Virgin Cruiser, complete novice

Hello to all

Graham & Sue from Southampton, England

We will be travelling on the Celebrity Equinox around the Med starting from Barcelona on 31st May 2016, it seems like private shore excursions are the way to go, and have started one tour group in Rome, but am nervous that they will not fill, only need a total of eight people to make it financially a real good deal.

  Should I wait before setting up another for Florence and Pisa, or do private tours advertised on Joe Banana's website, and forum boards in all the cruise sites, usually fill pretty easy.

Any advice would be very welcome, as it seems it would be very easy to catch a big financial cold if it all went wrong, and we were left holding the baby

Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

Graham & Sue 

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12 Answers

I'm sure that you will love cruising.  As for independent shore excursions, I never do them.  I like the peace of mind using the ones offered by the cruise lines.  I know that I pay for that peace of mind.  I'm sure that others on this site can advise you.  Lots of passengers successfully do arrange their own tours.  Good luck arranging yours.  

Thanks Glomarrone

We have booked three of the cruise lines shore excursions, Santorini in particular, as we are in port with four other ships, so that cable car down to the tender port is going to be hell, and the peace of mind you talk about is most relevant, but the others just didn't fit the things we wanted to see, so no choice but to search out independent tours, its just as I said, not sure about filling them.

You can sign up for Roll Call on here or on the Ship Mate app for smart phone and mention the private tour your setting up with the date, time and price to see if others may be interested in joining you.  I would get the $ from them in advance so they do not flake out and leave you to pay for all of it.

You will love the ship and the cruise.   I have been on the Equinox 2 times,  it is my favorite ship.  The Med is my favorite place to cruise.   In Santorini besides the cable car you walk up about 600 stairs or take the donkey's up the stairs.   Just keep in mind,  it is the same stairs and the donkey's do not have any catch bags behind them so the stairs are not clean nor do they smell to good.   Have a great vacation !!!!! 

Thanks jusme

sound advice, I will post some details

Thanks again

Keep in mind Bagpuss53 that if you do purchase excursions from private companies, you may be putting yourself in a situation that you may be sorry you did. Things to think about are not only the excursion being cancelled but if cancelled for any reason by the private tour, trying to get a refund to your credit card as most will make you pay online prior to booking the tour. Another thing to remember, and the most important is that if your private excursion is late getting back to the pier, the ship may not wait for you and at that point, your on your own getting to the next scheduled port or flying home.  I am not trying to divert you from booking your tour, but just want to make sure you understand the problems that can occur when booking through a private tour company. If booking through the cruise line, refunds are returned to you as on board credit and if it should happen that your cruise line booked tour is returning late to the pier, the ship WILL wait for you. Just food for thought.... :)

We have never yet booked a private tour as my Wife is very concerned about the promises to get you get you back to the port in time. The NCL trips we have taken to the Everglades in Miami and to Oia in Santorini were both excellent. The beauty of taking the NCL tour in Santorini was the fact it was a tender port and no need to queue up for tender tickets. However, we are due to be in Rome next year and the NCL prices in taking a tour or even simply a transfer from Civitavechhia are extremely expensive. A private tour on this port could be the answer and any suggestions would be welcomed. I would be prepared to take the train into Rome from Civitavechhia but my Wife is again very unsure if we could get lost and get the wrong train. (she still refers to an incident in Kos when we missed the bus stop and travelled a mile further on )

[quote=Ewoodspark]

We have never yet booked a private tour as my Wife is very concerned about the promises to get you get you back to the port in time. The NCL trips we have taken to the Everglades in Miami and to Oia in Santorini were both excellent. The beauty of taking the NCL tour in Santorini was the fact it was a tender port and no need to queue up for tender tickets. However, we are due to be in Rome next year and the NCL prices in taking a tour or even simply a transfer from Civitavechhia are extremely expensive. A private tour on this port could be the answer and any suggestions would be welcomed. I would be prepared to take the train into Rome from Civitavechhia but my Wife is again very unsure if we could get lost and get the wrong train. (she still refers to an incident in Kos when we missed the bus stop and travelled a mile further on )

Hello Ewoodspark(Blackburn)

We have actually taken the plunge and booked the Rome tour with Joe Banana, not only is it incorrect that they take the cost from your credit card as suggested( they only take this to secure the booking, you pay cash on the day at the end of your tour), but the price if 8 people go is very very good for a full days tour of Rome with all entry tickets and a guide for the Vatican.

I asked them about missed departure,as this was something I was worried about, but they promise to get you back to the ship for sailing or they foot the cost of onward travel.

I am sure that must be in writing somewhere and I will check and get back to you

Cost each for 8 going was 140 Euros each rising if less go of course

Regards Graham

 

[quote=Ewoodspark]

We have never yet booked a private tour as my Wife is very concerned about the promises to get you get you back to the port in time. The NCL trips we have taken to the Everglades in Miami and to Oia in Santorini were both excellent. The beauty of taking the NCL tour in Santorini was the fact it was a tender port and no need to queue up for tender tickets. However, we are due to be in Rome next year and the NCL prices in taking a tour or even simply a transfer from Civitavechhia are extremely expensive. A private tour on this port could be the answer and any suggestions would be welcomed. I would be prepared to take the train into Rome from Civitavechhia but my Wife is again very unsure if we could get lost and get the wrong train. (she still refers to an incident in Kos when we missed the bus stop and travelled a mile further on )

Hello Ewoodspark(Blackburn)

We have actually taken the plunge and booked the Rome tour with Joe Banana, not only is it incorrect that they take the cost from your credit card as suggested( they only take this to secure the booking, you pay cash on the day at the end of your tour), but the price if 8 people go is very very good for a full days tour of Rome with all entry tickets and a guide for the Vatican.

I asked them about missed departure,as this was something I was worried about, but they promise to get you back to the ship for sailing or they foot the cost of onward travel.

I am sure that must be in writing somewhere and I will check and get back to you

Cost each for 8 going was 140 Euros each rising if less go of course

Regards Graham

 

Thanks cruisintim

Some sound advice, some I am worried about myself, and in the case of most ports, yes we have gone with the cruise ship excursions, Santorini being one, as we are in port with 4 other ships so that cable car will take a pounding.

Some excursions just do not fit with price, but mostly on what we want to see, its finding that fine balance I suppose

Regards Graham

Hi Graham and Sue,
My advice is simple.  As first time cruisers you may be better off booking excursions through your cruise line. While there are many reputable privateer excursion vendors, there is no guarantee that if things run late, the ship will wait for you.  We have seen more than our share of people being left on the pier as the ship pulls out because they were late getting back from touring a port on-their-own.  
Regardless of drawbacks, booking cruise line excursions guarantee that if your tour runs late, the ship will wait.  Also, if a tour is cancelled, you get your money credited back to your shipboard account.  
Once you have more experience under your belt, it may be something you wish to try... but for novitiates, I suggest booking through the cruise line. 

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