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New site offers discounted shore excursions

This item was written by Fran Golden, a cruise expert and Trip Coach for Budget Travel magazine. Golden is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.

A new booking site launched by Viator, Inc. aims to make it easier for cruise passengers to find alternatives to pricey cruise line shore excursions.

At, passengers have access to more than 500 excursions that can be independently booked at 80 ports of call, based on specific ship itineraries.

The tours are priced up to 60% lower than cruise line prices, Viator officials said. The company backs that up with a lowest-price guarantee (if you find a cheaper tour they refund the difference).

There’s also a guarantee passengers on the tours will get back to the ship on time.

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“We’ve taken our great inventory and added innovative technology to create the new user experience and give cruise passengers direct access to the best excursions in their ports of call to help them make the most of their time and money in every port,” said Barrie Seidenberg, Viator’s president and CEO. “For far too long cruise passengers have been beholden to the cruise lines for shore excursions that are often overpriced, over-crowded and represent only a fraction of what’s available locally.”

The tours are tied to the itineraries of cruise lines, including Carnival, Costa, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Passengers plug in their ship name and departure date and the website targets which excursions work for each port of call, based on the ship’s arrival and departure times.

What the new website does not give you is your ship’s excursion prices and tour descriptions – you need to check the cruise line site yourself and cross reference for comparison.

The tours sold by Viator can be booked as late as the night before arrival.

Sweetening the pot, Viator is offering 10% off excursions booked at at the new site through the end of April (enter the code SHOREX10).

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