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Choosing Cruise Shore Excursions

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 7:03
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One of the biggest decisions you can make when going on a cruise is choosing your 2017 shore excursions. Popular choices include visiting ancient ruins, going on a snorkel adventure or on a guided tour. Each of these activities allows travelers to see a unique part of the destination that they are visiting. Are you new to cruising or excursions? Check out our guide to choosing shore excursions below.

Active Excursions vs. Sightseeing Excursions

The two main types of excursions you can expect to see on your cruise are active and sightseeing excursions. Active excursions include things like snorkeling, biking and zip lining. They could also feature a trip to a beach or a trip to a museum. Anything that gets you out and moving, even if it’s just walking around, can be considered an active excursion. Sightseeing excursions might focus on driving to a destination close to the port and seeing things like a temple or a rain forest.


The length of excursions varies greatly. Full day tours will take up most of your time at your destination. These types of excursions are great for those that have already been to the port of call before and don’t really need to explore it. Half day tours provide less of a time commitment, but still allow you to take part in an excursion that may be of interest to you.

When To Book

For the majority of cruises, you will have the option to book an excursion in advance or during the cruise. There are a few benefits to either option. You should book your excursion in advance if it’s a popular excursion or has limited availability. If you wait to book it while aboard the ship, you run the risk of it selling out. For those that don’t want to commit to an excursion or are pretty flexible with the type of excursion they go in, it might be a better option to wait and book it while aboard the ship. This will allow them more time to think about what they want to do and maybe even talk to other passengers to see what they recommend.

Cruise Ship vs. Outside Company
There is no question that cruise lines do charge more for excursions than going with an outside company, but that does come with some risk.  In Florence for example, the port is over an hour drive from the city.  On our way back from a private tour we ran into a bad accident and almost missed the boat.  Had the excursion been purchase with the cruise line, the ship would have known of the accident and therefore delayed when the ship left to allow time for the passengers to arrive, so keep that in mind.  Save money but risk no communication with ship.  Therefore we suggest buying individual excursions in areas where the port is no far from the city center.

Of course also do your research and make sure you are using a reputable shore excursion company.

Other Things To Keep In Mind Before Booking An Excursion

Before booking the excursion, read the description carefully so you know what exactly it entrails, including the amount of travel time, if there is any. Keep in mind the amount of physically activity you will have to do. While shore excursions might sound like a lot of fun on paper, some of them can actually be pretty exhausting, especially in a hot climate and not all of your party may be able to fully participate.

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