My husband (31) and I (30) just returned from our 5th anniversary cruise aboard the Millennium. The ship, the food and the service were fabulous and far beyond our expectations. We would highly recommend this cruise. A WORD OF WARNING, THOUGH: Talk to others before booking excursions, and use extreme caution. Most excursion book representations astonishingly dishonest and fraudulent, as are the daily sales broadcasts from the excursion manager. The very worst was the St. Thomas Turtle Cove snorkeling excursion: The "spacious yacht" was a very old, cramped and tacky sail boat with duct-taped sails and a pirate theme. Our crowd literally gasped when we rounded the corner and saw it. We were packed aboard so tightly that we could barely move. The "friendly crew" were three very rude, brash and insulting surfer types who called everyone "dude," made fun of guests when they were out of earshot, and made openly insulting remarks about "rich cruisers." The punch was unsanitary and the "homemade chips and dips" were a couple of old Tupperware containers sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips and thin salsa. Other excursions were also somewhat disappointing, but still enjoyable. The bottom line: Avoid Turtle Cove Snorkeling at all costs, and book any excursion at your own risk believing only accounts from real people who have participated.
Sorry your excursion was a bust, but one bad excursion hardly warrants the statement that "most" are fraudulent and dishonest! All shore excursions are booked with private contractors who preview their tour with the cruiselines reps in order to get them to be used. You should tell the Shore Excursion Manager what happened so that she can help rectify the problem and prevent it from happening again. They count on these people to present a very good product to keep sales up and a dissatisfied customer hurts them almost as much as it hurts you. I have a very close friend who is a Shore Excursion Manager and she is always trying to ensure the tours are run professionally and to the passengers satisfaction. That's not only their lifeblood, but future passengers will benifit from your remarks if they can correct these problems
Thanks for the reply. It is nice to know that your friend is doing a great job. Apparently her office and this one are not in the same league. Unfortunately, I did speak with the shore excursion manager at length. Instead of showing true concern with my problem and offering any assistance, he simply stood by the deceptive description and handed me a suggestion form. You have to keep in mind that this shore excursion manager broadcasts sales pitches all day long that are blatant mistruths. In the best case, he has never personally inspected the excursions. In the worst case, that office simply does not care about accurately representing excursions, just selling. At first pass, I can see how you might assume that I am merely venting. I wish that were the case, as I could look forward to trying Millennium shore excursions again. However, my account was based on my actual experience and the experiences of others with whom we met and talked with on the cruise. I am sharing my experience in the hope that I can keep others from feeling that horrible "duped" feeling that my husband and I experienced on a cruise that was otherwise excellent. We are in the process of addressing the issue directly with Celebrity.
Well, I can't speak for Celebrity's Shore Ex Managers, but I can assure you that on the cruise line I used to work for, not only the Managers but all the Shore Excursion staff were required to go along on the Shore Excursions about every three months, so that if questions were asked them they would have specific answers. These people make their living off of the word of mouth of satisfied passengers, and a small cruise line like Celebrity absolutely relies on repeat business, so I would guess that an unhelpful staff member (as your Shore Ex Manager obviously was) is a rarity and I hope it won't completely sour you on the Shore Excursions.
Having worked for a cruise line, I have taken practically every shore excursion available in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, and Europe (the itineraries I worked). The bottom line on excursions is that some are excellent, some are mediocre, and some are terrible. Unfortunately, part of the problem is that the office in Miami tells the Shore Excursion Managers what tours are going to be available, and I seriously doubt anyone in Miami has gone on any of these tours. I have known any number of Managers who have been completely frustrated at the snail's pace Miami alters these excursions, even when receiving numerous complaints...so generally, the ship staff are not at fault if a terrible tour is on the list.
The point? Learn from your bad experience, but keep an open mind about excursions. 90% of the ones I have taken have been fantastic and have provided me with memories I will cherish forever. The few that I have not enjoyed merely stand out enough to prove how good the other ones are. Please bear this in mind when booking excursions.
Oh, and if you really want to know about an excursion, talk to the cruise or youth staff on the ship. These guys make a living dealing one-on-one with passengers, and they know that your trust in them is probably the most important thing (because they're not selling anything but themselves). You'd be surprised at how generally honest they'll be with you on what an excursion is really like. Just remember to thank them if the excursion they recommended was good and inform them if it was bad--they appreciate this. I should know...I used to be one.
I totally agree, I too went on this shore excursion and when reading about it in the Shore Excursion Handbook, I too was lead to believe that we would be in a spacious Yacht with food and drinks. I booked this excursion on my own through Princess and told my boyfriend (24) all about it and were really looking forward to it in St. Thomas, when we turned the corner and saw a broken down sailboat, I felt like the biggest idiot. Don't get me wrong, we had a good time snorkeling and had a nice guide who helped us out, but I felt like I was mislead. Please let me know what the cruise line says. Good Luck!
Only take excursions where you cannot do it on your own. Case in point. Just got back from Galaxy. Took 3 excursions in St. Petersburg. 2 were good 1 was awful. It was clearly not as decribed in the brochure. Upon returning to the ship, I filed a complaint form and was told "too bad". I was told that the guide would not longer work for the company. I asked for a refund and was told it couldn't be done. Not only did I waste my time and $104 , I really came away with an impression that Celebrity doesn't care.