Cruise Ship Shore And Land Excursions

Stop off at Santa-caterina-del-sosso Italy for a sightseeing tour of the Monastery. tpsdave / Pixabay

There is a wealth of adventure and opportunity to be gleamed once you decide upon holidaying aboard a cruise ship. It’s not enough to simply find relaxation, it’s about how and where and with whom that matters and cruise operators from Royal Caribbean to Carnival are all placing their stakes with a multitude of broad cruise ship shore and land excursion offerings.

In the last decade there has been a resurgence in the love affair with with cruise ship holidays. Year on year passenger numbers are increasing and cruise line operators are reinvesting their profit into better holiday management.

This involves more creative services, catering, comfort and a plethora of additional activities to both entertain and satisfy demand as well as attract new customers. Holiday goers who before now, may not have realised just how much can be enjoyed from a cruise ship journey.

There are now even more  reasons to enjoy a cruise holiday
There are now even more reasons to enjoy a cruise holiday

You may have already read our short guide to activities and things to do on a cruise which is more than enough to see you never have to leave the ship and visit the various ports. And that’s the whole point, these days, a cruise ship is a bit like a Disneyland adventure, there’s so much to do, you may just have to return for a second trip just to make sure you do everything the next time.

So while there’s plenty to do on board there is almost as much and more to do upon arrival at the destination ports. No matter which cruise you’re on, many of the larger cruise operators have assembled a multitude of shore and land excursions which you can book before departure and come with a full activity planner so you can manage your trip before you leave.

You will be surprised how far cruise ship operators go to make your holiday the best it can be. They can supply you with local information for when in port, the best and most unique places to discover. All helped by enabling you to rent a local tour guide when on shore.

  • If you’re travelling in a group or as a couple, you can pre book hire cars with or without a driver, to enable you to get around the city or town you’re docked in, which saves an incredible amount of time when you don’t have to rely on public transport and a tourist map. Hire cars can be driven by yourself or with driver. Ramble around on your own or gain access to instant knowledge from a knowledgeable guide.
  • Then there’s the attractions and places of interest themselves. Often restaurants, museums or attractions are very busy. Why waste time queuing or paying for international phone calls to book places or buy tickets when the cruise ship’s staff can do everything for you!?! It’s a no brainer.

There are many types of cruise ship excursions available worldwide. From scuba diving and yachting, swimming with dolphins and getting closer to nature with trekking day trips. You can visit museums or go on a cultural visit and wine and dine at the much vaunted best restaurants in town.

All of this is made possible simply by utilising the cruise ship’s scheduled land and shore excursions internal planning management. Staff who are available twenty four hours a day and dedicated to ensuring you have the smoothest and most fun cruise holiday you will ever have – until next time! So let’s take a look at a few of the cruise ship services in a little more detail.

Private Car And Van Hire For Shore Excursions

Car Hire Mercedes
Hire a car for a fun shore excursion. kareszzz / Pixabay

In times gone by a cruise ship was focused primarily on offering the best holiday on board their ship in-between port stays. However with declining passenger numbers, they found the need to supply more services while you were on shore and enjoying the culture and location while on land. Not least that more offerings mean more income for the liner. It’s a win win for both customer and company.

Once you book your cruise ship holiday you will have full access to online tools which enable you to book in advance a variety of activities and services via the planning management schedule. Simply log in with the details provided when you booked, and the Cruise liner will now become your very own personal assistant to ensure you get the most from your holiday but with the least hassle.

When you’re in port for only one or two days, time is usually of the essence. If you don’t wish to be stranded within a few square miles of your ship. While there’s still plenty of activities and places of interest to visit and enjoy, there may well be a location outside the city limits or within an hours drive that public transport simply won’t allow you to get the most out of a busy itinerary.

Take advantage of the cruise liner’s online schedule and interactive calender and plan your trip in advance. Hire a car or van for yourself and partner or group and really get to see the area you’re in from a native citizen’s perspective. By hiring a vehicle, you not only get to travel further but also save time.

Hire cars can be driven by yourself, however it is recommended that you accept a driver. They will know the roads, the traffic and short cuts, as well as being able to give tips and allow you and your party to gain local knowledge all for the price of a hire car.

These additional services from the cruise liners do come at an additional surcharge. But if you weigh up these with the time, effort and cost it would take to arrange transport or plan a route yourself, as well as the phone calls, it really is worthwhile paying for dedicated cruise ship staff to make planning easier for you.

Personal Tour Guide For When You’re In Port

A personal tour guide can save time and allow you to see and enjoy everything a shore excursion has to offer. Susbany / Pixabay

If you have been abroad before then you know the drill and the time it takes to choose places to visit and how to get the most out of your holiday. Before you depart you will be one of thousands that buy a guide book listing all of the local interests and eateries.

You will also probably visit the tourist office at the destination on at least one occasion and will ask locals and shop assistants on at least ten occasions “is this the right way?” and “does my bum look big in this one square metre map I’m holding up?” and “where is the tourist information office?”

If you were holidaying in the city or country for a few weeks, then the mundane organisational procedures are never usually a problem. However when in port for only a day or two you need to squeeze the most out of the journey. Consider accepting a tour guide which can be supplied by the cruise liner.

The tour guides are all local citizens who know their area like the proverbial back of their hand. The best places to eat at the cheapest cost. The hidden gems that many tourists simply won’t venture to and can offer tips and provide information on places to visit as well as offer background info, cultural and historical details about the places you’re visiting and the country you’re in.

A Tour Guide will allow you to get the most of your short stay. saravanan / Pixabay

There are pros and cons to hiring a tour guide. They will of course be with you all day. If your party is of four or more people, then this won’t be a problem but if you’re a couple then having a third person around you may be a little unsettling. The tour guide doesn’t need to be with you every step of the way. Leaving you to enjoy your meals, exhibits, activities and museums as and when you please, popping up when you need them.

The pros of course are more evident. Local knowledge, if you don’t enjoy all the hassle of getting lost at each corner or struggling with the local language, can be a boon to your adventures. A cruise ship land excursion guide will know the answers to questions you don’t even know exist yet.

And that’s the important thing to remember when on a cruise and you have limited time and a short schedule and so much fun and things to see and to cram into a day. It can also be very frustrating when you get back on board the ship having wasted half the day listening how other passenger’s day trips went so smoothly and to schedule.

Half the fun of visiting another country is immersing yourself in the daily lives of those who live there and discovering the city for yourself, but when time is limited hiring a tour guide can be very beneficial. A cruise ship tour guide also allows you to do things on the hop,if you find you have an hour spare due to an activity or museum taking less time, it’s guaranteed that the tour guide will fill that void for you within seconds.

Schedule Land And Shore Excursion And Planning Management

Hawaii Cruise
Many of the cruise line operators, from Carnival to Royal Caribbean offer online tools and a secure log in system from where you can discover, plan and manage your holiday itinerary.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, to start planning the adventure before they arrive at a destination but places can often sell out on managed tours. So it’s advisable that if you’re really keen on visiting somewhere, luxury restaurant, scuba diving tour or another activity with limited spaces, that you secure the booking before departure.

When you book your cruise holiday, your agency will provide you with username and password to log in online and enable you to begin perusing the masses of passenger only content. Videos and articles detailing places to visit, activities to enjoy and culture to savour.

The whole shore and land excursions research and reservation system is very simple to use, yet at the same time very powerful and allows you take control of your cruise holiday properly. The databases are full of activities, adventures and cultural places to visit from land marks and parks to museums, circuses, football stadiums and palaces and the majority can all be booked from one online panel.

The process is simple as well. Browse the cruise activity database for ideas or go directly to the pursuit you are after. Add the request to your calender and arrange for tickets to be bought and await confirmation. If there are any problems the cruise ship operator will call you back or email, as preferred.

Often in life one person has to carry the burden and cost of holiday trips or collecting the money. Which is a bit of a pain, albeit easier with money transfers but if a person can’t make the holiday and has to pull out, it leaves a bit of a headache for those concerned.

Paying for a cruise online is quite straightforward. PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

To combat this problem and multiple couples or friends not on the same booking, there are a few ways to pay for your cruise ship land and shore excursions. You can book for activities with multiple credit cards from multiple passengers in a single reservation request. You can also book on behalf of other passengers that were not originally part of your group.

Being able to spread the cost and risk of payment across your party or group brings peace of mind to all those involved. As well as enabling passengers to float between activities or add themselves at a later date rather then being rushed to go and see a museum or take part in a sport they may not be in the mood for at the time, but find themselves encouraged by the activity a few days before.

There are a great many activities available as land excursions and shore excursions, probably too many to enjoy while in port. Indeed when visiting most cities, not even two weeks allows you to enjoy the vast wealth of hundreds of places of interest and sights to see outside of the main attractions.

Be sure to use the excursion database provided and read and view the content about the locations. Consider whether you need to book public transport or hire a car with driver and or a tour guide. Scheduling cruise ship excursions is a fantastic way to enjoy and manage your holiday and port calls, whether as managed group or independent travellers.


Managed Cruise Ship Shore Excursions And Tours

A day excursion can be fun whether you decide to go adventuring by yourselves or if you choose the managed excursions route. pilostic / Pixabay

Having worked on the receiving end of tourism I can be best described as a free agent when on any holiday, whether land based or on a cruise. I simply don’t like being shepherded and unable to have my own free time and do as I wish.

With that said, there is certainly a time and a place for a scheduled tour that is managed by the cruise ship and which sees hundreds boarding several buses or vans to reach a particular destination. There are many ports like that of Barcelona which land you right in the middle of everything you’ll wish to see. Albeit Port Aventura and beach concerts may be an hour’s drive away.

On the other hand when visiting Greece, Athens is not so close and in countries where there can be language difficulties, it can be a time consuming experience getting from A to B and back again. Therefore there is opportunity in managed cruise ship land excursions even as an utterly independent traveller, choosing apartments over hotels, learning the basic local lingo before departure and finding unique places to visit that are out of the main city areas.

Making the choice between a good deal and a low price can end up with very different results
Wherever you visit make sure you make the most of it, and plan ahead!

Aside from my regular preferred routine I know also that getting on a tour bus with a tour guide can not only be a great experience but one that gets you to where you want to be without any hassle. Despite the hoards that you need to travel with. We’ve all seen the Carry On films…

Tours can be to museums or out of town events, hill walking, zip lines or kayaking in the sea or down a river. You should find out as much information as possible about the tour before you book. The numbers that will travel, how many will participate, how many will be in your group and if the activity requires a guide or instructor and if it’s a sport, will there be more people offering tuition or a guiding hand?

Cruise ship tours are not always entirely managed and controlled throughout. Some may simply get you from A to B in a timely fashion and let you visit a city’s area or attraction and drop you at the destination, leaving you to discover an area of a city, a national park or theme park or cathedral and village with a rendezvous time so as to return.

Other managed cruise ship tours and excursions however are nailed down completely. You may be required to take the specific castle tour for example upon arrival, eat at the same restaurant and be in a group of 25 to 100 throughout the day. If that’s not your ideal scenario, simply bail out of the tour and do your own thing. Even when tours are written in stone, the situation is malleable.

Tours are a fantastic way of discovering a country and culture and a new sport or activity. They offer knowledge, guidance, assistance and an insight and often personal view into their own lives and history. While some cruise ship excursions are rigid, many can be flexible. Decisions need to be taken on a per activity and destination basis on whether you can make your own way there or split from the tour party upon arrival.


Types Of Cruise Ships Excursions Available Worldwide

How to find
There are thousands of excursions and sightseeing tours available on almost every cruise ship all over the world

It would be nigh on impossible to list all the different types of cruise ship excursions across the world. There are literally thousands of different destinations and cultural tours from Alaska and coastal expeditions to 4×4 adventures in Malta.

While many activities and shore excursions can be replicated the world over, it is often the culture and scenery that separates one continent and country to the next. Churches different, wildlife and eco systems individual, landmarks and statues overwhelmingly related to empires either controlling or having been subjected to power struggles or previous civilisations long since departed.

Steppinstars / Pixabay

Then of course the arts and institutions and minds of the people that came from such struggles and empirical duties. Deciphering and researching which shore and land excursions to partake in or which might interest you the most may well be your biggest task initially.

Onboard cruise activities are more easily booked and managed but when it comes to time and travelling while at port there is more of a concern as to whether an activity or visit will be as interesting or as enjoyable as you’d wish.

With that said, there are hardly any cruise destinations and ports that don’t offer a plethora of activities to indulge in and across a wide spectrum too. Activities that will push you to your limits action wise and call on your fitness reserves as well as visits which will aid in expanding your mind about the culture you are experiencing.

It’s not in all people’s ideals to travel on a cruise and on a journey for a few thousand miles to end up playing Golf but whether you’re in South Africa, Alaska or Spain you can often book a round of golf and enjoy the scenery and climate in a relaxing environment. Whether that’s at Bermuda’s Belmont Hills Golf Club or St. Thomas’ Mahogany Run.

It used to be that wining and dining or eating local food in cafes and restaurants, on side streets, take aways and market places was the way to discover the local specialities and tasty delicacies. It still is but there is a new trend towards Cuisine Tours.

tpsdave / Pixabay

Taking you out of your normal first world environment into an arena where catching the food, cooking it yourself or seeing the food cooked by trained chefs or huntsman is a unique way of sampling the food culture in the country you’re experiencing.

Take for instance the Gold Creek Salmon Bake Cuisine Tour in Alaska. You not only get to try your hand at prospecting for gold but will sample local food and delicacies from a BBQ serving grilled salmon, Cheechako Chicken, Chilkoot Baked Beans and Tongass Wild-Rice Pilaf.

So not only a meal and tasting cultural difference but an activity, scenic beauty and an adventure in itself. These cruise ship cuisine tour excursions are replicated the world over, from Spain and Wine tours to Argentina and beef discoveries.

With tourism being a main factor of many cities around the world and a vital economic component, the locals find news ways to allow their much welcomed guests to view their country’s beautiful hot spots and hard to reach destinations and in many cases, just a different perspective to see the sights from.


Flightseeing in Alaska
Flightseeing in Alaska

Flightseeing is one of the most new ways to venture out and about and see cities from the sky in a bi plane or view the scenic beauty below while partaking in activities such as dog sledding by helicopter, view and fly over glaciers. Zoom over forests and volcanoes in Iceland or reach distant Islands which would take ages to reach by boat.

If heights are not your ideal view point, there are the more traditional Sightseeing And City Tours to take advantage of. Based in every major city and port, you can board buses which will take you on a tour of the city, often allowing you to jump on and off at will so you can discover the museums and landmarks on your way around.

Take a bus tour organised around a local event or sightseeing experience. Steppinstars / Pixabay

Some tours may well be more specific to museums or events and either offered as scheduled bus tours around a city or to a place of interest or place of scenic beauty and in a group, on a managed tour in a van. Or at the other end of the spectrum as described above, a personal tour guide to assist you and educate you in the way of the locals.

Now being on a cruise ship surrounded by water and having swimming pools on board you’re either going to love or hate water at the end. Before that happens, every port thanks to climate and it’s obvious position in the world will offer a magnificent array of Beach and Water-Related Activities to partake in.

These range from canoe safaris, fishing, hiking and rafting, scientific expeditions to watch whales and coastal tours to see the country from an invading navy’s perspective or simply to enjoy the scenery from a luxurious boat while eating dinner.

Aqua parks in Kusadasi, speed boats, swim with dolphins, tours of historic beach towns in Bulgaria to Bird Safaris in Norway watching puffins and kittiwakes are all types of water related excursions you will find around the world.

Land based Adventure Tours are a refreshing change when you have been at sea inbetween ports. They allow you to find your legs again and to get away from the sea air that has infused your nostrils for so long. Getting up into the mountains and experiencing zip lines and gliding over ravines and forests is a great feeling, let alone an amazing sight.

A Camping expedition may be just what you’re after. alexis / Pixabay

A close alternative would be a canopy expedition, camping or take a short river adventure and see the local wildlife and yet more of your destination’s natural beauty, untouched by civilisation. Jeep safaris in Honningsvag and 4×4 trail rides are other adventurous sports you can indulge in alongside parasailing, horseback riding, mountain biking in Konavle Valley or Palma De Mallorca.

Thanks to the holiday you have chosen, you naturally have easy access to the sea so a Snorkel & SCUBA Tour over coral reefs or historic sunk ships is certainly not out of the question.

Whether you are on board a huge commercial cruise liner or a dedicated and alternative expedition cruise, you will invariably have access to all the safety gear, instructors and scientific equipment required to enjoy the snorkel tour or Scuba tour you are venturing out to explore.

With adventure and sightseeing, water based activities as well as culinary delights and associated activities nearby or on location, there are so many cruise ship land excursions and shore excursions to choose from that you will have to ensure a budget before deciding what to enjoy.

Discover more fun in amongst nature with Wilderness & Wildlife Tours. Guided tours on jeeps, bikes or on foot and boat to safaris, natural areas of beauty or national parks and learn and watch dolphins, manatees, moose, bear, caribou, monkeys on land, glaciers and in the sea. While many ports have Aquariums, you can’t beat the real deal!

Wilderness & Wildlife
Explore and Enjoy the Real Wilderness & Wildlife that’s out there!

Take photos or film video of your experience and capture friend’s and families delights as a bear appears or monkey swings into action and heads for the jeep. Capture a charging rhinoceros or a close scrape with a Lion. A cruise ship excursion is an amazing way to see animals and wildlife in their own environment, this coupled with the setting sun, rolling hills and sea in the background make for some beautiful memories.

There is however one major aspect of culture missing from this guide so far and that is what makes us sing and dance. Our costumes and customs over the centuries and basically what differentiates every country, population, civilisation, area and people from one another.

Each city while open to international stars, has their own cultural attitude and ways to reflect on life and their institutions. tpsdave / Pixabay

Each country and its people shows it’s past and historic reference through dance, and theatre, through performance and heart warming singing. Whether that’s tribal and aborigine or opera and comedy.

Visit palaces and musical halls to witness parades from the military or see a country’s historic dress, and hear classical and historic music from the region’s culture in local music halls or at staged festivals on the streets.

Theatre, Shows and Entertainment tell us more about ourselves and other people than we might think. And it’s not just big stage shows either, watch an Historic Ketchikan Trolley & Lumberjack Show in Alaska, visit the Achilleion Palace, Paleokastritsa & Old Town in Greece or a Mariachi band in Mexico.

A cruise ship holiday is much more than just a cruise and so much more than just an holiday. With so many shore and land excursions to enjoy in the local environment, discovering nature and culture. You’ll be returning to the cruise ship culture a lot sooner than you expected!


Cruise Liners With The Best Excursion Planning And Offerings

Don't miss
There are several cruise liners that offer online cruise ship excursion reservation and planning tools and more to come.

By booking with a cruise liner that makes life and holiday planning easier, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort.

With easily accessible information and booking confirmations allowing all in your group or party to know what’s occurring and at the same time enabling all to pay separately, spreading the cost and risk. Royal Caribbean are one of the best cruise liners with a wealth of articles and videos to back up their online excursions service which will book tickets and venues, hire taxis and tour guides and generally ensure your cruise experience goes smoothly.

Others which offer a similar online excursion booking service are:

Remember however that while cruise ship excursions organised and managed by the cruise ship make life more simple, there is an additional cost but one we feel is well worth it even if you’re normally an independent traveller.

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