Excursion Advice for Families
We love to cruise just to be on a particular ship, but itinerary and excursions are also important. Not all cruise lines offer the same excursions in the same destinations. You might want to consider that before deciding on your cruise. Of course, once you settle on where you are going, the fun is deciding what you are going to do when you are there!
When you get to a port, each family is different in how adventuresome they want their vacation to be. Cruise ships always offer a variety of activities and tours they sponsor and you can reserve and purchase these ahead of time or wait until once you are on board the ship. Everyone has different theories on this, but I personally recommend booking your excursions through the ship for a few reasons:
- You may pay slightly more, but plans change and this is the best way to ensure you'll get your money back if you need to cancel.
- It's much easier to keep track of all adults and kids in your group without having to also navigate your way in a foreign place to locate the independent tour you booked.
- Ship excursions are also a great way to meet new people from your cruise that have the same interests that you do.
- If you run into unexpected delays, the ship will only wait for you if you booked a ship sponsored excursion!
When ready to book, look first at the length of time the excursions involve. You know your family and how long it takes before they get tired, hungry or bored. And because you may be paying additional money for excursions, you may not want to schedule one every day. I make it a rule to not book more than one excursion per day. That's not saying that if we are in port we won't do multiple activities, but with my family, we may do an excursion, but make sure to leave time to explore the port as well. Definitely before you go, take some time and research what is available within walking distance close to the port and plan your own agenda.
I try to get maps of ports ahead of time so that I can plan out our visit and get familiar with the area if we want to plan a walking tour. Here are a few that I've used:
The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that everyone in your family or group is at the same comfort level for the excursion in order to ensure that everyone will have a great time. Definitely read the fine print the cruise line gives you in the description and do your own research. For example, if you are expecting a family of four will double up on an ATV excursion, but then you arrive to find out they only seat one and each person has to drive their own (or vice-versa) there might be some major disappointments.
Each port I've highlighted throughout My Virtual Vacations destinations includes excursions and activities I recommend.
Many cruise lines offer excursions in port cities that you can do before or after your cruise. If you are arriving early or heading home much later in the day, this is a great way to explore a new city, plus they will take of your luggage for you.
IF YOUR EXCURSION RUNS LATE, THE SHIP WILL HOLD UP DEPARTURE FOR ONLY SHIP SPONSORED EXCURSIONS. IF YOU DECIDE TO DO AN INDEPENDENT TOUR, DON'T VENTURE TOO FAR FROM THE SHIP. IF YOU ARE LATE, IT WILL NOT WAIT FOR YOU!