Insider Take: Why You Should Go On A Shore Excursion

Tips from a Royal Caribbean crew ambassador.
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When you decide to go on a cruise, you book a specific itinerary, one that visits particular destinations along the way. But what many first-timers don’t realize is that from there you have the chance to customize the trip entirely, whether you’re at sea or in port.

One of the best ways to explore every destination you sail to—or even to explore a familiar one in a completely new way—is on a shore excursion. And no one knows these excursions better than Royal Caribbean’s own crew. On every ship, we’ve selected a few crew ambassadors who specialize in insider intel and can guide guests on the best ways to make the most of their vacation, on and off the ship.

Royal Caribbean offers as many as six categories of excursions in each of the nearly 200 ports its 25 ships visit, and they’re designed with preferences, such as accessibility, family-friendliness, culinary and cultural experiences, in mind. We spoke with Sydney Brown, a Royal Caribbean crew ambassador and AquaTheater acrobat currently on Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, who estimates she’s visited 36 different countries on four different ships. She told Sea Views about the key advantages of going on a Royal Caribbean shore excursion.

1. You’ll Never Get Left Behind, Guaranteed

What Sydney likes most about Royal Caribbean certified shore excursions, she says, is knowing that “You will 100 percent make it back on board before the ship leaves.” The cruise line coordinates with trusted, local guides and private transport to build the day around the ship’s own schedule. As a result, there’s no risk you won’t return before the ship departs for the next destination. And if by chance your excursion gets stuck in a traffic jam, the ship will wait for you.

2. They’re Certified For Quality

Royal Caribbean thoroughly reviews its tour operators, whether it’s the guide on a sightseeing tour or the one that provides proper equipment and ensures the safety of gear used on active excursions like scuba diving, quad riding, and zip lining. Because guides are locally based, you’ll get an authentic experience from an expert in a safe, trusted environment.

3. Nothing’s Lost In Translation

If you’re slightly worried about not knowing the language in one of the ports you visit, don’t be: With an excursion, no translation is needed, and guides generally speak several languages fluently. They’ll even share their insight into local customs when it comes to rules or guidelines, be it dress code or other important tips.

4. Peace Of Mind

From your departure point and lunch to round-trip transportation, Royal Caribbean has arranged the best experiences for an incredible value, and every detail is taken care of—leaving you free to enjoy the day without handling any of the logistics. “It’s simple and reliable,” Sydney says. “There’s no hassle of negotiating with cab drivers or waiting around for your train to arrive. You get the most out of your day in port.”

5. It’ll Be An Unforgettable Experience

When people ask Sydney for any advice about shore excursions, her response always is that they should take one. “Think, ‘when is the next time I will be here?’” she says. “You want to take advantage of your time in any given destination. Some people say they are too tired, [but] if it’s your first time in a port, go explore, see what it has to offer—and sleep later!”

There are so many options for shore excursions, chances are there are plenty that match your interests and suit your style of travel, so review Royal Caribbean’s options before you go. And if you really want to separate from the crowd, you can create a customized excursion, a Private Journey, one that you have a hand in designing and that caters entirely to what you want to do.