Subject: Re: Cruise line excursions vs. private guides
Hi, ziners. I've been on 11 cruises, so know pretty much what goes on with the shore excursions. I've seen instances where the ship has had to dock out in the harbor and not allowed to use their tenders. In that case, it took hours to get off the ship using the local fishing boats. Guess who were the ones who got off the ship first and didn't have to wait all those hours? Right -- the ones who had booked tours through the ship. Even when the ship is allowed to use its tenders, the wait can be very long, as ships hold around 2,000 to 3,000 passengers now on average. Tender tickets are issued to those who haven't booked tours on the ship, and there can be a very long wait to get off the ship. Those going on the tours have first priority.

Also, and a very important plus to me, is that your getting back to the ship on time is guaranteed if you go with a ship-sanctioned tour. What if your cab or tour car breaks down in the boonies and you don't get back in time? The ship will sail without you, and I've seen this happen several times. Unless you're on a ship tour, the ship won't wait for you, and you are on your own to get to the next port.

I have not found the shore excursions to be much more expensive than when you hire someone privately after you get off the ship, and the cruise lines pick the tours that will give you the most comprehensive tour you can get for the money, and maybe the private tour guide doesn't do this. I have learned an awful lot and seen a lot of neat, hidden places when I use these ship-sanctioned tour guides.

To me, it's like travel insurance -- you either think it's not going to happen to you and take the chance that it won't so you don't pay the extra for the insurance; or you believe in being prepared for any eventuality, so you pay the extra and have peace of mind. To me, peace of mind is worth all the money in the world.

Diana San Diego, California