Should I Book A Tour? How Will An Excursion Enhance My Cruise? Let's Find Out!

There’s no doubt about it, choosing the right excursions can turn a good cruise into a great one. And there are plenty of real ‘hero’ ports that just cry out for that big ticket excursion, whether it involves jumping the dunes in a jeep in Dubai or a mini-van drive through downtown Manhattan on a cruise to New York.

There are, of course, some ports of call where you can simply walk to the end of the gangway and be right in amongst it. But, for every port like that – Lisbon springs to mind – there are places where it pays to book an organised tour, especially if you really want to make the most of your time. And, even if you’re lucky enough to be moored in the centre of things in Lisbon, there are places of real interest, like the Palace at Sintra, where an excursion will get you there quickly and comfortably whilst informing you about what you’re going to see and its significance.

Should I Book A Tour With A Guide?

Sometimes there isn’t much point wondering aimlessly through a museum or an art gallery when you have little or no idea about what it is you’re looking at – without some basic knowledge it’s easy to feel that you might more usefully head straight for the gift shop, or perhaps the café! So, just imagine how much better a trip to the museum is when you have an expert guide? A good guide is like having your very own Lucy Worsley or Andrew Graham Dixon on hand: suddenly everything makes sense!

If your cruise takes you to St Petersburg and you want to visit the Hermitage, then doing it all under your own steam can be daunting. Aside from the queues and the language barrier, there’s also the small matter of 3 million works of art to consider. ‘Where to start?’ ’Where to head next?’ ‘What are the real ‘must sees’’? Such questions simply melt away when you have an expert guide with you. In places like the Hermitage or The Vatican, or Rome or Florence, a good guide can make all the difference. And it’s often the difference between just going somewhere and really experiencing what’s on offer.

What If I Need A Fun, Family Excursion?

It would be a mistake to think of excursions as being purely cerebral. There are plenty of excursions that are simply fun with a capital F. Whether they’re aimed at children or grown-ups that don’t want to be overly grown up, excursions featuring trips to water parks like Aqualand in Corfu are great family days out.

MSC’s family Explorer Club is another great way for the whole family to enjoy touring together whilst our expert guides and storytellers will bring destinations to life in a way that will captivate the kids. These excursions generally start a little earlier and are a little shorter too but, with a 50% discount for the kids, they’re big on value.

Want To See Nature Up Close? There Are Great Excursions For Wildlife Lovers

Although whizzing through the Everglades on a jet boat is undoubtedly fun, it’s the bio-diversity to be found in Florida’s Everglades that will truly astonish you. Aside from the famous crocs’ and ‘gators – this is the only place in the world where they both live together – there is all manner of wildlife here starting with over 350 species of birds alone. Factor in the manatees, otters, racoons and 300 species of fresh and salt water fish and you begin to get an idea of just how incredibly rich and diverse the Everglades are.

If you’re lucky enough to be heading for Goa in India, why not make it a trip to remember with a ‘Jungle Jaunts Elephant Tour’ to the Shanti elephant rescue centre? You’ll come face to face with these huge, wonderful creatures and, given their reputation, they might just remember you too if you’re lucky enough to return. And why wouldn’t you, after all it’s not every day you get to swim with elephants and give them shower?

Closer to home, a whale watching excursion from Akureyri in Iceland may lead to an encounter with the huge, but unbelievably graceful, Humpback whales. If you’re lucky and you catch them hunting, watch extra closely and you’ll start to appreciate their tactics. They’ll often use boats – possibly yours! - as a kind of extra whale and drive shoals of fish towards the boat as a way of penning them in before the feast. Remember, if they are feeding, it’s as well not to get so close that you can smell the whales’ breath – it’s not great at the best of times, but after they’ve ingested half a ton of fish, it’s pretty bad!

Are There Excursions To Help Me Stay Active?

Indeed there are and, for those looking to make an active start to the day, there are plenty of excursions that do not begin with a coach ride from the ship. Instead, for those that enjoy being a little more energetic in their sightseeing, there are lots of bike tours that are the perfect way to discover your port of call and stay in shape at the same time. You can pedal around Palma and bicycle through the backways and cycle lanes of Copenhagen, seeing all the main sites from the Tivoli Gardens, through the inner city area before saying goodbye to the Little Mermaid as you return to your ship having worked up a proper appetite for dinner. These new Bike Adventours are an award-winning way to get around and there are E-Bike options too - just in case your legs need a helping hand!

I Just Want To Relax – Are There Excursions To Help Me De-Stress?

For some a cruise holiday is all about relaxation and you might well argue that, for these people, the notion of leaving the ship when everyone else is ashore in a new port of call, seems like an odd one. However, there are some excursions that take relaxation to a whole new level and, for anyone looking to unwind completely, trips to places like the Dead Sea (from Israel’s Massada) are a key focus of their cruise. The mineral rich waters of the Dead Sea have long been celebrated for their restorative powers and time spent quietly floating in this amazing natural spa will set you up for weeks and months to come.

Which Excursions Offer Real ‘Bucket List’ Views?

There are some views that really ought to be on everyone’s bucket list of things to see and do. So, when you’re done roamin’ you can look back and say, ‘yes,’ I’ve admired the views from Mount Fuji and Table Mountain, I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building and I’ve leant against the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I’ve taken a ferry ride across Hong Kong harbour, seen the ‘Sugar Loaf’ from beneath the statue of Christ the Redeemer and admired Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia from up close.

All of these enticing bucket list views can be facilitated with an MSC Excursion as, indeed, can all the other options detailed above, from family fun to wildlife adventures. Whatever it is you‘d like to do at your ports of call, you’ll find there’s an MSC excursion that can make it happen.