too strenuous for me these days.

 

We were on a ship's tour in Malta a few years ago -- a visit at the Dingli cliffs, then a walk through an Arab town, and finally Mdina.  I just checked the tour description which diverged from what we actually experienced!  Supposedly we were to have gone to Rabat for several visits ... we did not.  We did end up in Mdina, which we'd seen before on our own.

 

We weren't happy with this tour, but that was because *we* chose wrong.  However, we had a large number of older people in the group and the guide was frustrated that people weren't walking fast enough, especially on that walk through the Arab town.  He was losing time that he needed.

 

Pinot, it looks like you have encountered more problems them we did on ship's tours.  I'm not denying your reports are accurate, not at all.  But everyone should be aware that these things CAN happen.

 

And it's not unusual for there to be at least one couple in a group who manage to return late at every visit ...

 

I guess what it comes down to:  if you are looking at a ship's tour, DO read the description very carefully.  Sometimes we are in places where we have no other option.  I'm thinking of some Russian ports that we experienced in this connection.  But often a private tour IS a better option.  When you have "free" tours through oLife, I think you need to read the description even more carefully.

 

Ship's tours CAN be good.  Our experience has been that they usually are.  Private tours usually are.  But we have one or two lemons in each category in the past.

 

Mura

 

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Mura;

 

We have been on Oceania tours that were truly great and and wonderfully enjoyed. We have been on other tours that were hugely problematic. Question: If you had a restaurant that offered meals that varied daily between great and horrible, how often would you go there unless they were the only option? I do concur that sometimes O’s tours are the only option.

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Great discussion and information.  Lots to research and think about. 

 

This will be my first trip to Europe.  We will be on the Riviera from Venice to Barcelona on April 23, 2021.  We're doing a river cruise before and a Princess cruise after.  With Princess, we do a combination of private and ship tours but we are careful because of some of the problems that Pinot talked about. 

 

The chef tours sound pretty fantastic though.  That could be a great choice for a port where we don't have anything else that appeals to us. 

 

Thank you all so much for the information.  Happy to hear any further comments.

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3 hours ago, ksolliday said:

(Ships tours - sic) But they ARE more expensive than finding your own outside excursion

This is generally true but with a caveat.

Private tours are better for many reasons (smaller group, custom itinerary, etc).

That said, they are only cheaper if you find enough people (usually 6-8 people) to share the cost.

Otherwise private tours for just 2 people are very likely to be more expensive than ship’s tours.

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We have just disembarked from our first Oceania cruise after many years cruising on 'mass market' lines such as Celebrity and Princess. We found the Oceania excursions to be a mixed bag, everything from excellent to a complete waste of time and money. In other words, similar pot luck to any cruise line shore excursions. Most buses were full and there were multiple buses for the excursions we chose.

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15 hours ago, chelsea922 said:

We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

Every ship on every cruise line is a different experience, but the service and attention to detail is incredibly consistent across all Princess and Celebrity ships. Personally we love dressing for dinner and being served beautifully presented and tasty food in the MDR and specialty restaurants, and the enormous choice of meals and salads in the buffet.  Depending which Oceania ship you sail on you may want to hurry back to Princess as fast as you can 🤣

Edited by sailco

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20 hours ago, chelsea922 said:

We are taking our first trip on Oceania in 2021 but are veteran cruisers on other lines - Princess mostly.  My question is - is there a place to see what excursions are offered for my itinerary and what the cost will be for those excursions?  I've cruised around the web site but I've missed that if it's there.  Also, any feedback on how people feel about the ship excursions would be appreciated - positive or negative.  Are they crowded?  Fairly small in size?  Well run?  Thanks for any information.  We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

We have not taken many ship's cruises on Oceania, and those that we have taken were busload type tours.  Like every other ship's tour, when there is a busload of people, you go no faster than the slowest or most inconsiderate ones to return to the bus to move on to the next stop.

 

As others have suggested, we have done about 95% private tours.  I generally go to the Ports of Call section and read a lot of posts about the places we are going.  That way I get the general drift of what tour operators are good (not from just one or two comments) and what other things at that port are worth seeing.  If we are traveling alone or if we want more than just two couples for a tour to keep costs down, then I see if anyone on the Roll Call for our cruise is interested.  I have never had a problem finding interested other passengers to fill out a small private tour, and we have enjoyed the interaction with the tourguide (often not possible on a large bus), and we have added and subtracted things at will.

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5 hours ago, sailco said:

the service and attention to detail is incredibly consistent across all Princess and Celebrity ships

You have to be kidding-

 

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On 1/24/2020 at 2:00 PM, chelsea922 said:

We are taking our first trip on Oceania in 2021 but are veteran cruisers on other lines - Princess mostly.  My question is - is there a place to see what excursions are offered for my itinerary and what the cost will be for those excursions?  I've cruised around the web site but I've missed that if it's there.  Also, any feedback on how people feel about the ship excursions would be appreciated - positive or negative.  Are they crowded?  Fairly small in size?  Well run?  Thanks for any information.  We're really looking forward to trying this line out but are a little afraid we'll be so spoiled we'll never go back to Princess.

This gentleman has many pages and photos of a recent Marina cruise.  The O excursions he took are very well documented so you have an example of what one cruise was like.  (sorry, you'll have to click other links to find the photos and descriptions of excursions) 

 https://www.thepreismans.com/marina19_menus.htm#Bar

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There are more expensive tours for small groups (16 or less I think) but they don't qualify for oLife.  Usually when there is a small group option, there is also the same tour offered for larger groups.  Larger groups are on buses but in general we haven't found them tremendously overloaded.  It can depend on the specific tour as well as where you are.  We've been on a very few ship's tours that had a body in every seat but most of the time there have been some empty seats.  As others have mentioned, one problem can be when not everyone returns to the bus at the appropriate time.  Again, we have mostly been lucky in this respect.  I remember one tour in 2000 (on Renaissance, O's predecessor) where one couple was late returning to the bus at each and every stop.

 

If you are paying for the tour, Oceania's are always on the expensive side.  That's why so many regulars prefer private tours -- smaller groups, better prices (assuming you are 6 to 8 people and not only two).  And more customizable -- if your group wants to see one thing but not another, often the guide will be accommodating.  It's harder for guides to be accommodating on a ship's tour.

 

We've been lucky on virtually all of the ship's tours that we have taken because almost always the guides have been very good.  We' occasionally had a lemon, but on occasion we've had lemons on private tours as well.

 

If tours aren't listed on your tour summary at the website yet -- for a 2021 cruise I imagine they are not -- I have sometimes found a similar itinerary sailing on an earlier date and seen what was offered there.  That can give you a good idea of activities on the tour as well as cost.

 

Enjoy your research!

 

 

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We too do a mixture.

During the past 2 years We have taken Oceania’s excursions regularly as we have had 3/4 free with each cruise. On the whole they have been good to excellent with no more than 30 people. The only complaint we have is when the guide goes ‘off track’. For example stops for 20 mins instead of a hour due to traffic to make up time. On that occasion the passengers complained and a compromise was reached.

Funnily enough the 16 passengers or less excursions  can be more challenging particularly if a group books and monopolies the guide. 

However if there is a particular place you want to visit private is best. 

As for the roll calls. Very quiet.

 

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