A cruise is a double adventure – especially for children. By sea….You get the excitement of being on a huge, beautiful vessel out in the open water
… and by land, you can take advantage of some carefully planned day trips doing things you may have never pursued traveling on your own.
Cruise ships offer all kinds of day excursions for an extra price on top of the cruise fare. They vary from sight seeing… to more physical activities.
For example, you can go white water rafting in Mexico… visit an elephant park in Bali after getting a massage in a rain forest…
see the Acropolis in Athens, Greece with a guided tour…or sample premiere cheese while wine tasting in New Zealand.
Bottom line: the excursions allow you go beyond the port and explore new places. They can be expensive – it is a form of revenue for the cruise line because once they capture your attention by offering a good rate, they make money on the extras.
There are separate companies you can hire to take you on your own excursion but beware – ships will wait for ship sponsored excursions if you are late, but if you hire a private company there is a chance you could miss your ship pulling away from the dock if for some reason your tour is running late.
You can book excursions either before your trip, or at the ship’s excursion desk once you are on board. If you wait until you are on board there is a risk of the excursion you want being full. Keep in mind that you can change your excursion if you book in advance – but only if there is room.
Things to know:
–If you have kids, look at the age permitted on the trip.
–Read about the travel time to and from the destination – will you be spending a lot of time on a bus? It may be more worth your time to find something closer.
I have been writing about my recent cruise to Alaska – on Day 6, my family took an exhilarating excursion, dangling from the tree tops of an Alaskan rain-forest -
we went zip lining in Juneau on a Disney cruise sponsored excursion. Disney offers some interesting excursions through their other travel line “Adventures By Disney,” so you get that Disney touch – and guaranteed friendly and cheerful guides. http://www.adventuresbydisney.com/
I have been zip lining before, but never in such a dense green environment… and admittedly, never SO high up. The first ride is exhilarating – it gets your heart pumping. My advice: if you have any fear of heights, do not look down and just enjoy the ride. Not to mention the incredibly fresh air!
It was so fun watching my kids do it. We were warned they may have a harder time making it all the way across because of their light weight- some of the paths were seriously far apart, but they did just fine. (Don’t worry – if you don’t make it, there are techniques to get you safely to the platform!)
The weather was perfect, and I couldn’t think of a more fun family adventure. some tours have even spotted bears from above. Although it was a short excursion, the stop in Juneau was short, so this fit in the time frame perfectly.
The only down side – there are age limits, and my youngest child couldn’t go. (He got the teddy bear souvenir from the zip line gift store instead) You had to be 10 years old. Normally, I wouldn’t have even booked this – leaving one child on board while I take off for a few hours? What if something were to happen? But given the choice to stay on the Disney cruise in the kids’ club with complete supervision, he would have chose that anyway. My other kids were dying to try zip lining. And.. I felt comfortable with Disney’s security in the youth clubs, as well as safety procedures. They lock the gate behind you so no one can just walk in. That extra free babysitting is just another reason a cruise is great for all ages
Juneau is a cute little town… but I would recommend getting out of the port area – it is very touristy with many jewelry and souvenir shops.
TIP: Cruise lines often roll out grand sales and extra amenities in January and Feb, so start thinking about booking!