First, I'll be right up front and say I'm not a big proponent of shore excursions offered by the cruise lines; usually more expensive, very time constraining, and always crowded. Personally, we prefer to either do our own thing or do an excursion through an independent company like Shore Trips. Not trying to push them, but we're very familiar with that company. We've used other independent companies around the world and have never had any problems.
And you'll hear all the people saying they would never book anything except through the cruise line because they don't want to be left behind in port. If you work with a really good independent, you won't have this problem. Julie, owner of Shore Trips, is quick to point out in the tens of thousands of shore excursions they've sold, they've never once had anyone miss the ship. Those who do miss the ship are almost always doing their own thing and lose track of time.
The good thing about an independent, while the price may be the same, our experiences have always been better and always a whole lot less crowded. In fact, on several occasions we've been the only two on the excursion, making for an awesome adventure.
As I always tell our clients, look at the cruise line's website and check out their excursions. Then look at independent companies and see what they have to offer. And after all that, but before you book anything, talk to your Cruise Specialist and they may be able to offer other suggestions and ideas.