Talking Shore Excursions with Bill Bengtson
When you sail a grand or world cruise with Cruise Specialists, there’s always something extra in it for you. That can include complimentary shore excursions that are available only to Cruise Specialists guests.
Behind these exclusive experiences is someone who understands what you expect from a shore excursion. Bill Bengtson, our Shore Excursion Manager, is an industry veteran with many years of onboard and onshore experience. He creates our exclusive shore experiences a step at a time.
Selecting a Trusted Tour Provider
“Once we have the itinerary for a world cruise or grand voyage, I start by selecting a trusted, experienced onshore tour operator,” Bill said. “That’s the foundation of a great shore excursion: an operator we trust, who has a proven track record of providing high-quality experiences.”To be selected, a tour operator must also have experience working with cruise guests. “There are a lot of excellent tour operators, but not all of them have experience at the dock, getting transportation right up to the ship and bringing our guests back to the ship on time. That’s part of the expertise we look for.”
Bill relies on careful research, his own travel experiences, input from his team, feedback from Cruise Specialists’ cruise hosts, and evaluations from guests. “The experience level of tour guides and the quality of transportation varies depending on the destination, but we always choose the very best available,” Bill said.
Behind the Scenes and Off the Beaten Path
To identify the very best, Bill requests bids from qualified tour operators. “When Cruise Specialists guests step off the ship and into a private coach, they want to go to the must-see sights,” said Bill. “But, they also want to see something a little different.”
For example, Cruise Specialists guests on Holland America Line’s next world cruise can enjoy a variety of experiences on a single excursion in Sydney, Australia. “Lots of city tours will show you the Sydney Tower – the tallest structure in Sydney – and the famous Sydney Opera House, but our tour will take guests inside those landmarks,” said Bill. “They’ll have lunch at the top of the tower, then have a guided tour inside the Opera House, where they can really see what a marvel of architecture and engineering it is.” A little further off the beaten path, Sydney Koala Park will give guests the chance to meet adorable koalas as well as kangaroos, dingoes, wombats, emus and other Australian wildlife.
More Opportunities on Shore
In addition to day excursions, Bill arranges overland tour opportunities for Cruise Specialists guests in exotic destinations such as Cambodia, India and Dubai.
“An overland tour takes guests to the interior for a night or two, with unique opportunities to experience local sights, culture and cuisine,” he said. “For example, we’ll take guests ashore in Sihanoukville, a beach resort area of Cambodia, and travel to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.”On some voyages, Cruise Specialists guests can participate in a “Cruise Specialists Cares” humanitarian shore excursion. To give an example, when Holland America Line’s 2016 world cruise stops in Sri Lanka, guests can help deliver school supplies to a rural Sunday school and donate to the Born Free Elephant Transit Home, which cares for abandoned baby elephants.
Memorable Moments for All
Remember, these exclusive experiences are available only to Cruise Specialists guests. “On request, we also organize customized car tours, which are great for people who have a specific agenda in mind or who have physical challenges that prevent them from taking a coach tour,” said Bill.
“We want every Cruise Specialists guests to have wonderful experiences on shore.”
Our team is here to ensure that your world cruise, river cruise or holiday cruise live up to your expectations! Meet the team and start planning your trip today to see what excursions and treats we have in store for you.