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Booking Shore Excursions For A Cruise

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One of the most common questions we get asked at CruiseReviews.com is about booking shore excursions. Should you book excursions through the cruise line or separately through a private vendor or tour company? For many cruise itineraries, the cost of meaningful shore excursions can easily equal or exceed the cost of the cruise itself. Thus, you need to choose carefully and look at all the options.

Shore excursion sales are a lucrative revenue stream for the cruise lines and they aim to protect it. They do this by instilling fear in the minds of both new and experienced cruise guests that they are taking a huge risk if they book tours with anyone other than the cruise line. “The ship will not leave if you are on a cruise sponsored excursion. This could happen if you book with a private company.” “We guarantee our excursions.” “If your excursion is cancelled for whatever reason, the cruise line refunds your money.” Those are the typical spiels one hears at the port talks aboard a cruise. Well, I’m not buying it and neither should you. Don’t buy into the fear mongering. The facts are that booking your own excursions is quite safe, you won’t ‘miss the boat’, private tours are less crowded and thus more enjoyable, you can cancel and get refunds, and most importantly private excursions are usually much cheaper than those sold by the cruise line.

While many private excursion companies are out there, we’ve been assessing them and our expert advice is that you should look at viator.com as an option. Viator.com offers highly rated excursions which include exclusive VIP access, private transportation, small groups, as well as general access tours. Viator.com also verifies reviews and offers 24/7 support, which most cruise line excursion desks don’t do.