Do you recommend paying for port excursions on Holland Cruise Line?

I will be traveling Sept. 2022 from Boston to Montreal on the Zaandam. Have you taken any of the paid excursions in the different ports? Or best to just walk around the cities?

Tags: Canada New England New York Charlottetown Prince Edward Island

9 Answers

That will all depend on what you want to see in each port. In a lot of ports the area immediately surrounding the port is not always ideal for wandering in. There are always third party tours or if you know where you are wanting to go can always take a cab. The biggest worry with non cruise line excursions is the possibility of missing the ship if something goes sideways and you do not get back to the ship on time. With cruise ship excursions the ship will always wait. If you set out on your own they do not. Also keep in mind that some cruise lines currently have port excursion restrictions due to covid but a year from now ... who knows. You might want to wait till next summer before making excursion plans. I would go ahead and research all options but wait till the summer before confirming

It depends on what you want. It's best to research beforehand.

Been saying it for years......do your homework online BEFORE you have to book them onboard....see what other folks have said about the tour you're interested in...before you find yourself in line with about a hundred of your newest closest friends asking the same dumb questions. If you buy a tour online you pay for it THEN...the only real risk you run is the weather...seen folks head out for tours in typhoons....good luck....

For the ship's tours (for local tours, just reverse the logic)

Plusses : You can cancel the day before (or maybe two days) and get refunded, If cancelled (ship late or skipped port) you know you will get your money back, if late back to the ship you will have the ship waiting (happened to me once, we were over an hour later than the DEPARTURE time due to traffic issues).

Minuses : off ship can have a bigger selection and/or more variety and/or off the beaten path, off ship can be cheaper, off ship can be more personal, off ship can be much less of a cattle call

I do both depending on the circumstances, but research ahead of time.

Quality independent tour operators will often guarantee to get you back on time. And they will often pay your onward expenses if you miss the boat. Reviews are unbelievably important to them and they know that a bad "return to ship" review can be the end of their business.

Their tours are usually much cheaper than cruise line tours. They are much smaller and more personalized. Many times they are more flexible in where their group wants to go. They can be very accommodating and far less rigid.

I've done too many cruise ship tours taking me to their 'approved' sites which often are getting kickbacks or commissions for their sales. That's why they are 'approved' by the cruise lines.

I often go totally independent. I know what time I have to be back on board and consequently plan to make it back in plenty of time. I must say, I have learned to be pretty responsible and I don't go into ports to get drunk or usually even have one drink. Take a good look at all the videos of pier runners. Great entertainment!

I've just not been too impressed with the 'cattle call' tours I have taken with cruise lines.

Good point on the weather potentially being an issue! Thanks!

Not for Boston, since I'm from the area. However, if I'm going to a port that I've never been to before, then yes, I take a ship-sponsored excursion. That way, if something happens, the ship will be held for you, plus, there's very little chance of getting lost.

We've had this debate many times...and I suspect we'll have it many more. It hinges on the word "guarantee", and what happens if your non-ship sponsored tour does in fact miss the ship...there you are...hot, tired, wet, mebbe half in the bag, bunch of kinds and wife with bad attitude...and you arrive at the head of the pier in a non-English speaking country just in time to watch your ship pull out....I would submit the buck three eighty you saved wasn't worth it...btw...you won't get to where the gangways used to be in most ports...they block off the actual pier while the ship is moving...

There is a process for "missed ship"....fortunately its not as drastic as "missing movement" in the Army....and while you're waiting for the ships Agent to show up, you could be treated to an evenings entertainment by Juan Valdez, Wang Chung or Abdul and family....No thanks....

I would certainly check to see what your tour provider offers under such circumstances

and I would avoid making generalizations about what ALL independent tour operators will do.

Investigate and base your decisions on your own individual needs.

I just don't see a debate here.

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