Whether you are a veteran cruiser or a first-time cruise ship passenger, we all have similar questions when arriving in a foreign port. The information available online can be a little overwhelming these days. So, we did your homework and created a list of things you should know before you go on your Costa Rica cruise. Our Activity Specialists have compiled a list of cruise tips, cruise FAQ's, and general cruise questions into one easy peasy guide.
At The Real Deal Tours we specialize in discount shore excursions, not booking your cruise vacation itself. We leave that to your travel agent who has a lot of knowledge about cruise ships and cruise vacations. However, travel agents typically do not have the extensive knowledge of the activities in each port that we do. We are all about the fun things to do in Costa Rica instead.
Check out our list of cruise excursion tips and some of the most frequently asked questions by our cruise ship passengers visiting Puerto Limon, Puerto Caldera and Puntarenas ports in Costa Rica below.
Q: What if my cruise ship does not port? Do you offer a ¨No Port No Pay¨policy like my cruise excursions?
A: Absolutely! If you book a shore excursion with us and your ship does not port, we will gladly refund your deposit in full. We try to monitor the cruise ship itineraries, but the information is not always 100% accurate. If your ship itinerary changes, please be kind enough to contact us and let us know so we can try to re-schedule you for another day or refund you.
Q: What if I want to change or cancel my cruise vacation or just my shore excursion, can I still get a refund?
A: Sometimes things come up or we just change our minds. No worries, you are safe to change your mind when you book with The Real Deal Tours. If you wish to cancel for any reason prior to your arrival in port, we ask that you notify us 48 hours prior to your scheduled activity. We will then provide you with a full refund of your deposit less a small processing fee of 5% of the tour price. If you have additional policy questions, please see our Terms & Conditions for complete details.
Q: If I book my shore excursion with you rather than directly from my ship, will you still get us back in time for our departure?
A: Of Course!! Don't listen to your cruise ship's concierge desk. Independent cruise excursions in Costa Rica are perfectly safe and generally much less expensive not to mention more intimate. Trust us, we do not want you to miss your cruise ship any more than you do. So relax, our shore excursion operators have several years’ experience working with cruise passengers. We have never had a client miss their Cruise Ship departure. Generally we will have you back no less than one hour prior to your cruise ship's departure time.
Q: Are these the same shore excursions that are offered on our Cruise Ship?
A: Yes and No. Some of the places visited are the same of course, however we choose to work with smaller operators that manage smaller more personal groups. We want to ensure that your experience in Costa Rica's cruise ports are unique and the best we can offer. Aside from the best tours in Costa Rica, we also strive to offer discount and cheap shore excursions that your ship does not promote.
Q: There is a cruise ship shore excursion in Costa Rica that I want to take but I do not see it listed on your site?
A: We love to hear about new activities and fun things to do in Costa Rica. Just contact us and let us know what you are interested in. We are happy to look into customizing a shore excursion just for you and your group.
Q: How will I receive my booking confirmation or voucher for the shore excursion I book with you?
A: At the time of booking, you will immediately receive a receipt reflecting the tour you chose, the date you chose, and the deposit amount paid. Be sure to verify that your receipt reflects your correct contact information and dates you will be in port. Within 24-48 hours you will receive a confirmation voucher with your meeting instructions and balance due on the day of your excursion.
Q: How do I pay for my excursion?
A: We only require a deposit to save your space. You will need to pay the tour operator the balance in full upon arrive. The balance amount will be clearly noted on your confirmation voucher. All funds are quoted and collected in US dollars.
Q: If I book a private shore excursion with you, can I invite people I meet on the ship?
A: Absolutely! Our private tours are booked by vehicle, so if you are just a group of 4 and your vehicle holds up to 8, you can invite up to 4 other people. We just ask that you give us a finalized number of participants one day prior.
Q: What time Zone is Costa Rica? Will the excursions run on our ship time or local time?
A: All tours run on local Costa Rica time. Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time. However, Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, making it an hour earlier there during the summer months. Not sure what time it is when you arrive? Simply search "what time is it in Costa Rica" in google and the current time will pop up! If you do not have WiFi access, our best suggestion is to immediately disembark and ask a local what time it is.
Q: Where am I going to meet my Cruise Excursion when I arrive into port in Costa Rica?
A: Generally most of our Costa Rica shore excursion providers will meet you as you exit your cruise ship terminal, however this can vary according to the tour operator. Complete meeting instructions will be provided on your confirmation voucher you will need to print and take with you on the day of the tour.
Q: What if I cannot find you, how can I contact you when I arrive to Costa Rica?
A: Our offices are always open for you. You can reach us via email, Info@TheRealDealTours.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Between the hours of 8am and 8pm, you can reach us via our local phone number in Costa Rica +506 4000 1886. On a cell phone? Our direct line based in the US, +1-210-858-6640. Alternatively, save yourself a buck and contact us via WiFi on WhatsApp +1 210 858-6353. All of our contact information will be clearly noted on your confirmation voucher so you have it handy on the day of the tour.
Q: What if I am running late for my excursion?
A: If you are running late, contact us via phone or WhatsApp just as soon as you can. We will do our best to wait for you, but we cannot guarantee the service in its entirety. If your ship is late arriving to port, you are covered under our "no port no pay" policy. In most cases the tour providers are already aware, but we ask you to please notify us. They will make all possible adjustments to ensure you are able to do the entire excursion. In some cases it may be necessary to cut one of the stops are spend less time at one or more activities. If you are late on your own account and do not contact us prior, you will be considered a "no show" and no refund will be possible.
Q: Can I book more than one shore excursion while in port in Costa Rica?
A: We do not recommend booking more than one shore excursion from any of the ports in Costa Rica due to the length of time it takes to travel from the port to the tour destinations. If there are a couple of activities you are interested in, we are happy to look into customizing a combo tour just for you if time allows. Just contact one of our Costa Rica shore excursion specialists.
Q: Is there a minimum age for your shore excursions?
A: The minimum age entirely depends on the activity. Children under 18 years of age however cannot participate without an adult accompanying them. Age restrictions are noted on the details section of each of our tour descriptions.
Q: Is there discounts for children?
A: Yes, many shore excursions offer discount pricing for children. Children's pricing is noted directly on the booking page as well as the main menus.
Q: I have some dietary restrictions. Are you able to accommodate them?
A: Yes, if at all possible we will do our best to accommodate your dietary needs. We just need to know in advance what they are. When placing your booking, please note any restrictions you have in the "Special Requests" box. If we are unable to accommodate them, we will let you know right away so you can change excursions, or opt to bring your own food or snacks. For those with dietary restrictions, it is best to plan ahead. Many cruise ships provide boxed lunches to go upon request for those who ask ahead.
Q: Do you have any shore excursions in Costa Rica for those with physical challenges?
A: Yes, several of our shore excursions can be accommodating to those with physical challenges. Before booking, please contact one of our Activities Specialists and let us know what activity you are interested in and what your limitations are. We will discuss with the provider to decide if the activity you chose will work for you and any challenges you may encounter.
In general, many of our tours can accommodate fold up wheelchairs, and our guides are happy to assist you. Electric wheelchairs however are very difficult to accommodate. In Costa Rica, we recommend contacting a tour provider specializing in wheelchair accessible excursions such as Accessible Journeys.
Q: How far in advance do I need to book my shore excursions in Costa Rica with you?
A: Our advice, book your tour just as soon as you know what you want to do. Cruise excursions in Costa Rica book up fast. If there is activity that you really do not want to miss out on, then book it at least one month ahead. If your ship arrives during the holidays, it is best to check availability even 2 months in advance. However, we are more than happy to assist you at the last minute too! We recommend you call us to check availability if you are booking within 7 days of your arrival to Costa Rica. We will do our absolute best to accommodate your request.
Q: How much should we tip our guides in Costa Rica?
A: Tips (propinas as they are called in Spanish) are not included and are not required. However, if you feel that your guide did a great job, please reward them accordingly. They sincerely appreciate feeling like you had a great experience with them. For tours, the standard 15-20% tip does not apply. We found a good guide to tipping in Costa Rica that we think you may find helpful.
Q: What if I am unhappy with the shore excursion I booked with you?
A: Our goal is for every one of our clients to have an amazing experience in Costa Rica so they come back and stay longer. If you are not satisfied with your tour experience, we want to know. During the tour we highly recommend you voicing your concerns directly to the guide. This will allow them time to correct the issue and hopefully save the day. If for some reason they do not seem to be receptive, we will be happy to follow up on your behalf. Please send us a detailed email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns. A Customer Relations Specialist will contact you within 24 hours. Response times from the tour operators can vary, but we will update you with the progress and do our best to find a resolution as soon as possible.
Q: How safe is Costa Rica?
A: As is true in any foreign country, you are safe so long as you are a smart traveler. We recommend you taking a look at our blog with some good tips on travel safety.
We hope we answered some of the questions you have about visiting the ports of Costa Rica on a cruise. With several years of experience dealing with cruise ship passengers in multiple ports, you can count on The Real Deal Tours to ensure your experience in port is the best it could possibly be. If we did not address your question here, let us know and we are happy to help!
We are here to assist you!!! Our team visits these countries often to be sure that we bring you the most current and updated information on accommodations, activities, restaurants and more.
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