Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cruise Excursions - Roll Call

Cruises are on my mind. I have a friend who just completed one, and we have one upcoming over spring break. On my first cruise, I booked all of my excursions through the cruise line. I was a travel novice and had no idea that other methods existed. I have now been on six cruises and I rarely will book an excursion directly with the cruise line. There are many reasons for this, but the two biggest reasons are price and size of the tour group. The only reason I would book through the cruise line is if there is an additional benefit to do so or if they are the only choice in town.

One benefit that I have received in the past is that cruise line excursions will receive priority off boarding. This is important when your ship is at a tender port of call and the demand to get off the ships is high. At tender ports, the cruise ship is not docked at a pier. Instead, the ship is anchored in deeper waters near the port, and ferry boats are used to transport passengers to/from the land pier. When I have a choice, this is the only time when I may choose to go with the cruise line. Otherwise, I usually book excursions on my own.

I use the cruise line website as a starting point in my research for excursions. They have some great ideas for what to do in port. My other resource for port excursions is Cruise Critic. This is a community site that focuses on cruises. This site has roll calls, forums for specific cruises so that passengers can meet up online before the cruise, advice, hints and tips on ports of call, and general cruise news. 

Roll calls can be very helpful. I have used the roll calls for my previous two cruises, and for my upcoming two cruises. Through these calls, I have met other cruisers online who have been very helpful with suggestions about the ship and about the ports of call for our upcoming trips. There are many cruisers who have been on dozens of cruises and have most likely already been to the ports of call for your cruise. More importantly, these people are the ones who will most likely do their own research and find their own excursions. Thanks to the roll call, I had a great excursion this past summer during our stop in Naples. We booked a ground transport and private boat and spent the day sailing around the Isle of Capri. The cost was less than a comparable excursion booked through the cruise line, and we had a total of nine in our group.