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10 Tips To Enjoy Your First Shore Excursion

10 Tips To Enjoy Your First Shore Excursion

The cruise ship industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors involving tourism today. From fresh college graduates to retirees, families and newlyweds – there’s a trip for everybody. In fact, about 20 percent of the U.S. population has already taken at least ONE cruise, and more are slowly joining the trend.

Cruise trips are fun not just because of the sumptuous margaritas and spa on board. What usually makes these trips unforgettable are the various shore excursions that come with the holiday package. A shore excursion is basically a land-based trip that comes with each port visit. Depending on the cruise company and destination of your choice, there are an almost unlimited number of activities to suit every taste and individual.

There are Caribbean shore excursions for those longing for some sand, sea, and sun during their honeymoon. For active folks who want to explore the Last Frontier, Alaska shore excursions will take you to Anchorage, Denali, and Girdwood with no problem. These trips also cater to exotic locations such as Southeast Asia, Europe, and all else in between.

But hopping onboard your first cruise can feel daunting. What if the trip was NOT what you expected? Is there a chance that you’ll get left behind during sightseeing?

Although cruises come with their own setbacks, there’s no great adventure without a little risk. For the first-time traveler, here are a few basic tips to enjoy your first cruise and shore excursion:

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1. Decide on a number of destinations beforehand.

This is where it all begins. If you don’t have a Bucket List yet, it’s never too late to make one. Look at a map and pinpoint specific locations that you want to visit. In what continents are they located? Which specific cities are you most interested in? What attractions would you prioritize? You can use traditional pen and paper to jot down notes OR use online discovery tools such as Pinterest to collect ideas.

2. List what you want to do.

What type of activities can you imagine yourself enjoying?

In general, there are two types of shore excursions: active and sightseeing. Active shore excursions feature all kinds of activities: from snorkeling and diving to ziplining, kayaking, and snowboarding. Sightseeing shore excursions, on the other hand, are more leisurely and focus on seeing the main attractions of each destination. Do consider these before booking. You don’t want to end up paying for a zipline trip when all you want to do is shop.

3. Do your homework.

It’s a good idea to take your time researching the type of cruise trip and shore excursion you want. Look at different websites and find out about discounts BEFORE jumping into anything. Ask friends and family members for recommendations. Read related articles, guidebooks, travel websites, and even call tourism bureaus if you must.Bookmark sites that have special offers and/or discounts.

Take advantage of customer care hotlines for any questions you may have.

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4. Narrow down your options.

Choosing a cruise line and accompanying excursion is easy if you’re traveling alone – but this becomes somewhat challenging if you’re taking friends or family members along. Be sure you all agree on the final plan BEFORE purchasing! This prevents arguments that might arise during the trip. If you’ll be with children and/or seniors, don’t forget to account for their needs when narrowing down your options for a holiday cruise.

5. Manage your finances (and other necessities) carefully.

Even if you already paid for the shore excursion package, don’t be caught without emergency cash on hand. Prepare about $50 (more, if you can afford it) in bills for unexpected instances. Buy anything that you might need beforehand, such as medicines. Ask your bank about using a credit card in your chosen destinations. Don’t forget health insurance and international roaming (when applicable).

Download the apps you’ll be using for the duration of your trip as well.

6. Consider advanced bookings/reservations.

When booking your cruise, you’ll encounter an option to either pre-book shore excursions (pay in advance) OR wait until you’re onboard. There are perks to reserving your slots ahead of time. The first is that you’re sure to get first dibs on must-do tours (like dolphin-watching or SUV off-road adventures in the Caribbean), because these usually tend to sell out days before the actual trip.

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    But if you’re still undecided or the cruise line offers different excursions that you might want to participate in, then waiting might be your best bet.

    7. Familiarize yourself with policies and inclusions.

    If you did book your shore excursion beforehand BUT it got cancelled at the last minute, you should know how to protect yourself. Be sure to familiarize yourself with tour policies and cancellations. ALWAYS read the fine print! How will your money be refunded for such cases? Will they put you in a different tour with the same value? What items or extras are included in your cruise trip?

    If you’re not sure, get in touch with customer care and ask LOTS of questions.

    8. Prepare for emergencies.

    One thing that deters most folks from trying cruise holidays is that they hear plenty of people say that the tours don’t go as expected. However, if you plan for them ahead of time – and account for emergencies – you’ll get more out of what you paid for. For example: if you’re going on a dolphin-watching adventure and it says that the only thing included in the tour would be bottled water, ask if you can bring snacks. If you have kids or seniors with you, you’ll be glad you took the extra precaution.

    Know your limits for active shore excursions. Don’t take adventures that your body might not handle well.

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    9. Remember meet-up times.

    Most shore excursions these days feature independent travel. That means the transportation will simply drop you off at the main attraction or city, then it’s up to you to explore at your own pace. What’s important here is to remember your meet-up time. Secure tickets and other important documents while on the trip. If you can get the mobile number of a responsible cruise staff, then do so. This is particularly helpful for solo travelers.

    It’s better to arrive early at meet-up points than risk getting left behind. Although cruise-backed shore excursions do NOT leave without all buses or passengers accounted for, you don’t want to delay the schedule for everybody else.

    10. Be ready to negotiate.

    The skill of negotiation will come in handy at certain points during your trip. You may need to bargain with local tour guides or cab drivers while in port to get the best rates. Or your original shore excursion might get cancelled and so you need to discuss other options with the ship’s activities coordinator. Either way, be ready for such situations. This is something you need to anticipate so you won’t be surprised later on.

    With more than 20 million passengers enjoying a cruise holiday each year, you don’t want to be left behind in completing your Bucket List. Visit amazing places like Beijing, Jerusalem, Trinidad, Vienna, and Johannesburg with various cruises and shore excursions available today.

    Once you’re familiar with port protocols and basic cruise etiquette, you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy cruise holidays. In fact, you may even wonder why you didn’t take one sooner!

    Featured photo credit: Link Hoang/unsplash.com via unsplash.com

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    Last Updated on November 17, 2019

    20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

    20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

    Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

    1. Make a gift bag.

    A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

    2. Give a toast.

    Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

    3. Write a poem.

    “Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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    4. Create your own labels.

    There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

    5. Give a gift card.

    Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

    6. Send a letter.

    Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

    7. Use social media to send a special message.

    If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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    8. Make your own digital greeting card.

    While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

    9. Make a YouTube video.

    Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

    10. Deliver cookies or candies.

    Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

    11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

    There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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    12. Put together a flower basket.

    Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

    13. Take a picture.

    Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

    14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

    The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

    15. Do something special for them.

    Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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    16. Reciprocate their help.

    Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

    17. Be there for them.

    Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

    18. Listen to them.

    Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

    19. Say it in another language…or two…

    A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

    20. Show them some love.

    A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

    Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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