Some Family Cruise Activities Are Surprisingly Scary

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesActivities, CRUISE LINES & SHIPS, Family Friendly

Best Cruise Ships for Kids - Photo of rear view of Harmony of the SeasSo, I previously wrote about why Harmony of the Seas is one of the best cruise ships for kids – particularly the preschool crowd. It also has some cool features that appeal to both big kids and adults as well. Specifically, Harmony has a trio of water slides knows as the Perfect Storm and a 10 story dry slide – the Ultimate Abyss.  (Note, versions of these attractions are also available on Royal Caribbean’s new biggest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.) Much has been written and videoed about these highly anticipated awesome-sounding features, and I was just as excited as my kids to try them out. But, it turns out I’m not quite the thrill-seeker I thought. At least not when it came to the Ultimate Abyss.

Related Post: 7 Awesome Reasons Preschoolers Adore Harmony of the Seas

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How To Actually Plan Affordable Family Shore Excursions With Remarkable Ease

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesActivities, Budget, Cruise Choices, PORTS & EXCURSIONS
Shore Excursions-Family sitting on large map planning travel

Booking shore excursions through the cruise line can usually be the easiest and most convenient way to fill out your itinerary. However, it is not your only option.  And, it is most likely one of the most expensive ways to plan shore excursions.  Read on to learn how your family can save money planning independent shore excursions instead.

Advantages of Independent Shore Excursions

So, what are the main advantages of looking beyond the cruise line’s options when exploring shore excursion?  You can often find better value and more flexibility as to content.  Shore excursions that you plan independently usually involve smaller groups with more comfortable modes of transportation at a cheaper price. And, you control more of the schedule.  This can be ideal for families traveling with children.

My family first tried planning an independent excursion as part of a mediterranean cruise several years ago.  I found the company online through some research on Trip Advisor.  It turned out to be the best shore excursions for the entire trip. They were able to design a tour that visited every site our group was interested in seeing.  They were able to arrange for advance tickets to some popular attractions (thus avoiding a long wait in line).  Plus, they provided car seats.

Our most recent success taking the independent route was this past Christmas on a cruise that visited several ports in India.  After some extensive comparative shopping, we made arrangements with one tour operator who provided fantastic arrangements for each of 3 Indian ports.  We saved about $1,000 for our party of 7.  Plus,  all arrangements consisted of private tours with our own private air-conditioned transportation (a 15-seater mini-bus) and local English speaking guide.  

Related Post: How Our Family Saved Awesome Money On Our India Shore Excursions

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Potential Disadvantages of Independent Shore Excursions

So what’s the downside to striking out on your own?  If you are late returning to port from your independently planned shore excursion, you may find that the ship has sailed on without you.  If the ship leaves without you, you will be responsible for making your way to the next port to catch up with it at your own expense.  In contrast, if excursions booked through the cruise line fall behind schedule, the ship will wait.

Although a real and legitimate concern, the risk of actually missing your ship is rather remote.  Notable, larger operators have their own “guarantees.”  If they fail to return you to the ship on time and it sails on,  they will pay the expenses necessary to get you to the next port.  Furthermore, local tour operators are typically attuned to the ships’ schedules and craft their offerings accordingly.  And, in many instances, the cruise line is contracting with those same local operators for the same tours and activities on the same schedule.  In short, “missing the boat” is more of a concern when you take the winging it route than when you plan something with a reputable operator.  

So, if you are willing to look beyond booking shore excursions through the cruise line, here are seven tips for planning independent shore excursions with confidence and peace of mind.

Related Post:  Try These Top Ways To Stretch Your Family Cruise Dollars

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