Shore Excursions vs Private Tours

Posted on 14 Aug 2022 , updated on 2 Dec 2022

When planning your time ashore at any port, one consideration that you must make is if you want to take a shore excursion from the ship, or explore on your own. There are pros and cons to each choice.

Ship's shore excursions can take you to places and experiences you may not have considered, particularly if you have no real idea of what to do in a particular port.

Independent tours may offer you a more ‘local’ experience, and take you to attractions not covered by ships excursions, or allow you to spend more time at some attractions rather than a quick ‘in and out’ visit.

Ship shore excursions tend to come with a premium price tag, as of course the cruise line needs to make sure it takes its share of the profit. Booking independently you know the profit goes to the tour company and may support smaller local providers.

Shore Excursion through the ShipIndependent Excursions
  • Everything is organised for you
  • The ship will wait for your excursion to return before departing
  • Providers are vetted by the cruise line for safety and insurance
  • If the cruise itinerary changes, you don’t lose anything
  • Priority disembarkation
  • You can use Onboard Credit (OBC) to pay
  • Get to see what you want to see
  • Spend however long you want at each attraction
  • Price is often lower
  • Group sizes can be smaller, depending on the operator
  • Larger choice of operators/tours to choose from
  • Price
  • Set itinerary, no chance to change plans should you want to stay somewhere longer
  • Often traveling with a larger group of people
  • Need to organize your own transport
  • Need to make sure you are back to the ship on time or risk being left behind
  • Risk losing your money if the cruise itinerary changes

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer, and what works best for you may even be different for each port of call. Just remember to play it safe, and make sure you are back before boarding time!


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