We are practically first time cruisers and will be sailing aboard the Crystal Symphony up the Chilean coast in February. We will have 3 ports of call en route and we need to decide on shore excursions. All three ports seem to connect to rather smallish sized towns. We are very experienced independent travelers and would be most comfortable hiring a local guide/taxi once we go ashore, rather than the very expensive and somewhat restrictive nature of the planned shore excursion options. However, since we are picturing 800 passengers suddenly flooding these small towns, we imagine independent tour operators will also be equally expensive and may also be attracting rip off artists to take advantage of the flood of tourists.
So.....in short is it practical to try to arrange your own shore excursions or should we stick to only those offered by the cruise lines?