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Pre booking excursions

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EricJ

Guest
#1
Is it a must to pre-book excursions on Celebrity/Galaxy?

We are having difficulty deciding what to do and we thought we might wait until we are aboard the ship. The cruise line suggested that we wait and talk to the excursion desk.

Do all excursions fill up ahead of time or just a few? Is it possible to find out which ones?

We are doing western carribbean.
 
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Nanatravel

Guest
#2
It is never a must to pre-book shore tours, but if you would be "really disappointed" if you missed a certain tour, than I would highly recommend you pre-book it. I know this is generalizing, but without any other details, I can't be more specific. You mentioned Western itinerary; my only must do tour recommendation would be Swim with the Sting Rays at Grand Cayman. You may investigate a private tour with Capt. Marvin or Capt. Crosby - two reputable tours. If you wish to be safe and secure with a ship tour, then bite the bullet and book with the ship. You will get priority disembarkation at this tender port and they will get you back to the ship in plenty of time. They say the rays are hungry in the early morning, so an early trip may be best, but the water and air temp may be cooler. It all depends on when you sail. If you have any specific tours that interest you and you would like an opinion, please feel free to email me.

We recently did a cruise where pre-booking was not an option. As soon as I boarded, we took our form to the location where they were accepting the tour requests. We wanted the Ocean to Ocean train tour of Panama. I did not want to miss this one as there was no shore alternate.

Bon Voyage
 
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tokathy

Guest
#3
Nanatravel, I know this has nothing to do with the pre-booking subject, but I noticed you did the Panama train tour.......How was it? We were looking at that and are curious for any details you can provide.......Thanks
 
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BP

Guest
#4
Last winter on the Summit a lot of the tours were sold out by the time the ship sailed.

Best to pre book if there is a tour you decide on.
 
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EricJ

Guest
#5
Today Celebrity told me that they only sell a percentage of the excursions ahead of time and if you were the first to board the ship, none of them would be sold out.
 
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BruinSteve

Guest
#6
Back in the "old days" before pre-booking, when they first "opened" the tour desk, it was a riot scene...I mean we all waited on lkine for fear of sell-outs...
Now, just the convenience of not having to deal with it once on the ship is worth the pre-booking in my mind...

Las three cruises, we have pre-booked by internet...

Only drawback to Celebrity's pre-booking, compared to some other lines, is that they charge your account\ upon booking where some others charge only on sailing...

But, among the things we learned is that you can always change or cancel once on board (as long as it's not immediately before the tour)...

So, my advice is to book ahead...It also allows you a choice of times for some excursions...and those times may fill up as well...

The great part is that it's one more concern you needn't worry about once onboard...
 
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ROSS

Guest
#7
"WHEN IN ROME...DO AS THE ROMANS DO"

There isn't one tour that you can not do on your own (IF YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK)!!!

You will find that there are dozens (100s ???) of tour operators in the ports where your ship stops. I have never been disappointed when negotiating my own arrangements. It is much better to have a smaller car/van with fewer people and the ability to alter or add to the itinerary as you see fit. The price is usually half of what the cruise line charges. There have been many times when the driver would suggest his own itinerary and would avoid the onslaught of buses arriving simutaneously at a destination with 100s of disgruntled pax complaining about the long ride and lack of air conditioning, etc.

It always makes me laugh when 200 pax line up for a tour and then come back to the ship with all their compllaints while we had a perfect day spent in comfort.

So...make some friends on the cruise...grab a cab/van and have a blast. Just rmember; DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!

ROSS
 
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EricJ

Guest
#8
Ross - how do you know you are getting a reputable operator. I would get the one who takes me off somewhere or doesn't get me back on time. You certainly can't judge by how they look.
 
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Nanatravel

Guest
#9
Kathy, I would love to go into detail about the Ocean to Ocean train tour from Colon to Panama City. I do not see your personal email address. You may email me.
 
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tokathy

Guest
#10
Nanatravel,
I cannot locate your email address and have added mine to my profile. I look forward to hearing from you with the train info. Kathy
 
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BP

Guest
#11
We we were on a tour in St Kitts this past winter which we booked through the cruise line. Beacause of a problem on the tour we were got back to the ship 30 minutes past the sailing time but because we were on a cruise ship booked tour the ship was at the pier waiting for us.

Not the case if you book you own and the car breaks down or the bus or the train has a delay. You get to see your ship pass over the horizon from the pier.
 
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Lisa117

Guest
#12
Eric -

I sailed on the Galaxy on May 9 on the western itinerary. In Belize, we booked a cave tubing tour with Reggie. We had a terriffic time and I would absolutely recommend him.
We essentially had our own private tour - and for $30 less per person than what we would have paid had we booked on the ship. We went to the same exact area as the cruise ship tour. Reggie has his timing down to a science and even has his own boat if you miss the last tender.

Reggie also does snorkeling, diving and Mayan ruin tours if you're not into cave tubing.

His website is www.regtour.com.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
 
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ROSS

Guest
#13
HI ERIC!!

Thanks Lisall. This is just what I am talking about. Eric, where is your sense of adventure??? You will never see the world properly if you don't take a little side excursion now and again. I'm not talking a solo trip to the hills of Columbia (although I have done that and had a blast!). I'm talking your average Barbados-St. Maarten jaunt. These nice folks with cabs and vans are in business to support their families and they want to establish a reputation for reliability. (Thanks Lisall)

I have had adventures that are worth writing about. I would never have had dinner at Marguarites in MO BAY, Jamaica if I hadn't gotten that private van. I never would have spent an afternoon in the countryside of Granada with a wonderful local family who owned the van and the road side thatched hut cocktail bar. Everyone was sitting around telling me the stories of the occupation and liberation by the USA (one of the best days of my life). I have seen places and things that I never-ever would have seen on a tour bus. Thank God!!!

ROSS
 
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trailhiker

Guest
#14
I agree with Ross! The best tours are the ones bought directly from the folks at the dock. The ships tours are usually cattle calls. Hurry up and wait. Use your good judgement and don't take off in a beat up van an hour before sailing time. On a fairly small island if there is engine trouble you can always find a phone and get a cab back. For the most part, these people are supporting families and they give so much more to you than the drivers who have to give a big percentage back to the ship. Not only are you getting good value, but you are getting a much better tour and helping the economy. We took tours in Dominica twice and they were absolutely great. The guides were wonderful. The same on other islands. We've never been disappointed.
 
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stanW

Guest
#15
Eric,
Ross is absolutely correct about side excursions. Yes everyone has their "fears" of the what if something goes wrong scenario. If you want to get the best experience possible, do your own excursion. Who is reputable? Do your homework as Ross said. There are several cruise ship posting boards out on the internet that provide a great means of receiving feedback. Ask for information and you will get a lot of good information. I saw in this thread someone discussing a good experience with Reggie's tours in Belize. I see the same on other boards. In Belize we used Coral Breeze (www.coralbreezelimited.com) for a snorkeling and sightseeing excursion. We got their information off of a cruise ship board. They gave us a great day to remember about Belize. We got back to the ship ON TIME and laughed when we heard all the complaints about the crowds of people from the ship sponsored tours. Sometimes you just have to live on the edge if you really want to enjoy living. Even though this isn't really living on the edge. Imagine if a tour operator messed up a group of cruise ship passengers...do you think anyone would ever use them again?
Good luck.....and do you homework young man or their will be no cruising for you tonight : )
 
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ralph&susan

Guest
#16
We just returned from our cruise from last week. I am going to post information about our excursion in Belize because it seems that a lot of people have this same question...what to do and who to trust? We ventured out on our own in Belize because we read in many places that there is limited excursions and crowds of people trying to do these excursions. We used the same company that stanW used, Coral Breeze. We got the information from recommendations from other cruise boards as well. They came highly recommended so we contacted them. They were professional and courtious during all communications which made us feel good. But that doesn't make for a good trip. But the excursion they provided made for a good trip. Their tour was all around Caye Caulker. Snorkeling, shopping, sightseeing, and lunch. Everyone else on the ship did tours that had them on boats or buses for long periods of time. This tour was well designed to allow us to experience a lot.
Good luck with whatever you do own your cruise and I hope this is helpful.
 
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WillieD

Guest
#17
We are doing a little of both - on ship excursion and one on our own.

In St. Maarten, I have arranged a two-hour horseback trail and beach ride directly with the stables. However, my wife does not want to miss out on the Dolphin Encounter (as she did on a previous cruise because it was sold out), so we pre-booked that through Celebrity for our stop in the Bahamas.

Now, before the replies start flying that I could have booked that directly through Dolphin Encounter and save a few bucks, let me explain my reasoning. I think the cruise lines are purposefully limiting their times in ports to "force" you to use their excursions in some instances. We ar eonly in the Bahams for (I believe) 5 hours. The dolphin encoutner is a 3 1/2 hour excursion. There are only so many water taxis going to the island where the encounter occurs. My guess is that if I called Dolphin Encounter directly, they would say that the time I want to have the dolphin encounter is already booked by the ship.

Just my thoughts,

Bill
 
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paulfredo

Guest
#18
We rarely do ship tours for the cattle-car reasons as someone mentioned (I keep feeling like saying "Mooo" or "Baaaa") and one is typically overcharged for the privilege. If it's the only way, if we don't have at least a couple of hours leeway before sailing, if it's very remote and their is not enough slack time, or if the ship tour is the only way to get there then we MIGHT do the ship tour. Otherswise, we do our own thing, and it has always been successful for us.

Again, I think the key is to do some research on the boards, and you'll find out who is consistently recommended.

Whatever you decided... have fun... don't try to do to much (the first cruise, like many people, we just scheduled WAY too much and then needed a vacation from our vacation... LOL).

paul
 
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stargazerm31

Guest
#19
No unless there is one that you really want, then I suggest doing it so that you know that you have it. After about a dozen cruises, Pam and I rarely do the ship cruises. Like to do our own thing on our own time table. Just our style now.
 
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ildibobs

Guest
#20
We did most of our tours on our own. However each day on the ship they have a TV presentation showing you the next days tours. They even tell you how you can do it on your own. You also get details of the ports posted to your room the night before. There was no problems booking on the ship. We did the NED cruise on the Millie 3 weeks ago.

Ildi