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What Are Excursions On A Cruise?

Taking your family on a cruise is a fun and exciting experience! Depending on the ship, it’s possible to have an entire fun-filled vacation without stepping foot into one of the ports. But one of the attractive things about a cruise vacation is the opportunity to experience several different places with minimal effort.

You may wonder if you need to take any excursions at all, or if you are new to cruising, you may be wondering, “what are excursions on a cruise?”

Shore excursions can be one of the most exciting and memorable parts of any cruise. By participating in shore excursions, you can explore new destinations, learn about local cultures, and create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, there’s an excursion that’s perfect for your interests and budget.

Read on to learn more about cruise excursions and why they’re so popular.

So, What Are Excursions On A Cruise?

When a cruise ship docks in a port, guests can take an excursion – they are short trips or activities that you can participate in for a brief period off of the ship.

For those looking for a laid-back and educational excursion, some options may include:

  • sightseeing
  • guided tours
  • a trip to a museum or historic site, or
  • a bus tour with a guide.

If you are looking for a more active and adventurous day, options may include:

  • a day at the beach
  • a dance lesson
  • hiking or a climbing
  • a bike trip
  • snorkeling

These activities can all be included in excursions and highlight regional sights and the local way of life. Shore excursions may also include day trips to adjacent cities or destinations within walking distance.

Cruise lines also offer excursions designed especially for families with kids. Even those with physical limitations can discover an adventure suitable for them. Interacting with local people to arrange a private outing can be challenging, which is why the cruise line plans excursions and includes various activities to choose from for you.

In regular life, most people don’t have the opportunity to play volleyball on a beach in paradise or go snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. On a cruise, excursions offer families the chance to have a good time and create enduring memories.

Should You Do Excursions On A Cruise?

Excursions can be very enjoyable if you carefully consider where to go, what to do, and when. Excursions have drawbacks, particularly if the port where the ship docks is not set up to manage a huge ship with many passengers disembarking at once. Research the port where the cruise docks before deciding to go on an excursion and make travel arrangements appropriately.

What Are Excursions On A Cruise

Do You Have To Buy Excursions On A Cruise?

Most cruise lines provide shore excursion opportunities that are planned in conjunction with a local partner company. You can also arrange for your own independent excursions by making individual arrangements before your cruise with independent tour providers or other tour vendors.

Seasoned travelers sometimes wait to make arrangements until they arrive in port. You and the guide, or agency, agree on the cost when you reach the port.

Independent excursions are typically less expensive than ones offered through the cruise ship. However, first-time cruisers may find it preferable to stick with the official shore excursions offered through the cruise line.

Regardless of whether you book an excursion through the cruise line or independently, be sure to factor in potential tipping on the cruise excursion as part of your costs.

Types Of Excursions On A Cruise 

There are so many excursions on a cruise that it would be difficult to list them all. Here are a few examples of excursions from Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruises that you can use as a point of reference.

Royal Caribbean Excursions

One excursion destination to consider is touring Europe’s historic cities, where each building has a unique history.

  • You can ride a bicycle across Mount Etna’s rim, which the Greeks thought was where the mythical Cyclops lived.
  • In Spain, master the art of making tapas like a genuine Malagan and relish every bite. Explore the spectacular Lipa Cave in Montenegro as you go further into nature.
  • Private journeys are available for individuals seeking a more specialized outing. Their Destination Insiders use their in-depth knowledge and years of travel experience to handcraft unique personalized trips specifically for you.
  • You can alter a current tour that interests you or collaborate with an Insider to design a private tour experience tailored to you or a small group.
  • Go on an underwater expedition to find an entire universe filled with life. Book a snorkeling adventure where you’ll swim with sea turtles and manta rays, float over brilliant reefs, and explore gorgeous coral forests.

Carnival Excursions

  • The Nuuksio Reindeer Park, in Finland’s southernmost location where you can see and feed reindeer, offers a taste of the enchantment of the north. All year long, their charming reindeer reside in Nuuksio.
  • You may view these unusual animals, feed the reindeer, or take pictures of them. A Lappish tepee will provide coffee, tea/juice, and buns. Back in Helsinki, take in the key attractions like the Parliament Building, National Museum, Finlandia Hall, and Contemporary Art Museum, among others. For families and animal lovers, this program is fantastic.
  • Explore the Barbados coastline from the Atlantis submarine. The 48-person submarine’s roomy, air-conditioned interior descends to a depth of 55 feet, where you may spend 45 minutes admiring the coral reefs, vibrant fish, and other aquatic life.
  • Take in the scenery as you sail for 60 minutes toward Dubrovnik’s Old City Harbor and its stunning city walls. A tour of the Sponza Palace, the Church of Saint Blaise, and the Rector’s Palace in the Old City are all included. Before sailing back, spend some leisure time exploring ancient Lokrum Island.

Closing Thoughts

Shore excursions offer the opportunity to explore new destinations, learn about local cultures, and create unforgettable memories. Remember to choose excursions that fit your interests and budget, and don’t be afraid to try something new. With the right planning and preparation, shore excursions can be the highlight of your cruise.

Mona Marks


Mona loves group travel of all kinds, and she finds cruises are the perfect setting for that.

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