Should You Book a Cruise Excursion or Independent Tour

After planning numerous cruise vacations the past 25 years and taking many cruises myself – there are 5 factors you should consider when deciding if you should book a ship excursion or independent tour.

Are You New to Cruising

If it’s your first cruise and are just learning the ropes of how it all works – I highly recommend you reserve tours through the cruise line. It’s one way to alleviate any stress associated with embarking on your first cruise vacation! After learning how disembarkation and port days work – you can venture out easier on your own during future cruises.

Where is the Ship Docked

The port location and if the ship is tendered (meaning you’re not docked and must take small boats to and from land) are important factors in choosing your daily plans. Also, is the port area walkable… as some ships have to dock in very industrial areas where walking isn’t permitted. 

If you aren’t docked close to the cities or sites you want to see (for instance – Florence is quite a distance from where the ship docks), a ship tour will be your best bet for not missing the embarkation time.

In some areas – you’ll be within walking distance to exploring a city or going to the beach without needing arrangements through the cruise line. Also, if your itinerary includes an overnight at the same destination – then it’s easier to do a separate tour, as you won’t need to worry about missing the sailing time on that first day.

What Areas Are You Visiting

If you’re in countries you’re familiar with or U.S. cruise ports – you may feel comfortable with an independent arrangement. For more exotic locations such as the Middle East, Africa, and such – I recommend you go with the cruise line vetted shore excursions. If it’s a country where English may not be widely spoken and you encounter difficulties – it’ll be easier and less stressful if you’re with a group from the ship.

The Cost Considerations

Cruise ship tours tend to be slightly more expensive than independent tours. This increased cost can be justified knowing you’ll be in good hands with reputable companies, and knowing that if late returning to the ship – they normally hold it for a cruise organized excursion.

What Type of Tours

If you’ll be doing excursions that include planes, trains, helicopter or will be bungee jumping, rock climbing, or participating in adventure type tours – I suggest you book through the cruise line. They have done their homework on the licensing and qualifications of these companies. Peace of mind is worth a few extra dollars. 🙂 

Cruises are such a fantastic way to experience the world and one of my first areas of expertise in the travel industry. I look forward to helping you plan your next cruise vacation and also guiding you through choosing shore excursions.

Until the next adventure – bon voyage!


Receive Your Exclusive Travel Tips List!

After years of traveling and planning unforgettable client vacations, I've put together my best travel tips for you.


Hi, I'm Kris de Vogel

Welcome to the Travel by Kris family - I'm glad you're here!

I create unique, detailed trips to Europe and match you to the perfect ship for your cruise vacations. With my personalized service and attention to detail - you'll save time and experience a stress free planning process.

I'll also help you capture the spirit of a destination and return home with life long memories! 

A customized vacation... just for you.

Nice to meet you!