I have talked about all the activities to do onboard a cruise ship in Cruising 101. Cruising 102 was all about staterooms. So, let’s talk about all the activities and sightseeing OFF the cruise ship! Unless you are on a transatlantic crossing, there is plenty to see and do.
Once you have booked a cruise, you can go online, retrieve your booking, and look at the day to day itinerary for YOUR cruise. The shore excursions (tours booked on the ship, taken on land) available for every destination will be listed, the duration, physical activity level, the places visited, and the price. Easy. However, should you just want to disembark at the port and do your own thing for the day, or arrange your own land tour, you are free to do just that. Just be back on the ship by the ‘all aboard’ time, and your time is your own. Or choose not to get off that day, and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of a nearly empty ship, while others are ashore.
Everything is open on the ship, except for gift shops and the casino. These only open when you are sailing, due to local laws.
There are many companies that offer shore tours to cruise passengers. Cruise lines will tell you the benefit of booking ‘their’ excursion is if something goes wrong on shore and you are late back to the ship, the ship will wait for you. If the tour is not booked through the ship, they will not, and you will be responsible for getting yourself to the next port. This is a pretty good argument, though not one to be too concerned about. Other reputable shore tour companies will also guarantee to return you to the ship on time, or they will get you to the next port at ‘their expense’. So shop around to get what you want, and at the price you want. We can help with that.
Another small benefit of booking a shore excursion with the cruise line is that you can put the expense on your ‘shipboard account’ and pay at the end of the cruise. Ships are cashless societies. You register your credit card with the ship, they give you a keycard. That card is your identification for getting on and off the ship, it opens your stateroom door, and it is your charge card. Easy. You can look at a tally of your charges each day on the TV in your room. Even gratuities for the staff are posted to this account. Should you need to adjust, remove or change something, just head to the purser’s desk and get it sorted out. Just a tip – don’t wait to do this until the night before disembarkation, everyone else is doing the same thing and the lineups will be long.
Once you get the hang of the ‘cruise routine’, you’ll be a happy cruiser! And it gets easier and more familiar with every sailing. You just haven’t lived til you’ve cruised! For more information, contact Carla Nelson, Master Cruise Counsellor and Cruise Queen! Maritime Travel 250.489.4788.