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Posted on: Fri, 21st Feb 2014

If you're gearing up for your next cruise holiday, chances are it's the shore excursions that have you most excited. Being able to visit numerous destinations all in one trip, and then getting to try out exciting new activities and see amazing sights, can make for the holiday of a lifetime, but it's important you're prepared. The last thing you want is for your shore excursion to go wrong, whether it be because you haven't planned it properly or because it wasn't what you were expecting. Be sure to prepare for everything you want to do during your cruise, especially when it comes to shore excursions, to ensure you get precisely what you want. Be sure to do the following:

Always book excursions through the cruise line

The cruise line you choose to go with will be able to offer a wide range of shore excursions. Booking a shore excursion through them will ensure your time spent on shore will be as enjoyable as possible, as well as being safe. Cruise lines only use tour operators around the world that they know and trust, so the vetting procedure will have already been carried out. Not only this, but you'll get the benefit of not having to do any of your own research, which can save you some time.

Thoroughly research independent tour operators

If you do decide to book independently though, always make sure you do your research. As mentioned, this can take a little bit of time, but it's worth it to make sure you pick the right one. If you've found an operator that you like the look of, go away and do a bit more research through local newspapers, tourist boards and tourist sites. With this, you'll be able to tell whether they're safe, insured, regulated and reliable.

Try to go for excursions with small groups

Some tour operators offer excursions in very large groups, but this can mean you don't get as much from the tour guide as you'd like. By going for a tour or activity that takes place in a smaller group, you can guarantee that the guide will be on-hand and will be able to pay an equal amount of attention to each and every person in the group.

Stay away from touts

Touts can quickly make an amazing cruise an awful one, especially if they manage to sell you tickets for an activity or tour that isn't as safe as it sounds. While many touts are completely honest, others will just want to make some money, so be very wary of them. You won't be able to tell right off the bat if they're safe to trust, so - again - always do your research.

Check review websites

One great way to find out which tour operators and companies are the best for shore excursions is to check out the reviews others have left them. There are more than enough sites out there that collect reviews, such as TripAdvisor.co.uk or CruiseCritic.co.uk, so you should be able to find everything you need.

Pay attention to weather reports

If you're planning on going on a shore excursion and would like to try out some of the local water sports, be sure to check up on the weather report first. Checking the tides and wind strength can help you to make your mind up about whether or not you really want to be going out - you could always switch to a different activity if you don't think it's the right choice.

Know your limits

It can be all too easy to throw yourself into new activities when on a shore excursion and forget that you've absolutely no experience of it. You might want to try new things, but pushing yourself beyond your limits and hurting yourself as a result definitely isn't advised! For example, if you know you aren't much of a hiker, don't book yourself onto a strenuous hike up a mountain, or if you aren't a strong swimmer don't try out any extreme water sports.

Listen to the experts

During your chosen tour or activity when on shore, you'll always be given a safety talk before you begin. Make sure you pay attention to this, as it's important you listen to what they have to tell you. Your guide knows what they're talking about! Likewise, if you ask for any advice about the sport activity you're about to take part in, pay attention so that you can carry everything out safely.

Do you have any experiences of shore excursions? If you'd like to add any of your thoughts to this blog, comment below.

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