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Cruise Shore Excursions – Are They Worth It?

At Travel Routes we love cruise holidays, and many of our Travel Specialists even enjoy their own cruise holidays as well. One of the things we are asked about most is the cruise-line organised excursions, and whether they are worth doing. So, we have gathered together 5 reasons why we think they make a great addition to your cruise holiday, and 4 things to watch out for:

The Positives

The following 5 points are reasons we think cruise shore excursions will make a great addition to your cruise holiday;

+ Great Choice of Things to Do

Cruise lines take their selection of cruise excursions very seriously, as they know that what you do off the ship is just as important as what you do on it, and great shore excursions can make or break a cruise. This means that they have teams of people working with all the local companies, operators and suppliers in all their destinations in order to make sure their selection of cruise excursions is the very best it can be. At every port of call in your cruise, you will normally find multiple different options of things to do, which will cater for almost everyone. From easy-going local walking tours to heading off for full-day excursions into the mountains or jungle, there is almost certainly going to be something to cater to your needs or preferences.

+ Tried and Tested

Because most of the cruise lines will have been serving the ports you visit for a number of years, they have had plenty of time to refine their excursions and programmes so as to ensure that their excursions are as good as they can possibly be, and that they make a worthwhile addition to your holiday. This means you can usually be assured that the excursion will be delivered exactly as described, you'll have good-quality vehicles and guides assigned to you, and that you have the cruise line's quality assurance. 

+ Variety of Budgets

All cruise lines will offer a shore-excursions programme to cover a range of different budgets at every port of call. This means you don’t have to spend a fortune on shore excursions if you don’t want to. In general, we find that shore excursions will start from around US$40 per person for a light half-day tour, and will go up to as much as you want to spend! At the top end of the market you will find some super special experiences, such as an Alaskan float plane flight followed by a salmon bake in a lodge, or a private dinner at a viewpoint over the Acropolis! Many of the more luxury cruise lines will also be able to offer completely tailor-made experiences, so you can do exactly what you want.

+ Ease

Without a doubt, taking a cruise-line organised shore excursion is the easiest option. You will be looked after from the minute you leave the ship until the minute you return. You won't have to work out how to navigate local transport, haggle with local guides or tour companies without knowing if the excursion will be any good, queue for hours for popular tourist attractions, or risk missing out on things you want to do. The cruise lines make their shore excursions nice and easy!

+ You Won’t Miss the Ship!

All cruise-line shore excursions are guaranteed to make it back to the ship in time for its departure from port. So you will never need to worry about time or getting lost when you are on a cruise-line shore excursion. If the excursion is late back to the ship, the ship has to wait for you!

Things to Watch Out For

The following 4 points are things to look out for when considering cruise shore excursions;

- You Can Always Do Your Own Thing

Of course, it's worth mentioning that you don’t have to take any cruise line shore excursions. You are always welcome to step off the ship and explore any of the destinations yourself. You can simply walk off the ship for a wander around the local area, jump in a taxi to explore further afield, or often negotiate with a local tour company at the port to go and see whatever you want! However, as mentioned above – if you do your own thing, you need to make sure you are back in time for departure, as the ship won't wait for late passengers who are not taking the cruise-line organised shore excursions! If you miss the ship, then you will also be responsible for the cost of travelling on to the next place where you can re-join the ship! 

- Value

It is fair to say that while cruise-line shore excursions do cater for a variety of budgets, cruise lines do generally charge a bit of a premium for the excursions they offer. It is normally possible to do the same activities they offer by yourself, and save a little bit of money. However, as mentioned, by doing the cruise-organised excursions you are also paying for their quality assurance, the ease, and the guarantee of being looked after throughout, including being returned to the ship on time. Personally, we think this makes the extra premium worth it most of the time!

- Book in Advance

The best shore excursions do sell out, so make sure that you book those you want to do in advance so as to not miss them! Most cruise lines will offer their shore excursions in advance of the cruise via some sort of online portal. At Travel Routes we think it’s well worth taking some time to look through the shore excursions as early as you can. This way, you can at least get booked on to the ones you'll definitely want to do, and make sure you won't miss out! Shore excursions can of course also be booked once you are on-board too, but generally we think you'll want to spend your time on-board enjoying your holiday rather than standing in line waiting to book shore excursions!

- Numbers of People

The number of people you will share a shore excursion with does vary by cruise line, and also by excursion. As you would expect, the numbers on the smaller and more boutique cruise lines will be less and as a general rule the more expensive tours will also attract less people too. However, if you are taking a cheaper shore excursion with a large cruise line, then do expect to be sharing your excursion with plenty of people. It normally makes for a nice sociable atmosphere and is a great chance to meet your fellow passengers, but it's not ideal if you were looking to spend some romantic time just the two of you!

Please note some of the information contained within our cruise guide may differ once cruising resumes in the wake of Covid-19.


Ready to plan your perfect cruise holiday?

Simply complete the enquiry form to get in touch, or call our Travel Specialists on 0203 924 8888


Our Top Selling Cruises

Below is just a tiny selection of our best-selling cruise holidays. Get in touch to discuss your exact requirements and we'll help you find your perfect cruise holiday; 

12-Day Canary Islands with Princess
12-Day Canary Islands with Princess

This 12-day cruise with Princess Cruises departs from Southampton and heads for the warm sunshine of Spain and the Canary Islands. Enjoy 6 ports of call including Lisbon, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Madeira. During your days at sea you'll be able to enjoy the wealth of facilities on-board your Princess Cruise Ship including first-class entertainment and exquisite dining options. The best part of this cruise is that you don't need to fly, so your holiday begins the minute you step on-board!

September departures

Southampton  >  Lisbon  >  Gran Canaria  >  Tenerife  >  Lanzarote  >  Madeira  >  Vigo  >  Southampton

Cruise Holiday Includes

  • 11 nights accommodation on the ship
  • Full board whilst on-board the ship
  • Port fees and taxes

From £799 per person

Price based on two people sharing a Interior Stateroom in September 2021. Other dates and cabin upgrades available. Simply enquire below.

New Zealand
Transatlantic & New York Stay with Cunard

Enjoy this Westbound transatlantic crossing aboard the iconic Queen Mary 2. She is a remarkable flagship, her style and elegance are legendary. With 7-nights at sea the choice is yours. There is as much or as little to do as you please, with more possibilities than you'll have time to discover. After your cruise enjoy 3-nights in New York with 2 full days to explore the 'Big Apple!'

Year-round departures

Southampton  >  Transatlantic Crossing  >  New York

Cruise Holiday Includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation on the ship
  • 3 nights accommodation in Manhattan, New York
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner included on-board ship
  • A welcome bottle of sparkling wine
  • Port fees and taxes

From £1,249 per person

Price based on two people sharing an Britannia Inside Cabin on November 2021 departure. Simply enquire below.

Asia
Alaska Hubbard Glacier with Celebrity

Enjoy a 8-day cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse as you set sail to discover the spectacular scenery and amazing attractions of Alaska. From the dramatic glaciers, majestic mountains and the amazing wildlife including whales, there is sure to be something to amaze you on this fantastic cruise. The price also include 2-nights in Vancouver at a downtown hotel. (CXC)

May to September departures

Vancouver  >  Inside Passage (Cruising)  >  Sitka  >  Hubbard Glacier (Cruising)  >  Juneau  >  Ketchikan  >  Inside Passage (Cruising) >  Vancouver

Cruise Holiday Includes

  • International flights from the UK in Economy
  • 7 nights accommodation on the ship
  • 2 nights accommodation in Vancouver
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner included while on-board
  • Classic beverages
  • Gratuities
  • Transfers and taxes

From £1,599 per person

Price based on two people sharing an Inside Cabin between May and September. Simply enquire below.

Gems of the Danube River Cruise with Scenic
Gems of the Danube River Cruise with Scenic

Enjoy a classic 8-day river cruise along the Danube to discover the historical wonders of Europe from Budapest to Nuremberg. All while enjoying the elegant atmosphere and exquisite service on-board a 5-star vessel with Scenic River Cruises. (SCN)

April to October departures

Munich  >  Nuremberg  >  Regensberg  >  Passau - Linz  >  Melk - Dürnstein  >  Vienna  >  Budapest

Cruise Holiday Includes:

  • International flights from the UK in Economy
  • 7 Nights accommodation on the ship
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners and premium beverages
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • All gratuities
  • Transfers and taxes

From £2,399 per person

Price based on two people sharing a Standard Suite between April - October. Itinerary also operates in reverse. Simply enquire below.

Southern Caribbean with Holland America
Southern Caribbean with Holland America

What better way to see the Caribbean than on this amazing 14-day Southern Caribbean cruise with Holland America. The cruise takes in 9 diverse islands of the Caribbean on a round-trip voyage from Fort Lauderdale onboard the elegant and spacious Volendam. (HAL)

March to April departures

Fort Lauderdale  >  St. Thomas  >  St. Kitts & Nevis  >  St. Lucia  >  Barbados  >  Grenada  >  Guadeloupe  >  St. Maarten  >  Puerto Rico  >  The Bahamas  >  Fort Lauderdale

Cruise Holiday Includes:

  • International flights from the UK in Economy
  • 13 nights accommodation on the ship
  • 1 nights accommodation in Fort Lauderdale
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner included while on-board
  • Signature beverage package
  • Gratuities
  • Port fees and taxes

From £2,599 per person

Price based on two people sharing an Inside Cabin between March and April 2022. Simply enquire below.

World Heritage Exploration Cruise with Regent Seven Seas
World Heritage Exploration Cruise with Regent Seven Seas

Visit ancient ruins and iconic cities on an 8-day World Heritage Exploration cruise with Regent Seven Seas onboard Seven Seas Explorer. Set sail through the Adriatic & Aegean to eight incredible destinations on one epic journey. Back on-board your Regent Seven Seas ship you can enjoy the finest things in life with their luxury amenities and all-inlcusive concept.

August departures

Venice  >  Split  >  Kotor  >  Corfu  >  Gythion  >  Santorini  >  Ephesus (Kusadasi)  >  Athens (Piraeus)

Cruise Holiday Includes:

  • International flights from the UK in Economy
  • All-inclusive plus free unlimited beverages
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi
  • Unlimited selected shore excursions
  • Transfers and taxes

From £4,999 per person

Price based on two people sharing a Veranda Suite in August. Simply enquire below.


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