We saw a very good deal through one of the many discount sites for our trip to Batam and the requirement is for us to join the tour instead of a free and easy trip that I prefer. Here's my pros and cons list.
1. The immigration card is already filled out; all you need to do is sign it. This helped us a lot since we got to the ferry terminal a bit late.
2. Everything is discounted. We paid only $88, about 3000 pesos (exclusive of taxes) which includes the fare, the overnight hotel stay, transportation, lunch, massage and the other activities.
3. You are in the confines of a cool shuttle that takes you everywhere you need to go.
1. You have no say as to who you'll be with in the tour. We were quite unlucky because we were joined by a very rowdy and noisy group. A couple of them talk at 10 decibels louder than required. Imagine having to endure the noise the entire day even while we were having our massage.
2. You make several stops to shops that don't interest you.
3. Waiting. You have no choice but to wait till everyone gets on the bus. The rowdy group took their sweet time at the mall and was late even if we were all informed beforehand to be on time. (It was our last stop and almost all of us were just itching to get to the hotel and rest.)
We were all staring at the mall entrance hoping for the members of the rowdy group to finally show up.
4. If you're travelling as a couple, it's quite awkward as you might find yourself, joining a big group of friends for lunch. Here we are joined by a couple, they were seated at the head of the table. We did try to make them feel at ease.
Overall, joining a trip is okay if you really have nothing planned and can't be bothered to create an itinerary. I was observing the tour guide the whole time and I don't envy her job. Taking care of a big group, making sure that we all stick to schedule and catering to some of the whims of the guests are just too exhausting.
Here we are with our friendly tour guide, Sinta.