When your cruise ship is docked in port and you decide to go ashore, you basically have 3 options. You can join a shore excursion organized by your cruise line, you can make a cruise excursion through a local tour operator or you can organize your cruise excursion on your own.
Cruise line excursions
All cruise lines offer a wide variety of tours and excursions in each port of call. In general, the shore excursions organized by cruise lines range from good to excellent quality. You depart from your ship in a luxury coach accompanied by a guide. Sometimes a number of meals and entrance fees are included and everything is organized for you. You don’t have to worry about anything. Just show up at the arranged meeting point and time. But if you join one of these tours you have to realize you will travel in very large groups (up to 50 participants per group), walk the beaten track and have little to no free time. As cruise cabins become cheaper and cheaper, shore excursions is one of the up selling tools on board to raise the cruise line’s revenue. Therefore cruise line excursions are often reviewed as very expensive and overpriced.
Local tours and excursions
In each port of call are a number of local companies organizing shore excursions for cruise passengers. A lot of them have a long history or even family tradition in tour operating. They offer a variety of standard tours and excursions, but they also go off the beaten track. In general these local companies are much more flexible and you have a bigger choice in how, where and when to go. Most of them also arrange a pick-up and drop-off at your cruise ship. Sometimes you can join a shared tour or travel in a small company of your choice. These tours often have less inclusive (meals, entrance fees,…) but offer more freedom. And upon request you can always rely on a local licensed guide. The quality of local tours is at least as good as those from the cruise lines. The big advantage is that you will pay less. You can save up to 50% or 60% in comparison with the cruise line excursions. ShoreBee offers a wide variety of local tours at local prices in most ports of call.
Shore excursions on your own
In almost every port of call it’s easy and fun to make shore excursions on your own. But given the time pressure (between 6 and 10 hours) you have to prepare well in advance. Cruise excursions may seem like a mini city trip, but they have a few typical characteristics. Especially when you dock in a remote (industrial) area or far away from the main sights you need detailed information on where you dock, transportation options, timetables and information about public transport, … In each port of call ShoreBee offers a road book which you can download for free and take along on your cruise holiday. Going on your own gives you the ultimate freedom to experience more of the local life and to spend your day as you want. On top you will save a huge amount of money on your cruise budget and you never have to worry about cancellation fees. But be aware to get back on time to board your cruise ship!