I am interested in the cave tubing adventure. Does anyone recomend the cruise ship or an outside vender? Again I am a first timer and have been told that ourside venders are better? any advise?
You will get a lot of different answers to that question because everyone has a different opinion. Let me give you my .02, for what it's worth.
I have taken 5 cruises (not a lot considering the number of people who have taken a lot more, and the only excursions we have taken are the ones offered through the cruise lines. Why?
* The cost is a little more, but for peace of mind, we just feel more comfortable doing that. If the cruiseline's tour operator is late getting you back to the ship, the ship will wait for you. They do not have to wait if you book through an independent operator.
* If you have a problem with the tour itself, the cruise line can handle the complaint or whatever for you. Should you book through an independent operator, you are on your own, and handling someone in a foreign country while you're in the USA is not easy.
I know that a group of people on our cruise did a bunch of independent tours, and three of the four were great. However, their fourth tour (I believe it was a canopy tour in IR.) was not good at all.
* I have read numerous reviews from people who claim they took independent tours and had more fun than people on the cruise line tours did. I doubt that is true. How could they know how much fun someone else is having? We have always had a great time. Things are as you make them.
* BTW. . . .If you tender at a port, the passengers with the cruiseline's excursions get first priority off on tenders.
Now. . . How often would an independent operator fail to get you back to the ship on time? Probably not very often.
How often would you have a problem with an independent operator? Probably not very often. . .
How much more fun would you have with an independent operator than with the cruise's operator? Like anything else, if you want to have fun, you will, no matter who does your tour.
What difference does it make if you tender in a little later? Probably nothing unless the indpendent operator doesn't wait around.
As I said, we just feel more comfortable paying a little more for the convenience and security. Others will say independent operators are safe, and 99% probably are. It just comes down to what you feel comfortable doing.