During, or after you’ve booked your cruise, you should explore the options offered via shore excursions, which can be done easily on the cruise lines website prior to sailing.
These excursions range from $30 per person for a one-hour tour, to $200 all-day adventures such as biking, kayaking, hiking, and even fishing which equipment and lunch included.
While researching the destinations and tours, you can also get an insight into the area that will enhance your overall cruise experience as you learn about the people, history, and culture of the area.
Here you will find details on the length of the tour and the level of physical activity required to enjoy your time off ship. If you are physically limited or traveling with someone who is, be sure to ask whether the sites visited are handicap accessible since other countries may not have the same level of access for the handicap that is standard in the U.S.
While online, learn about the type of restaurant you will be visiting, which is extremely important if you have special dietary requirements and/or are allergic to certain foods. Learn to say a few vital phrases such as, “I am allergic to…” in the language of the country where you will be touring.
Licensed operators that have been vetted by the cruise lines provide a quality service because their only reason for existence is often tied into the cruise line itself, which requires nothing less than exemplary service. During these tours, should your tour run late, the ship will wait for you, but if you go off on your own and are delayed, it will sail without you.
Should you decide not to use the cruise ship’s tour operator, make sure you go with a licensed guide or taxi driver. Always choose safety over saving a few dollars, and also consider using public transportation to the town center rather than spending funds for a guided tour or taxi if all you want to do is shop or eat lunch.
Other ways to enhance your trip include the following:
- Don’t be such a tourist that you’re afraid of the local people. After all, this is the experience you’ve paid for, so ask about customs, food, or festivals, and in turn, be willing to share the customs of your country.
- Ask before taking photos since not everyone will want to be photographed. And never take a picture, give candy or money to children without their parent’s permission.
- Everyone wants a good deal, but don’t bargain to the point that you’re dipping into the other person’s livelihood. When you add it all up, you’re probably quibbling over a few cents. It won’t make a difference with you, but it could easily make a difference to the local vendor.
- Respect the people, place and things during your port visits. Don’t break off pieces of the flora or chip away at rock for your souvenirs. And, don’t buy souvenirs that are on the endangered or protected species lists. In addition to showing disrespect to the environment, you will avoid a hefty fine (or detention) at customs.