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Caitlin's Mom

Debarkation Times non-ship Excursions

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We are sailing on Windstar Spanish Serenade Oct 29 and are booking primarily non-Windstar excursions and arranging for pickup at the port.  When talking to an agent about what time we could realistically get off the ship in each port he said 30-45 minutes because all of the Windstar Tour groups get off first.  Has that been your experience or will we be able to get off as soon as the ship is docked and clears customs?  I don't remember having to wait to disembark on other ships.  Are their scheduled times pretty accurate?

 

Thank you!

Caitlin's Mom

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It's important to distinguish between starting that 30-45 minute countdown with a)Docking or Anchoring or b)Departure of the first group. You also have to consider which ports are Tender ports and which are Docked ports. I know you're not on the boat today, but it's useful to pay ATTENTION to the handouts for the Windstar excursions because their "Meeting Times" give you clue about who may be given priority to depart, if there is choke-point situation. I would also GO to the Port Talks, because then you will LEARN if they expect immigration problems or port congestion. I would especially pay attention to long-drive excursions (say, to Granada ... ?) that may need a fast departure. It is difficult to give a definitive answer. I would ask your provider if they have serviced Windstar guests in that port, before. Sorry not to be more definitive, but that's the way it is.

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Thanks CruiseOrLand.  This is helpful.  I will reach out to the tour provider and see what their experience is.  Definitely concerned about the port days where we are expecting long drives such as to Granada as we want to get as early a start as possible.  I just don't remember this ever being an issue before on any cruise we've been on and thought since it's a relatively small ship, it would be easy to to get off whenever we wanted to.

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The agent is making it up.

 

Yes, the tours get priority - when they're actually getting a group off board, but that isn't continuous.

 

In my experience, there's always a few people waiting for the disembarkation to begin, and if there isn't a group also queued up the independent people are allowed to go. There is is almost always a short gap between groups and again, anyone is free to get off then. This is certainly true wen you're docked.

 

I guess when you're being tendered there would be periods where they need entire tenders for the group. But in either case we've never waited long for an opportunity to get off.

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I had times when I was on a ship tour and we weren't scheduled to leave for 30-60 minutes after our arrival times.  I can't recall ever having to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a tender, and if you are docked, you'll be able to walk right off.

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You will be docked in Almeria so you can walk off as soon as the ship is cleared. Ships excursion groups won't delay by more than the time it takes them to scan their ship cards (just a few minutes). 

 

However, when we did Spanish Serenade, we had to skip Almeria due to weather. There were high winds that would make it too dangerous to get to the dock there. We stayed an extra day in Malaga instead. No problem for those who had booked the ship excursion to Granada. Around 8 of us had booked the Granada excursion with another vendor. We learned about the change in itinerary around 3 PM. I called the vendor and they had to check around to see if they could make arrangements to pick us up in  Malaga instead. After around an hour they told us they could but we would have to cover the cost of the extra van, driver and guide to get us from Malaga (IIRC around 30 euro a piece). Then we had to make contact with the other 6 people on board to see if they were okay with that. 

 

Due to the rain (part of the same weather conditions that prevented docking in Almeria), the van driver arrived late and we lost around a half hour of our time in Granada so we didn't have much time to see the town and eat before visiting the Alhambra. We still saved money compared to the Windstar excursion (but that excursion included lunch - something that wasn't clear in the excursion description).

 

I've no idea how common it is for weather to disrupt docking at Almeria. In the circumstances we ran into, the ship excursion would have been worth it to me to avoid the stress we ran into with the non-ship excursion. 

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new_cruiser:  who did you book the Granada excursion with?  I am booked on Spanish Serenade for 2020 and am thinking of booking several excursions with SpainDayTours (Cadiz to Seville, Malaga to Cordoba, and Almeria to Granada).  I see that SpainDayTours offers Granada from both Almeria and Malaga, so if the ship stays in Malaga an extra day I would hope they can just switch us to the other version?

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30 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

new_cruiser:  who did you book the Granada excursion with?  I am booked on Spanish Serenade for 2020 and am thinking of booking several excursions with SpainDayTours (Cadiz to Seville, Malaga to Cordoba, and Almeria to Granada).  I see that SpainDayTours offers Granada from both Almeria and Malaga, so if the ship stays in Malaga an extra day I would hope they can just switch us to the other version?

We used Pepe Tours

 

Spain Day Tours told us that they didn't have the group tour available that day but offered to do a private tour for the two of us for a pretty high price. It was odd because Redtravel on our roll call had a reservation with them, but I assumed that it was because their tour was full. Then shortly before the cruise started,  Redtravel reported that they received an email from Spain Day Tours that they weren't offering the tour on that day. Seemed kind of flaky though other than that Spain Day Tours has a lot of good reviews. Anyway, I expect that means that they offer the tours when they have a guide and transport available and enough clients signed up - they don't necessarily run every tour every day. 

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Thanks New Cruiser -- good to know.  I read another post about missing Almeria due to weather so I hope that's not a common experience!

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