Cruise Tour Questions

By Miss Julie | December 22nd, 2006

  • Q: What is a shore excursion?

  • A: A shore excursion is an organized guided tour in a cruise ship’s port of call. They are offered all over the world and virtually anywhere a cruise ship stops. There are shore excursions for almost any age or physical activity level. Whether you’re into water sports like sailing or scuba diving; high adventure activities like white water rafting, hiking or biking; or less strenuous activities like shopping tours; bus tours, museums; or historical sites you’ll find a shore excursion for almost any interest.
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  • Q: What can I do in port?

  • A: So much you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (often referred to as shore excursions). Search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids, a bicycle down the side of a 10,000 foot volcano, or a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a waterskiing boat. If there’s still time, play golf or tennis. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world’s best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel, or scuba dive. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs.

    In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you’ve ever dreamed of doing, while never having to pack and unpack!
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  • Q: What is included?

  • A: Shore excursions include transportation according to the itinerary, your tour guides, and entrance fees to the attraction you are visiting. Some excursions also include meals, drinks and refreshments depending on the tour.
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  • Q: Do I tip the Guide and Driver?

  • A: Extending a gratuity to your guide or driver is strictly optional; however, in some countries, these personnel may anticipate that if you were pleased with their services, you will reward them in a monetary way. A commonly accepted guideline is $1 per person for a half-day and $2 per person for a full day.
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  • Q: How physically challenging are shore excursions?

  • A: It really depends on the tour. For example, in some of the European cities that you may visit are ancient. Their quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets have been in existence long before motorized transportation. To preserve their beauty, some cities and old towns are pedestrian only. Most tours require some degree of walking; however, some excursions require extensive walking. Likewise, grand entryways and sprawling gardens of certain castles and cathedrals make walking and stair-climbing a necessity. Other tours can be very high energy. High adventure white water rafting in Alaska, bike tours, or scuba tours may require you to be in good shape before hand. Whatever your fitness level, we highly recommend comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes.
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  • Q: Can I do more than one excursion?

  • A: Wherever possible, departure times are scheduled to permit participation on all of your chosen excursions. The local guides are considered top experts on local history and sights, offering you a chance to fully appreciate and experience their hometowns. The listed excursions are designed and organized in such a way as to maximize your time in each port and yet allow sufficient free time as well.
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  • Q: Is transportation available to the city centers?

  • A: For the convenience of their guests, some cruise lines offer shuttle bus service or those ports that are located a 1/2 mile or more away from the closest city center and do not have adequate local transportation available. Schedules and days of operation are usually posted in the ship’s bulletin. Taxis are also available if you elect not to take an organized tour.
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  • Q: What kind of transportation is used?

  • A: Standards of transport vary considerably from country to country; however, excursions utilize the best quality transportation possible in each port. Air-conditioned vehicles are not always available. Guest wishing to travel together with friends should leave the ship together, as this will help the tour staff allocate space in the same vehicle.
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  • Q: What if a tour is canceled?

  • A: Most cruise lines will provide a full refund for any tour cancelled by the operators due to weather or the ship not reaching port.
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  • Q: Can I shop?

  • A: Whenever possible, shopping time is allocated within the framework of the excursions. However, tours are not designed primarily for shopping.
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  • Q: Will I miss my meals onboard?

  • A: Most tour departure times complement the ship’s meal service hours, so you can enjoy your meal aboard then go ashore. However, on some full day tours, or if you take more than one tour in a day, your return on board may not coincide with meal hours. A buffet, snack, or room service is usually available all the time.
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  • Q: What do I wear on a shore excursion?

  • A: Other countries may have more conservative ideas about dress than you are accustomed. Attention is drawn to this matter so as not to offend. Cruise lines suggest when visiting places of worship (cathedrals), you dress conservatively, avoiing shorts or sundresses. Attend the port lectures for guidance. Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes at all times. When visiting ruins or walking on cobblestone streets, wear rubber-soled shoes. It’s also smart to wear a sun hat.
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