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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 10:07 AM 

Your Cruise Coach: options for shore excursions

Your Cruise Coach: options for shore excursions
Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin is a cruise industry expert and is the owner of Your Cruise Coach.

Upon arrival at a cruise port, most guests disembark to explore around. Let's take a look at the tour options available to your clients.

All cruise lines offer a variety of excursions to the top attractions of each port. Clients can pre-book prior to departure, or book onboard. The benefits of booking tours through the ship are organized transportation, professional guides, expedited entries to attractions, and a guaranteed timely return to the ship. New cruisers, or those who want these conveniences, will opt for this route.

A growing number of local tour operators now also offer excursions for less than what the cruise lines charge. Some of these also pay commission to travel agencies, whereas cruise lines do not. They may offer a wider range of excursions, operate in smaller groups, and will also provide a return-to-ship guarantee. This option saves your clients some money, but if they choose to go this route, make sure they practice due diligence to research (or do the research for them) the reputation and policies of the company before booking.

Another option is to pick up a tour with a taxi driver upon arrival at the port. There is always a big group of them waiting pierside. Guests can book a half or full day tour with narration. This is an interesting way to learn about the place they are visiting since they are engaging directly with the locals. Before starting the tour, be sure to negotiate and agree upon a price, what they would like to see, and return time to the ship.

Lastly, many experienced cruisers rent a vehicle, or if convenient and feasible, take public transit or walk around on their own. This allows guests to plan their own day with the greatest flexibility. However, it involves a lot of advanced research and planning, and other factors such as distance from port to attractions, safety and security, and language issues need to be considered. For those who are independent and street-smart, this can prove to be very a rewarding experience.

No matter what option they take, guests need to understand that ships do not wait for latecomers unless they are with the cruise line's tour. It is therefore paramount to follow the all-aboard time and factor in the travel time back to the ship (and traffic conditions) if they wish to venture on their own. Bon Voyage!