Been reading a few threads that got dredged up from back when (on purpose or not), about booking with tour operators not "blessed" by the cruise line. That usually means you bought them on the pier, or online, but NOT onboard or from your cruise line directly... save a few bux, more choices, etc etc. Folks seem to fixate on their claims they "guarantee" getting back to the ship. I have no clue what that means. Things happen. Buses hit trees..Traffic jams, someone on your tour gets hurts, whatever...a delay! mebbe a big delay. You buy it from your cruise line, they wait...till hell freezes over, but they wait. I suppose there really is a limit, but I wouldn't know how to begin to guess what it is. On the other hand, you buy it "on your own", and that ship will wait out of courtesy, mebbe 30 min tops, but not for long, They wouldn't even let you run down the pier...you'll get stopped at the gate, because the ship has already cast off. So whats your "guarantee" get you? a nite in your swimmies in a motel? air fare to catch the ship at the next port? (HAH!) Never could understand the "risk management" involved.
THOSE TOUR OPERATOR "GUARANTEES"
I had this conversation just last night with my husband, he said..we will ONLY buy thru the Cruise Line for that guarantee (this is his first cruise)...maybe it won't be his last based on that statement. yay me!
I've always felt that there is no answer that is always right. When choosing an excursion company, I consider all of my options.
Cruise lines offer the greatest safety and security, but it usually comes at a $$$ cost.
3rd party operators reserved in advance offer greater options and usually a slightly lower cost.
3rd party operators discovered at the pier frequently offer the lowest prices and greatest flexibility, but also the greatest risk. After all, how do you know if they are reputable or even going to be there on the day you want them?
Depending on your circumstance, the best choice may be any of these types of excursions.