One of the biggest up-sells for cruise lines are shore excursions. Often times these are incredibly expensive and people are put off cruises in general due to these costs. But, purchasing your excursion from the cruise line is not always (and in most cases not) needed at all. There are several pros and cons to planning on your own and buying from the cruise line.
When Buying From the Cruise Line is a Good Idea
In some situations purchasing a shore excursion from the cruise line does make sense. For example, if you are someone relatively new to travel it can be very intimidating to plan your own excursions in cities you don’t know well or there might be a big language barrier. For travelers with limited mobility or special needs buying from the cruise line can be easier – helping lock in special assistance that begins at the cruise ship and stays with you throughout your time offboard. Finally, one of the best perks of buying an excursion from the cruise ship is they won’t leave without you. If you have issues getting back to port and are delayed the ship will wait and make sure you’ve arrived before taking off. If you’re on your own they aren’t going to wait. This is especially helpful if your final destination is far from the cruise port. Do a little research before sailing to see how far away your actual destination is from the port where you will dock.
Why Planning Your Own Excursions is a Good Idea
The biggest reason is obviously to save money. The majority of shore excursions are NOT owned or operated by the cruise line. They hire outside companies who operate the tours. Most of the time these companies run the exact same tours for other visitors – for a fraction of the cost. To find out, simply type the name of the excursion in to Google and see what comes up. You might be shocked to discover the cost differences.
Does the idea of being on a bus with the same people you’ve been on a cruise ship with make you shudder? Then you may want to head out alone. Cruise lines cater for a certain type of person – this may or may not be you. If it’s not and you want to find a different way to enjoy your time on land then plan your own experiences. It can be as easy as researching the city and nearby towns to uncover unique options. Finally, consider booking nothing. For cruises that dock into city ports you may just want to get off the ship and wander. There’s nothing wrong with this either! Be sure to check ahead of time to see how far the port is from the city or you could be stuck in a no man’s land.
Cruising can be an inexpensive way to travel to expensive destinations – don’t let the shore excursions costs put you off or stop you from seeing the ports you’ll stop in!