During a cruise, you have the opportunity to visit a range of amazing land destinations. These shore landings break up the cruise and give you the chance to see some of the world’s most famous sites.

To fully utilise your time, there are two methods of planning. You can book a shore excursion through the cruise company or plan your own trip.

Pre-booked shore excursions offer greater safety. There is literally no chance you won’t make it back onto the cruise ship. On the flip side, they are generally more expensive. Planning your own shore excursion carries greater risk, but also gives greater flexibility and is less expensive. It is possible coordinate a fabulous do it yourself shore excursion strategy whilst cruising. Here are 5 steps.

Research the Shore Location

First and foremost you must research the shore location itself. Look at the following factors:

  • Proximity to main cities
  • Location of main attractions
  • Local currency
  • Cruise ship docking area
  • Safety issues reported by US Department of State

If you have a general idea of the port and its layout, you can better plan your excursion. There are also some great sites like What’s In Port that offer detailed descriptions of what to do in 1200 ports around the world. And don’t forget that Hop On Hop Off buses are a great option if you only have a few hours in a city.

Research Public Transport Options

If you are organizing your own shore excursion, you must consider how you will travel from the cruise ship to your destination. Are the attractions within walking distance? If not, what public transport can you take? Common methods of transport include bus, tram, train.  It is advisable to locate the main transport hubs or stations.

Look at the Shore Embarkation and Disembarkation Times

Timing is hugely important. When planning your own shore excursion, maximising your available time is essential. If you know the ship allows disembarkation at 8 am you can plan when to wake up, have breakfast and get ready. Moreover, knowing when the ship leaves ensures you leave plenty of time to get back safely. This is extremely important. The ship WILL leave without you.

Prioritise the Activities That You Wish to See or Do the Most

Once you have a firm idea of transport, the destination, and ship timings, you can select which activities you wish to see. For example, let’s say you are stopping at Civitavecchia on the coast of Italy. This is a port with direct connections to Rome. You would, therefore, look at the different sites in Rome and their location such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain.

There is just so much information online about the “top ten things to do in…”, but again the critical thing is to prioritise. Choose only the things you really want to do and see so that you forget your time and miss your departure!

Formulate a Plan Complete with Timings

Finally, with all this information you can complete an actual strategy. You must consider the research and factors gathered above and create a plan that allows you to utilise your time effectively. Moreover, ensure the plan is realistic and allows for unforeseen circumstances such as public transport delays.

If you are confident enough to plan your own shore excursion, this mini guide should prove hugely useful. There is nothing quite as exciting as setting off from the cruise ship to explore a far-off city or stunning natural landscape. A do it yourself shore excursion could be the highlight of your cruise!

Do you prefer to participate in the shore excursions organised by the cruise line or do your own thing?  What has been your most memorable cruise shore excursion?

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