ATTN: Percy Re: Private Shore Excursions

Sep 14th, 2008, 01:13 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 833
ATTN: Percy Re: Private Shore Excursions


I have read many of your posts I know you have travelled alot, on cruises and often arrange private shore excursions.

I would like to ask you for some advise. Here's my situationbr />
I am communicating with some passengers who are travelling on the same cruise I am travelling on in December, via the cruise critic website.

I have several passengers interested in a shore excursion, that I can arrange privately. I don't mind making the arrangements, however, all companies require a 25% deposit from the person who is making the booking. I am travelling solo, the excursion cost $70 each, and there are 12 people interested, so the company is wanting a $ 210 deposit from me.

I don't want to pay the deposit and have problems with people trying to collect money from them. I certainly DO NOT these headaches while on vacation.

What shoudl I do, I have already asked the company if they can collect the deposit from each group (there are 4 different groups making the 12 participants for the tour), and their answer is no.

I really would like to go one this shore excursion, and i'm sure the other 11 participants would like to as well, since the cruise line doesn't offer a similar excursion.

I have also posted this in the forum, the thread's title is What if I pay a deposit and... In this thread it has been suggested that I should ask for a cheque sent in the mail. I have posted a detailed response to the suggestion on the thread (post #4).

Sorry, if i sound so dumb, in the past when I've arranged private tours it has been for my traveling companions and I only, and never for strangers who I've never met.

I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions on what to do.

Thank you.

justshootme is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Not Percy - but I'll offer my two cents.

First off - can I ask why you have so many people? I've done the same thing as you - through cruise critic I "met" people on line and arranged private tours and yes I was the one to pay the deposit up front, but never for more than 6 people (including us)total. I actually corresponded via e-mail and even phone calls with them prior to ever boarding the ship so we all got to know each other. Twelve seems like such a large group to me.

Having said that I think you just need to be up front with the members of your group and possibly (1) split the group into two groups to make the $ aspect more reasonable; (2) arrange for them to send you payment in advance; or (3) get someone else to commit to do the deposit.

We really enjoyed meeting the people we did and even stay in touch with one couple now (2 yrs later).
Hope it works out for you.
patandhank is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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Hi justshootme

and Hi to patandhank.

Well,first off ,just let me say that only once did I ever have to pay any money up front.!!!

All the other private tour guide tours that I ever had, ..I NEVER paid up front.

I agree with patandhank that 12 seems to be a large group.

Eight and under would be much better.

You know when my private tour guides met me at the cruise ship... and it never failed yet...they were always there.

let us say that if I or our little group did not show up... let me tell you that they could have always picked up someone else off the cruise ship very easily !.

In St. Peterburg Russia..,.I booked for our group of 6.... the price was of course more expensive for 6 than for more than six....


our private guide in St. Petersburg e-mailed me and asked me if it was okay if four people from San Diego joined us..... then two more wanted to join from Michigan.

I told her okay but close it off at 12.
We had a 16 passenger van for the 12 of for this two day venture it was great.
And these stangers , who became friends ..was only for St.Pertersburg.

However, I did e-mail the other ( that met us for the St.Petersburg tour)and we all exchanged pictures and meet on a certain day on the cruise ship.

The main thing is that none of us had to pay money up front.

It was the same for all the other ports of call on the Baltic cruise....never any money up front.

For the Mediterranean Cruise, and Alaska cruise ...again, I never had to pay up front.

I think since you have contacted some of the others that will join you should have them contribute to the down payment that is requested.

Also , it seems like you are going through a company.... maybe you have no other option...but perhaps a solo private tour guide would be better for the tour you want to do.

I am sure not everyone is asking for money up front and then is expecting only one person to pay this.!

I agree you do not need the headache of attempting to collect money from stangers.

What is the port of call ?.. I am sure people on this cruise forum will be able to direct you to some great guides in this place.

How much is it if you go alone !!


Percy is online now  
Sep 14th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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Hello patandhank and Percy, thank you for the feedback.

The port of call is Kusadasi in Turkey. I am in contact with a Sammys travel (, and Ekol travel (, both require a deposit.

Excursions in Kusadasi vary in price depending on the number of participants. The more participants the less the per person cost.

The cruise line, doesn't offer an option to visit the terraced houses, which is why the group is keen on making private arrangements.

I know each company requires a minimum number of people before they will operate the tour, and I doubt either would operate the tour for me alone. Also, I am assuming the price for a solo excursion will be too much.

One more thing, for some of the other ports some of the companies require a credit card guarantee. Although, I am not prepaying anything, I would need to supply my credit card information, often with a 2 or 3 day cancellation. When you've been in this situation how do you protect yourself, incase the ship schedule changes and the ship doesn't dock in the port of call?

Sorry, if my questions sound dumb, I've never tried to organize something like this before, so I'm learning from the whole process.

justshootme is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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Hi Percy!

I think you did a post on your Baltic trip didn't you? We're signed up for the Baltic for 9/09 and want do a private tour for St. Petersburg then. Any tips, pro or con, from your experiences?

Thanks, Pat
patandhank is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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justshootme - We used Ekol in Kusadasi and thought they did a great job. I don't recall that they required a "minimum" number and in fact looking at their website now it seems you can sign up for just you. They show a "maximum" of 15. One of the things I found out from them re some of their tours that show "pick up from a hotel" is that they will also "pick up from the port." So even though it's not a "private" group, they offer tours that you can join as an individual. You might want to check that out too to avoid the issues you're having. Fascinating site!
patandhank is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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patandhank, I have read many good things about Ekol Travel, I am sure members on cruise critic have used them under similar situations. I am begining to wonder if there's some miscommunication/misunderstand in the emails I've exchanged with them. I will try and contact them again, hopefully soon I'll get all of this sorted out.

Honestly, right now I feel I shouldn't wait for somebody to justshootme,and that I should just shoot myself. Obviously, this has become more of a headache then what it's worth.

patandhank, I have been to Russia, St Petersburg and Moscow only, but not on a cruise. The company we used to make arrangements (hotel - you won't be needing these, car, driver, tour guides etc), was MIR. Overall, they did a good job, and they were capable of getting us into the Gold Room and the Hermitage, many companies we inquired with couldn't do this. Their website is Hope this helps.

justshootme is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 01:25 PM
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Thanks for the info on St. Petersburg company. I'll give it a look!
patandhank is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 02:12 PM
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Hi Everyone:

Okay,patandhank gave you a good option.

How about if you join others rather than others joining you.

I have used Ekol Travel and they were very good.

There were six of us and we had our own tour guide .

They also had a private tour guide meet us in Istanbul also.

The thing is that some tour companies ask for some deposit up front, ( hmmm, I never paid them up front !!)

To patandhank...

yes, I did the Baltic cruise.

Are you starting out from Copenhagen ?

The Baltic cruises end in mid September you are going at the tail end.

The cruise ship stays 2 days in St.Petersburg.
You will need a private tour company out of St.Petersburg.

Don't try to do these two days on your own.

I used Alla Tours ,and they were terrific.
(Correct on my last posting..there were 10 of us ,not 12 for the St.Petersburg tour),My group of four and we had six other join us.

I did a trip report on the Baltic cruise and you may have perhaps read it as I stated port by port what should be done at each port.

For St.Petersburg ,I would go with Alla Tours.

They will handle your visa and send you all the details and tickets by e-mail.

Depending on how many of you are going... you can have others join you ..up to about 10 people .

If you have not read my Baltic Cruise Trip Report..I can put the Fodors link here for you and also give you Alla's e-mail address.

I went to the Baltics in late August last year, but I started booking Alla in mid April.

What are your ports of call for the Baltics.?


Percy is online now  
Sep 14th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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patandhank and Percy thank you for your advise. I have contacted Ekol Travel again and I'm waiting to hear back from them. Unfortunately, I won't be able to join someone elses tour, so if this doesn't work out, I'll need to choose a shore excursion from the cruise company.

patandhank, sorry, there was a typo in my last post, what I meant to say is MIR could get tickets to enter the Gold Room in (not and) the Hermitage. I don't know if this will appeal to you, if you'd like to visit the Gold Room, only a limited number of people are allowed to enter and you are assigned a specific time slot for your visit to the Gold Room. This was a must see for us, and many companies just couldn't make this booking.

Percy makes a good point about the visa, whichever company you choose to use for shore excursions will need to provide you with documents that you will have to submit with your visa application. While the whole process may sound complicated, don't be discouraged. The best advise I have is to allow a little extra time to process the visa. So, explore your tour company options early since you will need these documents from the tour company.

We were in St Petersburg for five days, in two days, you can see the major sites but as Percy has already mentioned don't try and do this by yourself.

justshootme is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Percy - the link would be great, thanks.

Here's the itinerary of where we're going.

1 Stockholm, Sweden (overnight)
2 Stockholm, Sweden
Sail at 4:00PM
3 Tallinn, Estonia 8:00AM 5:00PM
4 St. Petersburg, Russia Arrive 8:00AM (overnight)
5 St. Petersburg, Russia
6 St. Petersburg, Russia Sail at 6:00PM
7 Helsinki, Finland 8:00AM 6:00PM
8 Cruising the Baltic Sea
9 Gdansk, Poland 8:00AM 2:00PM
10 Copenhagen, Denmark
8:00AM to 8:00PM
11 Rostock, Germany 8:00AM 10:00PM
12 Kiel Canal Transit
13 Amsterdam, Netherlands 8:00AM 6:00PM
14 Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium 8:00AM 6:00PM
15 London (Dover), United Kingdom Arrive 4:00AM - Disembark

Then we're planning a couple of nights in London.

patandhank is offline  
Sep 14th, 2008, 05:22 PM
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I see that you are starting out from Stockholm.

Is that the order of the ports you are seeing.?!, because rather than making a big loop around the Baltic Sea, you seem to be crossing the Baltic Sea twice !

I would come a full day ( at least) to Stockholm and see the major places plus more.

Anyway, here is the link to my trip report.
The report goes port by port.

If you have any question,just ask.


Percy is online now  
Sep 14th, 2008, 08:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 489
it looks to me like you are cruising with Oceania (or Azamara). We did the exact same itinerary with Oceania in 2006.
We did use Alla's Tour (for only 2 of us - a little more that way, but totally OUR tour); Alla's is VERY good.
If you have not been to Stockholm you should arrive at least 2 if not 3 days before. 1st day is kind of wasted due to long overnight travel - there is so much to do & see there!
If you have questions about the Baltic cruise you can e mail me at Paulpepper at comcast dot net
Paulchili is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for the link to your Baltic cruise report. It will be extremely helpful to me in planning shore excursions for our cruise next summer. Yes, I've pretty much decided to go.

I've been busy researching a trip to Bangkok and Angkor Wat that I hope to take in May (finances permitting), so your trip report really helps with a lot of practical advice and narrows things down on the highlights at each port.
chepar is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Thanks Percy. Your thread is going to be a big help.

Paul you are correct that we are doing Oceania. Thanks for e-mail address. We did the Med with Oceania a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it so looking forward to this one.

Right now we plan on staying over a couple days in London instead of going into Stockholm early, but that may change. Unfortuately, my husband's company caps how much time he can take at one time so that's a factor in that we can't spend more time at both ends. I've been to London before, but he hasn't and neither one of us have been to Stockholm. So I may try and talk him into doing early in Stockholm. BA has a non-stop from Phx to LHR so could always do London another time. We'll see.
patandhank is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 10:24 AM
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I agree - Percy's thread is very detailed and informative.
It would be a great help to anyone doing a Baltic cruise.
You will love this one.
3 days in St. Petersburg is almost enough time - 2 days are definitely not enough for everything.
PS Don't miss the sail out of Stockholm through the archipelago for 2 to 3 hours - just beautiful.
Paulchili is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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Percy - I cut and pasted your city info into Word which I will read through. Looks like some great detail there - thanks!

Do you still have your contact info on your Copenhagen guide?

Percy/PaulChili - advice on how far out to book Alla for St. Petersburg?

I'll probably be doing some posting on Cruise Critic too (Cheesi is my user name there) as it gets closer.

Thanks again for all the info
patandhank is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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I think it would be safe to wait till after New Years. It is probably a quieter period for Alla and you'll have enough time to fine tune your itinerary.
If you are interested I can send you our 3 day itinerary with her (I see your e mail posted)
Paulchili is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Paulchilli would love to see it - I sent you an e-mail too - I'm sure it will give me some ideas and/or questions.
patandhank is offline  
Sep 15th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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Hi Everybody

Okay here is Alla's e-mail address:

Alla Ushakova
E-mail Address(es):
[email protected]

And yes I have that e-mail for that terrific lady in Copenhagen.

In fact ,she sent me an e-mail just this afternoon as we stay in touch.

Grethe Arani - H.A.T. Tours
E-mail Address(es):
[email protected]

Grethe does tours all over Europe and has an office in Florida.

When you e-mail her please mention my name and say Hi to her.

She know me very well !


since I have your e-mail address I will send you a picture of Grethe and me at her home....the place where she took us for a surprise lunch !

Hi Paulchili ...glad you joined in as I am sure to have loads of good information.

Good Night All.

Percy is online now  

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