Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
westcoast
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:50 pm

Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by westcoast »

We are leaving on a cruise this February trying to decide if we should us the ships tours or use soon private vendors. Anyone have experience with private vendors there as to the quality of the tour making sure they return to the ship on time.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 11194
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by ResearchMed »

westcoast wrote: Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:17 pm We are leaving on a cruise this February trying to decide if we should us the ships tours or use soon private vendors. Anyone have experience with private vendors there as to the quality of the tour making sure they return to the ship on time.
Have you checked on www.CruiseCritic.com ?

There should be a Roll Call for your particular cruise and a "ports of call" section (along with tons of other resources).

Both of those will have discussions about excursions in general as well as what your cruisemates may be planning.

It could be a bit late to coordinate your own private excursions (or not?), but you also might want to double check if others have already planned something of interest and might have space available.

Enjoy!

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
Topic Author
westcoast
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:50 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by westcoast »

I’ll check that site, thank you.
carruthers209
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:35 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by carruthers209 »

Learned a lot from Cruise Critic-sort of a Trip Advisor for cruises. We did a wonderful Princess cruise through Asia years ago. What we learned was that if you signed up for the Princess tours and your tour wasn't able to return to the ship on time, they would hold the ship for you. The other commercial vendors-nope. The Princess tours were priced about twice as much as the local tour vendors. The idea of getting left behind in a country where we didn't speak the language and definitely would have had to have taken some form of transportation to rejoin the ship was over the top for us so we just paid the Princess price. We had great tours and it was our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Asia.
Cruise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by Cruise »

westcoast wrote: Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:17 pm We are leaving on a cruise this February trying to decide if we should us the ships tours or use soon private vendors. Anyone have experience with private vendors there as to the quality of the tour making sure they return to the ship on time.
We have ship's and private tours all over the world. We have never had a major disappointment with a private tour, but have had poor tours organized by the ship.

As you know, the major concern in booking a private tour is missing the boat. We try to prevent this by carefully curating our tour so we start from the furthest point from the boat and progressively move closer to the boat. We also plan to return to the boat one hour before the boat's last all-aboard time. Once we cancelled a carefully-arranged private tour in Iceland when I found out that the car being used was 10 years old (or older). I just did not want to risk a break-down in a remote part of Iceland.

Not sure who you are cruising with, but generally luxury cruise lines provide better tour experiences (fewer passengers per bus and a lower passenger-guide ratio).
obgraham
Posts: 1302
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by obgraham »

I think it depends on your priorities. We are just today embarking on a month-long cruise, Africa and Indian Ocean.

Having paid a lot for ship-organized tours before, I spent some time looking for private tours. And indeed I booked a couple, mainly just a private driver to tour the city at the port stop. I soon learned that finding a good, reliable, interesting private tour requires a lot of research and internet work. Yes, you can save about half the cost by doing that, and likely tour in a much smaller group.

However, the hassle factor of working it out, along with the risks previously mentioned are not in general worth it to us, so we went ahead and booked mostly ship-run tours. Yes, it cost more. Peace of mind sometimes does.
Iorek
Posts: 1228
Joined: Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:38 am

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by Iorek »

Good advice to check cruisecritic (both by port of call and by line/cruise).

Excursions are a profit center for cruise lines so IME booking your own will generally be at least cheaper and often better. In many places there are entire businesses built off cruise ship passengers and you can be sure that they don’t want you to miss the boat either.

OTOH there are certainly times when you can’t book the same experience on your own or you want the guarantee that comes with being on an official excursion (like an all day excursion to some place a couple hours away) so in the past we’ve done a mix. Basically we book the ship excursions we’d like and then look to see if we can find sonething we like better.
RadAudit
Posts: 3996
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Second star on the right and straight on 'til morning

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by RadAudit »

carruthers209 wrote: Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 am Learned a lot from Cruise Critic-
I learned a lot from Cruise Critic, too. One - some folks will complain about anything and everything. Two - be skeptical about folks who complain about tipping when they come from countries where tipping is not customary.
carruthers209 wrote: Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 am The idea of getting left behind in a country where we didn't speak the language and definitely would have had to have taken some form of transportation to rejoin the ship was over the top for us so we just paid the Princess price.
Always a consideration. On some trips, the cruise line has an included tour as well as an option to book a tour through the cruise line with a private operator at the same port of call. If you take either the cruise's tour or the private tour booked through the cruise line, you should be OK. I've had no problems, yet. Private tours not booked through the cruise line, maybe not. YMMV.

On one trip, the cruise line provided a description of a private tour with the warning that the driver didn't speak English; and if you got off the bus, you were on your own. Thoughtful post script.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. Die anyway. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.
Topic Author
westcoast
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:50 pm

Re: Cruise to China, Japan and South Korea— ship tours or booking private tours

Post by westcoast »

Thank you for all the replies and insight for our cruise. We have decided to take the ships tours on this cruise for the piece of mind. Again thanks for the information.
Post Reply