D.I.Y. shore excursions

Avoid the scrum at the shore excursion line-up outside the boat and book with the same local operator at nearly half the price.

Book your own cruise excursions for up to 40% less than the cruise ships charge

Cruise lines contract with local outfitters to provide shore excursions—at a bulk discount—then charge you anywhere from ten to forty percent more than the retail cost of the excursion. Great business, if you can get in on that.

There are two ways to get around the inflated prices cruise lines charge for shore excursions, whether it's an ATV jungle adventure, snorkel trip, or shopping jaunt.

Wing It

Simply stroll right past the cruise lines guys holding up signs for the "official," sanctioned excursions and, beyond them, you'll see wandering touts, kiosks, tour agency offices (often across the street from the cruise terminal), or a local tourist office happy to sell you the exact same experiences—often riding on the same bus as the other ship passengers—for much, much less.

Some people are nervous about waiting until the last minute, of course, so you can always:

Book ahead... just not via the ship

Find the local travel agencies on your own and book ahead with them. Good resources for doing this are guidebooks, Google, and the forums on Cruisecritic.com.

Another hint: use those forums on Cruisecritic.com or Cruisemates.com to assemble a group of like-minded passengers who will be on your ship and are interested in a tour you've lined up. Get ten people to commit, and you can approach the local outfitter with a group of your own and often negotiate a discounted rate.

If all of that sounds like too much work, or too dicey, you can always still go with a middleman booking agency—just one who takes a smaller cut than the cruise lines.

Several websites have sprung up to feed this need, including our partners Viator.com and City-Discovery.com (both generalists, not limited to shore excursions; also good for booking private transfers from ports into major cities) plus shore excursions specialists like Shoretrips.com.


DIY Drawbacks

There are some drawbacks to booking your own shore excursions (beyond the obvious convenience of letting the ship take care of it).

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

Related pages


Related Partners

This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq

Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.