Originally Posted by vacvet
I always book with independent tour operators, that way you get your own space to enjoy and do the things you want to do, as long they're fully regestered and certified with the local tourist boards. There are protocals that they must follow when they pick you up.
It doesn't make you any safer when you book with the cruise line, it's only a perception.
First of all the cruise lines do not sail around with their own cabbies on board, so what makes you think that the pre-book drivers are any safer than the qualified/certified independent tour operators?
We frequently book with independent operators. But the notion that they are registered and certified with local tourist boards varies widely from country to country. A Green Badge guide in Scotland has extensive training and is closely monitored and licensed. Egyptian guides pass a tough examination. Many other countries also license guides. But there are also many countries in which all you need to be a guide is a vehicle and a microphone. (The US, of course, being one of them!)
In general the guides used by the cruise lines are among the best and most reputable in the business. When you book with an independent guide, YOU assume the responsibility of deciding how reliable they are. We have had excellent guides all over the world booking independently. We have also had a few close calls where we got up the gangplank 10 minutes before the ship sailed.
Sticking with ship's tours is easy, convenient, safe and simple. Finding and touring with independent guides can have big advantages, allow you to do exactly what you want, move at your pace, and see things that the ships tours might not cover. BUT you have to do a lot of research and it is hard work!
Both ways work well if they are right for you.