Everything You Should Know About Shore Excursions Throughout The World

Everything You Should Know About Shore Excursions Throughout The World

Are you interested in getting out of America and experiencing the world? Learn about the best shore excursion cruises and the options available.

Shore excursions include cruise activities that happen while the ship is in port. Think about local outdoor market shopping, hiking on glaciers, exploring the ancient Mayan ruins, and snorkeling in coral reefs. These fun tours are the best part of the cruise experience, but you’re also enjoying onboard amenities from the boat.

You’re not required to use shore excursions. There are a few exceptions, but generally, you’re allowed to walk off your cruise ship and do things you like.

Still, the shore excursion is a great option if you prefer easy transportation and a guide to assist. 

Read this helpful guide to get the skills needed for your new adventure. Whether you’re in America and want to travel to new lands or enjoy the relaxation of cruises, you can find something that meets your needs.

Learn what to expect from your shore excursions, what the ports are like, and maximize fun on the cruise vacation. 

Different Shore Excursion Types To Consider for Your Cruise

Ship-Sponsored Vs. Private Shore Excursions

There are many benefits of booking your shore excursion through your cruise ship. You skip the hassles of arranging your own activities on the shore and know that a tour provider is available to assist. Plus, the cruise line makes sure that they are reputable and licensed.

The ship will never leave until the tour buses return, even if they’re late accidentally. Plus, you’re likely to meet new people and enjoy their company. Consider meeting up on the ship later to do more fun things after you leave the port.

Ship tours aren’t always the best way to go. The efficiency and knowledge of the tour operators vary, and some of the offerings are duds. You may also pay a premium to let the cruise line arrange the day for you. 

Ship-arranged excursions often have a broad appeal. Therefore, you might want something outside of the cruise line’s offerings if your interests lie in a specific niche.

Sometimes, you are limited to what the cruise ship offers. Usually, this happens when local restrictions just don’t allow those cruise passengers to wander around the streets freely. Overall, the cruise line you select can help you determine if that’s the case for any of the scheduled ports of call. If it doesn’t, make sure to ask before you book any cruises.

Sightseeing Tours vs. Active Excursions

Typically, shore excursions are designed for people of all activity levels and for all mainstream cruise destinations. Active tours often include dog-sledding, biking, hiking, ziplining, and watersports. These trips may feature a day at the beach or spa, cultural performances, visits to the museum, wine/food tastings, and a pleasure cruise on someone’s sailboat.

A sightseeing excursion often uses bus tours to take passengers to the shopping areas and highlights in the new port city or a nearby destination.

Shore excursions can look different in various parts of the world. For example, you may find options like transportation to a private beach or snorkeling with stingrays in the Caribbean. However, European tours are more about sightseeing. 

For example, a full-day tour from the Livorno port might take you to the cathedrals and museums of Florence. You may also experience lunches that take multiple hours to complete, such as from a farmhouse in Tuscany, where you dine on local wine, meats, and produce.

Half-Day Vs. Full Tours

Usually, shore excursions vary in length. Some could take up all the time in port, but others are only a few hours out of your all-day visit. 

You should consider a full-day tour if you want to see as much as possible during your excursion or for journeys to a destination that goes outside of that new port city.

A half-day tour typically focuses on a specific itinerary, such as a highlight tour of the city or a three-hour kayaking trip. That gives you more free time to explore yourself before or after the 

Free Time Vs. Guided Excursions

Some shore excursions don’t include busloads of tourists following umbrella- or flag-waving guides. You are sure to find those tours and athletic options overseen by hike leaders and dive masters. 

Overall, some excursions bring you to the destination, and you can then explore what you want until you must go back to the boat. Likewise, some cruises to the Caribbean and elsewhere have guided components, but you have a few hours of free time later.

A good example here is the Christmas market river cruises. The ship’s excursion gets you to the market and includes city highlights during the journey. Then, you’ve got a few hours to shop. Make your way back to a meeting point to go to a new port.

More Immersive Vs. Highlight Excursions

Generally, some shore excursions, such as the daylong trip from Tunis to the museum and marketplace in ancient Carthage, pack multiple activities into one trip. Others tend to focus on one activity or destination, such as the Mayan ruins in Cozumel. You must decide which new excursion options you seek and locate cruises that provide them.

Boutique-Style Options

One more option for shore excursions includes intimate tours limited to about 25 passengers. Many lines include a boutique-sized excursion, which might be visiting a Native American village in Alaska or staying on the beach in the Caribbean. You may also find car/driver packages to customize your tour or ask a concierge to arrange activities for the travel party.

Sometimes, you can skip the caravan of tour buses to give yourself a more exclusive excursion experience.

Booking Onboard Vs. In Advance

It’s important to do plenty of research to find the best shore excursions available from the cruise. Then, think about whether you should book them onboard or in advance.

Limited-availability excursions and must-do tours should be booked in advance. However, you may choose to wait if you weren’t inspired by the shore excursions available on the cruise.

You might get word-of-mouth recommendations on the ship that change your mind about what you should do. Just remember that some lines charge a penalty fee for canceling 24/48 hours before the port call.


Are you ready for a new excursion out of America? Quality cruises are the best choice because you can experience new worlds and have more guidance.

Select a Caribbean cruise now or something else that tickles your fancy. Consider the excursions available before you contact the cruise line.

Everything You Should Know About Shore Excursions Throughout The World

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