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Shore Excursions and Roll Calls

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We are considering booking our first Windstar cruise, Lisbon to Barcelona on the Star Legend in 2020.

 

It's a terrific itinerary, but Spain Day Tours offers better excursions at a fraction of the price that Windstar charges – as long as there are 10 people to sign up.

 

So my first question:  do Windstar roll calls generate interest in private shore excursions?  [A quick search of the roll call area seems to show roll call participation in the single digits.  I'm used to this from River Cruising, where the number of passengers is even lower – but it doesn't matter there because shore excursions are included.]

 

And a follow-up: what do Windstar veteran cruisers do about shore excursions?

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Hi.

 

The boats are so small, the chance that your fellow cruise passengers are also on cruise critic is pretty low.  There are many cruises without even a single roll call message.  There are many roll calls with a single post.

 

However give it  try.  You never know.  Some of the roll calls get lively.

 

 

For me personally - I often book my own unless there is a compelling reason to book with windstar like a very tight time connection or very remote port with no regular tourist activities.  I am currently booked on a Tahiti cruise and I am buying a dive package from a local operator that will work on multiple islands and give me a substantial discount.

 

I also often book personal/private tours.  Also the crew is wonderful - I often take a walk through the local town and spend the balance of the time on the ship.

 

 

 

 

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I usually book my own tours.  I've only found one couple to share a tour with through a roll call last year.  You can get a much better tour, and almost always less expensive on your own.

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It is very hard to meet up with people as Cruisecritic does not allow private messaging. Many, including me, will never post contact information on an open web site making it impossible to contact each other.

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I think it would be difficult to get 10 passengers with such small ships. If all 10 do not show you are in for the money.  I would never do this with people I did not know. Even when traveling with friends if I set it up I would ask for answers in X time, I make sure it us paid up front even if it is not required. Burned once! We are not tour people so when I go to search for a driver/guide I have had tremendous success with Tours by Locals, I go on Trip Advisor, researching on tourism sites for where we are going. 

Takes a bit of sleuthing but in the end worth it. It is a great trip. We did Barcelona to Lisbon  on the Surf. Fabulous. Happy Sailing. 

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We very seldom would consider a Windstar package tour, primarily due to the expense and sometimes bus like nature of the tours. I agree with Strenz that tours by locals is a good way to go. In fact we are using of their guides when we visit Santorini on the Star Pride in May. It takes a bit more work, but arranging your own tours in the end will probably be more satisfying. I have found Trip Advisor's to be a good starting point for making arrangements. Also, we have had folks we met while on the ship to join us on our prearranged tours, but 10 is a large number to put together, especially beforehand. 

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We sailed on Wind Surf in September 2018 on Treasures of Morocco and Southern Spain (Lisbon to Barcelona). I started a roll call for all 3 legs that we sailed but didn’t end up doing much except sharing a car service back to the airport at the end of the third leg. However, many of our ports were in such small places we found going out on our own was a wonderful experience. We met locals (one of our favorite things to do) and discovered some lovely places to eat, drink and shop. Depending upon how you like to tour/explore you may or may not need a tour/tour guide. I have 3 reviews of the cruises we did and talked a lot about what we did at each port.  Here is the link to the Lisbon - Barcelona leg. Best of luck!

https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=637112

 

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Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions.  A big attraction of this cruise is being able to visit Sevilla (from Cadiz), Cordoba (from Malaga), and Granada (from Almeria) – all are over an hour from the port, so we must either take the Windstar excursions or book a private tour.  Spain Day Tours offers small-group tours for 79 Euros pp, which is a fraction of what WS is charging – if they don't get 10 people signed up, we would have to revert to their private tour price which is still within range of the WS big bus tours.  I will also check out Tours By Locals, but in the past I have found them to be the most expensive option of all (for just 2 people).

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When we did this itin we found that several of the stops were very easy to just do on foot. Cadiz, for one, is a place where you moor right in the middle of the city and everything is close. For Granada we did the WS tour and found it a decent enough value. The guided tour of the Alhambra was quite good, we made another stop at a church (name lost to me) and the included lunch was very good and we got me meet and chat with a lot of people. I found that worth the price.

 

Malaga was another we did on our own by foot. We moored right across from a very nice park, the Picasso Museum and the Catherdal are very close, and I just noticed that there's a Wine Museum that we somehow missed. LOL.  The shopping area is also right there.

Edited by milepig

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Someone on our roll call tried to set up a trip with Spain Day Tours. When we called Spain Day Tours in December for the April cruise to try to book on their tour, they told us they didn't have it available for that day but that they could do a private tour for us. Another couple on our roll call had the same result. We assumed that was because they had gotten enough people, but then about a month before the tour, Spain Day Tours told the person who originally booked that they weren't offering the tour that day. It seemed kind of flaky. 

 

The price Spain Day quoted us for a private tour was more than Windstar's tour would have cost (of course that isn't a private tour but it does include a nice lunch). 

 

We booked with Pepe Tours for 115 Euros a person. That's normally a bus tour. Unfortunately, due to wind conditions, Almeria was cancelled and we stayed in Malaga an extra day instead. There was a fair amount of hassle and tension calling back and forth with Pepe Tours and trying to connect with the other 6 people on board who had booked with them to arrange to deal with our location change. They were able to provide a guide, driver and van to accommodate us as long as we paid the extra cost (320 Euro so 40 per person if we all still wanted to go which we did). 

 

There was a bit of difficulty in the morning as rain slowed traffic and we had to wait about a half hour for the van.

In retrospect, we would have been happier with taking the Windstar tour. The actual tour was fine except for having a pretty short time for lunch in Grenada due to the delay in the van arrival, but there was a lot of stress and running around late afternoon before to get it arranged.

Edited by new_cruiser

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We usually book our tours through Windstar. I like the ease of having the vacation all in one package. The only times we did our own tour things on our last Windstar cruise was one of friends wanted to drive a Ferrari in Monte Carlo, and while in Sorrento we did our own tour to Capri.

 

Tim

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