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Friday, December 16, 2011

Shore Excursions - How to avoid being overcharged for shore excursions and still have a quality experience on your cruise

Raye & Marty Trencher's Cruise Tips

Shore Excursions ( land based sightseeing and adventure tours ) are part of the experience of cruising. They are also a profit center and big part of the cruise line's income. Once you've book your cruise, you will be inundated with emails and promotions from the cruise line touting the shore tour experience at each port of call your cruise ship visits.
You'll be told to book your shore excursion(s) early, as space sells out quickly for the most popular tours. However, before you book those tours through the cruise line, consider how much they cost. Many are overpriced and over crowded. Say, your one of those large mega cruise ships. You know the one's with 5000 or more passengers. Imagine, if you will the crowded busses, people packed shoulder to shoulder, and attractions and adventure activities teaming with thousands of people. Take for an example a gondola ride in Venice. On any given day, hundred's of gondola's meander down the canals. Looks like rush hour in New York of Los Angeles. Bumper to bumper gondolas! Nothing like what you saw in the movies or commercial. Not exactly an intimate experience, let alone you paid too much for the privilege. ( €80 [$104] for 40 minutes )
You could save as much as $100 in a single port-of-call by taking a do-it-yourself approach to cruise shore excursions. Visit 3 ports of call on your cruise and the savings add up. Just think what you can do with an extra $500.00 in your pocket.
However, you have to do your homework.  You  need to plan ahead. Know what you want to do in each port of call prior to sailing. Visit independent tour operators and shore tour providers on the internet. Compare side by side prices, details and read what people have to say about the company you are considering. Research the possibilities thoroughly.  Find out everything there is to know about the most popular or out of the way sights or activities. Visit the cruise line's own web site and choose those tours you want. Jot down the details and prices. Use that information when you compare prices and features against other shore excursion vendors. Once you understand the itineraries, prices  and shore excursion descriptions, go back online and visit companies like Shoretrips, Shore Excursions Group  or Port Promotions. These vendors will arrange a shore excursion for you, often at a savings of over 25 -35% what the cruise line charges and you can read reviews of trips other cruise travelers have booked. 
Finally, if you are looking for independent shore excursions as an alternative to the cruise line high prices and crowded tours, and want to compare prices and features side-by-side, you'll want to visit http://www.shoretourdeals.com/  The site touts itself as Your Ultimate Guide to Discounted Shore Excursions for hundred's of Ports-Of-Call. Some of the most popular shore excursions include those in the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada and New England, Europe, MediterraneanHawaii, Mexico and Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal and Bermuda.
They have a Cruise Shore Excursion Comparison Shopping Tool where you can find and book top Shore Excursions where ever you cruise worldwide. Browse By Port, Cruise Ship, Departure Date and Duration.

When it comes to shore excursions, Each port-of-call features tours that appeal to diverse interests. Whether you enjoy history, nature, adventure or simply sightseeing, it's likely there is a shore excursion for it.

Do your research and can learn more about the 300+ ports cruise lines visits each year, as well as key points of interest, favorite activities and the full range of independent shore excursions offered by 4 shore excursion experts to help you explore. Compare prices side-by-side and choose the shore excursion that's right for you and your family. 
Do it yourself, save money and have a great time.
Additional Resources

Cruise Line Shore Excursion Information ( official sites )
Compare prices between cruise lines and Independent tour operators.

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