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The Tripologist travel tips: How to avoid those hefty cruise excursion fees

I’M GOING ON A CRUISE THIS SEPTEMBER, HOW DO I AVOID THE EXORBITANT FEES CHARGED BY CRUISE LINES FOR THEIR SHORE EXCURSIONS? ONCE ASHORE, WHAT IS THE FIRST PLACE ONE SHOULD VISIT, AND IF THE DOCK IS WELL AWAY FROM TOURIST SITES HOW DOES ONE GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT? DOES ONE HAVE TO HAVE REGISTERED GUIDES FOR PARTICULAR PLACES SUCH AS ST PETERSBURG?
Nanjing Night Net

D. HUNTER, NORTH SYDNEY

Every port is different, and there is no answer that works all the time. Some ports are located within walking distance of the city centre, other times you might dock 50 kilometres away, with no public transport at all. In some places guides must be registered, in others not. The first place to be visited really depends on the city and your own preferences. Even in a city as well trodden as Venice it would be impossible to give an answer to this question – for some it might be a gondola ride, for another St Mark’s and another still it might be Harry’s Bar.

However, there are ways to avoid the high cost of cruise lines’ own shore excursions. Websites such as cruisingexcursions南京夜网 and shoreexcursioneer南京夜网 do exactly that, and they can help you save a bundle. Note that there are times when it’s worth going it alone and other times when you really should book the shore excursions offered by your cruise operator. For example, when your ship is some distance from the sights, if you get caught in traffic on the way back your vessel will wait beyond scheduled sailing time if it’s their own excursion, but not if you’ve gone with an independent operator. There’s a lot to be considered before you decide which way to go, and if you Google “cruise shore excursion alternatives” you’ll find a Cruise Critic article that burrows deep into the pros and cons, and much else to ponder for novice cruisers.

WE ARE PLANNING A 4-6 WEEK EUROPEAN HOLIDAY FOR MY HUSBAND AND I, OUR SON AND HIS WIFE, OUR DAUGHTER, HER HUSBAND AND THEIR 20-MONTH-OLD DAUGHTER. WE PLAN TO SPEND A WHITE CHRISTMAS WITH OUR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW’S PARENTS IN KOCHEL AND VISIT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN MUNICH. WE KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE COLD SO WE’D LIKE TO SPEND A WEEK SOMEWHERE WARM, PERHAPS OIA. CAN YOU SUGGEST WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO SEE, WHERE TO STAY AND HOW TO TRAVEL DURING  THE EUROPEAN WINTER.

R. HENSHAW, TEA GARDENS

Brace yourselves because it’s going to be seriously cold, and bleak. Christmas in Europe is a wonderful time. There are fantastic traditions that come into play, great food, festivities and celebrations, but it’s freezing, days are short and that puts the brake on your options. In Munich in December, the average daily temperature falls within the range of 2 degrees to minus 2. Cold like this severely impacts on your options. Chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors, possibly in art galleries and museums, but you’d probably like a little more variety in your holiday than this.

Oia is a lovely village, one of the prettiest and most dramatically poised in all of Greece, but even though Santorini is one of the more southerly of the Greek Islands it’s not warm in winter. In January you can expect temperatures between 10-14 degrees. Tourists will be thin on the ground and  a lot of the restaurants, hotels and other businesses that service them in the warmer months will be closed. If you want warmth at this time of the year you’d be better off having a stopover on your way back to Australia, possibly in one of Thailand’s resort areas.

Travelling around with this many people is going to be easier by vehicle rather than taking trains, and you might try Australia-based Global Cars (globalcars南京夜网419论坛), which searches many different car hirers to track down the best deal.

For accommodation, apartments are probably going to suit you better than multiple hotel rooms, and Air BnB (airbnb南京夜网419论坛) is a great resource.

Christmas in Europe has a lot of appeal, but you’d magnify your options for a memorable holiday if you were to reschedule to a warmer time, and June and mid-September-October are my favourites.

IN LATE APRIL WE FOUR ARE CRUISING FROM FORT LAUDERDALE TO LOS ANGELES VIA THE PANAMA CANAL AND  WONDERING WHAT TO DO PRE-CRUISE. SHOULD WE STAY IN MIAMI OR FORT LAUDERDALE, AND HOW MANY DAYS – WE ARE THINKING THREE?

S. MOORE, SYDNEY

Fort Lauderdale is cleaner, tidier, more polite and generally better behaved. The city, which brands itself America’s Venice, has hundreds of kilometres of canals and waterways. Many residents anchor their boats in their backyards, and you can pass a very pleasant half day on a boat tour. Miami Beach is more wild child, more artsy, definitely more bohemian, with a stronger Cuban vibe and zippy nightlife. Miami Beach also has fabulous architecture in its art deco district. They’re close enough that you can stay in one and dip into the other. In terms of what you get for your money, hotels are better value in Fort Lauderdale. If you wanted to experience Miami Beach’s nightlife I’d say stay there, otherwise go for Fort Lauderdale. Three days would be perfect.

CONVERSATION OVER TO YOU…

The question was: “Do you write hotel reviews for Tripadvisor?”

P. O’Neill: writes: “I have reviewed hotels in 116 cities. I’m wary of scathing reviews for an otherwise extraordinary hotel done perhaps as retribution by a guest who attempted extortion for a free stay and failed – talk to any hotel owner – or had an issue they didn’t try to resolve.”

“I write them because I read them – fair’s fair,” according to S. Alexander. “I try to review every hotel, and room tips and little asides can offer an insight into what to avoid or seek out.”

S. Maloney writes: “I’m a senior contributor and feel I’m balanced in what I submit, never abusive.  I use TA to research my own travel so feel I’m giving back.  I only pay attention to reviews from other regulars. It’s pretty easy to spot the fakes.”

From K. Hutchinson: “I normally only write reviews for hotel experiences that are very good or very bad and I’m constructive in my comments. It is interesting how many hotels comment on reviews. They usually appreciate good comments but also negative ones, as often they are not aware of issues with their hotel.”

“Yes,” says M. Fowler, “I write a review every time I stay somewhere. I do thorough research before making a booking so fortunately I haven’t had to write a negative review yet.”

From M. Wilson: “I post frequent reviews of accommodation, restaurants and experiences good and bad on Tripadvisor.  As a regular user it is important that places are reviewed on an ongoing basis as changes can occur for a variety of reasons.”

Next question: Many Aussies were recently stranded in Bali due to an erupting volcano. If you had to be stranded, what would be your first choice, and your last?

Send response to [email protected]南京夜网419论坛. The best response will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

SEND US YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS

Include your name and your suburb or town and send it to [email protected]南京夜网419论坛 All published questions will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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