Why Independent Cruise Shore Excursions Are Good Value
By GEOFF CAPLAN
Many cruise passengers are wondering if independent shore excursions are good value. It’s not just about the money – it’s also about an authentic experience.
Time in Port
The first thing to consider is your time in port and what you want to do while you’re there. Some people prefer to have a full day of sightseeing and activities while others like to take it easy and do a little shopping or go on a cab ride to the nearest beach.
If you have a short time in port and want to maximize your sightseeing, booking a tour through the cruise line is OK. They have relationships with the local tour operators in each port and will offer their own slate of excursions.
This is a convenient, cost-effective way to go about things. All you have to do is find out which tours they offer, then choose the ones that fit your needs and budget.
Customize Your Itinerary
You can customize your itinerary and include a few extras the ship doesn’t offer. For example, you might want to add on a visit to a museum or historical site that’s not available through the cruise line.
When comparing costs, you’ll often find that independent excursions can be cheaper than those the cruise line offers. This is especially true if you book in advance and travel with a group or in a smaller number.
Depending on the itinerary, you might not be able to see some of the most popular attractions in the area or you might not have access to some of the best restaurants.
It is also important to understand that while some cruise lines offer a certain number of excursions in each port, you’ll often have less than a week in the same port. If you’re planning a longer trip, it might be better to stick with the cruise line’s shore excursions and spend your time in port visiting the sights that are important to you.
This is something that people often forget, and it can be a big problem when they book their own shore excursions. While cruise lines do their very best to ensure that all guests will arrive at the destination on time, there are times when this just isn’t possible.
One of the most common reasons a tour will be canceled is bad weather. Bad weather can make reaching your destination safely and enjoying the activity difficult.
You can avoid this by planning your trips well ahead of time and booking them with a reputable tour operator that lets you cancel without penalty. This is especially important when traveling with kids.
Why Independent Cruise Shore Excursions are Excellent
For many travelers, the cruise experience is incomplete without at least one shore excursion. The best way to make the most of a cruise’s time in port and see the most popular sights and activities while learning about the culture is to go on one of these excursions.
The cruise line’s shore excursion desk will be available to answer questions and make reservations as soon as you’ve landed in your port of call. Whether you book online or on-board the ship, these tours typically include a wide range of activities that are representative of the destination.
Depending on the cruise line, you’ll find city tours, beach tours, adventure activities like zip lining, helicopters, cooking lessons and more. These tours are all run by local tour operators and are vetted by the cruise line.
There are a lot of reasons to choose independent tours over cruise excursions, but one of the biggest is that they’re more affordable. You can save money on these trips and get a more real experience than on most ship-sponsored excursions.
Another reason to go independent is that the prices are more flexible. You can usually choose your own departure and return times for most tours. This allows you to take your time and not worry about being behind on your tour if things run late.
Some independent tours are actually quite fun and interesting, such as city tours or dolphin swims. Others are more authentic or off-the-beaten path such as jeep tours, historical fort or ruin tours, culinary and beverage tours, and trips to orphanages or dog shelters.
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