Excursion Shore

Aug 8th, 2016, 10:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 11
Excursion Shore

My husband and I are taking this 7 night cruise from Venice going to Turkey, Greece, Croatia & back to Venice (Royal Carribean). The ship offers a tour which is called "excursion shore" while the ship is docked. Is it worth booking the tour on each of those places ? Theyre not that cheap so need some advise.
Shirley_Wong is offline  
Aug 8th, 2016, 11:07 PM
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Join cruisecritic. Look for the roll call for your cruise. Many people organize their own tours a lot cheaper than the cruise ship charge. You can often join one. We have been on nearly a dozen cruises and never done a ship excursion, just done our own. Read about each place you are going. List them here and people who have been there can even recommend private guides they have used.

Be sure to go to Venice two or three days before the cruise so you can tour Venice.
Sassafrass is online now  
Aug 9th, 2016, 06:14 AM
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I agree. Do them on your own. Ships excursions are usually a lot more than private. You can go to cruise critic and look for port boards and can post for suggestions for private guides or perhaps some will already be there. You can also google for them or simply wait to get off the ship. There will be people waiting at the pier to see tours. Its quite easy. Just be sure to be back ahead of the time the ship is scheduled to leave. The ship will not wait for those on private tours if you are late but for us this has never been a problem. In fact we are usually finished well ahead of time.

Yes do do in a few days ahead. First of all you will have no worries about missing the ship, you can recover from jet lag and see the embarkation city fully.

Cheers, Larry. .
jacketwatch is online now  
Aug 9th, 2016, 06:14 AM
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I am guessing that this is your first cruise and new to all this. Just be aware that if you take excursions ashore outside what the ships offer, you have to be sure that you are back on board before the ship leaves, or else, you literally missed the boat.

The ship's excursions are always more expensive than what you can do on your own, by anywhere from 10 to 25% and for a number of reasons: 1. they make money, 2. convenient (and services) and 3. guarantee to be back on board.

If you had a problem with the excursion you took from the ship, you can go back to the excursion desk and complaint, and typically they'll do something about it. If you book outside the ship's, you are really on your own.

We have done many cruises and we have book both with ships and on our own or even no excursions at all, it all depends on comfort level, language, port, familiarity, safety etc.

Sass has great suggestion to share with other people who book their own to lower cost. However, there is a problem with that in (1) you don't know who they are, (2) what pace they are going (slow or fast), (3) what they are like (can you get along with them), and (4) the places that they pick to go may (or may not) be the places you want to go. They dictate the pace, the location, the time spent, so if you are going to go on your own, you might as well just book your own.

For first time cruisers who is new to this, my suggestion is always go with the ship's. That give you a chance to know what's going on, how it is done etc. The staff will walk you through the whole process.

You want to save money, but you also want to do it stress free. First cruise and book excursion on your own could be stressful.

How often people book on their own and miss the boat? More often than you would imagine. As to ourselves, with all the years of cruising, we come close twice. One time is our fault and one time was an accident on the highway and traffic slowed to a crawl going back.

The first time (in Egypt), they actually looked for us, and we literally got on board and they pull the gangway. It was that close. (It was the street vendor's fault )

The second time (in Mexico) with the highway accident and traffic jam, it was a full busload of people from the ship's excursion. They held the ferry for 45 minutes until we got back and the ship departed 1/2 hour late. If you are on your own excursion, you have to figure out how to get to the next port, and with your belonging (and passport) on board, that makes it more challenging.

We book outside the ship's excursion all the time, but seldom through on-line with another group. We have met people on board and ended up joining their self-organized excursion.

My simple advise for you is this. Book what you like on what the ship's offering now. DO NOT PREPAY. You can cancel it once you are on board, prior to the cut off time, which is usually sometime around 48 hours or less (sometime even the night before). The popular excursions got booked up real quick so if you see something that you like, go for it asap!

After that, explore excursions options on your own or with another group. If you find something else, cancel the ship's excursion before the deadline, no harm, no foul. If you book outside the ship's excursion, you usually have to prepay and for whatever reason the ship doesn't dock there (weather, unrest), you are out of pocket.

Best example I can give you is Turkey, with the airport bombing and political unrest, some ships choose to change port last minute, and for good reasons. If you book your own excursion and prepaid, you are out of money.

One thing that the ship excursion does offer is quality assurance. If you book on your own and it was a fly-by-night operator, you won;t be too happy.

When I do excursions on my own, I usually check for references, and see if other people had used them and are they reputable. You can always ask here (in this forum) and ask what they do on the port, who they use, what are the places o see in each port etc.

If you detail your itinerary here (port, time in port etc) and ask for suggestions, or what you wanted to do at each port, you will get feed back from others here.

Good luck!
Eschew is offline  
Aug 10th, 2016, 05:59 AM
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Actually our very first cruise was the Mediterranean out of Barcelona. You may say we were a bit bold but we did all our excursions at every port from vendors at the pier. It was quite easy and we saved a lot of money and more importantly we were on our own time. However I realize this may not be for everybody but it worked for us and if you are so inclined to be a bit of an intrepid traveler it should work for you too.
jacketwatch is online now  
Aug 10th, 2016, 04:10 PM
Original Poster
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Thanks everyone. Great ideas and advice from all of you. I joined the cruisecritic Sass & Larry, thanks for that suggestion. So many good points on what you said Eschew , I'll take that on board. As well as Jake's.
Shirley_Wong is offline  
Aug 12th, 2016, 01:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 300
I agree with Eschew. If this is your first cruise, go with the ship's shore excursions. Yes, it will cost you more. That having been said, the ship's excursions usually cover the most popular things people want to see, and you are guaranteed that the ship will not leave without you at the end of the day. I have been on several cruises where people have been left behind when they did not get back to the ship on time for one reason or another. They then had to make their own way, at their own expense, to the next port to catch up with the ship.

Usually you are only in a port for the better part of one day, so you need to learn how to see a town or an area most efficiently in that time, unlike when you are on land trips that allow you more time.

On subsequent cruises when you are accustomed to the "system", you can research and plan to do some ports on your own.
burta is offline  
Aug 12th, 2016, 03:13 AM
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Actually private tours can be excellent for what they cover. People rave about their private tours in say St. Petersburg for example or in many other places too.

We had a private tour in Saigon and it was just fine, better that the ones we had from the ship.

We had the best ever tours from private vendors in Israel who are licensed and rather expensive but way less than what the ship was charging for procuring a private guide for you.

You can be safe and go with what the ship offers if you wish. However if you do like Sass suggested and check cruise critic and try to hook up from them you should be fine. I found suggestions for a private guide there for saigon and saw a few members reviews about him that were excellent. I ended up contacting him and he hooked up 11 of us from the ship for his tour. All went very well.
jacketwatch is online now  
Aug 12th, 2016, 08:26 AM
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We usually are selective, some ship excursions, some on our own. You don't give your actual ports but as an example, we didn't do shore excursions on Santorini or Mykonos, we just wanted to poke around Fira and Mykonos town, both literally within sight of the ship.

In Istanbul, we took the ship's tour which included a brief stop in Asia with plenty of on our own time for the bazaar, Hagia Sophia and the blue mosque. The traffic was dreadful on our way back to the ship, it happened to be an overnight in Istanbul so didn't matter but I couldn't help thinking what if....
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Aug 15th, 2016, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions Cath and JW. I checked CruiseCritic Roll Call and did register . We are leaning at booking with the ship for the 3 excursions (Turkey, Croatia & Santorini) and leave Katakolon for now. See what eventuates in CruiseCritic.

Thank you everyone!
Shirley_Wong is offline  
Aug 15th, 2016, 09:59 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Hi Shirley,

With the ports listed, I am guessing that you will be visiting Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi, Santorini,
and Katakolon.

Take a lot at the suggestions below and if they interest you, make sure you have them covered.

Dubrovnik: a visit to the old city is a must, old harbor and the castle wall etc. The popular TV show Game of thrones used Dubrovnik as a backdrop and film on location there.

Kusadasi: every one goes to Ephesus. If you are going to go there, maker sure your tour includes the Terrace houses. It is an extra fee within the Ephesus ruin itself. Well worth the extra $$ and the extra time. They will end the tour in a carpet making shop near the pier, Skip it and go have an apple tea or Turkish coffee on an outdoor cafe. Walk around the bazaar is good too with many cheap souvenirs.

Santorini: If you are yearning for authentic Chinese food, look no further. There is nice Chinese restaurant in Fira. The owner migrated from Hong Kong to Greece in the 60's and
they serve as close to authentic Chinese food as you can get on the island.

Katakolon: There really isn't much there except for the ancient Olympia ruin, and it is quite a distance.

Venice: There are lots to do there. We spent a week that post cruise and walked (self guided) everywhere.

If you are interested in a trip report that covers those ports (back in 2013), the link is below.

Eschew is offline  
Aug 21st, 2016, 03:53 PM
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Thanks eschew for the additional info.Much appreciated!
Shirley_Wong is offline  
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