8 Shore Excursions You Should Never Do on a Cruise

8 Shore Excursions You Should Never Do on a Cruise

Cheapism; Barbara Gabay/istockphoto; Orbon Alija/istockphoto; izanbar/istockphoto

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8 Shore Excursions You Should Never Do on a Cruise
Cheapism; Barbara Gabay/istockphoto; Orbon Alija/istockphoto; izanbar/istockphoto

Port Mistakes

There are so many shore excursions to choose from on a cruise that the array can be dizzying. Each port will have many options, and without a little guidance, you might end up paying a lot of money for something you could have gotten cheaper — or even worse, something that's a total waste of time. Here are popular types of cruise shore excursions that you should always avoid. 

Related: 23 Things That You Should Never Do on a Cruise

travel company bus
Oleksandr Filon/istockphoto

1. Trips That Take Too Much Travel Time

You almost always have a very limited amount of time in a cruise port. Do you really want to spend four or more of those hours on a bus just getting to and from your destination? Chances are, you'll only have a couple hours at whatever ruins or site you're headed to if you have a 2- or 3-hour bus ride there. Unless the destination is on your bucket list and you don't think you'll ever get back there, don't spend most of your port time in transit. 

Related: 6 Weird and Surprising Things You'll Find on a Cruise Ship

Dolphins close up portrait in blue water

2. Excursions Involving Mistreated Animals

Excursions involving animals seem like dreams, especially when you get to swim with dolphins or horseback ride along a tropical beach. But you need to do your research thoroughly before you book any activity involving animals on a cruise. Too often, the animals are mistreated or not well cared-for, and as an animal lover, that's not something you want to support. In the case of swim-with-dolphins activities, the Humane Society even says they're just not safe for humans or the animals

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Redwoods: Kayak Tour
National Park Service

3. Anything Beyond Your Fitness Level

You have to be honest with yourself about your (and your family's) fitness level when you book some excursions. Usually, cruise lines will indicate how strenuous an activity is, but it's ultimately up to you to know whether you'll actually be able to complete a 5K mountain hike or kayak for three hours straight. The same goes for things like ziplines if you're sometimes afraid of heights, or glass bottom boats if you easily get seasick. 

Tourists at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece
Page Light Studios/istockphoto

4. Museum Tours

When you go to a museum shoreside, you probably don't book a tour; you just go. Why would going to a museum in a port be any different? There's no reason to pay for a tour guide and be beholden to them and the rest of the group when you can go on your own for less money. The same goes for shopping tours, where they take you only to places that give kickbacks to the cruise lines.

People at the beach
Orbon Alija/istockphoto

5. Beach Breaks

You don't need the cruise line to get you to and from the beach. There will be taxis everywhere at the port, and they will all know where the beaches are. If the "beach break" excursion is in a resort or beach that requires admission, you're going to get a much better deal if you book directly through the resort. Same goes for reserving chairs or renting snorkel equipment.

Senior couple napping on motor coach

6. All-Day Tours

Marathon tours, where you do a million things in one long day, may seem like an easy way to see everything you want. But you're going to be very tired, the kids are going to be cranky, and you'll be more miserable than if you had just chosen a select one or two things to see. Chances are, lots of the eight or more hours off the ship are going to be traveling in a tour bus, and waiting for other members of your group to get back to the bus, or use the bathroom, or whatever. It ends up being a frustrating time. 

Older tourists and their tour bus enjoying sightseeing in Israel
Barbara Gabay/istockphoto

7. 'Panoramic' Bus Tours

Lots of cruise lines try to make sightseeing tours sound better than they are by calling them "panoramic" or "coach" tours. In actuality, that just means you're going to be looking at everything from a tour bus, and frankly that sucks. Plus, if you end up sitting on the wrong side of the bus, you may not even have a view of the thing you're supposed to be seeing. Talk about a ripoff. Unless you have mobility issues, avoid these at all costs.

Peaceful afternoon in Santorini

8. Choosing Cruise-Run Tours Exclusively

Booking a shore excursion through the cruise line isn't a necessity. It does come with advantages, namely that the ship will usually wait for your group if you're late, but you'll almost always be paying a lot more money than if you booked the same or similar tour yourself. Cruise ports have massive amounts of tourists come through them, so there are plenty of independent tour guides, beaches, and activities that you can book directly for less. It's great to explore and find your own adventures on your own.