The day has arrived for that cruise excursion you’ve been eagerly anticipating. You can finally check zip-lining through the rainforest or sailing a luxury sailboat to a private beach off your bucket list. Before you grab your fanny pack, slip on sunglasses and head over to your meeting location, there are a few things you should — or shouldn’t — do to ensure maximum fun and minimum facepalms.
Most shore tour prep can be done before your cruise. From packing the right shoes to reading the fine print, you can eliminate your chances of unwanted surprises. (Wait, lunch isn’t included?) But even experienced cruisers make mistakes. Instead of telling you what to do to prevent them, we’ve put together a list of 10 things not to do on a shore excursion. Avoid committing these don’ts, and you can enjoy a worry- and embarrassment-free day in port.
1. Dress inappropriately
“No shoes, no shirt, no problems” is a fine lyric to live by if you’re on the ship’s pool deck or spending a day at the beach, but shore excursions require a little more effort when it comes to dressing appropriately. What you wear not only depends on the weather, but also the activity. Opt for sneakers instead of sandals on a tour that involves a lot of walking, or bring something to cover your knees and shoulders if you’ll be visiting churches and mosques. Additionally, remove any valuable jewelry before heading into port. We’ve heard horror stories of cruisers damaging their bling or — even worse — losing it.
2. Forget essentials
You’ll be away from the ship for several hours during your excursion, so the last thing you want is to be without sunscreen or sunglasses on some private island miles away from any convenience stores. Pack a small bag of essentials (sunscreen, bug spray, medications) to hold you for the day. Also, think ahead: Prone to blisters? Bring some antibiotic ointment and bandages.
3. Bring your passport
Unless your tour requires a passport, leave yours on the ship. We recommend bringing your driver’s license as a form of ID instead. You don’t want to risk losing your passport ashore. In the event of an injury or other unexpected event that forces you to stay in port, the cruise line will bring all your stuff (documents included) to you so you’re not left stranded.
4. Carry wads of cash.
Regardless of the shore excursion you’re taking, it’s always smart to have a little cash on you for emergencies, tips and shopping. But there’s no need to bring a roll of hundreds unless you plan to purchase an entire market stall. Bring some cash (we find $50 or so usually suffices) and a credit card. If you’re in a country that requires you to exchange currency, bring a debit card. ATMs offer better exchange rates than banks and currency-conversion centers.
5. Be clueless about the port
Do your research before you go. Especially if you book an independent excursion, you should have a good grasp on your whereabouts and feel comfortable getting around on your own in each port. Familiarize yourself with the country’s culture, be aware of any dress codes, and find out what language the locals speak. If it’s not your native tongue, go the extra mile and learn a few common words or phrases, such as “Hello,” “Thank you” and “One round of shots, please!”