Independent Shore Excursions – Cruise Tip 97

MSC Lirica Tour Guide Rome

MSC Lirica Tour Guide Rome

In another episode of 60-Second Cruise Tips, Gary Bembridge, author of “The Cruise Traveler’s Handbook“, “Essential Cruise Tips” and “River Cruising Essential Tips and Tricks” shares another cruise tip. This time it is:

Independent Provider Excursions

If you only consider the shore excursions sold by your cruise line you may be missing out on saving money and discovering exciting alternatives by using independent providers. There are a number of large companies, including and, that offer comprehensive programs alongside those for sale on board.

You need to make the final choice on which is right for you. The following are some reasons for booking an excursion with an independent provider:

  • They have tours that may not be available through the cruise line, especially when addressing special interest, hobby and sport excursions.
  • They often provide day passes to local resorts where you can use all the swimming, water sports and land-based sport facilities.
  • When they have similar tours for less money.
  • Tours often have less people on each tour than the cruise line equivalent.
  • When the cruise line one is sold out, or you are wait listed.
  • Ability to read detailed reviews and photographs from previous travellers that have done them. Cruise lines tend not to have any, or many, of these available.
  • Most guarantee to get you back to the ship in time for departure, or they will fund and get you to the next stop to pick up the ship. I do, though, recommend booking excursions with third parties that provide morning departures, are due back well before your ship departs and confirm the guarantee in writing.
  • Most will meet and depart from ship side, as the cruise line tours do too.

In my experience, most passengers book cruise line tours as it is the simple and easy option. However, always take a look at what independent providers are offering in your ports as you may find something that is more adventurous, unique and cheaper too.

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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2 Responses

  1. Steve in Philly says:

    Gary: you forgot one of the most important reasons that I book independent excursions: The money you pay stays LOCALLY and helps the local economy and not the massive corporate cruise lines.

    In addition, nearly all independent companies take (and not always) a deposit on a credit card but do not charge your card. You pay cash in local currency AFTER the tour. The credit card is only there for if you don’t cancel more than 7 days out or are a no-show.

    • Thanks for this addition! VERY key point that I do usually talk about. I think I will do one episode just on this topic as a big one for everyone cruising to think about and act on…. Gary

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