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Thread: Shore excursions, never again.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Shore excursions, never again.

    I had the worst experience ever. My first time on a cruise and I had arranged an excursion for Santorini. First of all, I had to wake up at 6:00am. After I had breakfast I had to wait in line to get in the tender.
    As soon as I had set foot onshore I was rushed in the bus with another fifty half-asleep poor souls and climbed that hair-rising road from the tiny port to the top of the hill. I have to agree that the view from up there was breath taking. Our destination was the beautiful village of Oia on the other side of the island. The distance was only 10 miles and the ride could have been an enjoyable half an hour along lash vineyards with spectacular vistas, if the driver didn't have to do it in ten minutes. Soon I started to have the taste of half-digested eggs and ham strong in my mouth. When we arrived in Oia, we got off the bus and all flocked around that tall long-haired guide of ours who lead the way up a dusty path to a small square near a church. There, under the strong sun, together with numerous other small groups, our fellow told us a few words about the place and set us free. We were supposed to meet him right there in the square no later than half an hour. Oia ia a marvelous place but even paradise can be hell if you have to walk in a narrow street with another 300 people with only one thing in mind. Where is those rest rooms he had told us about. I literally spent my half hour on a long line to get to the absolutely most important destination. The W.C. !!!
    Then I ran back to the square passing beautiful small shops and enticing cafes with the irresistible urge to stop in every one of them. Again we all flocked around our guy who started to say something about visiting the shop of a friend where we would buy beautiful things at very low prices. Well, that was too much for me. Right away I left the group, found a beautiful small cafe and stayed in Oia the whole day. I had a great time and when it was time to go back to the boat, I just took a $15 taxi to the cable car.

  2. #2
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    Welcome to Cruise @ddicts.

    What you describe is sometimes typical of shore excursions, especially if you haven't done your "homework" beforehand. Did you not read the description before you booked? What ship were you on?


    Mary Ann & Pucci

  3. #3
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    We prefer not to do shore excursions for some of the reasons listed above, but I do think that in some cases, they are the best option. On one hand, you will be traveling with a large group of others who will be walking slowly and using the restroom at the same time, but you don't have to worry about research and the unexpected things that might come up by doing it on your own. We, however, prefer to do our own research and like the adventure of being away from a group. It just depends on how you like to travel.

  4. #4
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    I am afraid that most people don't know that this is typical for shore excursions. Somehow I felt obliged to inform them.

  5. #5
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    Not necessarily typical...

    When we visited Santorini on Celebrity Millennium a few years back, we took a shore excursion...

    NO WAY we had to wake up at 6:00 am...of course, you always need to look at your itinerary and what hours you are in port...Then, when choosing a shore excursion, pay attention to what time you leave...pick one thast fits with your desired timing. Also, when a shore excursion leaves early, we will often do our breakfast by room service.

    Next, as to tenders, in Santorini, everybody on board, shorex or not, must go by tender...

    And the bus? That is the ONLY road up the mountain...the other options are the cable car, walking or donkeys...Getting to the top of Santorini is an adventure for everyone...Personally, I don't think the road is that bad at all...It is actually fairly painless...Next time you go to Santorini, I suggest you rent a car as we did on our last visit and take the road to Ancient Fira...Now THERE'S a road worth complaining about--one lane with cars going in both directions and dozens of hairpin turns! As to the bus "speeding" on the Road to Oia, we went to Oia on a public bus...and we've also driven the road in that rental car...YOU DON'T really have much of a choice on the speed...it is the only road and, should you decide to slow the traffic, you will have lots of angry people mad at you...So, the bus just goes at the standard speed...

    Oia IS a lovely town...but, there are lots of nicer places to go in Santorini...or, at least just as nice...AND there are other shore excursions that go to those places as well...Some guides are better, some are worse...We did a shore excusion that went to a winery, the archaeological museum and other places around the island...

    Yes, like all shorexes, you are in a bus with 30-40 people...It really is not as bad as some people make it out to be...We've had some excellent shorexes and some I'd like to forget...But we also do a lot of private, small group tours...and with those, you take your chances as well...We had a terrible guide in Warnemunde/Berlin last summer on a private tour...We've seen things go wrong with these as well...We also know a lot of people who've tried to do ports "on their own" and end up getting lost, missing trains or buses, not finding what they are looking for...

    Some ports lend themselves to "on your own"...Santorini is actually one of these...the island is not that big and many people opt to just take the cable car up and down and stay in Thira...or renting a car is an easy way to get around--and see the back side of the island, the black sand beaches, and Oia on one's own schedule...Taxis can be difficult to get in Thira (trust me, we tried before giving up and taking the bus one visit)...

    But many ports in Europe really require a tour of some kind...distances are long between port and sights at many stops, lots to see and little time, so hard to organize the logistics properly on one's own...and many people prefer a guide and narration of some sort...

    Always great to organize a private tour with a small group--just to avoid the "big bus"...but this is not always practical at all ports or for all people...Sometimes a shore excursion is just the best available option...and we have had some VERY GOOD shore excursions...We had one in Rome one year with only 11 people and two guides on a minibus...another to San Gimignano and Volterra from Livorno that also numbered in the teens...

    For a lot of people, shore excursions show them "just enough" of the port...and the ease and lack of stress of having the cruise line organize everything is a big plus...

    On our upcoming Europe cruise next month, we have 14 ports...We have organized private tours in 6 of them (Saint-Malo, Bordeaux, La Coruna, Cadiz, Casablanca and Monte Carlo), we are planning to do 5 of them "on our own" (Honfleur, Pont Aven, Biarritz, Bilbao, and Barcelona) and we WILL take Shore Excursions in three ports: La Rochelle, Oporto and Livorno...

    The key is to do your research, know your ports...and match up your choices to your own capabilities and desires...

    There is NO hard and fast rule as to how to tour ANY port for EVERY person...
    Up next:
    January 5, 2014 Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Eastern Caribbean
    ...and then:
    June 15, 2014 Viking Emerald Imperial Jewels of China with Hong Kong 17 nights
    ...and then:
    July 2, 2015 Celebrity Xpedition Galapagpos

  6. #6
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    When we cruised on the Jade in November I entered the world of private shore excursions for the first time. We travelled in a small group and saw a lot more than we would ever see on a ship's tour not to mention the money that we saved. The important thing when getting involved in a private tour is to manage expectations. If you a person that like to stop and shops and cafes then you don't want to be with a group that is more interested in seing the sites. We used private tours in Rome, Athens and Ephesus and can't say enough about the quality of service we received
    Tom
    Ottawa Canada
    51Tom57@gmail.com

  7. #7
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    I stay away from the ship sponsored excursions for the same reasons. I always feel like I am being hearded around like cattle. I always enjoy excursions I book through individual tour operators. Much less crowded and just more enjoyable to me.

  8. #8
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    On the whole, we do not take shore excurision. Have a better time exploring on our own

  9. #9
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    We aren't big fans of shore excursions either and we usually try to explore on our own. I do agree that in some parts of the world, an organized excursion is the way to go, but you can usually find an independent tour that does basically the same thing but can be tailored to your own interests. When I plan for a cruise, I usually use the cruise line's excursion brochure to get my own ideas of what to do in town, and then book a similar tour on my own. Some excursions I've done have been absolutely horrible and I hated the "cattle call" feeling. But others on the excursions loved them because they like having a set itinerary and "falling in line." I say to each his or her own, do what you love as long as you are exploring new places and cultures!! :-)

  10. #10
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    Re: Shore excursions, never again.

    That's what this web site is for ! Do some research first and then hit the boards to get top notch information and suggestions from seasoned cruisers. My very first cruise I had no idea what to expect and what excursions to take. So, I found this Cruise-addicts web site and people were more than happy to help out. We had three of the greatest excursions with private vendors and heard nothing but horror stories from other cruisers when we got back and were at the dinner table and bar. Since then, I don't do any cruise or excursion without consulting my fellow Cruise-addict friends !
    bob likes this.

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