Cruise Vacation Shore Excursions: A Better Value With New Service

cruise vacation shore excursionCruise vacations may have an all-inclusive nature but, as anyone who has sailed knows, the cruise fare paid far from covers everything. Incidental, but nearly mandatory, expenses like gratuities, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages and transfer services to and from the ship can add up fast. One part of it all that can make or break a cruise vacation experience is shore excursions — what we do off the ship. A new service now offers remarkable savings on the same or better tours than those offered by the cruise line.

Going live this week, Viator Shore Excursions offers more than 500 shore excursions in over 80 of the most popular ports around the globe, including new destinations Juneau, Monaco and Mykonos.

“The new Viator Shore Excursion platform builds on the increasing popularity of independent shore excursion bookings on Viator.com,” Barrie Seidenberg, CEO and president of Viator told Gadling. “We’ve taken our great inventory and added innovative technology to create the new user experience and give cruise passengers direct access to the best excursions in their ports of call to help them make the most of their time and money in every port.”Commonly thought of as the safe way to go, tours offered from the cruise line are often priced much higher than when bought from independent operators. Those tour companies are often the same people that provide the service to cruise lines. Now, our friends at Viator, a leading resource for researching and booking tours and activities around the world, unveiled a new website specifically designed to help cruise passengers find and book shore excursions with savings up to 60 percent off typical rates offered by cruise lines.

“For far too long cruise passengers have been beholden to the cruise lines for shore excursions that are often overpriced, over crowded and represent only a fraction of what’s available locally,” added Seidenberg.

The site has been designed for the complex nature of shore excursion bookings and will offer only relevant tours and activities based on the specific itinerary of the most major cruise lines.

Passengers select the cruise line, ship name and departure date, and Viator instantly loads the cruise ship’s itinerary and then shows only those excursions that can specifically work for each port of call based on arrival and departure times and availability.

Comparing Viator tours to similar tours offered by cruise lines, Viator comes out on top often with savings of up to 60 percent on tours we compared to cruise line prices.

Still, one of the big concerns passengers have with using third-party sources is missing the ship if the tour runs late. Viator has that covered too with their service “Viator’s Worry-Free Bookings.” If a passenger misses the ship because of a Viator excursion, Viator will transport them to the next port of call at no cost to the traveler.

On top of that, budget-conscious travelers will enjoy their Low Price Guarantee that really nails down their pricing as the best.

“Viator’s Low Price Guarantee also protects you two ways. First, if you find a lower price for the same tour or activity offered by the same operator (priced in the same currency) within 72 hours of booking, send us the details and we’ll refund the price difference. No gimmicks, no exceptions,” says Viator on its website. “Second, we also protect you against arriving at a destination and finding the same tour or activity offered at a lower price from our operator. If you do happen to find a lower price direct from our operator, simply send us the details and we’ll refund the price difference. It’s that easy.”

Low price, good availability and the worry-free policy make the new Viator Shore Excursions a great tool to consider when planning a cruise vacation. We suggest a simple comparison test. Open two screens on your computer — one with the ship’s offerings and one with Viator’s shore excursions for that same itinerary.

Going port by port it looks like Viator’s savings could be considerable.

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[Images via Flickr user JorgeBRAZIL]