Shore Excursions and trips in Europe, Mediterranean, Alaska, and Baltic

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How are shore excursions offered by the cruise line different from that of PortTrips?
  2. What is offered/included in the shore excursion?
  3. What is offered/included in the shore excursion?
  4. What is your cancellation policy?
  5. In St. Petersburg will there be a VISA available for the tour?
  6. Will there be time for shopping?
  7. What are the port meeting instructions?
  8. Will you be able to accommodate passengers with wheelchairs?
  9. Will there be a specific dress code for some places?
  10. What are the times of the tour and when do we have to return to port?
  11. Do you provide transfers?
  12. Do you offer any Pre and Post Cruise services?
  13. How is payment structured/What currency is used?
  14. Medications and special needs
  15. Terms and Conditions

(1) How are shore excursions offered by the cruise line different from that of PortTrips?

The shore excursions offered by PortTrips are private and customized to the passengers' requests. This means you will have your own driver and vehicle. We pick you up from the pier or wherever you wish. You have the option of adding a guide for a more personal tour.
We are your home away from home. While on a short visit in a foreign city, we will show you around our front and back yards. We are knowledgeable, experienced, courteous, prompt, and reliable. We will meet you at your choice of place to embark on a tour of our cities and show you the main attractions and hidden jewels known only to us.
You can't compare our tour to the tours offered by the cruise line simply because we give you the most attention and cater to your very specific needs. We do not sell tickets to existing shore excursions; we create the shore excursion together with you to address your interests and needs. Our tours are private - you and your group will be the only ones on the tour and we will not combine different groups together. This provides you with intimate settings for family and friends and allows for a better experience.

(2) What is offered/included in the shore excursion?

Transportation - We use the latest models of cars and buses available in each city and port. All are equipped with comfortable seats and air conditioning where available. We assign an English speaking driver for small groups of up to 12 people. For such groups, a certified guide is optional at additional cost. For groups larger than 16 people, we assign a certified guide. The difference between a certified guide and an English speaking driver is that the guide is able to go on location with you to explain the sites in detail. In many places, the driver may not leave the vehicle and go on-site with you, but he will provide commentary along the drive. A certified guide is recommended for large groups as well as for small groups interested in a thorough tour.
Meals and entry fees are often not included in the price. In some ports we offer the option of meals and purchase entry tickets in advance but it depends on location and availability. For groups that are larger than 25 people we strongly urge you to book meals and entry fees in advance to save time. We work with excellent restaurants that present local delicacies in elegant settings. Wine with your meal is available upon request. Some sites require reservations and advance booking. We will work with you individually to cater to the needs of your group.
Vatican entry rules have been changed recently. The new rules dictate that groups may submit their request for group entry in advance for a specific date and time. Requests, however, may not be answered by the Vatican authorities for up to 48 hours before the requested visit time. As a result we can not guarantee group admission with the uncertainty that the request may not be granted. In order to shorten the wait time, we try to visit the Vatican in the early afternoon when the wait time is shorter. For noise level control, the Vatican requires the use of headsets for groups larger than 6 people. This can be reserved with us for a fee of 4 Euros per person.
Sites and museums that require advance booking and specific time slots such as the Gold Room in the Hermitage or the Accademia Museum in Florence may be booked through us with sufficient advance notice.

(3) What is offered/included in the shore excursion?

No, you do not have to be a cruise ship passenger to do an excursion with us. You can schedule a tour and we will arrange for you to be picked up and dropped off wherever you want. Our tours are customized for you so the itinerary is very flexible. We also offer transfers if you do not want to deal with the hassle of waiting in line for a taxi.

(4) What is your cancellation policy?

Should you need to cancel a tour, a 100% refund is given if you cancel at least 14 day prior to your scheduled departure date less $100 booking fee per group. No refunds will be issued for cancellations less than 14 days prior to your departure date.

(5) In St. Petersburg will there be a VISA available for the tour?

Yes, our price includes an umbrella VISA for all passengers visiting St Petersburg. This means that you do not need to obtain a tourist VISA, contrary to information provide by some cruise lines. This umbrella VISA requires that the people visiting stay with the guide at all times during the tour. Passengers' passport information will be taken by us to be presented to passport control before their arrival.

(6) Will there be time for shopping?

Yes, since our tours are private and customized, you can reserve time in your itinerary for shopping and free time. If you book a full day tour with us shopping is usually done during lunch or, time permitting, at the end of the tour.

(7) What are the port meeting instructions?

Our representatives will be waiting at the pier 30 minutes prior to meeting time. There are local contact numbers on the voucher we provide for you before the trip. Please look for a sign with your group name at the pier.

(8) Will you be able to accommodate passengers with wheelchairs?

In most ports we can provide services to people who need assistance getting in and out of vehicles. We can normally stow away wheelchairs that are foldable. In some ports we may provide services to wheelchair bound people who require an access ramp or a lift to board the vehicle. Please inquire by mail or phone. We may be able to assist in mobilized wheelchairs by assigning a host/hostess for this purpose; please get in contact with us, otherwise no one will be provided.
The pace of the tour may be altered to address mobility needs. You should discuss your mobility concerns with your group members in advance to avoid unnecessary tension. We will comply with any reasonable request given appropriate advance notice.

(9) Will there be a specific dress code for some places?

We may visit religious sites or tour countries with strict dress codes. The general rule is to avoid exposure of the shoulders and knees but some sites also require the head to be covered. Please inquire about the different needs in various destinations and always be sensitive to your hosts.

(10) What are the times of the tour and when do we have to return to port?

Tours start about one hour after the ship arrives and return 90 minutes before the ship departs. We may alter your tour to address time concerns, traffic patterns, weather conditions, and anything that may jeopardize safe and timely return to the ship.

(11) Do you provide transfers?

We will pick you up from the airport and drive you to your destination in comfort. Please have your flight and hotel information ready when booking. For cruise passengers, please reserve a larger category vehicle to accommodate for additional luggage. Book your trip to the airport according to the required check-in time. Airport authorities require you to check-in 3 hours prior to departure for international flights. Please contact your carrier for specific instructions. You may contact us to determine the travel time from your location to the airport. We also provide transfers to hotels and other locations upon request.

(12) Do you offer any Pre and Post Cruise services?

We offer hotel, transfer, tour, and restaurant bookings as well as special events for groups before and after your cruise.

(13) How is payment structured/What currency is used?

Prices can be presented in both local currency and US dollars. Please request that local currency be presented if it is necessary for your inquiry. Charges will be applied in USD and appear on your credit card statement as PortTrips Guide.

(14) Medications and special needs

Please make sure to carry your medications with you at all times. Most tours are catered to a general population in reasonable health and require walks of up to 20 minutes at a time. You should be aware of the trip itinerary and your capabilities. Please do not embark on a tour if you feel that you are not fully capable to take long rides and walks. Some cities are as far as a 3 hour drive from the ship. Please exhibit discretion and responsibly address any health needs that may arise. During the tour you must address all concerns to your group leader as soon as you become aware of them. Please do not subject yourself to peer-pressure and compromise your health as a result.

(15) Terms and Conditions

Please read the following information before ordering any shore excursions. These conditions are binding once you purchase any shore excursion provided by independent tour operators through PortTrips International.
The deadline for making shore excursion bookings online is 14 days prior to sailing, unless otherwise noted in the shore excursion description. All excursions are subject to change without notice. Descriptions, departure times, itineraries, pricing and locations may be altered and may vary due to unforeseen circumstances. Descriptions and excursion lengths are all based on approximate times and predetermined points of interest. Changes may be unavoidable and can be made at the tour operator's sole discretion. Departure times and meeting places will be printed on the shore excursion ticket. As a delay may result in a missed excursion or interfere with the excursion's normal operation, guests are required to report to the specified location, at the designated departure time.
Shore Excursion Cancellation and Refund Policy
PortTrips International or the Tour Operator, due to inclement weather conditions or any other reason whatsoever, may cancel shore excursions. In which case, and as your sole recourse, full refunds will be made. Excursions may be canceled or modified depending on the number of guests participating. Some excursions require a minimum number of guests to operate. If this minimum is not met, the Tour Operator may cancel excursions and full refunds will be issued. In the event of a cruise booking cancellation, within the cut-off window, a full refund will automatically be posted to the original credit card used to pay for the shore excursions order. If the designated contact person on a shore excursion order must cancel from their cruise booking and the remaining guests who are sailing would like to retain the shore excursion order, a new contact person needs to be assigned. If a designated contact person cancels and does not reassign the responsibility, the associated shore excursion orders will automatically be cancelled and refunded. Guests are encouraged to purchase a Cruise Vacation Protection Plan to cover any eligible non-refundable shore excursion cancellation charges.
Client Cancellation Policy
Cancellation made with 14 or less days will be penalized with 100 % charge. Unused events or services are non-refundable.
Responsibility
PortTrips International is not responsible for any loss, damage, death, injury, or claims whatsoever arising from, connected with, or related to any activities engaged in by guests in any port of call. This includes all shore excursions, whether booked online, sold onboard or sold by third parties ashore. Guests engage in all such activities off the ship at their own risk. PortTrips International acts only as an agent for the independent tour operators supplying excursions or services. Independent contractors operate all shore excursions, including any related transportation. PortTrips International neither supervises nor controls their actions, nor makes any representation either expressed or implied as to their suitability. PortTrips International sells tickets for all excursions as a convenience to guests only. Tour operators, transportation providers, and their employees are neither agents nor employees of PortTrips International, notwithstanding their use of any signage or clothing which may contain the name 'PortTrips International' or other related trade names or logos. It is understood and agreed that PortTrips International assumes no responsibility for, nor guarantees performance of, and in no event shall be liable for, any loss, damage, injury, or death in connection with said excursions or transportation. Please review your ticket for further information regarding your rights and obligations as well as those of PortTrips International.
Restrictions:
Please note that there are certain restrictions based on age, health, weight and/or height, which have been imposed by the individual tour operators for your own safety. PortTrips International urges you to abide by them. Tour operators have the right to require any individual to withdraw from an excursion at any time if they deem that individual's conduct detrimental to or incompatible with the interests, comfort, well-being or harmony of the group as a whole. Tour operators reserve the right to alter or adjust excursions to meet local conditions for participant safety and convenience. Neither PortTrips International nor local tour operators will extend financial reimbursement to compensate for a guest's disappointment in the event that circumstances beyond the reasonable control of PortTrips International or the tour operator make it impossible to provide services as intended.
Pricing
Prices for shore excursions are quoted per person, in U.S. dollars and are subject to change without notice. Prices also vary by departure date and time and are controlled by capacity. Some restrictions may apply. Most prices include transportation. Meals, refreshments, guides, entrance fees, and other items are optional unless otherwise indicated. On snorkeling, scuba and golf excursions, only the equipment specified is included in the price. Some fishing excursions, particularly in Alaska, require the purchase of a fishing license, unless otherwise noted.
Personal Possessions
Neither PortTrips International, nor the Tour Operators will be responsible for personal possessions. Do not leave your possessions unattended at any time, either in the vehicles in which you are traveling or otherwise. Remember coats, umbrellas, cameras, handbags, wallets, traveling bags, binoculars, and similar items remain, at all times throughout the shore excursion, under the guest's custody and control. Transportation guests should consider that standards of transportation vary considerably throughout the world. Air-conditioned motor coaches are not available in many areas. In some destinations, local buses are the best available. Please note that motor coaches and other forms of transportation may require guests to climb 2 to 3 steps. Most, but not all motor coaches, can accommodate collapsible wheelchairs. Staff is not obligated to lift guests into or out of vehicles. Tendering may prevent guests in wheelchairs from going ashore at certain ports of call.
Deposits and Payment
All payment shall be made by bank transfers, checks or credit cards (a surcharge of 5% will be applied to credit card payments). A 50% deposit of the total amount is required at the time of booking. Another 25% is due no later than 45 days prior to the group's arrival. PortTrips will not guarantee availabilities and prices if deposit deadlines are not met. Remaining balance is due 14 days prior to group's arrival. Additional services and expenses must be paid prior to group departure.
Contract
Contract must be signed no later than 45 days prior to the execution of the program.
Mail checks to:
PortTrips International
44-02 23rd Street # 520
Long Island City NY 11101
Port Procedures
Our local representative will expect you at the local port and will have a sign with your name on it. If you do not see our representative, you must call the local number as soon as possible. In some countries, we will also provide a toll free number to our New York office. You always have the option of calling us collect.
Visa and Travel Documents
Please note that travel documentation requirements vary by destination and change often. It is the responsibility of the guest to provide valid travel and medical history documents required for air travel, debarkation at various ports of call, and re-entry into the appropriate country of origin. Some ports require entry visas. Please inquire with your consulate about any visa requirements. www.towd.com is a directory for tourism offices that could help you determines visa requirements in different countries. PortTrips will not refund a tour based on visa ineligibility.
Tipping
Tipping is not included in the price. It is customary for good service but not mandatory. Please report back any tipping abuses.