En español | Part of the fun on any cruise is — going ashore!
But how you go ashore, and with whom, often makes the difference between a good cruise and a great one.
Every cruise line offers dozens of shore excursions every time you sail into a port. But which ones are right for you?
First, you need to determine what you're looking for in a shore excursion. History? Culture? Shopping? Water sports? Each one is different, and prices can vary drastically.
Second, do you really need to be packed into a bus and stop at tourist stores, or can you do a better job walking on your own?
Some shore excursions are better handled by the ship. In Alaska, for example, the cruise lines virtually monopolize the helicopter tours of the glaciers, making it almost impossible to book one on your own or get a better deal.
But other shore opportunities you can easily handle on your own — and, at your own pace.
Another question to ask yourself: Do most of the people speak English where you're going? If so, you'd be amazed at how easily you can navigate by yourself.
Another option: Choose one other couple on the ship, email a hotel concierge where you're going and ask to hire one of its cars to meet you at the dock. The cost, divided among four people, is suddenly reasonable. You go where you want, when you want.
But with all cruise excursions just remember one thing: If you miss the boat, you're financially liable to make it to the next port on your own. So make sure you get back in time — or, better yet, early!
Published June 27, 2011
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