Q&A about Private Shore Excursions
By Howard S. Moses
Answers provided by Paul Kiritsy, Shore Excursions Group Director of Marketing and Lorri Cohn, Director of Sales
We talked with the management team of the Shore Excursions Group, an organization whose primary purpose is to set up private shore excursions for cruise guests in ports around the world. These types of organizations are are a relatively new phenomenon and have grown dramatically in popularity in the last 5 years.
### Why should someone consider a 3rd party shore excursion is it a better experience?
We know that your time in port is one of the most important parts of your vacation, so we take our commitment to deliver great shore excursions very seriously. That's why shore excursions are our only business. We carefully select only the best tour operators in each port, and, because we are not trying to reserve excursions for thousands of people at a time, in many cases we are able to choose tour providers who carry much smaller groups of travelers on more intimate, personalized experiences. Because we know that it can be confusing to choose the best tour in each port, we have a staff of shore excursion experts available to answer your questions and provide suggestions on the best tour options to meet your individual needs. And we stand behind the tours we deliver.
### How does the experience differ between a 3rd party and cruise line excursion?
Since we are not a large cruise line catering to thousands of customers per day, our shore excursions allow you to travel in much smaller groups offering a more personalized experience. In fact, for groups of 4 or more, we can usually arrange a private shore excursion for less than the cost of a large cruise line tour. We are extremely focused on delivering excellent experiences. In contrast to the cruise line tours that routinely travel with more than 50 people per tour, our average tour size is only 12 people, offering a far more personalized and enjoyable experience.
### What benefits are there for a multi-generational family traveling together?
Families are able to enjoy the same benefits of traveling in smaller groups, at lower prices. We also offer private tours that are ideal for multi-generational families, experiencing the locale and culture at your own pace! For example, if you look at our Best of Juneau tour, where we combine whale watching, a salmon bake, and a Mendenhall Glacier tour combination something for everyone!
### How about for the elderly or very young?
Please refer to the restrictions section of each detailed tour description for specific recommendations for physically challenged passengers. However, to the extent passengers are able to walk on their own, we recommend tours designated as requiring a low level of activity. The transportation on some tours may be able to accommodate a collapsible wheelchair stored below the bus; however, scooters or motorized wheelchairs are often too large to be stored on the transportation used for the tours. If passengers are non-ambulatory, we generally recommend independent transportation for their comfort and convenience. Our Shore Excursion Experts can provide suggested tours. We also recommend that non-ambulatory passengers be accompanied by someone who is able to assist them throughout the duration of the tour.
### What about the cost?
Our prices are lower than the cruise lines, sometimes as much as 40% lower. You deserve to enjoy great experiences without over paying for them. In the rare cases in which our prices are higher, it is because our excursions are higher quality and typically involves a smaller, more intimate tour group with fewer individuals per guide.
### Do you offer shore excursions the cruise lines do not?
We offer a large number of unique cruise excursions that cannot be purchased from the cruise line including Private and Custom Group tours in Europe, Fishing Charters in Alaska, Horseback Riding in Punta Arenas, and many more!
### What happens if the ship is late getting into port, or doesnt make it in at all?
You will receive a full refund for your tour if you cannot make a tour departure due to a ship delay or a missed port call. You will of course also receive a full refund if weather or an equipment problem prevents the tour operator from delivering the tour. Simply let us know within two weeks of date of the tour, and we will issue a full refund.
### What about getting back to the ship late?
We have never had a customer miss their ship. Our team possesses over 80 years of combined cruise line experience and we are not aware of a single case in which a customer on an independent tour missed a ship. In the extremely unlikely event that you miss your ship due to the late arrival of one of our tours, we will arrange and pay for your accommodations, meals, and transportation to the next port of call, and we will pay you an additional $500 per customer for the inconvenience.
### How about safety and insurance issues?
All of our operators are required to carry the same level of insurance as the cruise line requirements. Furthermore, we have also added another level of protection and carry a material level of additional coverage.
### Can you create something specific, say a custom tour for a client?
In ports where we offer tours, we may have the ability to customize tours for you.
### Why should I use your company as opposed to just finding a tour operator on the internet?
Our company has a proven record of delivering very high quality tours at prices significantly lower than you can find elsewhere; perusing our testimonials and reviews will give you even more reason to book with Shore Excursions Group. Our staff are all cruise industry veterans and between us we have over 100 years of cruise line experience.