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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 20, 2018

    10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

    10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

    A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

    Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

    1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

    Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

    If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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    2. You put the cart before the horse.

    “Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

    3. You don’t believe in yourself.

    A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

    4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

    The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

    5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

    If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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    6. You don’t enjoy the process.

    Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

    The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

    7. You’re trying too hard.

    Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

    8. You don’t track your progress.

    Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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    9. You have no social support.

    It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

    10. You know your what but not your why.

    The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

    Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

    Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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    Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

    Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

    Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

    • The more specific you can make your goal,
    • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
    • The more encouraged you’ll be,
    • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

    I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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