Plan your entire trip before you even set foot on that ship by pre-booking your shore excursions.
One of the simple pleasures of cruise travel is that after booking your ticket, your trip is practically set. Your accommodation, transport, entertainment and even meals have been paid for, but there’s one thing missing: on-shore excursions.
While these can be purchased on board during your trip, the question is: why should they have to be? By pre-purchasing on-shore excursions, you get the added assurance that your spot on the tour is secure, you know exactly what you’ll be doing and seeing and you can better keep track of how much you’re spending throughout your trip.
So with your holiday in mind, here’s where you can pre-book shore excursions online:
Tips for getting the best deal on excursions
- Shop around: Sometimes you can find better deals on offer through tour booking sites such as Viator and Cruising Excursions. What you need to look out for is a guarantee that they will get you back to the boat on time as they won’t be linked with the ship and therefore the ship won’t wait for you if you are running late.
- Don’t book too early: Unless you’re after an excursion that has limited availability, it pays not to purchase your excursion too early. Plans can change, and if they do, the tour company or cruise line may charge you for the cancellation.
- Book multiple excursions with the same company: Depending on who it is, some tour companies may offer you discounts for multiple tour bookings.
- Use the price match guarantee: Many tour companies offer a “best price” guarantee. Spend some time researching and if you find the same tour cheaper somewhere else, call them up on it.
- Go all-inclusive: Sometimes all-inclusive packages can offer you everything you need for a bang-on price. Even if it does end up being a little more expensive than booking each activity separately, it’s often worth it for the time saved that you would have spent researching and swiping that credit card multiple times.
Frequently asked questions about shore excursions
Which cruise lines let you book your excursions in advance?
Most large cruise liners, including Princess Cruises, P&O and Carnival, will allow you to book or reserve a cruise excursion either while you’re booking your cruise or after it’s been confirmed. If you’re unsure of whether your cruise ship lets you book excursions in advance, visit the experiences section where details of the excursions can usually be found.
Should I book an excursion direct with the cruise line?
While booking directly with the cruise line does often cost more than shopping around or choosing a land-based operator at your port of call, booking direct does have its benefits. When you book through the line, it does mean the cruise line knows where you are should anything happen during your tour or if it runs late.
Which cruise lines include excursions in the fare?
An all-inclusive cruise means that everything from your accommodation and your meals to a selection of free cruise excursions will be included in your cruise fare. Some cruise lines that offer all-inclusive packages include Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Dreamlines, Hebridean Island Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Azamara Club Cruises, Scenic Tours, Emerald Waterways, Tauck and Uniworld River Cruises.
Are shore excursions cheaper if purchased on the ship?
Not necessarily. While shore excursions purchased on the ship can be discounted because you are a passenger, tour companies on the ground are still quite competitive and are constantly offering price match guarantees. This means they could end up charging you less than a shore excursion booked through your cruise.
Be aware, however, that excursions can vary in terms of quality, the attractions visited and the time spent at each location, so it’s worth comparing and asking what’s on offer through your cruise direct and for similar tours offered through independent operators to see which suits your needs best.
Why should I book excursions?
On-shore excursions offer you a curated and insider experience of the city you’re docked at. Like any other excursion they include a professional guide, can help rush you through long entry queues and can provide you with private transportation between attractions to help you make the most of your time on-shore.