European cruises often feature city or museum tours and other cultural opportunities. Ships dock in the major cities of Europe for a day, and passengers go ashore to see the marvelous historical and cultural sites of the city. Some European cruises include outdoor activities such as hiking, but most focus on the great cities of Europe.
Tropical destinations like the Caribbean and South Pacific cruises feature island tours and beach and ocean sports. History and museum tours are a much smaller part of the shore experience.
Many cruise lines' will provide you a list of shore activities offered before you book, either via the Internet or from your travel agent. You normally do not have to decide on the shore activities before you sail, but you may be asked to book the shore excursions not long after embarkation. Some shore excursions have a limited number of slots, so if you absolutely MUST have a private tour of the Vatican, a helicopter ride over a volcano, or go scuba diving over a Caribbean shipwreck, ask if you can book space in advance.
The activities director will give passenger briefings on the shore excursions available after you get onboard, but I like to have a general idea of what I want to do in each port before I sail.
Ten Questions to Answer When Planning a Cruise
- Who is going on the cruise?
- How much money have you budgeted for your cruise?
- How long is your vacation?
- When do you want to travel?
- Where in the world do you want to cruise?
- What types of things do you like to do?
- What type of cabin do you want or need?
- When do you like to eat dinner?
- Do you like to dress up?
- How do you plan to get to your cruise ship?