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Cruising Tips: Choosing the Right Shore Excursions

An important consideration before any cruise is learning about the different excursions offered at each port. While picking excursions can be fun, the amount of choices can be overwhelming – how do you know which tours will work for you? Have no fear! Here’s a list of some questions you should ask yourself in order to pick the shore excursions that will be right for you.

What is your activity and mobility level?

Cruise Excursion Bike Ride

It’s important to ask yourself what your activity level is. If you normally run five miles a day, you’ll probably want to go on different excursions than someone who doesn’t like to walk at all. It’s also important to consider your mobility. If you need a wheelchair or other assistance, this is going to influence what excursions you’ll want to choose. A 10-mile sightseeing bike ride might be the perfect excursion for one person while a sightseeing bus tour might be perfect for someone else.

Fortunately, excursion descriptions will normally state how much walking or other activity you’ll be doing to give you a better idea of whether or not the tour is right for you. Before you sign up, really try to consider whether the demands of the excursion are realistic for you. You want to find excursions you’ll enjoy – ones that will be far more fun than struggling to keep up on an activity that is too demanding.

What do you want to get out of the tour?

Cruise Excursion Scuba Diving

A good question to ask yourself is what types of tours you want to participate in. Decide if you’re more interested in sightseeing tours or active tours – or a variety of both. A sightseeing tour is going to show you the main highlights of a port. This could be a bus tour, a boat tour, or even a walking tour that will have a variety of stops to see different parts of a destination. On the other hand, an active tour is going to focus on a specific activity in that port. Perhaps it’s zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, or kayaking (the possibilities all depend on the destination!). Depending on your activity level, a mix of both sightseeing tours and active tours might be the way to go. It all depends on how much “sit back and relax” versus “get up and go” you want to do.

Did you read the tour descriptions carefully?

Cruise Excursion Horse Exploration

Each excursion will generally come with information regarding what the day entails, what to bring, how much activity the tour will require, etc. Make sure to read the information carefully! You want to make sure you pack everything that is necessary for the tour, plus it’s good to know what your day is going to look like. We also recommend reading the details to see how far away the excursion is. It’s important to know how much time you’re going to spend on a bus driving to an excursion. On some tours you’ll actually spend more time being transported to the excursion than you will on the actual tour. If you don’t like to sit on a bus for long periods of time, some of the offered excursions won’t be the right fit for you.

How long do you want your tour to be?

Cruise Free Time

Going along with my last recommendation, make sure to ask yourself how long you want your tours to be. While structured tours are a great way to plan out your days, give yourself time to shop, eat and explore. Cruises will offer both full day and half day tours, and while it will make sense at some ports to partake in a full day tour, a half-day tour is a great option if you want flexibility to explore both on your own and in a group.

Have you reserved your excursions early?

Cruise Excursion Preparation

Make a list of the top excursions you can’t live without and reserve them early before they fill up. Don’t forget that it’s best to balance tours and free time! Keep plenty of space open for exploration on your own, and remember you can always book more excursions later. At the same time, if there’s an excursion you don’t want to miss, sign up for it as soon as possible so you don’t miss out. It’s all about balance!

What’s your budget?

Cruise Excursion Budget

Cruise excursions can run anywhere from fifty dollars to hundreds of dollars depending on the length of the tour and the type of activity. Try to weigh the cost and value of the tour in relation to activities you can do on your own. If you’re signing up for a full day tour because you are excited about one specific stop, then it might make more sense for you to just go to that single stop on your own time.

Keep your budget in mind as you plan as well. Say you’re deciding between a $300 helicopter ride or a $100 zip line tour, you’ll need to think about the value versus the cost. Ask yourself whether it’s worth choosing the less expensive excursion to save money for other tours or if it’s worth spending a lot of money on one excursion. You should also look at the details of the excursions to see what’s included. Some tour prices will include the cost of admission to the highlighted stops while others might have additional fees. Some tours might include a complimentary lunch while others may not.

Important Note: If you have travel insurance, don’t forget to increase your coverage amount to cover any additional excursions you add!

Remember that free time is good too!

I know this isn’t a question, but this is your reminder to slow your roll! We can’t stress this point enough… you don’t have to be booked on a tour for every hour of every day of your vacation! Balance your tour days with free time as well – spontaneous outings are a GREAT part of vacation too. You never know when an opportunity for exploration or a unique activity might arise.

If you’ve booked yourself on a tour for every single minute of every single day, you’ll miss out on the spontaneous experiences each port will have to offer. Leave plenty of time to explore at your own pace. You’ll discover that some of the best parts of a trip are excursions you can’t book in advance. If you don’t see anything you want to do on your own at a port, you can always book an additional excursion once you’re on the ship.

Always remember you’re on vacation to relax! You don’t have to be doing something every second of the day.

Do you want to experience worry-free travel? Join us on a Cruise & Tour vacation! We deal with all of the logistics that come with traveling so that you can focus on enjoying your vacation! Call 800-383-3131 today to reserve your spot on one of our amazing group travel experiences!

By Kaitlyn Pidgeon