Virtuoso Communities Pro Tips for Great Shore Excursions

Pro Tips for Great Shore Excursions

When the ship pulls into port, the shore excursion adventures begin. Here, the Crystal Symphony docked in Monte-Carlo. 
When the ship pulls into port, the shore excursion adventures begin. Here, the Crystal Symphony docked in Monte-Carlo. 
Make the most of your time in port with advice from Virtuoso travel advisors.

As they crisscross the globe, extended sailings lay dozens of port destinations at cruisers’ gangways. With insider recommendations in hand, you can take full advantage of each and every exploration ashore. Below, Virtuoso travel advisors who participate in the Virtuoso Voyages cruise program share their best tips on how to dive deeper.

Plan for Success

Virtuoso advisors connect travelers with guides who have deep knowledge of port destinations around the world, but cruise lines familiarize passengers with destinations well before arrival. “Listen to the seminars on board regarding the ports – their history, environment, wildlife, and more – they’re very enriching,” says travel advisor Libby Orrock of Willoughby, Australia. “On an expedition cruise from Cairns to Darwin, I went to a lecture by a Great Barrier Reef pilot. It gave me real insight into the area.” 

Cover Your Bases

Balance tech savviness with on-the-ground practicality. For example, “Download offline maps and walking tours on your phone or tablet, so it’s easier to find your way around,” encourages Chicago-based travel advisor Rob Clabbers. But don’t rely solely on gadgets: “Take a copy of your ship’s daily newsletter with the port’s name and address – in local language/script – and check all-aboard times, so you don’t miss the departure.” And remember, in some countries, “Cash is king. Not all ATMs will accept international cards, so get money at major banks or onboard ATMs before you set off,” he adds.

Mix It Up

Popular port destinations draw tourists with highlights and attractions, but don’t be afraid to go your own way. “Try something different, especially if you’ve been there before. Ride a bike or take a hike,” says travel advisor Paola Prieto of Mexico City. “Local art galleries and little restaurants are always a good idea.”

Salvador, Brazil’s historic center, where on select Virtuoso Voyages sailings, cruisers can tour the city and enjoy cachaça and Creole cuisine. 
Salvador, Brazil’s historic center, where on select Virtuoso Voyages sailings, cruisers can tour the city and enjoy cachaça and Creole cuisine. 
Photo by Carlos Pinheiro/iStock/Getty Images Plus 

Take Advantage of Virtuoso Voyages

“I always advise my clients to select the exclusive shore excursions or the private car and driver on Virtuoso Voyages sailings,” says Dallas-based Virtuoso advisor Brenda Tosso. This year, more than 500 Virtuoso Voyages sailings will take place, offering custom perks from private cocktail receptions to shipboard credits for travelers who book through a Virtuoso advisor. “Your host will be waiting for you at the dock to guide you to your car or tour – no waiting with a large group for the shore excursion to begin.”

Eat Local

“Looking for souvenirs that won’t break the bank?” Clabbers asks. “Visit a community market. Snacks, spices, and other interesting goods make great gifts.” For foodies, several cruise lines offer food market tours with the opportunity to bring ingredients back to the ship for an onboard cooking class.  

Seize the Day

If you’re traveling with a group whose interests vary, Ronkonkoma, New York-based travel advisor Nicholas Cutrone suggests private, custom excursions. For example, “In Lyon, France, we can arrange an English-speaking driver and guide [to take clients to] the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, then on to the renowned Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse food hall, and the Confluence Museum,” he says. “This short itinerary allows them to experience the history, gastronomy, and vibrancy of this important French city.”

Spend a Night Out

“When you have a late-night departure, get off the ship and have sundowners and dinner in town for a change,” Orrock says. She also recommends hitting a local pub – it’s inexpensive and a great snapshot of the port’s culture and daily life. 
 

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