Monday, July 27, 2009

Cruise Excursion...Who Should I Book Through?

My last travel tip video was related to cruise excursions and I addressed the pro of booking the excursion through the cruise line versus going through another supplier etc. As I stated in the video, the number one pro for booking an excursion through the cruise line is that the cruise will have a record of everyone who is on any of their excursions which means they will wait for you to get back on board if your excursion happens to run a little late etc. If you go through another supplier or just decide to go on your own in any of the ports of call, you are responsible for being back on board before the scheduled departure time. The ship will leave you if you are not back and it is up to you to get to the next port or back home and at your own cost if that ever happens.

Now with that said, here are some cons for booking your excursion through the cruise line. Cost is one negative. Typically the cruise line will charge a bit more for the same excursion that could have been booked from a private excursion company. For example, a "Swim with the Dolphin" excursion in Cozumel Mexico would cost @$139.00 per person through one of the larger cruise lines while costing only $108.00 through a private excursion company. That is significant savings for a family of 4.

Another negative is the selection. If you book through the cruise line, you are limited to their selection of excursions for a particular port of call. You may do some research and find that there were choices you would have never known about that better suits your own preference and interests from some other excursion vendor.

One other negative is that you are tied to the cruise line's schedule when you book an excursion through them. They will dictate when you are to proceed to your designated excursion area and sometimes their organization is a bit lacking which means you may be late getting started and have less time at whatever you were planning on seeing or doing. For example, we had booked an excursion in Cozumel Mexico through Royal Caribbean. It was going to be a full day on a private island with lunch included. The cruise line had overbooked the excursion and neglected to tell the local tour guide in advance which meant that he had to scramble to find additional transportation to the actual excursion location. That put us off schedule by almost 2 hours which then shortened our time on the private island. Smaller, private tour companies are not reliant on what a cruise line does at the last minute and are more prone to being on time.

So in summary, if you are new to cruising, you might want to book your first excursion through the cruise line so you can get a feel of how it all works etc. But on your next cruise, feel free to look around for other alternatives and you will be pleasantly surprised to see how easy they can be to book and how reliable they are when it comes to picking you up and getting you back to the ship on time.

If you need information for some private excursion companies, please send me a message or leave on comment on this blog.


info said...

Thanks Bryan, you give a good summary of the pros and cons of booking excursions through cruise lines or independently.

Just a couple of points I'd like to add: in Cozumel, all tour operators are accustomed to working with cruise ship passengers and are very aware of the importance to get passengers back on time to make their departure. Even if you book directly through our website this really isn't an issue, I've never heard of a cruise ship passenger getting left behind.

The other point is that not only are tours more expensive when you book through the cruise line, but the cruise line keeps a much large share, they even charge over 50% commission in some cases, leaving little of the money for the tour operator or to help the local economy.

Booked independently, websites such as ours typically charge between 15% and 30% commission, meaning much more of the money you pay helps the local economy.

So, if you are keen to be a "responsible" tourist, booking independently is the way to go... why make the cruise line executives richer when you can help the locals instead? :o)

¡Saludos from Cozumel!


This is Cozumel - news and information website. said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope your info helps others see the advantage of going through private vendors.