My husband and I are booked on the Voyager of the Seas out of Barcelona on 29th Sept 2007 (7 nights) Spending most nights surfing the web getting info on Ports of call. Some really good stuff to read. Do we book Shore Excursions or Go it alone? Anyone else out there on same cruise? 144 sleeps not that I'm counting...
Well it kind of depends on what you want to do when you get to Barcelona. I've never been there, but I've cruised to a lot of other places. I would say if you're sightseeing, go at it alone. You can just catch a taxi when you get off the boat and they'll take you on a tour for cheaper. If you are doing watersports, I would either book through the cruise line or book through one of the reputable watersports companies that should have offices near the port when you get off the boat.
We did one cruise where we booked an excursion (for 5) at every port...boy did we pay out the nose. Now that there is so much access on the web, you can really investigate (takes time) what is there (I always call the cruiseling to find out exacly where we dock at) then google addresses, call and request maps and info from the local Visitor Information Center. I also ask a lot of specific questions about ports on this website. We'll probably never book an excursion through the cruiseline again. Just be real careful to learn about the places you are going. There are "bad" areas. Many people feel safer going through the cruiseline. If money's not an issue--go for it.
You will pay a little bit more if you book through the cruise line..I think maybe $15-$20 more. BUT...if you book through the cruise line and for whatever reason your excursion group does not make it back to the ship before it departs the ship will either wait for you or the cruise line will pay all costs associated with getting you back onboard asap. That was the deciding factor for us when we booked our excursions through the cruise line.
Plus, they took us exactly where we needed to be, everything was very orderly and because the cruise line is booking the excursions they're using only approved vendors with a track record of providing good and safe excursions.
We've been on cruises where the taxi cab is sitting at the end of the dock with passengers waving at the ship as we head out to sea...they saved a few bucks on the tour, but spent a bundle getting back on the ship...It's a gamble to book your own tours....sometimes you win and sometimes you don't.....we always book thru the ship before we even get on board.....Plus it's only money...Happy Cruising...
We book a lot of our own shore excursions outside of the cruise bookings. Besides the money savings, we enjoy the smaller group of people that the excursion provides. Instead of a group of 40 snorkelers for example, it would be maybe 12. Of course these are Islands that we have been to and are comfortable with, so that makes a difference for us. Bottom line, do what you are comfortable with. If you are adverse to risk, by all means, stick with the cruise line programs.
kiwigirl-If the ports you are visiting are new to you and your party, if you don't speak the local language, if you are unfamiliar with the currency-then cruiselines excursions are a safe way to enjoy your visits. I have seen passengers returning to the pier after the ship has gotten underway-sort of looking like modern day castaways-not my cup of tea at all! I have also seen the Captain delay departure of the cruiseship in order that passengers booked on a cruiseline excursion were not left behind! 'Nuff said!
European ports are really time intensive but some can be done on one own while others are not so good unless you know your way around and know exactly what you want to see...
Some are not really a good idea due to traffic constraints.
Tell us what you want to see and then most of us can comment. Barcelona is really easy & safe to do with public transport (bus & underground) it is however busy the year round as it is a popluar place to go on a short break here in Europe so expect to line up at all venues. That means you might have to choose what you REALLY want to see and what you could miss if time became a problem...
We are doing the cruise out of Barcelona in 16 days!!
Our preference on our Caribbean cruises has been to do our own thing and we will probably do tours on our own in Italy.
I have done a lot of preplanning on the internet and with a couple of good guide books so I know where I want to go and have a pretty good idea on how to get there.
Having said that I'm still nervous for the reasons mentioned above in regards to missing a departure. I'm hoping to find other people either ahead of time or on our May 26 Voyager cruise that will share a private tour with us.
After I return I'll be able to tell you how we made out.
February 1998 - HAL Westerdam E. Caribbean
January 2000 - Carnival Ecstasy - Mexican Riviera
February 2002 - Costa Atlantica - W. Caribbean
February 2004 - Grand Princess - W. Caribbean
March 2007 - RCI Voyager of the Seas - E. Caribbean
May 2007 - RCI Voyager of the Seas - Western Mediterranean (Mrs. E. & daughter only - I had a medical emergency)
October 2007 - RCI Adventure of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
We are doing the same cruise out of Barcelona this summer and have booked our tours through the cruise line. There are several good reasons for doing this: (1) as other posters have said, if your tour is late getting back to the ship it will wait (2)if you book through the cruise line, you usually get off the ship before others (3) peace of mind - several of the ports are quite a distance from the actual cities you will want to visit - i.e. Civ to Rome is a 1.5 hr. bus ride or 1.25 hr. train ride; Livorno to Florence - another long ride. Since we have never been to any of these places before, I would rather pay extra and know that someone else is responsible for our transportation to a from, but that's just me!
Hope you have a great time -- just do lots of research before you go!