One of our editors Lisa, worked onboard P&O Cruises for three years, first assisting and then managing the shore excursions department. She shares her insights below into booking shore excursions verses sightseeing independently.
So after hours spent researching cruise lines, different cabins and cruise itineraries you’ve finally booked your cruise… If you think you can now sit back relax and dream about sipping a cocktail as your ship sails away I’m sorry to burst your bubble… The planning is just about to start! To ensure you make the most of your cruise you now need to plan your time ashore.
You basically have three choices… explore the ports your ship will call into independently, book via a tour operator in the port or book shore excursions via your cruise line. So what should you do? The all important question of course is are shore excursions worth the money? In short, it depends. It depends on the port itself, the proximity of where your cruise ship docks, the nearest town/attractions and how you want to fill your day. To be honest it also depends on how much of an effort you are prepared to put in researching the port, or whether you would prefer to just jump on a tour bus and leave it to the experts.
Are shore excursions worth the money?
To help I’ve listed below the main advantages and disadvantages of booking shore excursions –
Advantages of booking shore excursions
Convenience – No need to plan or worry about any logistics. You just jump onboard your mode of transportation (coach, boat, helicopter, kayak…) and are shown the highlights of an area by an experienced guide. This is particularly great when travelling with kids because let’s be honest, anything that makes like easier when travelling with kids is a winner!
Learn about the port – Unlike when travelling in a taxi you will learn about the port of call via an informative guide.
Security that the ship will not leave without you! If you think this is a rumour circulated to encourage you to book shore excursions you are wrong. I have witnessed several passengers, (and crew/officers) being left behind due to arriving late back to the ship. (Always, ALWAYS carry your ships newspaper with you for post agent contact details in case this happens to you and triple check the ships departure time before you disembark for the day. It’s also really important to check to see whether your watch is on local time or ship time).
Emergencies dealt with by the experts – You can rest assured that if there is an emergency during a shore excursion your guide and driver will liaise with the ship and make all the necessary arrangements. (I have experienced this myself on several occasions including when involved in a minor coach crash during a call in Sri Lanka).
If, however, you experience difficulties whilst exploring ashore independently it will be up to you to get yourself back to the port in time. If the ship has already left you will need to contact the port agent to arrange to pick up your passport and pay for flights to meet the ship in a future port of call.
To continue reading this post check out – Exploring ashore: Booking shore excursions v’s sightseeing independently over on my blog – Travel Loving Family.
Have you cruised? Did you explore independently or via the shore excursions department? What do you think – Are shore excursions worth the money? Please comment below.
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