One good experience (personal) and one bad, luckily not ours.
First the good one, whilst on a cruise into the Norwegian Fjords we booked with the ship on an overland tour from Hellesylt to Geiranger, not only was the scenery spectacular, with deep snow still all around even though it was Summer, but the Tour Guide (Olaf ??) was absolutely hilarious as well as educational, taking time to explain everything from how people & villages got their names, to how on earth they survive with the taxes that they have to pay.
Every photo stop was timed (as a joke) at 3 minutes and 28 seconds - as that was how long it would take him to roll & smoke his cigarette, his knowledge was only surpassed by his stories, including how the Norwegian Vikings only meant to go on a boat trip across the lake but due to the fog accicdently invaded Britain, and how all that rape & pillaging was again just a misunderstanding & was in fact a pre-cursor to today's 18-30's cruises or College Spring breaks.
The bad experience was also on Norway, we were on our way up to the Arctic Circle & the land of the Midnight Sun. 2 passengers had done their own thing & missed the ship at the last port of call heading North when the taxi failed them. They missed the main reason for the cruise, and were collected on the way back South. Everyone cheered them as they returned to the ship carrying black sacks of clothing etc. They arrived at their cabin to find the whole door decorated with photo's off al the scenes that they had missed. We never did find out if that made things better or worse.
Alan & Katrina
Next Cruise: P&O Adonia June 2014
Last Cruise: P&O Oriana Nov 2013
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+1), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura, Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam
We booked a hiking tour .We were told that it was 100% flat ground .Halfway to the end we had to descend a steep hill ,much too steep for me ,due to medical problems.The tour guide said if I follow the trail to the end I would see something amazing .Everyone urged me to continue .I did so and at the base was a beautiful waterbody .
One of the worst, but again one of the best, was an excursion to Al Hambra in Spain. We left from Malaga and had a long bus ride to Seville. The problem was the guide on the bus. This guy drove us nuts. We received a 90 minute diatribe on the evils of the Franco regime. It would have been fine for about 20 minutes but this guy went on and on and said the same things over and over.
I finally spoke up and told him to change the subject or he was going to have a riot on his hands. After that he never said anything of interest and was almost silent for the trip home. That was actually better.
Al Hambra itself was spectacular. We had a different guide to take us through the palace.
This is one of the reasons I detest buses.
We also booked a "Jeep Tour" in Aruba. Halfway through our tour the jeep broke down. The other jeeps in the tour went on their way and our driver said that help and another jeep would be there shortly. After an hour the driver left to find a phone. Two hours later another jeep tour, from another ship, came by and I flagged them down. The only jeep that had any room required my wife to sit on the front console and I was sandwiched between two women. My wife ended up with a softball sized bruise on her rear end from the bouncing on the hard console. When we returned to the ship I went to the excursion desk and told them what happened. They refunded the tour price and my wife got a free exam by the doctor and some Ibuprofen. I have no idea whatever happened to our driver. He probably went home.
Both of these were ship's tours. We rarely use ship's tours and the Jeep experience made it so that we didn't book another ship's excursion for about fifteen or more cruises.
__________________ Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator
"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
In 42 cruises we have been very fortunate with tours and guides. They have been 99% wonderful!
Only one time have we complained -- a tour in Scotland that promised sheep dogs, actually had two tired old sheep resting in a pen and the dogs herded ducks. It also promised demonstrations of weaving but consisted of nothing but a gift shop. We (along with others) complained to the shore excursion desk and got a refund of 1/3 of the tour price.
One company that we booked with in the Caribbean had a flashy web site but seemed in actuality to consist of one flaky woman working out of her back seat. We had trouble meeting them at the pier, the operator of the boat tour she had arranged argued with us, the taxi she arranged got lost in traffic, we had all sorts of excuses, and then she had the nerve to ask for more than the agreed price! We got back to the ship 15 minutes before final boarding time ... and then my wife had to stop in the souvenir shop!!
But so many tours, ship's and private, have worked out exactly as advertised and been wonderful. We loved the ship's tour to Olympia with Greek dancing afterwards, and the Gaucho Estancia in Uruguay. Kagan in Istanbul and Nick from GreekTaxi were absolutely great. Toursbylocals gave us a good experience, as did Shoretrips.
All these companies are in business because they keep the customers happy. A bad experience is very rare.
In Croatia, our tablemates booked a tour called, Country Home in Konvale. Billed as real interaction with a family who had lived there for generations, musicians, with home cooked lunch, etc..an unforgettablle day.
It was forgettable, as the family rushed the group, through everything including that lunch..here's your coat, and, a get out mentality.
Maybe being outside the city proper, the hosts thought, who will know. They will know when one of your guests writes a travel blog, read by many, many people. oops!
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Not exactly a tour but we were on a cruise and realized our ship was leaving in 45 minutes .Possibly we were naive ,or very likely but we were in our 20's and we flagged down a passing car and told the driver where we needed to be .He offered us a ride . Later we found out he was wanted by the police .
I have to say that the only problem we have ever had was with a ship's snorkel tour at Grand Turk. The problem was it was raining and they were not sure if we could go, it was not storming just some rain. Though once on the boat and at the snorkel site's we had a good time.
As for the one of the best was when we went to Panama, our ship did not go throught the canal but they had an excursion that was great. We rode buses to the west end of Gutan lake then boarded a ferry to go to Panama City via the canal. Since they make sure they fill the locks with as many boats/ships we entered the lock and tied up then waited for an oil tanker to get in behind us. After the first lock it was only one mile to the next but took so long for the tanker to catch up. Once we got to the dock at the end it was actually time for our ship to leave port but since the ferry we were on was completely full with over 300 passengers from our ship we did not have to worry. It was the start of rush our so took longer than expected to get back to the ship. And one of the buses had gotten caught behind an accident so that one took even longer but the ship did wait for us. I would reccommend this tour to anyone whose ship does not go in the canal. But it definitely needs to be a ship's tour.
Star Princess 2005, Sun Princess 2005
Caribbean Princess 2006, MSC Lirica 2006 , NCL Pearl 2007, Majesty of the Seas 2008, Carnival Destiny 2008, MSC Lirica 2009, Carnival Valor 2009,Carnival Legend 2010, Carnival Liberty 2010,Carnival Fantsay 2011,Carnival Valor Feb 2012, MSC Poesia Dec 2012, MSC Poesia April 2013, Carnival Legend Nov 2013, MSC DIVINA Jan 2014