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Old 11-19-2012, 03:48 PM   #1
Blumie
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Any reason not to book excursions on our own?

I'm traveling with two kids on a 6-night Caribbean cruise on the Wonder out of Miami on Dec. 30.

Our first stop is in Key West, where the kids really want to do the White Knuckle Thrill Ride. Unfortunately, the slots offered by Disney are already full. I called the White Knuckle people directly, and they offered a later slot. So I figured I could book parasailing on our own in the morning, and the White Knuckle boat on our own in the afternoon. Anyone see any problem with this?

In Cozumel, we want to do a dolphin swim with Dolphin Discovery. I'm familiar with their programs, and want to make sure we get to do their "Royal Swim." However, because Disney changes the names of the programs, it's not clear which program they're offering. Also, it's a fair bit cheaper to book it directly. Again, anyone see a problem with our booking this on our own?
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:51 PM   #2
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I think the main disadvantage i have read through the boards of booking on your own is if there are delays returning to the ship Disney will not wait for you if you did not book through them. I don't have personal experience, though.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:53 PM   #3
Blumie
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Originally Posted by GusGus77 View Post
I think the main disadvantage i have read through the boards of booking on your own is if there are delays returning to the ship Disney will not wait for you if you did not book through them. I don't have personal experience, though.
Yeah, I thought of that, and would make sure that I leave plenty of cushion!
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:22 PM   #4
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We were first time cruisers on 11/3 and booked all of our excursions on our own! DCL prices were just too high for the 6 of us! Just to be safe we booked all of our excursions for the morning. This gave us plenty of cushion time to get back to the ship!
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:33 PM   #5
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We cruise a lot (just tried DCL for the first time last week!) and we do a mix of booking on our own and booking through the cruise line.

If I am at all worried about the length of time of the excursion compared to the amount of time the ship is in port, I book through the cruise line. The fact that the ship will wait for you if your excursion runs long can be really important. We once had a ship wait an hour and a half for an excursion we were on (8+ hour excursion to Tulum and Xel Ha from Cozumel, that turned out to be a 10 hour excursion!!! Some older members of the tour group got lost at Xel Ha, and our guide couldn't find them. We left Xel Ha almost 45 minutes late, missed our intended ferry... you get the picture.)

Some vendors, including Dolphin Discovery on Cozumel by the way, have exclusive contracts with Disney that say that you can't book with them directly. Just tell them you will be staying at a hotel, and you don't know which one yet, and you won't have any trouble. And yes, it is a lot cheaper to book on your own. We booked the Sea Lion Interaction AND the Dolphin Encounter for the same price DCL wanted for just the Dolphin Encounter. DCL doesn't even offer you the option to book the Manatee or Sea Lion encounter there.

The other reason it can make sense to book through the cruise line sometimes is that they have ongoing deals with the tour vendors that the vendors don't want to mess up, so if something goes wrong, you are more likely to get some sort of recompense. We've had this happen a couple of times over the years. Really, booking through the cruise line is a little like having an insurance policy. If the tour runs long or goes really badly, your cruise line will be, or at least should be, there for you.

On our cruise last week, our group split up and did a mix of on our own and through the cruise line. (I booked 2 excursions through DCL, in both cases, long excursions that took up close to the entire time allotted in port. On the other hand, my mom didn't do any shore excursions booked through DCL at all.) We had a good time both ways.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Another reason to book through the cruise line is that if for some reason the dont go to the port,ie hurricane, then you won't be charged. If you book on your own who knows.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:07 PM   #7
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Another reason to book through the cruise line is that if for some reason the dont go to the port,ie hurricane, then you won't be charged. If you book on your own who knows.
I would only book with vendors that clearly state their policies on their website. We booked two excursions on our own for our cruise earlier this month. One we paid a $15 deposit per person and the other we paid in full at the end of the excursion. The one we paid the deposit to would have refunded our money had we not been able to dock. I spent a good amount of time researching the people we booked with here on the DIS, on Cruise Critic, and on Trip Adviser. The legitimate places depend on tourism and are not going to risk their good ratings for a few easy bucks. The one excursion I did book through DCL was in Cozumel. Partially because there was only one vendor offering SNUBA that I could find and I could not find much info on them. In the end I was very happy I booked with DCL as the water was too rough to dive and the excursion was canceled. From this experience, in the future I will always book that kind of excursion through the cruise line or a well rated vendor near the port.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:48 PM   #8
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I would only book with vendors that clearly state their policies on their website. We booked two excursions on our own for our cruise earlier this month. One we paid a $15 deposit per person and the other we paid in full at the end of the excursion. The one we paid the deposit to would have refunded our money had we not been able to dock. I spent a good amount of time researching the people we booked with here on the DIS, on Cruise Critic, and on Trip Adviser. The legitimate places depend on tourism and are not going to risk their good ratings for a few easy bucks. The one excursion I did book through DCL was in Cozumel. Partially because there was only one vendor offering SNUBA that I could find and I could not find much info on them. In the end I was very happy I booked with DCL as the water was too rough to dive and the excursion was canceled. From this experience, in the future I will always book that kind of excursion through the cruise line or a well rated vendor near the port.
Yeah, I do a mix of thru the cruise line and on my own. If it's any sizeable amount of money, then I research online for people who have booked before.

Otherwise, I treat it as a last minute thing and often just do the ones where you can walk up and book.

In any case, I definitely leave a large buffer to make it back in time. I think weather and accident worst case scenarios. If they're gonna drive me somewhere far, I make sure I'm scheduled hours before I have to get back. If it's just one of those in town tour thingies or in town show, then I just allow for an hour or two. But make sure you triple check the time the ship is using that day along with what time you need to be back (allow for lines to get aboard too in case there's a crush of taxis or something at the dock) just in case there's a last minute change from what they announce the night before.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:12 PM   #9
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What's the White Knuckle thrill ride? Thanks
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:49 PM   #10
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What's the White Knuckle thrill ride? Thanks
www <dot> whiteknucklethrillboatride <dot> com

[Just learned that I can't be trusted to post links because I don't have 10 posts to my name. Proceed with caution!]
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blumie View Post
www <dot> whiteknucklethrillboatride <dot> com

[Just learned that I can't be trusted to post links because I don't have 10 posts to my name. Proceed with caution!]
Well let's rectify that right now. Hello Blumie.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:27 PM   #12
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Checkout this thread:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3023549
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:45 PM   #13
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This could have as easily happened on a ship sponsored excursion or even in the States. As sad as that is, bad things happen everyday. Just more reason to do plenty of research into anything of this nature you plan on booking, at home or abroad.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:11 AM   #14
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www <dot> whiteknucklethrillboatride <dot> com

[Just learned that I can't be trusted to post links because I don't have 10 posts to my name. Proceed with caution!]
That looks awesome! We did Jerry's Jet Boats down in Gold Beach OR last Summer and my kids LOVED it. I will have to keep this in mind if our cruise ends up with that port...
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:08 PM   #15
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Besides potentially missing the boat as others have mentioned, below is experience we had just this past June.

We had an issue, when we did the Mayan Ruins. We had just started the tour, when the skies opened up & it poured rain. For the next hour 1/2, we spent dodging the rain at the Souvenir Shop & eventually headed back to the Fantasy. We were able to get a refund from DCL, based on the weather. We learned later from some table mates who did not book through DCL, that they did not get refunds, since they were told their tours had started.

So for us booking with DCL was clearly worth it us.
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