The majestic island of St. Lucia is a wildly popular port of call for a majority of Caribbean cruises. There is little wonder as to why, given that the island is famous around the world for not only its natural beauty and picturesque landscape, but also for its incredibly friendly locals. For many cruise passengers, St. Lucia shore excursions are the highlight of any trip.
One common complaint among these passengers, however, is that such shore excursions often carry a pretty hefty price tag. Nobody wants to have to dip into retirement savings or college funds in order to enjoy St. Lucia day trips, and the fact of the matter is that you don't have to. Real St. Lucia Tours offers shore excursions in St. Lucia that are significantly cheaper than those on offer by your cruise line while also providing opportunities that are simply beyond compare!
When working with a cruise line, they are going to try to tell you that booking your St. Lucia cruise excursion through them is the cheapest and safest way to go. While this could be the case in some instances, the truth of the matter is that it is much more convenient (and profitable) for the cruise line than it is for you.
The simple fact that you are required to pay for these shore excursions months in advance is a very telling sign in and of itself. After all, you have no idea what you are going to want to do on a specific day during your trip? What if, when the time for your cruise finally comes, you see the beautiful waters and want to go snorkeling, only to find that you have paid for a trip to the botanical gardens? What if you want to climb the majestic Piton Mountains or take a trip to the world's only drive-in volcano only to have booked a sightseeing tour?
The simple fact is that booking your shore excursions through the tour company is not the best way to go- especially not when you have an option like Real St. Lucia Tours. We have many shore trips designed specifically for cruise passengers, and our adventures are so popular that they have garnered mention in publications such as USA Today.
Our clients often can't wait to share their experiences with others, and we have no doubt that you will feel the same way. Don't let the cruise line pocket your money, only to get stuck with an excursion that doesn't give you the chance to experience excitement and adventure while getting to know the land and the local people- whether you want to hike the Tet Paul Nature Trail or visit Anse Chastanet, we have a day tour that has got you covered!
Cruise lines often try to get you to book their St. Lucia shore excursions months in advance by telling you that it will save you a great deal of time. They tell you that by booking through them, you can skip all the lines, step off the ship, and jump right into an adventure. Have you ever read the fine print, though? These excursions are subject to change due to availability and other factors. Imagine arriving in St. Lucia only to find that the excursion you booked to visit historic Soufriere is no longer available and that all of the other excursions on the ship are full or needed to be booked in advance. Now what are you going to do?
Independent Alternatives- Your Best Bet for Real St. Lucia Adventure
Despite what the cruise lines tell you, you do have options when it comes to St. Lucia shore trips. For many travelers, it comes down to a matter of money. The truth of the matter is that the excursions offered by the cruise companies are almost always more expensive than using a reliable local tour company. This is because the cruise lines need to not only pay for the adventure, but to pay local land or water taxi services as well as to make a profit of their own. In other words, when you book an excursion through your cruise line, you are paying for a number of unnecessary middle men. You are also paying significant markups so that the cruise line receives what is often a substantial profit, ensuring that they make money from you even when you are not on board the ship. This may be standard business practice, but anyone with a little money savvy knows that you can save a lot by cutting out the middle men.
There are other benefits to choosing an independent tour operator for your St. Lucia day trip as well. For example, when you hire a local company you not only get the opportunity to learn from and be guided by real island natives, you get the opportunity to put money back into the island's economy to help keep it a beautiful and thriving place for years to come. If you are the type of traveler who would rather see your money fund a local economy than line the pockets of corporate cruise ship owners, an independent company is certainly the way to go. By choosing a smaller, independent tour owner, you not only get more personalized service, but you rest assured that the money you pay goes to feed the families of the team, to help educate their children, and to help boost the island's small businesses instead of paying for some multi-millionaire who has never even been to St. Lucia to buy a new villa in Tuscany.
Of course, choosing to work with an independent tour company is the right way to go even if money isn't a factor. For many travelers, the quality of a St. Lucia day trip is just as important as how much it costs. When you work with a local St. Lucia tour company, you are working with someone who really wants you to enjoy your experience- who wants you to visit the island again and again. A local will want to provide you with the level of fun and quality that will encourage you to bring your friends and family back to the island and that will encourage you to leave positive reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. When you are working with a local provider, you know that he or she will always do their best to provide you with unparalleled quality and service, and that's something that will ensure that your St. Lucia shore trip is one you will never forget.
When you opt to work with an operator who is contracted with a cruise line instead of a private operator, the difference is apparent. After all, someone working for the cruise company is going to get paid no matter how you felt about your excursion. You may still have a grand time, but you can rest assured that they won't go the extra mile to make your trip one for the memory books. Cruise lines often choose providers based on who offers the lowest bid, not based on who can provide the best excursion for the passengers. Financially it makes sense for them, but it isn't the best option for you.
Another issue with choosing St. Lucia cruise trips from the cruise company is that you are forced to match their schedule, not their own. You will get X amount of time at attraction A, move to attraction B for X amount of time, and so on. By choosing an independent tour owner, you have room to maneuver. If, for example, you are really enjoying the mud baths at the island's famous Sulphur Springs, the tour guide will be much more willing to let you spend more time there in exchange for a little less time at Government House or another stop on your tour. Small, independent operators strive to accommodate you, not to make sure that you accommodate their needs, and this intimate and personal experience can really impact how much you love our beautiful island. Local guides are also much more familiar with the island, which means that they can teach you about the many attractions, the island's rich and interesting history, and more.
The Convenience Factor
Like we mentioned earlier, your cruise line wants you to believe that booking through them is the most convenient option for you when, in truth, it is more convenient (and profitable) for them. Not only does booking so far ahead mean that you can't be flexible, but the scheduled tour times are done in such a way that the cruise company can fit in as many people as possible and make the most money. A smaller, more intimate group is always going to be more fun, and it will give you much more flexibility during your island excursions.
Convenience and scheduling can be a big thing when you are on a cruise. After all, if you stay up until the wee hours of the morning enjoying the ship's dance hall and bar, the last thing you want to do is line up half an hour early to get ready for a 7 AM excursion. How are you going to enjoy an island tour if you are only half awake? And if you are going to be on the island for the majority of the day, does it even make sense to start your excursion so early?
When you book your St. Lucia island excursion with an independent tour company, you can begin your excursion when YOU are ready, not when the people on the ship tell you to. We will meet you at the ship and will have you back well in time before the ship departs, but during your excursion, our time is yours. Maybe you won't have as much time as if you started at seven in the morning, but the time you do have will be quality time enjoying the sights and attractions of the island that you will enjoy most.
Payment can be another issue when it comes to St. Lucia tour excursions. Your cruise ship will want advance payment via credit card, while a smaller tour operator will likely require a cash payment in the local currency. If this seems like a minor hassle, think about this- you are likely going to want to try local foods and drinks while visit the island, so you are going to want to exchange a bit of currency anyway. It won't take any time at all to change a little more in order to pay a tour operator to take you on the excursion of a lifetime. With the right tour company, such as Real St. Lucia Tours, you can easily search online to find out how much the excursion will cost and to ask any questions, and if you like, you will even find the option to book online. This latter fact eliminates the so-called convenience factor of being able to book excursions online through the cruise company while saving you money.
What About Risks?
One thing the cruise line will tell you is that they are not responsible for any mishaps that occur on excursions that are not booked through them. If you miss the ship, they are not obligated to wait for you. They will tell you all manner of things in order to try to scare you into booking your excursion through them. Don't let them scare you. Independent tour operators such as Real St. Lucia Tours know how critical it is to get you back to your ship on time, and we take it very seriously. After all, what would happen to our reputation if we caused a client to miss their ship? We'd go out of business! If anything, this means that we will work extra hard to get you to your ship with time to spare all while making sure that you have the St. Lucia excursion of a lifetime.
If you are looking to minimize risk with independent shore excursions, it is as simple as planning with care. When looking at different excursions, take the time to see how long they last and make sure you know how long the ship will be at the St. Lucia port of call. If you have any questions about duration or whether you will be able to make it back to the ship by a certain time, simply contact the tour operator and ask your questions. The team here at Real St. Lucia Tours works hard to answer all client questions fully and honestly, and we will let you know if we are able to fit the excursions you seek into your time here on our beautiful island.
If you are really worried about the notion of missing your ship, it can also help to keep in mind that many travel insurance packages cover missed departures. This means that you will be able to catch another departing ship to leave the island. And if we're being honest, there are far worse places to spend a little extra time than here in paradise!
Choosing a St. Lucia Independent Tour Operator
Much like any popular tourist destination, St. Lucia has tour operators and Tour Operators. In other words, there are people who will offer to take you on a tour of the island, and then there are local companies who specialize in providing a real St. Lucia experience. One thing we highly recommend is that you don't simply accept the offer of the first person you see after you step off of the ship. Shop around and see the different companies and excursions on offer. Judge how professional the company is, what they have to offer, and what their prices include. You don't want to work with an operator who treats you like a walking ATM.
Your best bet is to do a little research ahead of time. You can perform an online search for St. Lucia tour operators. Real St. Lucia tours is among the companies that maintains a full website that includes tour details, pricing, and more. With Real St. Lucia Tours, you will also have the opportunity to read reviews from travelers just like yourself who have experienced each of our many tours firsthand. Reading reviews is always recommended before making any choice, and we fully believe that when you choose Real St. Lucia Tours, we make it simple to understand why so many of our guests have simply fallen in love with the island of St. Lucia.