Home Cruise Preparation How to Choose Excursions on your Cruise

Picking the right shore excursions on your cruise will help you make the most of your vacation.

When you’re planning your cruise, you might be unsure which excursions to book. Cruise ships usually offer plenty of fun and exciting options, but when everything looks great, it can be hard to choose. Here’s how you can make sure you’re spending your time and money on the excursions that will be best for you and your traveling companions:

Think about your interests
Look through all of the available excursions and see which ones instantly pop out at you. There are going to be plenty of “maybes” among the list, but there are sure to be at least a few outings that are obviously good bets. These should be your first choices.

To come up with your second string of options, look through the maybes and think about how they fit or don’t fit your existing interests. If you’re a fan of physical activity, hikes and climbing courses will be a great addition to your vacation. If you’re a history buff, walking tours and visits to significant sites should satisfy your urge to learn.

Remember past duds
Look back on past trips and vacations you’ve had, and ask yourself what you didn’t like. Use that experience to guide your expedition choices. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and it’s totally okay to not be interested in something. It’s better to decline an excursion you know you won’t enjoy than to go and regret it.

Now, a single experience doesn’t mean you’ll never like that kind of activity – for example, one boring art gallery doesn’t mean you should skip the local art exhibits. That said, if you’ve disliked every art museum tour you’ve ever taken, you might just not like art.

Keep days balanced
You likely won’t be able to schedule each day with a balance of activities, but try to keep them all as evenly distributed as possible. If you have one day with no excursions at all, and another that has three or four, you’re likely to be bored on the former and stressed on the latter.

Instead, try to spread out your excursions so you’re giving each day an equal share. Not only will this save you from getting irritated or burnt out, but it will also help you get the most from each port. Shore excursions are all about visiting the places you’re traveling to – taking advantage of them will help you have a better vacation overall.

Favor unique experiences
Keeping your interests in mind, favor location-specific experiences over things you could do anywhere. Excursions often take up a significant portion of your vacation budget (as well as your schedule), so you should make sure your outings are worth the money.

Some excursions may toe the line between specific and generic. A zipline tour, for example, could be either. There are zipline opportunities all around the world, so the flying part itself might not be that unique – however, if you’re traveling to a destination with a particularly beautiful or exotic landscape, ziplining could be the perfect way to take in the sights.

Ask for input
Finally, get other peoples’ opinions as you’re planning your excursions. Check around on websites like TripAdvisor to see if other people have done the same activities. These sites and reviews should give you a good idea of whether the opportunity is worth it. You can also reach out to the cruise line directly for more information if you have any questions.

And, of course, talk to your traveling companions about what they want to do. This is particularly useful if you’re on the fence about one excursion or another – your companions’ opinions could push something solidly on or off your to-do list.

1 reply to this post
  1. The most economical way to enjoy a port of call is to do it on your own, especially if you’re in familiar territory. Of course, the safest way to go is usually on a cruise line sponsored tour, they can be expensive and, well, often boring. We’ll be doing a US coastal tour next spring, and will save several hundred $$ by booking our own “excursions” in various ports.

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