Cruise Shore Excursions
The Prow's Edge crew here sums up the many comments and tips on shore excursions from cruise visitors aboard Prow's Edge and weighs in with some of its own advice.
photo courtesy Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
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For some passengers the point of a cruise is to enjoy the vessel and relax aboard their floating hotel, but for the vast majority, a cruise is about the ports of call and the shore excursions there.
Ironically, shore excursions are generally the least planned part of the trip.
For starters, it is worth noting that the cruise line shore excursions are not always the best option, and that with a little research you can sometimes get better value for your dollars by doing it yourself.
This is particularly true in ports you have visited before and now wish to be more selective in what you choose to see, or in ports where the town is just too small to warrant a bus tour for most.
Clearly, common sense is called for, but there are, of course, a good number of excursions that are well worth the cost.
The shore excursions worth taking are naturally the first ones to be booked up so the number one rule is to book as soon as possible – even before you leave home. Many cruise lines offer booking services on their web sites.
If you haven’t booked before you board, you might want to make this one of your priorities. If the excursion of your choice is sold out, you can place your name on the waiting list.
Another point to consider is to make sure you don’t book too many shore excursions no matter how excited you may be to see everything you can. We have seen many a trip ruined when passengers cram two or three tours into each day and spend most of the day rushing from one to the other, missing lunches and dinners, and generally exhausting themselves.
If you are on an excursion and are given time to yourselves, make sure you know exactly the time you are required back at the bus or other mode of transport, and make sure that you can identify the bus or craft you came with.
One of the advantages of a cruise line organised shore excursion is that if the tour is late getting back to the ship, the ship will wait for you. If you’re on your own tour, it won’t!
Check the excursions before you book to make sure they are not too strenuous for your specific circumstances. The level of agility required is not always immediately obvious, though many cruise lines do note such things on the list of shore excursions they offer.
Also, if disability is part of the equation, make sure that the ship can accommodate you when they use tenders to ferry passengers from the ship to shore. Getting on and off the tenders is not always the easiest, even for the nimble footed.
Investigate all your options thoroughly and make sure that the shore excursion you are arranging is suited to your needs.