My husband seems to think that the tours are nothing but another way for the crusie lines to get your money. He thinks that the tours are owned by, and put on by, the cruise lines. Can anyone point to something that shows this is either true or false?
Ummm yeah. The cruise lines book through the local tour companies and charge you a surcharge on top of the asking rate. Case in point: We are doing Stingray city in the Caymans, RCCL wants like $68 or something ridiculous like that. I booked with the exact same tour operator for $34 adult, $20 children. Saved my family a burnch of money. Read through the shore excursions link on this website. All of the posts will tell you which ports you should book through the cruise line and which ports are safe to book on your own & save some money.
Personal friends are a tour operator in St Thomas. The way it works is that the tour operator has a contract with the cruise line. The cruise line does the promotion for the tour operator and then takes about 1/2 of their posted price. If you do not show up for the tour that you have purchased a ticket for through the cruiseline then they keep all the money. The tour operator has to turn in the tickets collected prior to the ship leaving that particular port each day in order to get paid. Just thought I would clear it up.
The worst handling of this we ran into was in Russia. We booked independently through "Red October" and "RCI" had sworn we would not be let off the ship unless we booked the tours through "RCI" or had our "tourist visa" in advance. This was all untrue and everything went smoothly BUT most passengers were effectively dissuaded (less than 100 of us on the "Jewel" went with "Red October" and our experience was top notch).