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10 Shore Excursion Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Cruise Vacation

Are you going on a cruise? If you’re thinking about booking shore excursions, you need to read this first. Don’t let common shore excursion mistakes ruin your cruise vacation. I’m also sharing my cruise port day bag packing list as a free printable below.

Cruise Shore Excursion Mistakes You’ll Regret Making

1. Not Booking Shore Excursions in Advance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you go on a cruise is not booking shore excursions in advance. Many first time cruisers assume that they can figure out shore excursions once they’re on board the ship. 

Little do they know that it’s too late by then. Most of the popular shore excursions will be sold out, and even the ones with independent tour operators will be hard to come by. 

Imagine going on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise and missing out on a bucket list activity because you didn’t plan ahead. Don’t let that happen to you. Book your shore excursions in advance to make the most of your cruise experience.

2. Not Comparing Shore Excursion Prices

Another common mistake that cruisers make when booking shore excursions is they don’t shop around. They end up paying more for the same experience because shore excursions booked through the cruise ship are usually more expensive. 

Savvy cruisers know that they can usually get the same or similar shore excursion at a cheaper price if they book through independent tour operator websites like Viator

Cruise lines charge more for shore excursions because they offer a guarantee that the ship will not leave you behind. However, this is usually not a concern because the cruise line usually uses the same tour operators as the independent tour operators. By booking through sites like Viator, you can enjoy the same or similar shore excursion at a much cheaper price.

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Cruise Shore Excursion Mistakes

3. Not Booking a Private Shore Excursion for Your Group

One common mistake people make when they go on a cruise is assuming private shore excursions are expensive. However, this is not always true if they are traveling with a group. 

You should shop around and price out how much a private tour will cost. If you check independent tour operator websites like Viator, you might be surprised to find that the cost of a private shore excursion for a big group is similar to the price of the cruise shore excursion. 

In that case, you should book a private tour. This allows you to avoid sharing your tour with strangers and gives you more control over the tour experience.

4. Not Reading the Activity Level of the Shore Excursion

One mistake rookie cruise passengers tend to make when planning shore excursions is overlooking the activity level of the tour. Cruise lines typically rate shore excursions based on the level of physical activity involved, such as walking and climbing. 

If you’re a young and adventurous group, you don’t want to end up on a shore excursion that’s categorized as “Easy” since it’s likely going to be a tour catered to people with mobility issues. It’s important to do your research to make sure that the shore excursion you choose matches your physical capabilities.

5. Booking Everyone in Your Group on the Same Shore Excursion

A mistake I made when I went on a family cruise was booking everyone on the same shore excursion. Although it was my intention to keep us together, I realized that this strategy does not work for everyone. 

Some family members may be more adventurous and others may prefer a more relaxed pace. This became clear when we visited Edinburgh, where we had booked a tour that was rated as “easy” to accommodate my mother-in-law’s mobility issues. 

However, the pace of the tour was too slow for my teenage daughter and my tween son, who were left with a lot of idle time. Even getting on and off the bus took a very long time! 

In hindsight, it would have been better if we had chosen different shore excursions, one that was faster-paced for my kids and me, and a slower-paced one for my in-laws. The lesson learned was that when it comes to shore excursions, one size does not fit all.

6. Not Dressed Appropriately

A mistake cruisers make when they go on shore excursions is not dressing appropriately. For example, if you are on a Mediterranean cruise you need to dress conservatively when visiting religious places such as the Blue Mosque. Conservative clothing is a must to be allowed into the mosque. 

Women need to cover their heads, so you need to pack a shawl or pashmina. You will also be required to take off your shoes when entering the mosque, so it’s preferable to wear socks to feel comfortable while walking barefoot inside the mosque. 

If you’re not dressed appropriately, you will be denied entry into the mosque which is a big disappointment. Imagine you’re finally in Turkey and you can’t go in to see the Blue Mosque! That’s why it’s important to double-check and make sure you’re appropriately dressed for your shore excursion.

Cruise Shore Excursion Mistakes

7. Not Wearing Sunblock

A mistake that people make when they go on shore excursions is they forget to wear sunblock. The last thing you want to happen during your cruise vacation is to be sunburned. That’s a mistake that can ruin your cruise! 

And the thing with shore excursions is that it’s not like you can easily stop at a store to buy sunblock (your tour guide will most likely say you don’t have time to make a stop!) 

Or you might even be in a remote location without access to shops. For example, you might be on an Alaska cruise and kayaking in the wild, so if you forget to apply sunblock, you’ll be out of luck. To be safe, apply sunblock even if you think it’s going to be an overcast day!

8. Not Wearing Comfortable Shoes

A big mistake that people make when they go on shore excursions is they don’t wear comfortable shoes. If you’re sightseeing, it’s important to be practical and wear comfortable shoes. 

If you’re on a European cruise, chances are high that you’ll be visiting ruins, castles, and strolling through cobblestoned streets. You need to be prepared. Make sure to avoid high heels at all costs!

9. Not Paying Attention to Time

One common mistake that people make during shore excursions is that they fail to keep track of time. Don’t be that person who is always running late and making everyone else wait for you. 

This is not only disrespectful to other people’s time but also puts your tour group at risk of missing out on parts of the tour. If you’re running late, the tour guide may have to skip certain portions of the excursion just to ensure that you make it back to the ship on time. To avoid this, always keep an eye on the clock and plan your time accordingly.

10. Bring Your Shore Excursion Tickets

It’s a good idea to bring a printed copy of your shore excursion tickets when you go on shore excursions. In my experience, shore excursions still operate the old-fashioned way with printed tickets, not e-tickets. 

During my recent cruise, I received my shore excursion tickets in an envelope delivered to my cabin by the cabin steward. I had to present that ticket when checking in to get a sticker for my shore excursion. 

Even when I booked shore excursions independently, I still printed out the ticket and showed it to the tour guide as proof. So, always remember to bring your shore excursion ticket to avoid any delays.

Free Cruise Port Day Bag Packing List

Get Your Free Cruise Port Day Bag Packing List

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your cruise port bag so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

Packing List for Cruise Port Day Bag

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

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