6 Tips to Finding the Best Ship Excursions for You and Your Family
Shore excursions can be a fantastic way to explore new places and experience new cultures. If you’re cruising with family, you want an excursion that your kids will love and remember forever — but that will be engaging for you and your partner, too.
It can be a little overwhelming to choose from the plethora of activities available on shore, especially with a family full of different personalities! But with a little strategizing you can make a game plan for your best vacation yet and include all the shore activities your family wants to explore.
From zip-lining through the jungle or touring a beautiful Japanese cherry blossom garden, there are options sure to satisfy every family member. Here’s how to expertly choose the right shore excursion for you and your family, and a few insider tips to make the most of your time at sea.
1. Consider Your Interests and Abilities
This one seems like a no-brainer, but some members of your family might have different definitions of fun. It’s best to make a list of activities that excite you and match your fitness level. You can compare your list with your family to see which activities you all have in common, or negotiate and meet halfway.
If you’re a fan of exercise, an all-day hike might sound exhilarating — but your museum-loving family member might not be so interested. Doing a walking tour around a new city might give you both a chance to learn something new (and get some steps in).
Take into consideration the ages of everyone coming along, too. A private wine tour might be at the top of your list, but you’ll have a hard time keeping your kids entertained while a sommelier explains grape varieties.
You’d be better suited exploring a private island with your kids. There they can build sandcastles and swim with dolphins while you kick back and relax.
2. Budget Before You Board
Shore excursions can be an exciting way to try new things while at sea, but they can also get expensive if you don’t plan your vacation budget ahead of time.
Plan for how much money you’d like to spend on shore excursions — from luxurious dinners to day trips to see exotic animals and dazzling coral reefs.
When you’re budgeting with a foreign currency, try to leave your credit card on board, and only bring as much cash as you want to spend (plus a little extra for emergencies).
You can also pick which locations you’d like to do activities in and save others for stretching your legs. Walking around is a free way to explore any new city and can be just as fun!
3. Skip Marathon Tours
Let’s be honest: tours can get exhausting! Especially if it’s an all-day excursion.
You’ll find lots of marathon tours available in port cities, which can allow you to see more in one day. This can be the perfect solution if you’re trying to check multiple activities or sites off your bucket list.
But these can include lots of time sitting on a train or bus getting to new locations. And while a full day of back-to-back action can be a blast, it can also tire out your family. Plan accordingly with plenty of water, comfortable footwear, snacks, and rest stops!
4. Plan for Transportation
Included transportation between shore excursions is a popular theme with many cruise lines — but you might be paying more for included transportation than you should.
When you step off a cruise ship, you’ll see plenty of local shuttles, trams, and vans to take you where you want to go. You don’t necessarily need to book a tour to get you to your destination of choice.
Research your transportation options ahead of time and find cheaper options to get to your destination of choice. This is ideal for simple beach breaks, museums, or restaurants you’d like to try on your own.
5. Be Wary of “Panoramic” Tours
Cruise insiders will tell you that anything with the word “panoramic” in the title will likely not live up to the hype. You might be getting a view, but chances are it will be from the view inside a bus. Not so scenic, unfortunately.
The same can be said for some island tours or tours with “by coach” in the name. You might have better luck (and get better photos) just by exploring a location on foot.
6. Try Independent Options
Many cruise lines come with their own ship-sponsored tours. These can be perfect in a pinch, but don’t feel obligated to sign up right away. There are plenty of independent options out there that are often cheaper and more your style.
You can also create your own “tour.” Give yourself lots of time to research your area ahead of time and what you’d like to do there. Refer back to your list of interests, check your budget, and look for independent companies that offer unique shore excursions.
If your kids love collecting souvenirs on vacation, you might find fun knick-knacks from each location. For the foodies in the family, you might have fun selecting tasty treats to try together with a view of the ocean. The best vacations are ones where you make them your own, so get creative!
Find the Best Shore Excursion for Your Family
If you’re looking for a little help planning, we’ve got your back. Planning shore excursions can be overwhelming at first. There’s so much to do and see on a cruise!
We take the guesswork out of cruises for you with expertly paired shore excursions and tours all over the world to meet your unique travel desires.
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