Should You Buy Shore Excursions?
The Importance of Excursions
Cruisers are usually confronted with the question of whether they should purchase excursions to complete their days in port . Generally, there are these different mindsets when it comes to excursions:
1. I have been to these place(s) before, I am not even getting off the ship. It will be a chance to enjoy the activities on board.
2. If the ship docks close to a town, I am just going to wander and shop.
3. I am just going to the beach anyway, so I will take a taxi.
4. I will wait until I am ashore and if I see an interesting tour, I’ll purchase it then.
If you have a laid-back approach to your cruise, any of these options work depending on your cruise and destination. But if you want to make the most out of a new port of call, none of these options should be considered, especially #4, which we will touch on later.
Having A Great Experience on Land as Well as Sea
If you are traveling to see the world, experience the people, culture and history of the places you visit, staying on ship, going to a local beach, or the nearest shopping district will not give you the flavor of the location where you are docked. So, if you are not any of the previous mindsets, what reason do you have for not booking at least a few excursions on your cruise? The answer is usually the cost.
Every port of call will have numerous options for tours and activities, from inexpensive to custom, from cruise line approved to local authority approved. Asking your travel professional for his or her guidance to all the options is the place to start. Choose a couple of excursions that you really wish to do as, after all, you may never be this way again. Some of these excursions your travel professional may have already experienced or had feedback on them from other clients. This way you can feel more comfortable in your choice. Reserve your excursions, sit back and relax, knowing your cruise will be as extra special on land as well as at sea. Congratulate your self as well for not being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”.
Two things you should not do with regard to excursions is 1) wait until you are on board to book a ship’s excursion as the most popular ones will sell out before the ship even sails; and 2) waiting until you are ashore and hiring that nice fellow with the wide grin and the sign. Chances are his tour is okay but traveling with well-established tour companies recommended by your travel agency is much safer. It used to be that one was told to book only the cruise line excursions to ensure you would be back before the ship sailed but these days, any reputable tour company will be cognizant of your time constraints if you are when the tour is booked. In other words, don’t book on a five-hour tour if you are only in port six hours. Again, your travel professional is invaluable.
If you don’t want to deal with the decision of reserving excursions, book your cruise with those luxury lines that include excursions in the ticket price such as Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and many others. Or opt for a river cruise where there are usually several excursions for you in each town or city chosen to ensure you have a wonderful experience. Yes, the fares may reflect the inclusions but overall, if added up, you will find the value far exceeds the cost.
In conclusion, if your cruise vacation is more than just the ship, skipping the opportunity of excursions will give you only half your possibilities for a memorable time. And who wants to look back with regrets? Cram as much into your life, and your travel, as you can.
This article first appeared in Real Travel Experts. Images courtesy of Bigstock .