How to Make the Most of Your Time Ashore on a Cruise


One of the biggest, and most important, advantages to a cruise vacation is you are able to visit multiple destinations on one itinerary, and you only have to unpack once.

No lugging bags, no long bus rides, no changing hotels – you can visit several different islands, and even countries, on a cruise.

As there are numerous ports involved on one itinerary, the hours spent in each is somewhat limited.

So what is the ultimate way to maximize your time ashore?

Research & Planning

Take a moment to research the destinations you will be visiting. You will want to know if you are interested in attractions near the port, or if you will need to travel a longer distance – which takes a chunk out of your day. If you can step right off of the ship and into a shopping Mecca like St. Thomas, or if you will need to calculate travel time for the 45 miles from Civitavecchia cruise port to Rome, Italy.

You must plan in order to manage your day. Know what time the ship plans to depart and when you need to be back onboard. You may be left if you do not schedule appropriately.

The cruise line makes organizing your day in port easier, by providing shore excursions you can peruse and purchase on their website before you sail, or once onboard the ship. They have done the leg-work for you, each tour operator is licensed, reputable and the ship will not depart until all of its tour buses have returned.

However, if you are able to do your homework and are not traveling a long distance from the port, booking independent shore excursions can be quite rewarding. Travel in smaller groups, and in most cases, you will pay less than directly through the cruise line.

No matter the operator you choose to book a tour through, you have some pretty amazing options. Tike a bike tour of Barcelona, hike a waterfall in Jamaica, dive with sharks in Cozumel, dog-sled in Alaska, or shop in the bustling open-air markets of Hong Kong. A lifetime of experiences are waiting for you.

Researching and planning ahead online or with your travel advisor enables you to have a game-plan; you will know in which ports you will want to be more active and purchase a guided tour, and which days you can relax and grab a quick taxi to a white, sandy beach.

Read the tour description carefully, you may not have time to see everything in one day. In some destinations, you might need to make the decision between a comprehensive tour of one area, or visiting numerous spots with a short amount of time in each.

All that said, some of the best experiences in life are the unexpected. So, try to have an overall idea of where you are going and what you’d like to see, but leave some wiggle room for those little surprising moments.

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