If you’ve taken a cruise, or are planning to take one soon the question of shore excursions is bound to come up. Cruise lines offer dozens of shore excursions in conjunction with local operators to those on board. But, is taking one of these, sometimes quite expensive, excursions the best way to spend your time and money?
The Advantages of Ship Arranged Shore Excursions
~You know that the tour company is reputable and trusted. There’s a reason the cruise line continues to work with them, and they “know the drill.”
~The ship won’t leave until all the buses are back (in most cases).
~There’s no hassle arranging the details. Ideally if you really don’t want to take the time or hassle of sorting out arrangements this is ideal. Pick the activity you want to do, pay, and enjoy!
~It’s more comfortable if you’re not a savvy traveler, don’t speak the local language, or are not sure what to do in the area.
~You’ll pay more for a shore excursion booked from the cruise line. The cruise line is acting as the middle man so they add in a fee to the cost.
~There’s a tendency to include “shopping” time at tourist shops.
~You could spend a lot of time on a bus with a lot of other people you don’t know and may not care to know.
~You’re stuck with the pre-determined itinerary. There’s no flexibility to make changes when you’re traveling with a large group.
~Many shore excursions have age limits for children. Often times this is 8-12 years of age. If you have younger children your options can be really limited.
If you decide to strike out alone you’ll probably have a very different experience.
There are many advantages when you plan your own shore excursions including;
~You get to decide exactly what you and/or your family does. Want to spend time shopping for souvenirs, taking a food tour, or swimming? You can do whatever you want when you plan your own shore excursion!
~It can cost a lot less. Many times you can book the same experiences as are offered onboard for a discount because the middle man is gone.
~You’re able to eat when, where and what you want. On half and full day excursions arranged by the cruise line meals are often set and you have few if any options.
~You’re not stuck in a large tourist experience and can set the pace.
But there are also the risks and disadvantages.
~You have to do much more research and legwork ahead of time. This goes without saying. But, if you enjoy this then you’ll love finding unique things to do!
~If you’re late there’s a good chance the ship will leave without you.
~You’re taking a risk with the company you use. If things go wrong then you’re largely on your own.
Whether you choose to go it alone, or take a shore excursion offered by your cruise line, take time to assess your needs and wants before putting down the cash and making reservations. There’s no right choice for everyone!
What are your thoughts on cruise shore excursions?