I've been reading the different boards about the excursions. Last cruise I booked everything through the cruiseline which as it turned out was not that great. We went on Princess on a Panama Canal cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday. The big highlight was to be the train ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We even paid extra for the old time refurbished train cars. On the morning of the train ride we went to the theatre as we were told to. We waited on a line for about 45 minutes and then we were seated in the theatre and we were told we would be called in turn. All the other excursions were seated in there also. After a long time someone came and told us that the train was not working, but they were still trying to get it started. Then after another long time someone came and told us we would not be taking the trip. We went to customer relations and everywhere we could think of to try and book another excursion to get off the ship, but nothing was available and they weren't being helpful in trying to find some way for us to take a tour or taxi tour or whatever in Panama. They said we weren't allowed to get off on the tenders since we didn't have a trip to go on. Since is was their policy and their fault I felt they could try and book something for all of us that wanted to see Panama, but they did nothing. After alot of complaining and getting nowhere we had no choice but to stay on the ship and wait for hours to dock on the other side of Panama, which in the end it was too late to take any kind of tour or do anything. When we returned we wrote several letters of complaint to Princess and they wrote to us that the train was not broken, but that Holland America had booked the train also and they were through the canal first so their passengers had preference. To this day we really don't know the truth, and the Princess customer relations did nothing to compensate us for or time or aggravation. My husband now refuses to sail on Princess. Customer relations can go a long way in making things wrong or right and in this case they did nothing. So booking an excursion from the cruiseline and thinking that nothing will go wrong isn't always what happens. So this cruise I've decided to wait until we get off on each island and book something on our own.
My husband and I are booked on 1/9 on the Galaxy also. We're Canadians flying out of Detroit, Mich. What boards are you reading about excursions? This is only our 2nd cruise. Our 1st was 10 years ago on our 25th; so it's now our 35th. We've only ever booked through the cruise line. We're a little timid about doing it ourselves. Always afraid of getting taken I guess.
I've been reading alot on the Cruise Critic Bulletin Board. As a matter of fact they have a place where you sign-up for a Cruise Critic Get-together party which I did and I was notified last week that we had the minimum 25 for Celebrity to make a get-together party. They said they notify you once your aboard the time and place the party will be held. Last year we had 22 people from that board on the cruise I went on through the Panama Canal (Coral Princess). We got together on our own twice and after that we were always bumping into people we knew. It really was very nice. I'm still in touch with one of the couples.
My husband and I have been on 5 cruises (this is our 6th) and at first we did book with the cruise line directly, but after reading the boards (cruise critic, cruisemates and cruise addicts) I ventured into getting in touch with some of the recommended cruise TA's and found that I got better prices that way. I've never had a problem, but I've used only agents that were recommended.