Tips for choosing what to do in port
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When I choose which cruise to go on it is mainly down to the ports the cruise ship will be visiting. I want to visit as many places as I can so try and choose a cruise that is visiting destinations I have not yet been. However this is not always possible, as I do more cruises some of the port destinations over lap, but this will not stop me booking a cruise it just means I have to do a little bit more research into what I will do when in port.
I have been on a cruise that has visited Funchal and this was the 3rd time I had stopped in this port so I just stayed on the ship. It was nice as there were not many passengers around, the weather was sunny so I could sit on deck and get some sun rays. I did not feel as though I was missing out as I had only visited Funchal port a few months before hand. I actually know people who dont get off at any port, the reason they go on the cruise if for the ship itself and dont care for sightseeing although I do think I would go a little stir crazy if its a long cruise by not getting off.
So how do I decide what I am going to do in Port? There are many places I check online to get the best out of my cruise and here I will share some of my tips for choosing what to do in Port.
I do look at what excurisons the ship is offering mainly to give me an idea of what is on offer in port. I dont like booking directly with a cruise ship as they are normally twice the cost and also very busy and I feel like I am at a cattle market being herded on and off a coach. Although there are times when I would choose to go with the cruise which I will discuss later.
I normally search a cruising excursion website to see what shore excursions are available. These are really easy to use you put in your cruise itinerary and it tells you what is available in each port. I find the tours I have booked via these websites are a lot less busy and I have had a more personal service.
When booking a shore excursion make sure you read what is actually included. Some excursions only take you to the destination and it might seem like a good deal but they you have to queue up and purchase a entrance ticket which makes it a more expensive trip.
Some people worry that you have to book a cruise directly with a cruise line otherwise if it is late you will miss our cruise but I factor this in when booking what I will do in Port. I dont choose a trip that is dropping back in port too close to the departure time. I will tend to go for a morning trip so I have plenty of time to get back to the ship but to be honest I have never had a problem with any cruise excursions I have booked.
Remember a cruse ship will not wait for you if you are not back on board and miss embarkment the ship will leave so it is very important to give yourself plenty of time to get back onboard the ship. I have been on a ship when I have seen a couple running along the dockside as the ship was pulling away. Everyone was laughing but it is not really funny for the people it happens to this would be my worse nightmare.
Also think about what time the tour you have chosen will be leaving the port. If you have not booked directly with the cruise ship you may not have priority disembarking as they tend to let people off who are booked on a tour first. Also if there is a tender to port it may take sometime for you to actually get off the ship and be at the meeting point in port, not as important if the cruise ship is docked along the port but it is worth bearing in mind when excursion planning.
When would I book directly with a cruiseline?. If the place I want to visit is far from the port or there are no alternatives it is sometimes only possible to book with the cruiseline and I have to face the fact I will be paying over the odds for a trip. I have wanted to do visit some places and I could just not find a alternative. This is mainly because I cruise solo if you are cruising in a group it might be best to hire a private company or a taxi to take you to the destination. Sometimes I have met with other passengers especially during solo meet up and we have arranged something but this is not guaranteed and I like to know what I am going to do in port before I get on the ship.
I do my port research before I leave for the cruise mainly because I know I will not have the internet on a cruise as I will not pay the high costs for Wi-Fi and it isn’t always that good on a ship anyway. Another tip a little off topic but make sure you turn your phone off roaming when on a ship. I have forgotten in the past when I have been in port and got back on the ship and after a couple of hours of my phone roaming I have got a huge bill when I got home once if was £80 because I went to dinner and forget to turn the roaming off I nearly cried when I realised.
Check the weather for the time of year you are visiting the port. It is no good planning a day on the beach if you are visiting in winter and its likely to be too cold to sunbathe. Again if its too hot do you really want to be touring an archaeological site and struggling with the heat. When I visited Pompeii I made sure I was not visiting in the height of summer as I knew I would struggle too much if it was extreme heat.
I always see if a port has a hop on bus. These are great if you are new to the port and only have a few hours to do some sightseeing. Obviously these will not give you time to see everything but they do tend to highlight the main sites. This is normally my first choice of things to do in Port as I love sitting on a open top bus to see the sights sometimes I dont even get off.
I also check out what to do in port a simple google search should come up with some cool ideas. A lot of the ports I have visited especially in the Caribbean you can walk to main places of interest. I have sometimes hired a taxi in port with some fellow passengers and had a tour of the island. I did this on one Caribbean island and it was so memorable as the taxi driver even took us past his house and his dad came out to say hello it was so cute.
And lastly my go to website is Trip Advisor before I book anything I will check what other people are saying. I dont always take on-board what is being said but it is part of my research process as sometimes it is important to find out what other people are saying about a tour I want to do. There are also some great forums when I have got ideas of what I want to see when in Port.