Excursion Advice for Families
We often cruise just for a particular ship, but itinerary and excursions are also important. Not all cruise lines offer the same excursions in the same destinations and you'll want to consider that before deciding on your cruise. Of course, once you settle on where you are going, the fun is deciding what to do when you get there!
Choosing The Best Cruise Excursions For Your Family
When you get to your cruise 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 onboard the ship. It's important to choose your cruise excursions wisely so you'll have the best possible time on your cruise vacation. I've broken down for your why I recommend booking your excursions through the cruise line, what to keep in mind when picking an excursion, how to plan a walking tour on your own, and even included links to a few of my personal favorite cruise excursions in Alaska, Seattle, and Key West.
BEST Reasons to book Excursions Through the Cruise LIne:
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!
Don't Forget! If your excursion runs late, the ship will hold up departure for ONLY ship sponsored excursions. If you decide to an an independent tour, don't venture too far from the ship. If you are late, it will not wait for you.
Factors to keep in mind when picking an excursion:
- When ready to book, first look at the length of time the excursions last. You know your family and how long it takes before they get tired, hungry, or bored.
- The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure everyone in your family or group is at the same comfort level for the excursion. You want everyone to have a great time! Read the fine print in the description, plus do your own research. For example, if you are expecting a family of four to double up on an ATV excursion, and when you arrive, they only seat one person or you have to be a certain age to drive your own, there could be some major disappointments.
- Excursions are typically not included in your cruise fare, so you may not want to schedule one every day for budget reasons. And that's okay! I personally make it a rule to not book more than one excursion per day. That's not saying if we are in port, we don't do multiple activities. We may do an excursion and make sure to leave time to explore the port as well. Definitely, take some time and research what is available within walking distance close to the port before you go.
Plan a walking tour or explore on your own.
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:
Also, reach out ahead to the tourism board of the city you'll be visiting. This is especially helpful when planning activities for a pre or post-cruise stay.
My Virtual Vacations Favorite excursions:
Each port I've highlighted throughout My Virtual Vacations destinations includes excursions and activities I recommend.
Here are a few of my favorite excursions in the following destinations:
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. If booking an excursion through the cruise lines, they will hold your luggage for you. If you want to explore a pre or post-cruise city on your own, see if luggage valet service is offered.