To Go or Not To Go, that is the question – Excursions. Your cruise line will give you a bunch of options with regard to the excursions they offer, and I will tell you that I go back and forth on the excursion bandwagon. Your mileage may vary when it comes to the value of an excursion for you and your family, but here is my best advice.
If you just want to hit the beach, hit some shops, or do a quick tour of the port, you are probably better off on your own. There are usually reliable cab services and other drivers waiting to take you to your destination – and some spots are within walking distance of your ship. Other locations have shuttle services run by the city, town, island, or port, and it’s usually reasonably priced to hop on the shuttle to head out to see some sights (some shuttles – like in Belfast, Northern Ireland – are free to go from the ship into the city and back).
On the other hand, if you are hoping to see some of the famous sites in the areas where you are traveling, you should consider two options – a cruise line organized excursion, or finding a private tour company.
If you are going to be visiting Rome, for example, you are likely to find on your own that lines for anything you truly want to see are long. Many group tours bought their tickets in advance, and they will just send someone to pick them up to take the group inside. You may find that you can only access certain things during specific times of the day, and on your own, you might not know what those times are unless you’ve thoroughly researched in advance.
This was our tour guide in Rome, where we did a privately arranged tour. Our guide was AWESOME, fabulous with the kids, and I can’t recommend him highly enough. His name is Manilo Tranquili, and you can find him at
It can be tricky to find a tour guide on your own that will be reliable. it can absolutely be done (and I did it myself on our second third trip to Rome), but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make sure the company you are dealing with is reputable and can take you where you want to go to see the things you want to see.
I often tell people, if it’s your first time, opt for a professional (get your mind out of the gutter, people). Book an excursion in advance with your cruise line, and be assured that you are most likely going with people who have done this before, are well organized, and if nothing else, will get you back to the ship on time!