Secret Ways to Save Money on Shore Excursions

Great ideas to help you get more from your cruise!


BY MIKE KING, FEBRUARY 26, 2015 11:00 AM


Taking Shore Excursions when you are on a cruise can be one of the highlights of your trip. With so many amazing places to visit and so much culture to take in, you really should take the opportunity while it is there. The only problem is that all these wonderful cruise excursions can become quite expensive and often end up as one of the biggest additional costs on your cruise. With many shore excursions running into hundreds of dollars each, there has to be a better way, particularly as this is where the cruise lines are reported to make additional profits by selling you overpriced and over-crowded shore excursions. As part of our series of cruise tips and tricks, this guide show you some of the options available to you.

Does it Need to be like this??

Not really.  There are many options available to you when deciding on the shore excursions which are most suitable for you. 

Remember that nowadays some cruise lines, including Regent Seven Seas Cruises and some other high end cruise lines, include shore excursions in the cruise fare.  In this article we explore some of the other options available to you.

Best Shore Excursions

Experienced cruisers, who have tried all the cruise line shore excursions, quite often do their own thing and make alternate arrangements. Luckily there are other options that you can consider when deciding on which shore excursions to book. You do not have to book through the cruise line, but there are some good reasons why this may suit you.

Booking with the cruise line

The most popular way to book shore excursions on your cruise is still directly through the cruise line. The cruise line will offer the most options and they are billed directly to your stateroom. Most of the new ships allow you the ease of booking directly on your TV, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

While a few will stay on the ship in each port, most passengers are like me and enjoy visiting each port. Let’s look at the three ways to book shore excursions so you can choose which one is best for you and your finances, without compromising quality and experience.

booking direct with the cruise line

The Good Stuff:
  • Widest Selection of Tours
  • Your ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed for any reason.
  • A shore Excursion Desk is located on the ship and can answer any questions before or after your booking
  • Easy to Book
The Bad Stuff:
  • Prices are marked up so you will pay a higher price
  • Tours are often full and are in large groups
  • Some tours require a minumun number of bookings or they get cancelled
  • They are not customisable like private tours
  • Some shore trips sell out fast particularly when for Alaskan shore excursions

Using a Shore Excursions Specialist

The second, and increasingly popular way of booking excursions is through private companies that specialise in Shore Excursions like Shore Excursions Group. They offer excursions in over 200 ports around the globe and at much better prices than the cruise lines. The groups are smaller and they pride themselves in offering higher quality excursions that all the major lines at the same time saving you money.

They also have 24/7 support and guarantee you that will you return to the ship on time. If your tour is late getting back (to date, they never had a customer miss the ship), they will pay for all lodging, meals, and transportation to your next port so you can rejoin the ship, along with $500 cash to each person in the group. Usually you can get the same excursion as the cruise line will offer for as much as 50% off. Feel free to checkout the Shore Excursions web site here.

booking with a shore excursions specialist

The Good Stuff:
  • Lower prices than the cruise lines
  • Higher Quality Excursions than the cruise lines
  • Smaller more personalised tours
  • Money back guarantee
  • 24/7 Support
  • Guaranteed return to ship
The Bad Stuff:
  • Fewer Excursions on offer than the cruise lines

Booking Shore Excursions IN PORT

The third and final way to book shore excursions on your cruise is to book one in port after you get off the ship. This is the cheapest way to book excursions and perfect for those that like to make decisions spur of the moment. When you get off the ship, there will be many vendors, taxis and tour operators with signs offering everything from jet skis, snorkeling, diving, beach days, swimming with dolphins, island tours etc.

booking in port

The Good Stuff:
  • Lowest prices, but be prepared to barter
  • Complete freedom to wait until the last minute to decide
  • Smaller more personalised tours
The Bad Stuff:
  • No guarantee you will get back to the ship on time. If your tour is late you are on your own. This does not happen often and they normally do everything they can to get you back with plenty of time to spare
  • Not all tour operators are licensed
  • The tour you wanted  may not be available shoreside

    “Taking Shore Excursions when you are on a cruise can be one of the highlights of your trip. With so many amazing places to visit and so much culture to take in, you really should take the opportunity while it is there. ”

    You have a choice when deciding how to book your shore excursions.

    Which way is best for you?

    Everyone is different so it all depends on what you are looking for. If you are after a good price and the highest quality excursions, then Shore Excursions Group would probably be a good choice. If you like to decide at the last minute and are looking for the best possible deal, then booking your excursions in port would probably suit you best.

    However, many love the security and ease of going through the cruise line, even though the prices are highest. Whichever you choose, enjoy your time in port as you experience and learn about the local culture.

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