It’s great to enjoy the wonderful spaces and activities aboard a cruise ship, and just as delightful to explore in and around the ports you visit. That’s why cruise ships offer shore excursions: fun tours and activities that let you experience local attractions, culture, food, and more.
The shore excursions available depend, of course, on your destination. Bus and walking tours, visits to historic sites, and shopping sprees are popular in many ports. But there are also lots of location-specific excursions, like dog sledding in Alaska, exploring remnants of Mayan civilization in Mexico, or taking a backstage tour at the Monte Carlo Ballet.
With so many options, it can be hard to choose between shore excursions. Here are some tips for choosing the experiences you’ll enjoy most.
Set a budget. On a luxury cruise, shore excursions may be included in your fare, and you can skip this step. But if you’ll pay for each excursion, it can be helpful to set a budget.
Know your activity limits. Most cruise lines assign activity levels to excursions, from easy to strenuous. It’s important to be realistic about your mobility and strength levels – as well as those of your cruise companions – and select excursions accordingly.
Consider your priorities. If your cruise itinerary has a certain port or onshore attraction of special interest to you, make it a priority. Pick that excursion first, then use the rest of your budget for excursions in other ports.
Do different things. If you’ll tour historic sites in one port, consider a different kind of excursion – a culinary tour, a surf lesson, or a visit to an animal rescue center – in another.
Remember, you can stay on the ship. If a port doesn’t have an excursion that appeals to you or if you have a limited budget, it’s absolutely fine to stay on the ship while in port. In fact, it can be a lot of fun to enjoy the amenities of the ship while many passengers are onshore.
Finally, while shore excursions organized by the ship may be the most affordable and convenient, some cruise passengers like to book with independent tour operators or even explore ports on their own. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, some ports are welcoming cruise passengers only if they are on ship-sponsored excursions. This is a changing situation, so stay connected with Anita, your professional travel advisor for updates about shore excursion options and requirements on your next cruise.
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