>>If the ship's shore excursion gets delayed by traffic or weather, the ship will either wait for it or make alternative arrangements to get those on the excursion back aboard. If a private tour gets delayed in the same way, you get to pay your own transportation (in Alaska, that means air fare) to the next port of call and your own accommodations and meals until you rejoin the ship. The difference is not worth the risk. <<
That's the scare tactic that the ships use to gouge you on their tours. The independent operators live from cruise traffic, and are never late. Norm, if you're ever heard of it happening here, please let me know, because I worked in the industry for 18 years and never did. And if you haven't heard of it actually happening, quit posting nonsense. Independent excursions save you a bit of money and give you a much better experience because of their smaller group size - we only book through the ship if there's no choice (some excursions aren't offered by any independents). I do know of people missing their ship in Alaska because they were shopping, though!