Shore excursions: Shall I book one? Shall I not? Is it better to go ashore independently? Where are the best places to visit on an excursion? These are all questions that many people ask in the run up to travelling on a cruise. These are common, regular questions and we understand the need to ask them because the truth is unless you’ve done it, you don’t know, so not only are they good questions to ask, they’re important too as the answers can save you both time and money, something we all would like a bit more of, especially in the current climate.
Shore excursions depend on many different factors as to the usefulness and appeal to each individual. In truth there is no right or wrong answer to the aforementioned questions as it will depend wholeheartedly on the person rather than being able to answer in general terms. Excursions are undoubtedly a great way to explore new places. Many passengers prefer to head ashore alone and do their own thing and that’s fine, perfectly understandable and at the end of the day it is your holiday, you’re entitled to do just as you please so you have a great time; after all you’ve worked hard to get there. For many though, it’s a great way to get around and if I was to give my opinion then I would definitely recommend considering them when booking a cruise.
Excursions offer many advantages to visiting new places. Probably the most important appeal of an excursion is the peace of mind that comes with it. You know exactly what to expect and the organisation is done for you, no worrying, no looking for taxi’s or trying to navigate a strange city, just sit back, relax and let the cruise line do that for you. When put like that it is pretty appealing and you can see why so many passengers opt for excursions. Along with peace of mind they also offer opportunities in many places that heading ashore individually would not offer. Examples include the Acropolis when docking in Piraeus, Athens. This amazing sight requires a pretty large queue no matter the time of day you arrive, especially in summer. If you’re travelling with an excursion then you simply bypass the queues and head straight up the hill and before five minutes have passed you’ve got your camera out and your capturing some of the many amazing vantage points this special point has to offer. Individually that would take up half the day alone so that example alone highlights a key benefit. This example stretches to many other locations as well; Rome for example for the Vatican and the Coliseum. There’s also Barcelona for the Sagrada Familia and for sport lovers of course there’s the Camp Nou Barcelona FC Stadium. These are just a few places where excursion opportunities pay off big time and there are many more examples of cruising destinations we could include but sadly that would take all day and almost require another website to be developed just to contain all of the content required!
So we can see the positives of shore excursions straight away, you have local specialist guides, peace of mind, entrance covered into many attractions, transport without having to rely on local public methods, no worrying about taxi fares, they’re educational and much more. By now though you’re thinking there must be a catch as the cynical amongst us, which includes myself I must admit, will think there always is but believe us when we say there actually isn’t. There are passengers that believe excursions to be expensive with certain cruise lines but when put in perspective, there actually very good value for money considering the many positives they come with. When you weigh the pros and cons alongside each other, the pros come out on top every single time.
Now to the question; where are the best places for shore excursions? Well again this question could take around a week to answer properly but we’ll give it a go and try to keep it brief for you. Again the answer for this does depend on the individual and it is completely opinion based, pretty much wholly on where you like to travel or where you have your heart set on visiting. If I was to comment I would say that the best options for shore excursions have to be in larger cities with that real vibrant, hustle and bustle atmosphere as well as ports of call that are a distance from the city itself. Rome is a great example of this with travel from Civitavecchia taking approximately an hour to an hour and a half. Other great destinations for excursions include Istanbul for the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar, Kusadasi for Ephesus, Cairo for the Pyramids, Northern Europe and Alaska for the fascinating Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), Beijing for the Great Wall, New York for the many sightseeing spectacles, Port Canaveral for family fun at Disney and Universal and much, much more. The list really is endless but there is always something for each cruise passenger to enjoy.
A rapidly increasing feature of excursions these days is also the diversity. Cruise lines have caught on to the idea that all people are different and what one person enjoys may not be the same as another. As much as it is important to choose the cruise line that’s right for you and your travelling partner/s it is just as comforting to know that when you get there, there is plenty of options available for everyone. Family excursions for example are hugely popular now and continue to increase throughout the world of cruising. Such options as waterpark adventures, safari experiences and heading out to sea to dolphin watch are becoming more regular partners alongside more educationally enriching excursions and city tours. It’s a great idea to do this and allows passengers the freedom to choose between more options and therefore have a great overall holiday. I guess the only problem there is what you do if you so badly want to see the city when the kids just want to visit the waterpark but we’ll leave that predicament to you, we’re good but we don’t have all the answers!