When you are planning a cruise vacation, part of the process is also planning out the shore excursions that you will be taking, after all sightseeing is a major part of any cruise holiday. Making the right choices with your day and overnight trips is important to consider carefully because its at this stage you may end up causing the costs of your cruise to go sky high!
Typically Shore excursions can be bought onboard ship from the tour desk that most ships will operate. The range of trips are often numerous and will range from half a day coach trips which will cost about £30 / $50 up to exciting adventure excursions that may well cost up to £200 or $300 per person.
The possibility of arranging you own shore excursions or simply plumping for the shore excursion on offer by the ship will usually depend on a few factors; perhaps you know the area, or there is something specific you want to visit. Also consider the local language, if you speak Spanish or French you might be able to communicate easily with the locals, plenty of destinations speak English also, so by finding these facts out in advance can help you make the decisions when planning the days trips.
If you a planning to arrange private tours, some independent tour operators may be cheaper, you can either contact the tour operator directly before the cruise or hire a local guide when you have arrived in the port. Sometimes it can be a good idea to group up with some other people on the ship that you might have made friends with over the past few days; this can make the overall costs of the excursions cheaper too.
If you want a personalized shore excursion, then hiring a local guide is a really great idea. You will be able to plan you own timetables; with the guides advice and you will definitely get to see more than on the standard cruise line offering. You could even grab a guidebook and go off your own if you are really adventurous, most European cities have good transport links, with the major hubs having signs and translations in popular European languages especially English.
One important point to take note of is that if you are planning a day trip that is not planned by the cruise line, that you ensure that you get back to the ship in time for its departure, if a passenger misses a ships sailing, it their own responsibility to get to the next port to catch up with the ship, this could be a costly mistake to make and is something to avoid at all costs.
Sometimes it really is easier to stick with the standard excursion offered by the ship, if you want to just have a nice day out without any worries then this can be the best choice, in the end there a advantages and disadvantages of planning your own cruise shore excursion and you will probably want to make up your own mind at which ports you want to make your own decisions or just go with the standard day out packages.
One last point, is to make sure you have contacts number with you, each port will have a contact number for the port agent that you can get from the staff on your cruise liner, that way if there are any problems that mean you get stranded you can at least keep the ship staff up to date with what’s going on, and maybe they will be able to help you out.