Cruises offers guests the freedom to do what they want, when they want and this also carries over to Shore Excursions. If you prefer not to join an organised tour you can spend time in the port on your own or even stay aboard ship. It is not uncommon for some guests to stay aboard the ship in order to make use of some of the facilities whilst it is quiet!
Organised Shore Excursions do have their benefits as you can often cover off lots of different sights within a limited period of time, safe in the knowledge that you will be back at port in time for the ship’s departure. Organised tours are also good for visiting attractions that are located a bit further from the pier or for participating in more active activities such as Cycling or Golf. Over and above this they are also good for immersing yourself more in the culture or history of an area through the expert knowledge of a guide.
This is not always for everyone so if you simply wish to walk around town, do a bit of shopping or visit the beach, then it could be much simpler, cheaper and easier to go it alone. In some ports the shops are only a stones throw away but the beaches are a taxi journey so it really depends on the destination and what you want to do that day.
In big cities like Rome and Athens the city is far from the port so it may make more sense to choose an organised tour. It is also worth considering a shore excursion in any countries or foreign ports, where language and customs might prove to be barriers, or where you wish to visit places that you might struggle to find on your own. Without guidance you may not realise what is expected of you with regards to local customs by covering your arms with long sleeves or by wearing head scarfs etc. when visiting certain religious buildings or museums in different ports of call so you should also consider this.
If you do choose to go it alone you should be aware that it is crucial to keep track of time and return to port to re-board the ship in plenty of time for the departure to the next port of call.
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