Warning for those of you who were thinking about booking a helicopter tour on your own with BLUE HAWAIIAN HELICOPTERS for the Circle of Fire tour on Hilo for the Summit cruise in May. YOU CAN'T. Seems Celebrity has purchased all the available seats for that day in port (May 18th) and if you want to fly with them you have to go through Celebrity at $45 dollars more per person then the early booking discounted rate of $140 offered on the Internet directly through Blue Hawaiian. I know that $90 is minimal considering what we're all spending on our trips, but it's irritating to be directed toward using Celebrity if we want to use Blue Hawaiian (which was rated very highly by Frommer's) or select another tour company that may not be as good. When we talked to the Blue Hawaiian agent, she did say that Celebrity's price included transportation, but for those of us renting a car for the day, that's not much use.
If anyone has any suggestions of other touring companies, please pass them on. We may end up using Celebrity for this, but would like to know what other options are available (besides not going at all, which is not an option). Right now, it's not the cost, it's the principle of the thing.
And please no rude comments about being cheap or being anti-Celebrity as has been posted in the past to other poor brave souls putting forth comments or complaints. I have very thin skin and take harsh criticisim to heart. This message should not be considered Celebrity-bashing, just an honest email to let everyone what I found out.
I am a big Celebrity fan (Let's Get Lei'd will be our 14th Celeb cruise) but I have no problem at all booking excursions on our own. I am also quite frugal.
I don't think a $90 difference is "minimal" at all.
It's not just Celebrity, either. All shoreX booked onboard or through the cruise line are going to be more expensive. Sort of like "shipping and handling" fees.
Arguably, there is a comfort factor booking through the ShoreX desk (the ship won't leave without you) and you have to balance that against budget/savings.
I say a big THANK YOU to you for doing some research and letting us know. I hope others will add their discoveries ... maybe another page for the website?
You really can't blame Celebrity for booking all the seats. There are some people who would really be ripped if the tour they wanted wasn't available. That's why it's so important to book your ShoreX stuff as quickly as possible, whether on your own or through the cruiseline.
Thanks for kind words, Pamda (I like your name too). I've been working on schedules and tours since we made our final payment and have looked at doing things both ways, on our own and through Celebrity. (I'm not obsessive, even if my hubby thinks I am!) And you're right sometimes it's better to just pay the extra and let the ship be responsible. We decided to do just that on Kuaui since we have so little time there. I guess I was just surprised that Celebrity had brought out ALL the seats on Blue Hawaiian. But since I've only cruised two other times (both to the Bahamas) I'm not familiar with how some things work. And I guess with such limited seats, they had to be sure they were available for their customers.
I couldn't have lived without google all this time, anyone that hasn't tried it, I highly recommend it.
I'm not discouraged or down on Celebrity, in fact I think my excitment builds more and more each day! 53 days and counting!