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When it comes to booking a shore excursion, there’s one thing that comes to mind – how can I do it without paying the cruise line rates?
While booking a cruise line excursion is safe, since the ship will wait for you, there are cheaper options out there that offer the same peace of mind. It’s just a matter of finding them.
Here are five resources to research shore excursions.
1. Third Party Shore Excursion Companies
Companies like Cruising Excursions offer great guides on what to do and where to do it, by each port. They offer a guarantee that you’ll never miss your ship (and have a proven track record).
Cruising Excursions has this on their website, “We guarantee to get our customers back in time for your cruise ship’s departure. All of our tour operators and organizers are fully aware of the ship’s departure time and will have you back to the ship in plenty of time prior to sailing. If for reasons beyond our control, for example, road accidents etc., we will take you to your next port of call at no extra cost to you.”
2. Tourism Boards
This is one often not even thought about, but great for finding those secret shore excursions. Google your destinations local tourism board and find out what the port offers, if they have any partner excursion operators, and if they can send you information on the port. A lot of tourism boards now have digital welcome kits and apps that you can download right off their website.
When I went to Sitka, Alaska, I checked out the tourism board website and found a delicious local seafood joint and brewery that was just a short walk from the cruise ship.
3. Review Boards
This is a good option for getting a general idea of what you are wanting to do, and have a set excursion in mind. Keep in mind that online communities have mixed personalities. You could be reading reviews from the nicest person in the world or the bi-polar crazy ex-lover.
Research message boards and reviews from websites like Trip Advisor, Cruiseline.com, and CruiseCritic.
I feel that 75 percent of message board postings are legit and are a great resource.
4. Cruise Line Websites
This is the best way to research the port and what excursions are offered when you get there. You can locate the port times and do searching on your own, using the cruise line website as your guide. You will often see that there’s a 30 to 50 percent markup on cruise line excursions vs. booking through a third party company.
YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. It can be as simple as using a couple of keywords to locate your excursion. YouTube usually gives an objective first-person view of the excursion and a feel for what it’s like.
So, as you can see, there are many ways to research port excursions. While booking through the cruise line isn’t a bad idea for some, companies like Cruising Excursions make the money saving process a lot easier and can relieve any stress or nervousness you may have.