A First-Timer's Guide To Shore Excursions

A First-Timer's Guide To Shore Excursions

Cruising is one of the finest ways to spend your vacation and see the world. Unlike traveling by land or air, you don't have to take your luggage and unpack at different hotels when you go on a cruise.

You get to relax, travel and enjoy delicious food and drinks in one destination. Best of all, you discover a lot of places. No wonder about 5 to 30 million people go cruising every year.

If you're planning to go on your first cruise, one activity you mustn't miss during the trip is shore excursions. Shore excursions are some of the most exciting leisure services cruise ships arrange for passengers.

They involve short trips while the cruise ship is in port. They allow you to explore tourist attractions, immerse yourself in rich cultures, try fresh delicacies, and meet new people.

Types of shore excursions

Shore excursions come in different types, allowing passengers to choose one that they’re most comfortable with. They include the following:

1. Group cruise excursions

This kind is considered the most popular shore excursion availed by most cruise passengers. The cruise company itself is the one that organizes group excursions, giving passengers a guaranteed return-to-ship privilege.

Depending on how popular the destinations are included on the cruise itinerary, group excursions can be fully booked quickly.

So, if you're cruising with friends or family and want to go on a shore excursion with other passengers, you must book your shore trip in advance to secure slots. To do this, you can visit the cruise company's website and browse their group shore excursions. 

To explore more options, check a travel agency’s website associated with your cruise ship.

For instance, if you’re looking for cruise excursions in Alaska, the travel agency’s site will show available group excursions exploring some destinations in Alaska scheduled on different dates, and you can book them ahead of time.

2. Private or personalized small groups cruise excursions

If you wish to travel exclusively with friends or family, consider a private small-group cruise excursion.

Some cruise companies may offer their passengers the option to personalize their private excursion, giving them the flexibility and convenience to choose the destinations they want to go to at their preferred time and pace.

Note, though, that private and personalized small group excursions are costlier than large group excursions.  

3. DIY (do-it-yourself) shore excursions

You can plan your shore excursion independently if you have a limited budget. Most cruise ships provide passengers with free shuttle service at every port to drive them to the nearest town.

However, DIY shore excursions won't guarantee a return-to-ship, so you must plan everything and practice time management.

With thorough planning, you can visit the destinations you wish to see without worrying about getting left behind by the cruise ship.

Shore excursions 101: Things to remember

Whether you join a large group, private group, or DIY shore excursion, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

1. Book your chosen shore trip in advance

Book your chosen shore excursion at the earliest time possible to ensure you don't miss out on the slots to your dream destination. Expect that slots for group shore excursions may sell out quickly, especially if you're aiming to visit a popular destination.

With 3,000 to 6,000 guests on every cruise trip, it’s no surprise that group shore excursions are always fully booked even before the scheduled trip. So, reach out to a cruise agent and book your shore excursion trip early to secure slots. 

2. Rent a car or taxi early

If you want to take a DIY shore excursion, you must pre-arrange or rent a car or taxi in advance. Although some cruise ships offer complimentary shuttle service, their shuttle may not reach the destinations you wish to visit, leading to more time waiting for a car or taxi to take you for a second ride.

So, to save time and avoid being left behind by the ship, make pre-arrangements with a car rental or taxi company to meet you at the port.

3. Research your destinations

Even if you have a tour guide or driver with you during a shore excursion, take the time to learn about the destinations you plan to visit.

That way, you'll know what places are worth touring, and the experiences travelers have shared. Researching your destinations will also give you an idea of the culture and community.

Moreover, you can check the destination’s currency to bring sufficient funds. It’s advisable to have cash on hand before your trip so that you can avoid international bank charges.

Most passengers spend around USD$385 at every port stop for food and shopping, so make sure to prepare enough cash. 

Wrapping up

Joining cruise excursions is a great way to treat yourself and make unforgettable memories, especially if you love discovering new places. For a seamless and stress-free experience, search for a reputable travel agency and book your shore excursion with them.

With this guide, planning your trip will be smooth and even exciting.