I received a quote for a day shore excursion in Sydney australia, for $813 for 2. I went on the Net and found the same exact excursion, but 2 hours longer. The cost was under $350, and included lunch! Lunch was "on your own" in the $813 quote.
So, if I get to Sydney, I will save $463, and enjoy my lunch.
About 5 years ago in Victoria, BC, I found a whale-watching trip at the dock, for less than half of the Celebrity price.
Many of these locals accept reservations on the Net.
Personally, i would book with the cruise line just because if there is a delay getting back to the ship, they will wait for you whereas if you book privately you are responsible for transportation and getting back to the ship on time.
it's just way more secure than booking privately, in my opinion.
Our DD was on a HAL snorkelling excurison in Roatan a few years ago and they were the last group to return to the ship - it was way past sailing time but the Captain waited for them.
I can tell you I was a nervous wreck wondering where they were and if they would return on time.
I went down to the gangway and the Security people told me not to worry they would wait for them. Turns out the that the roads were a mess because of the rains they had had the past few days but with HAL's system of everyone leaving the ship having to swipe their Sail&Sign card, the fellas at the gangway knew who still had not returned.
Boy was I glad to see her walk in the cabin shortly after.
Sure it might be cheaper to take an independent tour, but in the long run it's safer to go on a HAL excursion.
Whatever you decide to do have a wonderful cruise.
You will almost always find excursions that are better and cost much less than a ship's excursion.
That is "if" you put the time in to research it and get recommendations. Don't just book with the first thing you find on the Internet. There are some wonderful tour operators out there but there are also some bad apples.
I have booked excursions in China, Europe, Asia, South America and the Caribbean that were wonderful and less than half of what the ship was offering the same or similar excursion for.
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If you do excursion on your own, I would think that you could pick an excursion with a return time way ahead of ship sailing time.
Also, if you punch out from the ship, would the ship sail without you? They would not know if you were on a late excursion, drinking in a bar, or in a hospital after falling off a cliff.
The cruise lines sometimes have to change times.
We were on a Celebrity cruise, which departed San Francisco on time at 6PM. At 8:30PM, an announcement was made that the ship was returning to San Francisco. We arrived at 11:00 PM. I observed that they disembarked someone in a wheelcar, with police present. We then sailed a second time from SF at 12-midnight, on our way to Catalina Island, where we arrived ON TIME. I guess they had to speed up to make up the 6-hour delay.
Why? A woman had been drinking her way thru the cruise, and finally at dinner, threw a glass at another passenger at the table.
I can only imagine the charge on her credit card for the expense of returning to SF!!
At Skagway, they push riding the Narrow Gauge White Pass & Yukon Route train. We opted for a van tour instead at less than half the cost. We visited places in and out of town, not on the train trip. We also paralleled the train tracks, all the way. The guide was great, and everyone enjoyed it.
I am a Railroad Nut, but am glad I did the van trip.
We travelled from Beijing, China, to St. Petersburg, Russia, by 4 different trains. From Siberia to Moscow was 4-days and 3-nights, and we arrived 5-minutes EARLY. We travelled from NYC to Rutland, VT on AMTRAK, and we were over 2-hours late.
Splendour of the Seas 97
Serenade of the Seas 07
Liberty of the Seas 07
Jewel of the Seas 08
Caribbean Princess 11
Nieuw Amsterdam 11
Oasis of the Seas 12
Queen Elizabeth 12
Carnival Valor 13