Private shore tours

This item appears on page 14 of the April 2010 issue.

On a 32-day cruise aboard the “Tahitian Princess” (now called Ocean Princess), Oct. 18-Nov. 19, 2009, my husband, Bob, and I did the following on our shore trips.

Cape Town — Having read in ITN (April ’04, pg. 92) about the certified guide Denise Dick (e-mail, we e-mailed her a couple of months before our cruise. She was great. She picked us up at the dock and we took an eight-hour tour for ZAR1,100 (about $150) for two of us plus the cost of lunch and our tip to her.

Madagascar — We took the ship’s tender to the island and got a taxi in port for about $40 for six hours plus tip.

Oman — The ship provided a free shuttle to downtown, where we got a taxi for $40 for three hours.

Dubai — With the taxis right by the ship, you have to bargain with the drivers. We paid $100 for six hours plus tip.

India — In Mumbai we got off the ship for five days, rejoining it in Chennai. While Princess Cruises offered a five-day, five-star excursion by bus and train for $2,700, we booked our own trip through Holiday India Travel (New Delhi; in the US, call 646/652-0749) for only $850 per person. It included two flights, four hotel nights, a guide during each day and a driver 24/7.

We took the ship’s shuttle to the port gate, where we were picked up by a driver for sightseeing in Mumbai, then dropped off at the airport for the flight to Jaipur, meeting the next driver. On day four we flew from Delhi to Chennai. We paid an additional $100 to stay at the Taj Gateway Hotel in Agra, as it overlooks the Taj Mahal.

Holiday India’s Neha Kaushal ( put a lot of effort into arranging the tour. She e-mailed us a couple of options and we could add or delete anything. She asked us to pay half the cost before leaving the US and the rest after we met her in Delhi. She was a delight. We cannot say enough about her. She called us each day during our trip.

Myanmar — We had arranged with an agency to meet someone at the port, but they didn’t show up, so we took the ship’s free shuttle downtown, about an hour from port, and got a taxi (no A/C) from Kaung San Tourism Service. Touring from 3 to 10 p.m. cost $65 plus tip for four of us.

Malaysia — A couple months before our trip, we arranged to meet Patrick Nunis (, whom we had read about in ITN (Jan. ’08, pg. 77), in Kuala Lumpur. For a full-day tour, he charged $25 an hour and we were very pleased with him.

Singapore — We had all day, as our flight wasn’t until 11 p.m. The airport has a free bus to take you from the airport to a mall, where you can catch another sightseeing bus and then return to the airport, all at no cost; you sign up for it at the information booth in Terminal 2. There’s a place there to check hand luggage.

The cruise — We met a lot of wonderful people on the ship (only 600 on board), and the food was good. We each paid $2,929 cruise + $1,949 international airfare + $181 taxes + $115 air fees + $351 insurance and $63 transfers for $5,588 each.

This trip marked our 45th wedding anniversary, and Princess Cruises (Santa Clarita, CA; 800/774-6237) upgraded us to a balcony stateroom. What a delight!

If anyone would like more information, e-mail us c/o ITN.

Frankin, MA