(Another in a series of articles suitable for your online Cruise Primer)
But first: For Agent Eyes Only ———————————
When cruise customers start pestering you with questions about shore excursions, point them to your personalized online version of the text below…the copy that starts in the “For All” section. (You may want to keep the information in this first paragraph to yourself.) For some time now third parties, such as Shoretrips.com, have been making huge inroads into the shore excursion market with consistently good product and reliable commission structure. They even pay a full 10% on purchases made via a direct affiliate link on your website. Once the proper code has been inserted in your homepage, you don’t have to lift a finger to earn your commissions. Total workload for the entire transaction: lugging that humongous commission check to the bank for deposit. Now that’s my kind of travel sales!
For All (Agents & Hoi Polloi alike) ——————
You’ve got more options than you think!
– Onboard Tour Desk Offerings
– Third Party Organized Excursions
– Striking Out On Your Own
– Staying On Board the Ship
Onboard tour desk offerings –
No doubt about it – shore excursions are a huge revenue source for the cruise lines – grossly over priced in many cases – and until lately they catered to a captive audience – many of whom are willing to pay for the convenience of booking right there on the ship – or in advance on the cruise line’s website.
But how many times do you really want to pay $30 or $40 per person to ride a motor coach into town – departing on a fixed schedule – when a go-when-you-want-to-go cab ride would be about $15 to $20 – for the entire cab?
Ok, you say. This local take-a-cab-instead option might be fine for trips to town, shopping, etc., but what about tours to special attractions, especially those some distance from the ship? What if you are on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise-of-a-lifetime and want to see the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt? Or, on a standard garden variety Caribbean cruise and you want to climb Dunns River Falls in Jamaica? Isn’t it still best to go with the cruise line’s shore excursion options under these circumstances?
Third party organized excursions –
When choosing shore excursions you now have an alternative – organized, booked-in-advanced excursions from companies not affiliated with the cruise line.
Shoretrips.com – has been around for quite a while, has a great reputation and has been thoroughly vetted by the author. A poll of travel agents who have utilized this company in the past resulted in nothing but positive reviews – not one single critical or negative comment. You can book this company with confidence. They even offer a full prompt refund if your ship is late to port – or misses the port entirely for whatever reason – something that many cruise line shore excursion departments are reluctant to do – they may simply offer a credit rather than a cash refund.
Striking out on your own –
This is the perfect solution for adventuresome types. You simply go ashore with no advance planning – marching boldly ahead – attitudinally, if not literally – with Supreme Confidence emblazoned across your countenance; fully permeating your body language. Just don’t try to fake it. The local talent is usually pretty good at spotting amateurs trying to pass themselves off as true free spirits.
Caution: Striking out on your own is distinctly NOT an option for those who do not like surprises, desiring everything to be predictable and well organized. For us this option has been the catalyst for hundreds of memorable, highly pimped port visits that we wouldn’t trade for the world! Even the few white knuckle experiences we have had make for some great story telling – at least for those who survived to tell the tale.
Staying on board the ship –
What? Isn’t this the most undesirable option of all…missing out on all that shore-side excitement and once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing? Well, maybe. But consider this – by the time you reach that last stop on the aforementioned standard three or four port Caribbean cruise – the islands have begun looking a lot the same…another beautiful pristine beach…more overly friendly natives offering you a “spliff of ganja, mon”…or to help you carry your wallet.
Then there are those endless rows of souvenir shops, all with the same T-shirts – stenciled with clever sayings such as Orgasm Donor, Rub My Belly for Good Luck or I’m Huge in Japan and other hilarious imprints too embarrassing to actually wear.
So, why not just stay onboard the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet around the pool – as well as nearly empty dining rooms and no lines in the food court? Plus, here is a huge upside for you Spa Hounds. The onboard spas almost always offer deep discounts on treatments, massages, facials, etc. to stimulate demand when the ship is in port.
With these options now available from anywhere you have an Internet connection – including on board ship – there is little reason to stand in the long lines at the ship’s shore excursion desk.
Coming soon…more sparklingly lucid yet informative articles on how to scope out the best on board activities and entertainment to suit your tastes; etc. – LEC
Author’s Bio – Lyn Edwin Cathey – Network Travel Services, LLC
A veteran of 25 years in the travel industry – holding positions within the industry such as trainer, educator, agent, consultant, agency owner/manager and product specialist. For 15 years prior to joining the travel industry Lyn worked as a full time entertainer/comedian, performing on banjo & guitar – often as a featured act on cruise ships. He created and currently maintains several websites, including – http://TripFinder.com ; http://PimpMyCruise.com and http://LaughTreks.com