This is a collaborative post by Jen about how to pick shore excursions.
When going on a cruise vacation, shore excursions offer a way to see things that matter the most, skip lines, have a guide, and have transportation. To eliminate travel anxiety and headaches, it helps to have a professional organize everything for you.
In order to choose the right shore excursion, you should prepare a list of your priorities. Then, it’s important to make sure you do not end up spending more money than planned and cramming in too many activities.
Here are my suggestions on ways to pick the most suitable shore excursion.
Cruise Travel: How to Pick the Right Shore Excursion
- Transport – Most agencies offer transportation, but they also provide options for you to commute from one place to another on your own. Many European cities and towns have easy and fast transports, so you might not want to spend money on a car or bus. Often, the port will be a short distance from the historical center, so you might want to either walk or hop on a free shuttle.
- Time – You have to calculate your time in the port if you don’t want to get back and see your ship sailing away. So, if your time on the shore is short, don’t pick tours that are out of the city. I know that most of them are quite appealing and adventurous, but they are not worth it if the ship stays in the port for a couple of hours. If you book a shore excursion on the boat (or with an agency that collaborates with your cruiser), then the agency guarantees you that the ship won’t sail until you return.
- Children – If you travel with your kids, you must check what the options the agency offers are. Most shore excursions have age limits for children (no toddlers). If you want to go on a more adventurous tour, make sure you check whether your children would have the energy to endure the whole thing. Also, pick places that would be entertaining for your little ones. For our last vacation, we checked this agency that offers interesting shore excursions for cruise passengers, and we got what we wanted.
- Bus, guides, sightseeing – You can pick a tour that offers a panoramic bus that will take you to the most popular tourist areas. In this case, you won’t have to walk, and you’ll get to see the most important places (with short breaks for photographing). But if this seems boring for you, pick a tour that involves a tour guide, museum visits, and more sightseeing.
- You want activity – Some people loathe the idea of walking from one building to another, taking a picture and leaving. If you are one of them and want to do something interesting, then your choice should fall on things such as cooking classes (with local chefs), hiking or cycling. Read everything about the tour; how long it lasts, where you shall go, what the terrain is like, and of course the weather.
- Could you do the tour on your own – A lot of people prefer organizing their personal tour, and that’s perfectly all right. If it works better for you, go ahead. Finally, staying in the port and enjoying the beach is not a bad option at all.