8 Reasons to Book a Shore Excursion with a Cruise Line

Exploring a port city on your own while on a cruise can make you feel like the new kid in class, a stranger in a strange land. Just like in school, when a new friend was able to show you the ropes and make those first days immeasurably easier, experiencing the ports through shore excursions rather than blazing your own trail can make your cruise to the Caribbean, Mexico, or wherever you might be traveling much more enjoyable. These eight examples are just a few of the reasons why booking a shore excursion with a cruise line can help you make the most of your cruise experience.

couple facing each other as the wear snorkeling gear before a caribbean excursion

1. Sailing to a Private Port

As the saying goes, membership has its privileges. On a cruise to the Caribbean, for instance, part of the excitement is experiencing something completely unique like sailing into a private port that’s exclusive by nature and simply impossible to truly explore outside of a shore excursion. We promise you, booking a shore excursion in Half Moon Cay, Princess Cays, or Amber Cove will make you appreciate the rare opportunity to explore the land that might otherwise be missed.

woman ziplining over the private port of amber cove

2. Guarantee a Timely Return to the Ship

An ideal excursion isn’t one spent looking at your watch, monitoring the moments until you must start heading back to the ship. Instead, excursions should be spontaneous and exciting, allowing you to forget about time and handing those responsibilities to someone else. For example, let’s say on your cruise to Mexico, you decide to explore the amazing Mayan ruins at Tulum, roughly 1.5 hours outside of Cozumel. While we wouldn’t blame you for forgetting to check that watch when gazing at the ancient wonders, that forgetfulness can leave you sprinting across a pier to catch your cruise ship before it sets sail. A certified guide prevents you from ever becoming a dreaded pier runner.

tourist looking over the mayan ruins in tulum from the top of a pyramid

3. A Bilingual Guide Can Make All the Difference

Sticking with the previous example, while immersing yourself in the fascinating history all around you in Tulum, you’ll inevitably have questions about Mayan culture, how the ruins were built, and the enduring impact of Mayans on modern Mexico. By relying on a bilingual guide as part of a shore excursion, your tour of the Mayan ruins will be much more fulfilling by satisfying your curiosity and answering those inevitable questions.

tourist asking for directions in a caribbean island

4. Don’t Let Distance Be a Hurdle

Let’s use an excursion during a cruise to Alaska for another example. Given the wide open spaces of the Last Frontier, there are quite a few memorable places to see that aren’t exactly a short walk from the port. For instance, if you’re a nature lover and want to visit some of Alaska’s amazing wildlife, bear watching is a fantastic choice. With Neet’s Bay, home to some of the most spectacular bear watching in the world but 40 miles from the Port of Ketchikan, getting there on your own is a feat on its own. Taking advantage of the Neet’s Bay Bear Watch shore excursion, however, completely eliminates the hassle of traveling such a great distance. With the help of a floatplane that’s part of the excursion, a quick 20-30 minute flight is all that’s needed to give you a front row seat to Alaska’s magnificent bear habitat.

view of the alaskan landscape from a seaplane during the sun set

5. Beautiful But Unfamiliar Land

Again using an Alaskan cruise as an example, the sheer size of the region makes it inherently difficult to navigate without the help of an expert to lead the way. While there’s much to see in Alaska, long stretches of highway, shoreline, and even open skies can become confusing and distracting, forcing you to concentrate on directions rather than the beauty all around you. On a shore excursion, no matter the destination, you’re always in the capable and knowledgeable hands of people extremely familiar with the surroundings, allowing you to relax and enjoy your trip rather than worry about highway exits and finding the right dock.

tour guide pointing at the amazing alaskan views during a shore excursion

6. Let a Guide Lead the Way

Of course, part of being unfamiliar with the area means your chances of getting lost rise dramatically. A popular shore excursion when cruising to Hawaii is to explore the backcountry waterfalls in Hilo. These amazing waterfalls, however, requires a van ride through several backcountry roads as well as a short hike through the lush rainforest to reach your destination. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with such terrain, a rainforest isn’t exactly the best place to get lost. However, when on the Amazing Waterfalls Swim with BBQ Lunch shore excursion, your guide leads you directly to the idyllic oasis, allowing you to fully soak in its beauty.

aerial view of the amazing hilo waterfalls in hawaii during a bright sunny day

7. Wide Range of Excursions to Choose From on Carnival.com

No matter where your cruise adventure takes you, there’s always a wide variety of shore excursions to choose from on Carnival.com. For instance, a cruise to The Bahamas alone has dozens of shore excursions to choose from, ranging from adventure to pure relaxation and everything in between. In other words, from the convenience of your computer or mobile device, you can book shore excursions for any interest, age group, or budget, all from the comfort of your living room couch.

couple relaxing on the deck of a carnival ship

8. Book Popular Shore Excursions Ahead of Time

Speaking of convenience, not only can you book the most popular shore excursions from any location with an internet signal, you can also book them well in advance, never having to worry about lines or sell-outs. Before you set foot on the ship or even begin packing, you can have all of your excursions reserved, paid for, and waiting for you once you arrive in port. There’s definitely something to be said for having all of your ducks in a row, not worrying about reservations and itineraries, and just enjoying your cruise and shore excursions. Likewise, with the shore excursion desk located onboard your ship, answers to any excursion questions that might arise are quickly and easily answered.

family relaxing on the ship deck as they watch a movie on the seaside theater

On a cruise, the time you spend aboard the ship is only half of the experience. Take full advantage of the many shore excursions available to get the very most from your cruise vacation. Avoid the unnecessary headaches of trying to navigate a port on your own and spend every moment possible absorbing everything that made the destination so appealing in the first place. We’ll see you on the open seas.