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 many activities which cruise guests can enjoy ashore, and which 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, but getting out and about on shore can be expensive if you book everything through a cruise line. There are many benefits this way, from eliminating the hassle of arranging your own activities, to knowing you are being looked after by reputable providers. If you are looking to save some money, however, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your time ashore and not have it break the bank. Top of the 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 or Dubrovnik, get hold of a good local map, do your research before you cruise to build a list of what you want to see and do, then strap on some shoes and get walking. In another destination there might 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, are safe to use, and find out how to buy tickets or pay for fares – you might need local currency. 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, take the details of your ship with you (including where it’s docked) and take some ID. Renting a car, a motorbike or bicycles might be a possibility; just remember to bring a passport, driver licence and a credit card as these will be required, also 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 should eliminate the middle man and save you money. If you do go exploring on your own, however, be sure you don’t return back to the dock late as your ship will not wait for you, and you risk being stranded in port.