I beg to differ. yes there is a mark up but it really isn't that much. You may think you know but unless you know what the cruiseline pays for each individual then you cannot judge if they are ripping passengers off. (hint, I DO know what I am talking about and CAN judge), The tour operators that work through the ships MUST have insurance and are held accountable if they do not produce what they promise. I am very familiar with the shore excursions and I can tell you that the level of profit come no where near the "rip-off" standard. Yes you can get individual tours cheaper and in some cases they are a better deal. I often use private tours but I know what ports I can do this in, AND I speak Spanish, AND I know the ports, AND I know how to handle myself in a foreign country, AND I am comfortable doing so. Still, in many ports the best deal is are the ships tours, period. When you book individually you are truely 'on your own' if anything happens at all including but not limited to, accidents, injuries, returning to the ship too late for boarding, getting robbed, abandoned, etc. etc. For a few bucks differance the peace of mind is well worth it. Because of the possibility of something serious going wrong I will never 'recommend' anyone taking a private tour and advise those that do to reallly know and understand exactly what they are doing. I will say that certain 'tours' are very often quite safe and a bargain over the shipos tours. Examples are Chaknaab Park in Cozumel, Island tours in St Thomas, Snorkeling at many beaches and the like.