There are many ports that are not located in the city centre. For the convenience of their guests, some cruises have shuttle bus services arranged in those ports.
Extending a gratuity to your guide or driver is strictly optional; however, in some countries, these personnel may anticipate that if you were pleased with their services, you will reward them in a monetary way. The tour desk on your ship will be able to provide you with a guide, depending on the country you are visiting.
On most cruises, a qualified lecturer will hold informative talks on each port of call you visit. If you still have questions, the tour desk will be glad to answer them. Most ships will have a library, which may offer destination based books related to your itinerary, particularly on smaller, expedition style ships. You should also do a little research before you go.
Most ship-organised tour departure times complement the ship's meal service hours, so you can enjoy your meal aboard then go ashore. However, on some full day tours, or if you take more than one tour in a day, your return on board may not coincide with meal hours. A buffet, snack, or room service is usually available at other times.
Other countries may have more conservative ideas about dress than you're accustomed. Attention is drawn to this matter so as not to offend. We suggest when visiting places of worship (cathedrals), you dress conservatively, avoiding shorts or sundresses. Attend the port lectures for guidance.
Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes at all times. When visiting ruins or walking on cobblestone streets, wear rubber-soled shoes. It's also smart to wear a sun hat.
Whenever possible, shopping time is allocated within the framework of the excursions. However, tours are not designed primarily for shopping. Cruise ships also offer shopping on board – the larger the ship, the larger the shopping options. While in port you will find the onboard shops remain shut, but once the cruise departs, the shops will usually open. On international cruises, you can take advantage of some great duty free prices.
If you book your shore excursions once on your cruise, your tours will be added to your shipboard account. You would settle all charges at the end of your cruise.
Some shore excursions can accommodate only a limited number of participants. Since they are sold on a first come, first serve basis, we recommend you purchase them as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment. These can usually be booked online prior to departure.
It really depends on the tour. For example, some of the European cities you'll be visiting are ancient. Their quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets have been in existence long before motorized transportation. To preserve their beauty, some cities and old towns are pedestrian only. Most tours require some degree of walking; however, some excursions require extensive walking. Likewise, grand entryways and sprawling gardens of certain castles and cathedrals make walking and stair-climbing a necessity.
Most cruise lines indicate which tours are more physical than others in their brochures and at the Shore Excursion Desk. Whatever your fitness level, we highly recommend comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes.
Shore excursions include transportation according to the itinerary, and meals, refreshments, guides, and entrance fees as indicated in the tour description book. Fares for shore excursions are subject to change without notice.
Most tours depart from the pier adjacent to the ship's berth. When the ship is at anchor, staff will be on hand to assist you to the departure point. Prior to arrival in each port of call, departure times will be confirmed by the ship's staff or daily activity bulletin.
All guests are required to be back aboard their ship no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time, which is listed in the daily bulletin and at the gangway as you leave the ship. The scheduling of all shore excursions conform with this requirement. However, if you leave a tour en route, it will be your responsibility to secure transportation and return to the pier on time. If you don't make it, they'll offload your luggage and see you at the next port at your own expense.
Standards of transport vary considerably from country to country; however, excursions utilize the best quality transportation possible in each port. Air-conditioned vehicles are not always available. Guest wishing to travel together with friends should leave the ship together, as this will help the tour staff allocate space in the same vehicle.