While traveling on a cruise ship is fun and luxurious, in most cases people are there to travel, meaning that the whole point is to see different places. You chance to do this occurs when the cruise ship is in port, allowing you to explore a new place for a few hours. So what should you do when the ship gets into port?
Naturally, the answer varies depending upon which port you are visiting and whether or not you have been to this city before. Yet no matter the location or circumstances, a little research in advance will be extremely useful when it comes to planning your time ashore.
The first thing to do is to determine what kinds of sights there are to see in the port. These might include scenic views/tours, museums, historical sites, castles and forts, religious sites, shopping areas, sporting activities, beaches, parks and gardens, or outdoor adventures. Determine which sights most interest you, and list them in order of importance. Your goal will be to visit as many of these places/enjoy as many activities as you can during your time in port, while still gaining the fullest measure of enjoyment. Remember, the goal is not to spend five minutes at a hundred different sites, but rather to visit as many sites as you can, while spending sufficient time to fully appreciate what you are seeing. A visit to see a famous outdoor monument might well take five minutes, but a visit to a museum might take one to three hours. A tour of an important landmark or village might take the entire day.
The easiest way to find a list of such activities is to google the name of the port + tourist attractions. Another possibility is to read a guidebook on the port city or area that will be visited. If I am pressed for time, sometimes I will simply look at a cruise line’s list of excursions (more on ship-sponsored shore excursions in my next post) to get a quick idea of the various locations most cruise passengers like to visit.
Cruise websites, such as Cruise Critic, are another good source of information. Cruise passengers love to get together and talk about the places they have been and what they have seen. You will find lots of helpful information on cruise message boards around the web.
It is possible, especially if you are traveling with a large party, that not everyone in your group will want to see or do the same things. Some people may want to play golf at a local course, others may wish to shop or head to the beach, while others may want to indulge in a visit to historical sites and museums. It is okay to split your party and have everyone move in different directions. Remember, you will all meet again back on the ship at the end of the day, and you can relax over a luxurious dinner in the main dining room, telling each other of the different experiences you had that day.
Next time, I’ll discuss how to arrange your visits to these sites.