In a new series of blogs, we’ll be looking closer at some of the most common questions our clients have, especially first time cruisers as we try to give you more insight into the world of cruising.
Whether you are booking a cruise for the very first time or you are a seasoned cruiser, choosing the sailing and itinerary revolves around many different factors, depending on what you are looking to achieve from your holiday. Some passengers make the ship their number one priority, ensuring that they are happy with their accommodation and the facilities on board before looking into where the ship will be sailing. Others prefer to be destination focused and opt for itineraries taking in destinations and ports of call that they wish to see. For most, however, it is often a compromise of both, finding the right balance to get you most excited about the well-earned holiday you deserve.
Once booked, one of the most common concerns for passengers, especially those sailing to new destinations for the first time, is how to make the most of their time ashore. One of the most common questions our Sales Consultants face is “what’s the best way to see the ports of call on my cruise?” Well the answer isn’t quite as simple as you may think.
Seeing a destination and making the most of your time in ports depends entirely on the person. We are all individuals and we all have preferences over the way we like to do things. Cruise excursions provided by the cruise line you are sailing with are often a great place to start. Many operators provide an excursion brochure, approximately 6-8 weeks prior to your departure date but also allow passengers to view available excursions often from 100 days before sailing, via a member’s area of their website. P&O Cruises refer to this area as the “Cruise Personaliser” and this is where a complete list of your cruise excursions can be found, broken down into port, date and price order for you to look through and see if anything takes your fancy.
Booking An Excursion
Shore excursions are excellent ideas, often ideal for passengers visiting a port of call for the first time. A wide range of varying opportunities lie in wait for you to choose from. Booking an excursion gives you a firm peace of mind that everything is being taken care of on your behalf. You will arrive on board and will be issued with your excursion tickets and details ready for when the port day arrives; it’s as simple as that. Excursions provide the chance to get a fantastic overview of many cities all over the world, immerse yourself in the local culture, sample local cuisine, shop for unique souvenirs and much more. Not one for sightseeing? No problem! Prefer to an adrenaline rush? Then fear not as there are still an amazing collection of excursion opportunities for you. How about becoming a Gladiator for the day in Rome? Hiring a Ferrari for the day in Naples? Maybe even a dune buggy adventure into the hills of La Palma? There really is something for everyone.
Shore excursions give you the chance to see and do things you never thought possible, all with the comfort that you are being 100% looked after throughout the day. These tours include transport and dining options on occasion. Everything is up front and nothing is obligatory, simply choose what’s right for you and off you go. Excursions can be pre-booked or booked on board but we do recommend booking sooner than later if there is something that really catches your eye. Destinations such as Rome, Barcelona, Florence and Istanbul are just a few examples of ports in the Mediterranean that attract passengers looking to book an excursion. The last thing you want to do is miss out on something you had your heart set on because it is fully booked up.
How much will excursions cost me?
Excursion price ranges vary depending on the cruise line you are sailing with and the tour you are looking to do. The majority of cruise lines offer opportunities at very good value for money. Price ranges from relatively low expense options to indulgent experiences including private city tours and helicopter adventures. It’s entirely up to you and how much you are looking to pay. All excursions opportunities will detail specific prices for adults and children so there will be no surprise payments pop up at a later date, you’ll know exactly how much from the moment you book.
Are there cruise lines that include excursions in the price of the cruise?
There are cruise lines that provide such an option. Many luxury cruise operators including Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea and Seabourn include a wide range of excursion in the overall price of the cruise. Viking River Cruises are another example of a cruise line providing passengers with included excursions, offering the chance to explore incredible cities at no extra cost.
Do I have to book an excursion through my cruise line?
No you don’t. Cruise line excursions are excellent and always worth considering when booking any cruise itinerary. They are however, not the only option. At Bolsover Cruise Club, we recently formed a partnership with cruiseexcursions.com to provide our clients with an even greater array of choice. We have a designated Bolsover Cruise Club page for you to explore and find the right excursions for you. Cruisexcursions.com offer a superb selection of shore trips, activities and excursions at highly competitive prices. Not only do you have the opportunity to look at individual excursions, you can also tailor-make your own ideal adventure ashore. Our recent partnership allows you to enter your specific cruise details, doing so will then bring up a list of all available excursions, as well as multi-choice packages for that cruise, therefore saving you money. Alongside booking an excursion through your cruise line, cruiseexcursions.com offer you the guarantee of having you back to your ship in time, fully insured excursions and activities, a full refund if the ship is not able to port at the destination, specifically chosen tour guides that speak your language, specific collection and meeting points in advance of your departure date so your all set to go as well as being fully ABTA protected.
This facility not only helps you find exciting sightseeing opportunities, but also provides a great tool for choosing your cruise holiday. If you’re looking for some inspiration then take a look and see what jumps out at you.
Is heading ashore independently an option?
Definitely, many people prefer this option and like the chance to just stroll off the ship, take their time and see things at their own pace. Sailing into a new destination each day is certainly exciting but we understand it can also be stressful too, hence the reason why we always advise clients to consider excursions. We do, however, understand that this is not the case for everyone and many passengers prefer to do their own thing and enjoy each destination differently. Exploring independently is always an option; in fact many people on board will be doing the same thing. In destinations where your ship is docked in close proximity to main attractions, you will often be within walking distance or alternatively, shuttle transportation will be provided, running to and fro throughout the day. When disembarking the ship you will most likely be provided with a map of the local area and the ship’s company always specify the time in which passengers need to be back on board. Other than this, simply head off and explore, there’s nothing holding you back, no limitations, just do what you wish, when you wish, this is the nature of a cruise holiday; the excursions are simply there if you want or need them.
What about in ports such as Rome? Can I still head ashore independently?
Yes, this is still the case. Rome, as well as many other cities of call around the world, is inland, and therefore can only be accessed by using a port on the coast. For Rome, the port used is Civitavecchia, approximately a one hour drive outside of Rome. For destinations where this is the case, you still always have the opportunity to explore independently. Guests wishing to stay close to the ship can venture into Civitavecchia itself or choose to head into Rome. You can opt for local transport choices including taxis or trains but as these are not always the most reliable, we often recommend choosing excursions with the cruise line that just include transport to and from the city. This therefore gives you the best of both worlds. You can explore on your own but still have the peace of mind that transport will be waiting for you to take you to and from the city, having you back in time to sail away. This is the case for many cities but within the Mediterranean, Rome and Florence are often the most common.
Can I stay on board if I wish?
Of course. Guests wishing to stay on board are more than welcome to. The ships facilities will be open and running as usual, the only difference is that the open decks will be a lot quieter, hence why certain passengers, looking for a relaxing break, often prefer to stay on board, enjoying the feeling of almost having the ship to themselves. Dining services will be available as normal throughout the day. The only facilities that will close on board when a ship is in port, is the shops. This is to abide with maritime laws.
So what is the best way to see a port?
There isn’t one. The answer is it depends on the individual. Everyone is different and each port of call is different so there is no right or wrong way to see a port of call. Some prefer an excursion, some prefer independently heading ashore, the choice is yours. If you’ve been to a destination before this can often influence your decision as well as visiting a port for the first time. The truth is, all we can do is provide you with the best choice possible and give you the opportunity to make the best decision for you. One thing is for certain though, with so many exciting itineraries all over the world to choose from, and a thrilling array of excursions, activities, tours and sightseeing to do, you will never be bored when taking a cruise holiday. Options are expanding every single year so here’s to an exhilarating 2014!