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Excursions on Cruise Ships --- Do I have to?

Excursions on Cruise Ships --- Do I have to?

Mar 8th, 2013, 07:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 59
Excursions on Cruise Ships --- Do I have to?

I have never been on a cruise until next year. My friend and I are taking a Windstar cruise and we had questions about the excursions. Is it possible to go on our own at the different stops? Does the ship "tie up" and we can get off or will we need to take an excursion to get to land We were thinking we could explore on our own or hire a local guide.
Thanks for your help.
springstraveler is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,914
You most certainly can but you should do your homework first.
One site, www.cruisecritic.com will give you a plethora of info on ports. You might also team up w/others to share a cab (negotiate the day rate first)to cut down on expenses.
Rhea58 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 12:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Many cruisers prefer to do excursions on their own. You are in no way obliged to tour with the ships excursions.
jacketwatch is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 159
By all means do it on your own. Chances are that you will be a lot happier. It does require some research - on the web, cruise sites, etc. Also ask friends who have been to the same places. Look for one that does not offer shopping opportunities because that usually means half the tour in a t shirt shop.
Reme is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,085
In almost all cases, you can arrange excursions on your own for a cheaper rate than you can get them from the ship. This is especially true in Alaska and Europe. It depends on where you're going, of course, and you can sometimes get a private excursion for about the same price through the ship (a private driver/guide) that you can get on your own. The only advantage of booking through the ship is that it can go on your ship bill and be paid in one lump payment at the end. But I think a lot of cruisers in Europe overdo it with the excursions, which are expensive. Look to the ship if you want to do something that's far away (Paris from Le Havre) or special that you can't arrange on your own (a visit to a particular winery). Do most everything else on your own.

We publish a guide to European Ports of Call as do other publishers. You can make good use of the information in those books to help you do your own touring.
doug_stallings is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 7
You need to do research on the ports and see if an excursion on your own is worth the hassle. The bad thing about cruise line excursions is the price, but the good thing is that you will not miss your ship if something goes wrong. I plan to book many Carnival excursions on our Mediterranean cruise in early May because in many of our ports, the sights are located quite a distance away. Check out Rick Steve's Mediterranean Cruise Ports and he has a cheat sheet for ports and whether to take the ship excursion or book on your own on his website.
lizwj232323 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2013, 09:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
You just have to make sure you get back on board on time. If you miss the boat, you missed the boat and will be on your own. If you book ship's excursion, they will guarantee that they will wait or somehow get you on board. If you venture off on your own, you are on your own. Just be aware of the risk. With that said, we go off on our own and not use the ship's excursions all the time.
Eschew is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,162
I have not booked a ship's excursion in years. We were in Europe this past fall and took private excursions at each port of call. The majority of the private excursion companies/guides know that if they do not get you back to the ship in time, they will be out of business. Reliable guides can be found on the cruise critic website (under ports of call). I have used these guides in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and New Zealand. Never have I been late for the ship.
BarbAnn is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,914
An addendum: www.cruiseexcursions.com. I have not used this company. I tested one port I was at recently & while I paid $53 directly, they are charging about $69 so there is a slight mark-up.
Rhea58 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,628
There are some ports where the ships can't dock and you are taken in by tender. I don't believe there is ever a charge for this. Tenders are used for Mykonos and Santorini, for example.

We are doing an Eastern Med cruise in late May and are using ship excursions in Istanbul, a local tour operator from Naples to Pompeii and touring on our own in Athens, the islands mentioned and Ephesus.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 33,526
NO cruise line that I know of is going to charge you to take a tender into port if that is the situation.

I agree with the person above who said that if you think it is worthwhile then book it yourself and cruisecritic.com has a section devoted entirely to the various ports and the excursions available.

I'm sorry but when somebody uses the term "always" when it comes to excursions you need to beware.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1
For peace of mind we always take the ships excursions, just in case, as Eschew said, if something goes wrong you will be on your own. It would be very expensive to catch a plane to the next stop to get back on the ship.
MeanMAMA is offline  
Aug 1st, 2013, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,420
We arranged our own excursions with information from www.cruisecritic.com. The one excursion that we took that we booked via the ship was crowded. We had to wait a long time to get started and we had to leave earlier than we would have on our own. I like independent excursion.
travelenthusiast is offline  

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