TRAVEL – TOM SMITH –Shore Excursions. All of those wonderful cruises to all those wonderful ports. And what is to do? Well you can always stay on the ship and not spend any money and just enjoy the many activities on board as well as endless dining possibilities. Or you can get off the ship and see some of the world that you have sailed to.
There are three types of shore excursions: 1. Do it Yourself 2. Purchase the Cruise line’s prepackaged group shore excursions or 3. Shore excursions are usually a city tour, sport activity, cultural show, encounter with nature, etc. Book an independent shore excursion through your travel agent. Here are the pros and cons of all three.
- Do it Yourself. PROS: You are on your own schedule. You are away from the crowds of people that you live with on the cruise ship. You get a much more intimate view of your surroundings. You have the chance to discover something new and unique. CONS: You run the chance of missing a major site or attraction because you have not pre-booked it. You can have difficulties if you do not speak the native tongue. There are some risks to your safety at some ports. You can get lost (shouldn’t this be a Pro?) and miss the ship when it sails!
- The cruise line’s prepackaged shore excursions. PROS: Everything is reserved, guaranteed and prepaid for you in advance before you leave home. The offerings for shore excursions are extensive and there is usually something to satisfy everyone. It is safe and secure with the blessing of the cruise line. CONS: You are with a crowd. Most cruise line’s excursions are for 30+ passengers. They are expensive, compared to other options. You are usually pushed to meet deadlines. You are with the same people that you are on the ship with 24/7.
- Independent Shore Excursions purchased/booked through your Travel Agent. PROS: You have a wider variety of offerings. You can be in a small group or just yourself (private). You will probably be able to see things that no one else can. You can usually design an excursion to suit your needs and likes. These shore excursions are definitely more creative. CONS: Pricing might be a bit higher. With some private shore excursions there is a minimum number that are needed to make a group. If for some reason your ship has to cancel a scheduled visit to a port (because of weather usually) then you will not receive a refund for being a no-show.
As a travel agent I use several different companies for shore excursions. Travel Bound, Shoretrips and of course Virtuoso On-Sites. I always offer this alternative to my cruise passengers. Happy sailing.