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Old September 21st, 2011, 01:03 AM
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Default excursions not purchased from cruise line

From past experience, we have always purchased our port tours while on the ship. I know that there are private vendors on the dock that offer the same or similar tours at a reduced price.
Are these safe? What has been your experience? All comments are appreciated.
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Old September 21st, 2011, 08:14 AM
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I would have to say that the taxi tours INSIDE the dock gate are a safe bet as they tend to have been vetted as being suitable to be in the area of the ship, and the other drivers around them know that their reputation is important, so will chase off any rogues.

Taxis outside are still going to be less controlled, but should still be very safe options especially if you are travelling in a group.

The biggest risk with any DIY touring is to have a fall back plan in case you do not get back to the ship before it sails, as obviously they will wait for organised tours, but are less inclined to do so if missing just a handful of passengers.

Hope that helps,

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Old September 21st, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Unhappy Vendors at dock

We almost NEVER just walk off the ship and get a tour from a local vendor. The very few times we have tried it have worked out about 50/50 between great/scary.

What we do very often is to book in advance with a local tour company. This has worked extremely well for us and we thoroughly recommend it.

Usually, we consider the ship's excursions first. If they are doing what we want, and in the way we want it, then they can be very good. But if there is something special we want to see, somewhere we want to spend extra time, or someplace that my slight mobility limitations might be a concern, then we will search the boards and the travel sites for a well recommended local company.

Any time that you go with an independent excursion you have to consider matters of security. It is up to you to get back to the ship on time. The ship can, and will, leave without you! Normally a reputable local operator will be very aware of this and make it their first concern to get you back on time!

You can see how it works for us by examples at Mike and Renée's Greek Isles Cruise 2007 or "Black Sea Cruise 2009" where we mixed ship's excursions and local operators with very good results.

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Old September 21st, 2011, 11:01 AM
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I would suggest pre-booking a tours before you go on your cruise. There are many tour operators, group and private, who operate great tours and you can customize them to what you want to see and also use their expertise to take you to places that cruise line tours don't see. They are usually less expensive. In the Caribbean taxi tours are a great way to see the islands.

Overall we have had great luck with taxi tours. One that I remember was in Barbados. We had a wonderful day with a taxi driver who took us to all the beautiful sites, caves and took us to a great restaurant and knew as much about the local history as just about any tour guide. The best thing you can do when hiring a taxi tour is talk to the driver before getting in the cab: Make sure you know the TOTAL cost, if the driver can take you to places you must see, how well they speak English and the feeling you get from the driver. If none of these meet your expectations then walk. We also had a great taxi tour in Limon, Costa Rica. I have read many reviews of people who say that Limon was a pit. This is because they didn't get out of the port area. I thought Limon was one of the most beautiful and interesting places we had been. I came away with this because of taxi tour we did and what the driver was able to do.

We almost always use private tours. I have a medical condition that may cause me to have to return to the ship and this would not be possible on a ship's tour. I also love the ability to stay somewhere longer and move at our own pace rather than having to either wait for others or be herded like cattle into and out of the bus. You can get recommendations of tours from message boards and from others who have been on the itinerary you will be doing.

Have a wonderful time:

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Old September 21st, 2011, 11:08 AM
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We always book with the cruise line .I rather over pay and feel secure .
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