A complete cruise experience offers more than the chance to see new places via reliable marine transport. With amenities provided by the cruise line for your overseas journey, you can relax until you reach the docking locations, and that’s when the real fun begins.
Do you want to partake in active recreation like skiing, hiking or ziplining? Or would you like to join a tour group for an easy-going nature walk? Cruise excursions are one of the best ways to see the sights once you arrive in a port city. Read more about cruise excursion benefits and how to get the most out of your experience below.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Cruise Excursion?
- 13 Reasons to Do a Shore Excursion
- Showcase the Local Culture
- Offer Convenient Sightseeing
- Curate Experiences By Experts
- Guarantee a Timely Return to the Port
- Provide a Variety of Options for Each Traveler
- Ensure a Quality Travel Experience
- Include Private Tours
- Help With Language Barriers
- Make Great Opportunities to Mingle
- Provide Safe Ways to Explore
- Include Active Recreation
- Include Food, Travel and Souvenirs
- Deliver Clear Expectations
- Windstar’s Unforgettable Shore Excursions
- Go on Quality Cruise Excursions With Windstar
What Is a Cruise Excursion?
Cruise ships offer shore excursions to guests at docking locations. An excursion is an organized outing where you will have the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of your destination, eat catered meals and participate in coordinated activities. Excursions can include fun activities like snorkeling adventures with diving gear or a shopping or hiking trip with a group. Some excursions also have transportation services to nearby areas, so you can leave the port city and explore more local culture and sights.
If you review the cruise itinerary, you will find a variety of excursions that you can sign up for online. The destination will determine which activities are available. Water sports are popular in tropical destinations where the weather is warm every season, whereas European destinations offer more historical sites and landmarks tours.
13 Reasons to Do a Shore Excursion
Are cruise excursions worth it? When you book a cruise excursion, you can explore more of your destination and have plenty of activities to take part in once you arrive. Why should you have to wander around with a map and a compass when you could explore the exotic cities and learn about new cultures in the safety of a tour group?
Cruise excursions are both fun and worthwhile investments that can add more memorable moments to your vacation. Here are some of the top reasons that travelers book cruise excursions:
1. Showcase the Local Culture
You want to go on a cruise because there’s something about the location that calls to you. The best way to learn more about the unfamiliar culture while you’re traveling in from the sea is to take part in shore excursions. Sample the authentic cuisines without having to stray too far from the ship. See what the cities you’ve always dreamed of are like.
2. Offer Convenient Sightseeing
What better way is there to spot unfamiliar flora and fauna than going on a stroll through a tropical rainforest or montane forest up in the mountains? When you explore on an excursion provided by the cruise line, you will see the best of what the area offers with minimal independent research and planning. Rather than organizing your schedule, you only need to select the excursions you’re most interested in and set out.
3. Curate Experiences By Experts
Expert guides who know the historical relevance of the places you will be visiting will lead your tour. You’ll be able to get to know local chefs, travel specialists, farmers and sailors familiar who can answer your questions about life in the port city and surrounding area. You will learn more from your professional guides than you would on your own.
4. Guarantee a Timely Return to the Port
Going on excursions that come as part of your cruise package will ensure that you make it back to the port in enough time to relax before the ship sets sail. Your cruise line can offer excursions that fit perfectly into your schedule for the day. That means you can enjoy your excursion and rest easy, knowing you’ll make it back to your cruise ship with plenty of time to spare.
5. Provide a Variety of Options for Each Traveler
Excursion trips are entirely optional and customizable, giving you a choice to choose the activities you feel you would get the most enjoyment out of. If you would rather lounge on the beach instead of joining a group on a rigorous hike through the mountains, you can choose an excursion that will satisfy your desire for leisure. If you want to go adventuring through forests, caves and rivers, your guide will be happy to take you on a tour route through the wilderness.
Because excursion packages offer several activity options, travelers can always find an excursion that matches their personal preferences and suits their interests.
6. Ensure a Quality Travel Experience
If you’ve ever tried to explore a new city on your own, you are probably familiar with the tendency to encounter unexpected obstacles. Your plans require flexibility if you want to get through everything on the schedule. When you sign up for an excursion, the cruise line will plan your schedule for you.
Having professional guides direct your travel experience results is an excellent use of your time. Your guide will be sure to include enough time to get to all of the activities on the itinerary. That means you won’t miss out on seeing or participating in the activities you were looking forward to the most.
7. Include Private Tours
You might opt to explore without a guide because you prefer privacy. Maybe you want to spend a romantic evening alone with your significant other, or you would like to get away from the cabin crowd for a while? Before you go alone, check for private shore excursions so you will have a well-organized outing with minimal stress.
8. Help With Language Barriers
Many locations might have signs in English and plenty of locals to ask for directions, but other areas might be less accessible for English-speaking travelers. With the help of a multilingual guide, you will know which currency to use, what the street signs mean and what inscriptions say. Your guide might also help you pick up some new lingo.
9. Make Great Opportunities to Mingle
When you book a cruise, you might end up meeting some kindred spirits who live across the country. Going on excursions together gives you the chance to bond with your fellow passengers. You can meet several people, from those who enjoy traveling regularly or who are out on their first great adventure away from home. If you go exploring outside of an organized group, you might have a chance to encounter some like-minded vacationers, but the excursion will make it easier to form connections.
You’ll also be able to mingle with the locals. Many excursions include tours with local expert guides, who can answer your questions and give you information about their culture that you won’t learn elsewhere.
10. Provide Safe Ways to Explore
Traveling with an insightful guide and a close-knit group will ensure your safety as a traveler in a distant location. For active excursions like treks through forests and ventures snorkeling in the ocean, the venue or guide will provide your supplies and any equipment you might need, and the cruise line will recommend the most appropriate attire to wear.
Your expert guides know what to expect on each excursion and will troubleshoot bad weather, heavy traffic and any safety problems that arise. Staying in a group setting is the safest way to explore unfamiliar areas.
11. Include Active Recreation
Whether you want to spend a day hiking up the slopes in a tropical rainforest, go swimming with dolphins, or go skiing in the mountains, you will find plenty of excursions for popular recreational activities at your destination. Signing up for active excursions with your cruise line is the best way to ensure you have access to satisfying food and the right gear for the outing.
Engaging in more active excursions might take longer than anticipated when you try to plan your schedule. Booking the excursions you’re interested in is much easier for planning long hikes and other outings where you will be getting a lot of exercise.
12. Include Food, Travel and Souvenirs
Most excursions cover the cost of meals and transportation services. The food is authentic for the region and is often chef-prepared with fresh ingredients. Some excursions might also give you a few souvenirs to take home with you.
If you go on a pre-planned excursion instead, food will be specially catered for your group, and a private shuttle or tour bus will deliver you to your destination.
13. Deliver Clear Expectations
Your cruise line should always provide accurate and clear information about each excursion and what is included on the trip. You will know if the excursion includes lunch, and you will be aware of any potential risks. Your cruise line can also give you recommendations based on your preferences and interests.
When you enter another country, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to check how long a walk will take or to pack your gear. You will know what to expect on an excursion straight away from reading the details before you book.
Windstar’s Unforgettable Shore Excursions
Windstar’s cruise excursions come with everything a traveler could ask for—authentic food, exotic settings and informative guides. Activities are simple to book and offer endless ways to have fun while on a cruise. Windstar offers shore excursion options for your personal preferences and activity level.
Review the below list of highlights to get ideas about what you can sign up to do on your cruise:
Splendido Olive Oil and Lunch in Portofino, Italy
If you’re traveling to Italy, sign up to take the minivan shuttle from the main square of Portofino to the Belmond Hotel Splendido, where you will be guided across the property. And at the same time, you can enjoy Bellini cocktails and authentic Italian appetizers. Explore the grounds of one of the finest hotels in the Ligurian Riviera overlooking Portofino Bay. Once a Benedictine monastery, the hotel has a few architectural reminders of its history in the updated design, with lush landscaping and colorful flowers on the lawns.
For lunch, this excursion will bring you to the hotel’s patio, where you will sample olive oil selections courtesy of the maître d’ and eat traditional Italian cuisine, like a meal of bruschetta, trofie with pesto sauce and an olive oil sorbet.
Brown Castle Walking Tour and Wine Tasting in Portofino, Italy
This walking tour starts at the cruise ship’s landing pier and will take you down Portofino’s streets until you reach the Brown Castle. Beautiful villas and tropical gardens surround the coastal city streets, and you will also see historical buildings like church St. George. Once you reach Brown Castle, Italian Chef Guido will lead a demonstration on making pesto while you snack on freshly baked bread and sip the local wines.
Snorkel With Turtles and Explore Shipwrecks in Barbados
This active water tour of the Caribbean will take you snorkeling around shipwrecks with the colorful wildlife living there among the ocean’s flora. The crew will make sure you have the appropriate equipment and explain how to use your gear correctly. Enjoy watching the sea turtles swim through the clear waters in the safety of a snorkeling group, and afterward, you will be able to relax on the beach for the rest of the day. Snorkeling is perfect for taking photos of sea life if you have a waterproof camera case.
Private Catamaran Charter in Barbados
Set sail on the Caribbean in a sailboat charter with a maximum capacity of 26 people for a more intimate sea life experience. Your private yacht comes equipped with an expert crew, ice coolers for refreshing drinks, and plenty of snorkeling gear. This excursion offers beautiful scenery, an intimate sailing experience, and excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters.
Swim with sea turtles in beautiful turquoise waters with this stunning, one-of-a-kind experience. And enjoy the privacy and relaxing of a private sailing experience.
Go on Quality Cruise Excursions With Windstar
When you book a cruise with Windstar, a variety of the best shore excursions await. Whether you want to take a day trip out in the sun or go on a culinary tour and wine tasting for lunch, we have pre-made arrangements for you to sign up for, free of stress from doing your own planning. Join the crew for recreation, locally catered refreshments and guided tours.
Windstar’s small, award-winning cruise ships are ideal for docking in exciting port cities where larger ships cannot land. Our smaller populations onboard result in less crowding on cruise excursions, giving each traveler more personalized attention. You’ll be able to enjoy an intimate and relaxing time both at sea and during your memorable excursions.
Contact our travel planner to book a cruise today or discuss adding a unique shore excursion to your upcoming trip with Windstar.