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Shore Excursions / Life in Port


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What is a shore excursion and what does it include?


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, physical activity level and interest. 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.
Cruise Connections has made special arrangements to offer selected shore excursion in the Caribbean and Alaska in advance and at savings over on board prices. These organized events usually include transportation to and from the tour, tour guides (many are local people and great guides), and any admission to the place you are visiting. Some excursions also include meals, drinks and refreshments depending on the tour. Fares for shore excursions are subject to change without notice.

Can I do my own tours?

Sure - the decision is completely up to you. However, there are many benefits to booking a pre-arranged shore excursion. Almost everything is included for one low price - transportation to your tour or activity, admission or entrance fees, and most importantly the services of a well-trained local tour guide. Plus you don't have the hassle of trying to locate tour operators in ports and making the arrangements yourself. With the cruise line's tours, you can be assured that you'll see the most for your money. Finally, you won't have to wait in long lines at the most popular attractions. When you're part of an organized tour, your tickets are purchased in advance and you move right to the front of the line, giving you more time to enjoy the sites. By booking a pre-packaged shore excursion through Cruise Connections, you'll also save time and money. We've done all the thinking for you. You'll spend less time doing research and more time having fun.

Can I pre-book my shore excursions with Cruise Connections?

Absolutely. Cruise Connections offers an extensive selection of the most popular Shore Excursions to the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Europe and Alaska. These can be book online at our Shore Excursion page or if you prefer to speak with someone on these destinations, call our Alaska Experience Planners at 1-866-Shore-Ex.


Are your shore excursions the same ones offered by the cruise lines?


Cruise Connections utilizes many of the same tour operators that the Cruise Lines use. In other words, they use the same helicopters, bus companies, and visit the same sites the cruise lines use. The biggest differences are that a private representative will meet you on arrival, you can reserve in advance, and you save time and money.


Why should I book tours with Cruise Connections instead of on board?


Since Cruise Connections uses many of the same tour operators as the cruise lines, there are plenty of reasons to pre-book your tours in advance:

  • Save money - these tours are 10 - 20% lower than you'll find on ship.
  • Avoid long lines at the Ship's Shore Excursion Desk.
  • All tours are planned and confirmed before you sale. No chance of a sell-out like on board the ship.
  • Full refund if tour is cancelled for bad weather or the ship misses port.
  • Order on line - it's safe, secure, and convenient
  • Order by phone - Call our Alaska Experience Planners at 1-866-Shore-Ex.

Can I book the cruise line's shore excursions in advance?

Most cruise lines now list their shore excursions on their website and many offer the convenience of pre-booking these excursions on-line. Typically you need your cruise reservation number or confirmation number to access this on-line booking service. Payment is then done by credit card and your shore excursions tickets will be delivered to your stateroom. Pre-arranging your excursions means you won't have to spend your time on board in line, plus you won't risk having the tour sold-out by the time you get around to making your reservations on the ship.

Can I wait and book my tours when I'm on board the ship?

You can definitely wait, but be aware that there is often a mad rush to book on board and because most tours have limited space, you may not get the times or tours you want. Additionally, the exclusive excursions offered in advance to our clients cannot be reserved on board. These are only available to our special clients and have nothing to do with those offered by the cruise line.

How do I buy shore excursions in other places?

Cruise Connections provides the most popular excursions in the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe for advance booking. Other destinations and excursions must be reserved directly with the cruise line and cannot be reserved through our exclusive excursion program.

Are the tours really physically demanding?

This really depends on the tour itself. Many European cities are ancient. They have quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets the do not accommodate motorized vehicles. 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. Many of the cruise lines will indicate the fitness level required along with their description of the excursion.
Whatever your fitness level, we highly recommend comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes. You know your body best and will have to use your own discretion when choosing shore excursions. If you are unsure, speak to your Cruise Connections agent, he or she may be able to procure more detailed information from the cruise line.

What should I wear on a shore excursion?

Some foreign countries may have more conservative ideas about dress than you are accustomed to. Attention is drawn to this matter so as not to offend. Cruise lines suggest when visiting places of worship (cathedrals), you dress conservatively; avoiding shorts or sundresses. Attend the port lectures for guidance. Comfortable walking shoes are a must on ANY shore excursion, as most, if not all, involve walking. When visiting ruins or walking on cobblestone streets, wear rubber-soled shoes. It's also smart to wear a sun hat and take sunscreen and bottled water with you.

I want to see as much as possible in each port. Can we do more than one excursion?

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. You can do as many or as few as you choose, just be sure to allow yourself enough time in between tours to get back to the ship.

Will tours be cancelled because of bad weather?

Most cruise lines, will provide a full refund for any tour cancelled by the operators due to inclement weather or the ship not reaching port. The same is true for any tours booked with Cruise Connections.

What type of transportation is used for shore excursions?

Standards 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.

If I want to get to the "downtown" area, is there transportation available?

Some cruise lines will offer shuttle bus service to the main city centres, particularly if the port is located a 1/2 mile or more away from the closest city. 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. If you do decide to venture off on your own, be sure you are back in time to catch the ship!

How should I tip our Guide/Driver?
Tipping the guide or driver is a personal choice; 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 USD per person for a half-day and $2 USD per person for a full day excursion.

If I leave the ship will I miss meals?

Many tours and shore excursions are conveniently timed so that they coincide with the ship's meal service hours, so you can eat before going ashore. Full day tours may include a meal or snack of some type. 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.

Will there be time to do any shopping?

Whenever possible, shopping time is allocated within the framework of the excursions. However, most tours are not designed primarily for shopping and you should not expect this. If you want to go and just shop, you may want to do this on your own.

Where will the tours leave?

When you purchase your Shore Excursions with Cruise Connections, you'll receive your tour tickets in advance of taking your cruise. There will be instructions on your tickets advising you as to where to meet for each excursion at each port. Similarly, when you purchase your shore excursions with the cruise line, it will be indicated on the ticket or in the Daily Activities program where and when you should meet to catch the tour. Depending on the size of the group you may meet in a lounge or theatre, or on the pier. Tour leaders will often be holding signs so you can be sure you are joining the right group.

Where can I get more information on the ports I'll be in?

There are many sources of information you can look into. Guidebooks such as Fodor's and Frommer's are a great resource, as well is the Internet. Most countries have a Tourism Board and you can request information from them before you arrive. The cruise lines will provide you with some general details on the ports you'll be visiting, but if you are looking for more in depth information, you will likely have to research this yourself. Ask your Cruise Connections agent if they can recommend any good reading materials. On board the ship, a qualified lecturer will hold informative talks on each port of call before you visit. If you still have questions, many ships have a Port Lecturer that will be glad to answer them. You should also do a little research before you go.
Before you cruise, you can find all the information you would ever need right here on Cruise Connections' website. We've developed extensive information on hundreds of countries and ports. You can read about the most popular shore excursions here as well.