Excursions not run by Disney
About This Page: This is a discussion on Excursions not run by Disney within the Planning Your Disney Cruise Voyage, part of the PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel; I am seriously considering a Hawaiian cruise in 2014. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and I am ...
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I am seriously considering a Hawaiian cruise in 2014. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and I am not into the whole many hours flight from MI to Hawaii. I think a cruise would be a wonderful way to see the islands plus get alittle Disney magic.
One thing that concerns me is none of the excursions are run by Disney. I DO want to get off the ship and see some of the sites but I don't want to run into the risk of getting stuck and missing the boat (being late for such things is a major anxiety issue for me).
Robin Twitter name: @NKsDogwalker Find me on FB: email@example.com 38th Birthday with Mom, Dad and friends 2011
Next Trip: Cruise on Jewel of the Seas for Christmas 2012
Unfortunately, that is the risk on any cruiseline. They wait for their excursions, not independent ones. Make sure your tourguide plans to get back with leeway, Allow extra time if it is a 'tender' port, Cruise line tours get first priority on ship to port, so you could end up taking longer to start, too.
I believe DCL does have Port Adventures offered in Hawaii. The website indicates "excursions specially selected by Disney Cruise Line." Even though they also state "operated by independent contractors" I believe if you sign-up through DCL, that is considered one of "their" excursions and they will hold the ship if there is a delay. It is a valid concern if you go off on your own in port or make private arrangements for a port excursion, then DCL will not wait if you are late; but they do wait for "their" excursions - those you can arrange through DCL.
So I wouldn't let the concern about who operates the port adventures deter me from considering a DCL cruise. What you may want to consider is that the 2014 schedules have not been released and nobody knows if they'll repeat the Hawaii cruises again. If you really want to cruise DCL to Hawaii, you might want to look into this coming October - unless you can really pull it together to make the cruise that leaves a few days!
Most of the shore excursions on any DCL itinerary are not "run by" Disney. As long as you book the excursion through DCL and not directly with the tour operator, you are insured that the ship will wait for you in the event of something that prevents your group from getting back to the ship in time. If it's a really long delay (can't imagine what would cause that) they will somehow get you to the next port to catch up.
The easiest way to say it is, "Shore excursions sold by DCL." If the cruise line sells it, the cruise line stands behind it.
As has been noted, very few excursions are actually operated by DCL, and that's true of nearly every cruise line. It's just not financially wise to train and carry a shore excursion staff on board the ship, or to have port-based operations and facilities that won't be kept busy every day of the week.
With contractors, if the ship has to skip the port, the cruise line loses nothing. If fewer guests are interested in a particular excursion this visit, the problem is the contractor's, not the cruise line's. Even on Castaway Cay, some of the experiences are run by contractors.
Co-Author, PassPorter's Walt Disney World, PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line, and PassPorter's Disneyland and Southern California Attractions
Most (nearly all) excursions are planned to get you back at least an hour or so before "last call" (which is usually 1/2 hour or more before sailing). After all, you need to get there soon enough to spend the rest of your money at the shops.
The ships do have a "drop dead" departure time before they start paying very high fees. But they'll try to wait until that very last moment, and I've seen this happen. Although they say they can't guarantee your transportation to the next port, you'll usually be taken care of if you've booked through the line. The two other tour companies I deal with have a similar guarantee. After all, a little bad karma goes a long, long way. I forget the name of the company that botched that part a couple of times. Um, in fact, they have pretty much been forgotten.