Cruise Lines make a lot of money from shore excursions. You can often save 50% or more by booking or planning your own tours. This is best done before you get on the boat.
First of all, research your ports of call and decide what it is you want to see. I always go through tour books or the internet to find what points of interest are recommended. Find out ahead of time what shore excursions your ship offers. If you are interested in any of them, you can research similar tours on the internet. Just google the destination and type of tour. You'll usually find that other local tour operators offer the same type of excursion for much less.
For example; we wanted to swim with the stingrays on our Cayman Island stop. I googled 'Cayman Island Stingray tours' and was given a choice of excursions. I then checked on line reviews about that particular tour company and tour. Tripadvisor.com is a great place to get reviews.
Often when you book tours in advance, the tour operators meet you right at the dock. Remember, there is often limited space per tour so book early.
When we want an overall tour of the island, our family often grabs a taxi as soon as we reach port. We let the driver know exactly where we want to go, what time we need to be back and negotiate a price before getting into the cab. Make sure you research in advance locale safety issues and port taxi services and tips.
Do your tour as soon as you arrive and then leave time to explore the docking/port area. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to get back to the cruise ship well ahead of the scheduled departure time. If you are not there, the boat will leave without you.
With these tips in mind, go ahead, do your research and save your money.
Kimberly Scutt lives in Southern Ontario with her husband and two boys. When not dreaming or planning her next vacation, Kimberly spends her time writing travel guides for kids and running a marketing/special events company. She is currently putting the final touches on her “Kid’s Guide to Venice” and writing a “Kid’s Guide to Hawaii.”
Kimberly is not currently affiliated with any travel service or product.