Chick, we always book our excursions privately. One way is to go to Cruise Critics website and look under ports a call. You will get all kinds of ideas from those who have been to the various ports or who are planning on the future. We email several tour companies and check to see who is offering what and the cost. I will admit, the first couple of times we cruised we did use the ships excusions but they are much more expensive and not as personal. The one time I would still stick with the cruise line would be if you are looking at a tour that will last several hours and you may be pushing to get back to the ship on time. If you book on your own and you don't get back, you can wave good bye to the ship as it pulls out; if you book through the ship this will not happen. Hope this helps a little.