Snorkeling and diving coral reefs in the Caribbean, exploring ancient sites in Greece, wine tasting in France, dog sledding in Alaska, and cooking school in Thailand; these are just a few of the impressive lineup of activities which cruise guests can enjoy ashore, and which today are as much a part of the cruise experience as being on the high seas. Half the fun of taking a cruise holiday is having the opportunity to explore new destinations, and there are many benefits doing it this way, from eliminating the hassle of arranging your own activities, to knowing you are being looked after by reputable providers. But getting out and about on shore can be expensive, so if you are looking to save some money, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your time ashore and without it breaking the bank. Top of our list is using your feet. Although this won’t work in every destination, if your ship docks in the heart of a major city such as Hong Kong, Singapore or Dubrovnik, get hold of a good local map, do your research before you cruise to create a list of what you want to see and do, then strap on some shoes and get walking. In some destinations there may be free walking tours on offer provided by the local tourism board, or at least a good tourist map showing a walking tour and what you can see and do en-route.
Another tip in certain countries is to use public transport to get you around, from local buses to ferries and trains. Do your research in advance, however, and make sure they run to schedules, they are safe to use, and find out how to buy tickets or pay for fares in case you need local currency including small notes and coins. Using a local taxi for sightseeing is another option, and in some countries drivers will speak some English and be happy to accept a currency other than their own such as US dollars, Australian dollars or Euros. Make sure you agree a price before you set off, however, take the details of your ship with you including where it’s docked, and take some ID in case something happens. Renting a car, a motorbike or bicycles is another possibility; just remember to bring a passport, driver licence and a credit card as these will be required, and brush up on local road rules before you cruise. The final tip is to book a tour with a local operator directly, or via a website such as Viator.com, which might also be offered by your ship. This will eliminate the middle man and save you money, but if you do go exploring independently, however, make sure you don’t return back to the dock late as your ship will not wait for you, and you risk being left behind.