Off shore excursions

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Jun 10, 2019
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#1
I’m planning a Hawaiian cruise on NCL. Should I book my off shore excursions through NCL or find other alternatives (what do you suggest)
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#2
Third party excursions are usually cheaper. You can choose ones with smaller capacity (the cruiselines excursions often use those large 40+ person buses to transport people) with third party for some excursions. Several excursion sites have the same back to ship guarantees as the cruiselines. And some ports have more options with third party.

That said, while the cruise around Hawaii is still on my bucket list I've seen several people on cruise critic (and I believe Neil on here) mention renting a car and doing it all on your own as a bet way to go. That would give you way more freedom. I believe the itinerary has two overnights so that makes any "miss the ship" fear easier if you do it yourself the first day you're in the ports.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#7
Try Shore Trips. I have always had good luck with them, and they do guarantee to get you back to the ship in time, which is something to think about when using non ship-sponsored excursions. If you take a ship's excursion, the ship will either wait for your group to return if you are delayed, or takes responsibility to get you to the next port. When you do your own excursion, you are responsible.
 
May 1, 2018
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#8
We rented cars in every port on our NCL cruise. We were able to see more in the time were were there being on a tour. In Maui we ported for two nights and kept the car at the port.
We did the same. We rented a car in Hilo, Kahului, and Lihue. Renting a car is definitely more hassle than getting herded onto a tour bus at the port, but it allows you to see and do so much more. We were able to do all the top attractions at out own pace, stopping to enjoy the spots we liked most away from the huge crowds.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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#9
We did the same. We rented a car in Hilo, Kahului, and Lihue. Renting a car is definitely more hassle than getting herded onto a tour bus at the port, but it allows you to see and do so much more. We were able to do all the top attractions at out own pace, stopping to enjoy the spots we liked most away from the huge crowds.
That’s what we found. We were able to do two of the same excursions on our own on every island that the cruise line had on and saw much more than being on a bus all day for one excursion. It saved us a few hundred dollars doing it that way.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#10
We did the same. We rented a car in Hilo, Kahului, and Lihue. Renting a car is definitely more hassle than getting herded onto a tour bus at the port, but it allows you to see and do so much more. We were able to do all the top attractions at our own pace, stopping to enjoy the spots we liked most away from the huge crowds.
I can only speak for Kahului on Maui, but Enterprise Rental is across the street from the harbor and a short walk from the cruise ship pier. There are other car rental agencies nearby, and the harbor is also very close to the airport where all the usual rental agencies are located.
https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1...d20.89322260010729!2d-156.46487401136164!5i17
 

Neil Maley

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#11
It depends on where the ship ports in Maui. We ported in the industrial area when we were there and there was nothing as it wasn’t in the Lahaina area. Of course this was when NCL first started sailing the 7 day cruises so that area might be very different. We also had 2 days in Maui and were able to park the car at the port overnight and go back out the next day.

We did the Road to Hana in half the time of the bus tour and didn’t have to sit at stops we weren’t interested in for $199 pp the ship charged.
 
Sep 20, 2015
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#12
I typically find the 3rd party tours to be cheaper and perhaps more for what you're looking for (you can be choosy).

One warning, though--you are protected if you're running late if you're on an excursion offered by the cruise line. No such luck if you book on your own--if the ship leaves, you're stuck.
 
Sep 27, 2017
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#13
If you're not an experienced/adventurous cruiser, I'd stick with excursions offered by the ship. It's a whole lot less paranoia insofar as not making the ship on time, being sure that the excursion is a legitimate value, etc. (Note: This is the route I take on a cruise. I'm all about peace of mind and I am definitely not as adventurous as some of the other commenters!)
 
May 1, 2018
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#14
I typically find the 3rd party tours to be cheaper and perhaps more for what you're looking for (you can be choosy).

One warning, though--you are protected if you're running late if you're on an excursion offered by the cruise line. No such luck if you book on your own--if the ship leaves, you're stuck.
I have to say I think the NCL Hawaii cruise represents the lowest risk in terms of having your vacation ruined by missing the ship and being left behind. The ship doesn't cross any international borders so no Jones Act issues. It overnights at two of the ports so there's no risk on those nights. It visits two ports on the Big Island, so a taxi ride and maybe a hotel night can get you back on schedule. For the other ports, a quick and cheap inter-island flight and a hotel night can get you back on schedule.

So if you do miss the ship, the worst that happens is that you'll be out a few bucks and you're going to miss out on some ship activities, which is the least interesting part of being in Hawaii anyway.
 
May 30, 2019
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#15
I've been on several NCL cruises. Usually, we book our own excursions but sometimes book through NCL. As noted above, generally booking on your own is less expensive and can be more personal but carries a risk of being on your own should something go wrong. Many local operators run their excursions on "cruise time." They know when & where to pick you up and to have you back in plenty of time to reboard.

On the other hand, on most NCL excursions, you are treated almost like cattle being herded from one waiting station to another to a bus to a waiting location to stand in line -- more than half the stated time related to the excursion can involve this. However, you don't have to worry about missing the boat or unscrupulous dealings.

@CiMe2019 one more consideration to the above ... Do you have any promotional credits? Depending on when you booked & under which offer, you may be eligible for free or discounted excursions or have been given an on-board credit (OBC) that can be used towards booking excursions. If that is the case, there is a financial incentive to booking at least some of the excursions through NCL.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#16
It's all a matter of risk tolerance, CiME. I wouldn't hesitate to book a 3rd party tour if it were scheduled to return to the ship 2 full hours before boarding time. The savings are huge, the tours better (I assume) but booking with the cruise line is a no-risk option. Either choice, I've never minded being herded around on public stuff like this, it's just part of the trip ... and the people-watching is terrific. I always take a good hard look at the schedule for a cruise. We have no interest in racing out the door at 830 every morning, so I look for opportunities to take a shorter tour, a little stroll on our own, or maybe a morning drinking coffee on the balcony and wandering off to find lunch every once in a while. That makes up for the mornings that you have to hustle out to see something you really want to see, and have it all explained to you. After all, we do cruise to learn and enjoy, but we also cruise to relax.
 
Likes: Skippy
Mar 17, 2015
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#19
Just to jump on the 3rd party bandwagon, remember that these tour companies make money off of good reviews from fellow tourists. Put in a bit of research, but I guarantee you, had a tour company messed up badly enough for a cruise passenger to miss the ship, it would be all over social media. It is in their best interests to make sure you arrive back in time. Part of that falls on you, to make sure they are aware when all aboard is. Just make sure to take your daily itinerary or the like with you that has the time for you to be back on board with you. Many times with the private tours, you get better tour guides (sometimes, not always) and you can take a tour to your preferences. Plus, you will not have to wait with 100's of others, as you can possibly be off earlier than the ship's excursions.

There are only a handful of places where I would say that booking through the cruise line is worth it, this is not one of those. That is just in my experience and my opinion.
 
Jul 13, 2019
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#20
I’m planning a Hawaiian cruise on NCL. Should I book my off shore excursions through NCL or find other alternatives (what do you suggest)
Hawaii is very easy to book off shore excursions. The ship docks right close to almost everything. However keep in mind that it's always safe to book from the ship to make sure in case something happens, the ship will wait for you. Enjoy