Is Booking Shore Excursions through a 3rd party site really a good idea? We have booked with the cruise line and through a third party site like shoreexcursioneer.com, so we will let you in on our pros & cons.
The pros of booking with a 3rd party (or directly through a tour company):
1. You Save Money! Typically, the prices are anywhere from $10-50/person less than the excursions offered through the cruise line. They may have the same exact tours, if not offer more interesting options. Saving money on these excursions just means you have more money to book more excursions!! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
2. The tours are typically more private. On our excursion in Amber Cove, we had about 20 people total vs the 50-60 people that were on the same trip that carnival sponsored.
3. There is a more local feel. You will be using local transportation instead of coach buses, local tour guides, and you may visit a few more places.
Now let's discuss a few of the important cons:
Your tour guides may be harder to find once you get off the ship. The ship sponsored excursions will meet you inside the cruise port with relatively easy access. If you book with a 3rd party or local tour company, you may have walk farther to find them, like outside of the port gates. We had a difficult time finding where we needed to be in Amber Cove. We weren't familiar with the port and the instructions weren't super clear.. so we got a little lost. There were a few people out that helped us find where we needed to be, but just be aware that if you are in a different country and you don't speak the language, it may be a little challenging. Just a bit inconvenient.
And now the MOST IMPORTANT thing to consider: The ship will leave without you if you are running late! If something goes wrong, or the tour is just taking longer than expected, this can be a major issue. If you book your excursion through the cruise line, you are guaranteed to return to your ship before it sails, even if the tour is late. This is not the case for booking on your own, so just be cautious!
Have you booked an excursion on your own? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!!