Cruise lines are battling independent shore excursion operators undercutting their prices by up to 60 per cent.
According to companies which advertise excursions, more and more cruise guests are booking with external tour operators rather than booking through cruise lines.
One company which deals with cruise lines worldwide, Intercruises, maintained that they were getting increasing numbers of independent cruisers asking for their tours both because of price and because tours had sold out in advance.
Hope Kramer from Shoretours.com.au, another independently run operator, said she has seen an increase in passengers customising tours.
The company has been operating for four years, and the number of cruise guests who book their own tours increase every year.
Shoretours offers city walking tours starting at $40, whereas a similar tour with a cruise line could cost as much as US$75.
Shoretours is just one provider offering city and shopping tours, adventure activities and vineyard visits and accommodates passengers from lines like Holland America and Celebrity Cruises.
But it’s not just about price.
“We mainly deal with cruisers who are looking for a more personalised and smaller tour group. Many of the tours are very similar. But our offering means , that guests have the ability and freedom to experience something more at one place, rather than following a group of 50 people with a very strict schedule.
“We provide an array of tours in Australia and New Zealand. One of the most popular is a trip to the Blue Mountains when cruisers are in Sydney. One tour that always gets a thumbs up is a tour to a whisky distillery in Hobart.”
Holland America offers similar shore excursions like walking tours which range in price up to US$50. Safaris can cost upwards of US$151.
On Celebrity Cruises, the cheapest city tours start from around US$55 with some costing up to around US$250.
Ms Kramer said some of the itineraries Shoretours.com.au offers are cheaper than the cruise lines offering, but it all depends on what guests want.
“Our clients lean towards more adventure activities. In some cases, our tours are more affordable than what the cruise lines offer, depending on what the guest wants to do. The basic city tours start from around $40 and can go up to $500 to $600 for helicopter rides,” she said.
“Another reason why a lot of cruises choose us is because we also pre and post cruise holidays so in case they want to add on other tours, we are able to package an entire experience for them.”
Other operators like Intercruising and Viator also offers independently run shore excursions.