A longtime concern with cruisers has been whether to book an excursion independently to save money while adding flexibility and control over your tour. Most factors favor this approach to your day ashore, but you lose the guarantee you get with the cruise line's shore-excursion program that the ship won't leave you if you are late to return to the dock for the scheduled departure time from port.
I discussed these points in a previous post: 3 Reasons to Go Independent For Your Cruise Excursions
A new trend bodes well for cruisers being able to eventually get the best of both choices. At least one company has designed a tour program that includes insurance in the price, with a guarantee to get you reunited with your ship if your excursion suffers a setback that causes you to miss your departure time.
Pecora Verde, which runs tours in Europe, includes this language in its website's FAQ section.
Q: May I run the risk of missing my ship if I book an excursion with Pecora Verde?
A: Our operators are extremely familiar with the schedule of your ship and constantly monitor the stages of each excursion, guaranteeing you get back onboard in time. Anyhow, the ticket price includes extra insurance to cover unforeseen difficulties, should they occur; in such case Pecora Verde's staff will provide you with all the support you need. That means we will get you back on your ship . . . !
Your ship still won't wait for you, but you won't be saddled with the costs of making your own arrangements to get back onboard at the next port. Also attractive to In The Loop Travel is the company's concept of small group excursions with adventurous types. Pecora Verde (green sheep in Italian) is a startup company that boasts an #outofthecrowd travel experience.
"If you don't like touring around in a large group, but setting out on your own isn't your thing either and you just want to be around people who think the way you do, then you're already Pecora Verde people. There will be no lack of enthusiasm and camaraderie . . . as well as time all to yourself," the website states.
I look forward to trying out a Pecora Verde tour ASAP and to more tour companies using this approach that offers cruisers a more unique experience as well as better peace of mind.
Elsewhere . . .
Un-Cruise Adventures, a small ship line, announced a Quito and Galapagos adventure itinerary for its 2016 sailing season. Un-Cruise, which features a fleet of ships with capacities from 22 to 88 passengers, will debut its nine-night Galapagos itinerary at $8,995 per person onboard the 48-person La Pinta. The rate includes land tours, transfers and wine, beer and spirits onboard the ship.
Carnival Triumph (above) will sail two new 10- to 12-day cruises out of the Port of Galveston and one from San Juan:
- An 11-day southern Caribbean voyage Feb. 9 to Feb. 20 from Galveston to San Juan, with stops in Grand Cayman, Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica and St. Maarten.
- A 10-day exotic eastern Caribbean trip Feb. 20 to March 2 from San Juan to Galveston, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Croix and Falmouth (Jamaica).
- A 12-day "Journey of Discovery" cruise March 2 to March 14 roundtrip from Galveston, featuring Grand Cayman, Limon (Costa Rica), Colon (Panama), and Cartagena and Santa Marta (Colombia). From Colon, guests will have the opportunity to take an optional excursion for an up-close view of the wonders of the Panama Canal. The call at Santa Marta will mark Carnival's first visit to the beautiful Colombian seaside city.
The three voyages can be combined to create a 33-day adventure visiting 15 ports and two continents.
The new sailings complement Carnival Triumph's previously announced series of 10- and 11-day cruises from Galveston and San Juan in 2015 and 2016. Two 11-day cruises sail from Galveston to San Juan Oct. 24, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, and two 10-day cruises will operate from San Juan to Galveston Nov. 4, 2015, and Jan. 27, 2016.
Princess Cruises is offering onboard credit or a balcony upgrade on select cruises booked by Aug. 19 for several spring and winter sailings to destinations such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Panama Canal, Europe and Transatlantic voyages. Cruises eligible for the summer sale depart between December 2014 and May 2015.
Cruisers booking a mini-suite or suite will receive an onboard credit of $50 per person for six- to nine-day cruises, $100 per person for 10-11-day cruises or $200 per person for 12 days or longer. If you book an oceanview stateroom, you will be upgraded to a balcony. Check for details on the promotion at princess.com/sale
Thanks for reading. Travel happy!