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Old November 9th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Hi All,

In January I will be taking my 5th cruise with Carnival. In each of my past cruises I have booked my excursions through Carnival. Do most experienced cruisers book elsewhere or do you book through Carnival? I've always been afraid to book elsewhere and get left behind as the ship has set sail. Will be visiting Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old November 9th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Hi All,

In January I will be taking my 5th cruise with Carnival. In each of my past cruises I have booked my excursions through Carnival. Do most experienced cruisers book elsewhere or do you book through Carnival? I've always been afraid to book elsewhere and get left behind as the ship has set sail. Will be visiting Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jeff
Sounds like you are pretty travel savy and should be able to book tours on your own safely and at lower cost. Just make sure you are dealing with a reputable tour agency and also one that comes recommended by members of this cruise board. Ports of call boards will probably give you some great ideas and suggestions of who others have used and how happy they were with that tour company. There are alot of good ones out there... you just have to figure out what you want to do first in the ports of call visited and then start researching.

Some will say they just negotiate with vendors when they get off the ship.... for me, I like to have it planned in advance if there is something specific I want to do. Working with vendors right as you get off the ship is not a wise move in my eyes if the tour is detailed and lengthy.... I guess I just am leary of those folks based on some horror stories I have heard. But there will be some here that prefer to book at each port and thats ok too..... it's all about what you want to do and or are comfortable with.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 06:07 PM
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I think the getting left behind thing is a bit of a myth, it has happened but not many people have experienced it. If it should occur I suspect it may be those who have just grabbed a cab or the first tour off the ship. I think a trip booked in advance with a reputable & recommended operator will be fine, we seldom do it because we're lazy & can't be bothered!!
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Old November 9th, 2011, 08:04 PM
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This is a very interesting topic to me. Has anyone ever booked an excursion through cheaptickets.com ?
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Old November 9th, 2011, 08:39 PM
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I prefer to book direct with the tour operator.... using a third party USUALLY will cause the tour cost to increase. Booking direct will also be your party to work with that actually operates the tour in the event of any problems or issues that may or may not surface. Why not book direct when possible and avoid the middle man ?
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Old November 9th, 2011, 10:02 PM
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Why not book direct when possible and avoid the middle man ?
Sometimes when you book with a third party for a better rate they offer excursion credit for one of their excursions.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 10:21 PM
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read the fine print and make sure you are comparing apples to aples when reseraching tours. Some 3d parties may offer at a lower fare, but the tour may be missing a component that another provides.

shop wisely and you will win in the end in most instances.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 10:50 PM
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I have been on six cruises (so far), with my most recent being a Med Cruise and have only done two ship excursions (one being a dive trip in Belize and the other being ship's transport to the airport in Venice). Otherwise, I ALWAYS do independent excursions as I find them to be:

(a) less expensive
(b) more personalized
(c) less crowded

I use multiple sources (google is my friend) to research different operators and work to ensure that I tailor the experience to what I'm looking for. I started doing this when my husband I were travelling with our four kids...there was just no way we were going to be able to pay ship's excursion pricing for six of us! We've had some amazing adventures since then (hiking to a waterfall in Dominica and then having it all to ourselves comes in high on the list) and I have never looked back. I often hear people talk about their concern about missing the ship....well, I can tell you that every tour operator I've worked with is always very concerned with ensuring that I get back to the ship on time...their reputation is on the line.

Okay, sorry, off my soap box.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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Any third parties you would highly recommend?
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Old November 10th, 2011, 03:59 PM
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The one port where we always do a ship's tour if we want to go beyond the tender area is Belize. Belize City can be fairly dangerous and the jungle is not somewhere where a vehicle can break down and you can just call a cab.
That said, I know that there are some reputable private tour companies there. Just please do your homework well on that one.
Marty
P.S. Even with all that, we LOVE Belize.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 10:44 PM
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Have you looked at shoretrips.com? I used them in Belize for zipline and river tubing. Had a wonderful time! Also did Soto cruises in Caymen Islands.
Google everything it will be fun to see what you can come up with.

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Old November 11th, 2011, 02:40 PM
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Just FYI, passengers getting left behind was sadly common until they came up with the photo id room keys. Prior to that, they had no way of knowing if people had come back on board or not. Now, they do. It is up to the captain whether to wait, which they usually will do for a time. But, at some point, he will need to leave the port to get to the next one. So, it happens less often, but it does happen and you are at the mercy of the captain's decision.
Marty
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