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Port and Shore Excursions — General Information VERY IMPORTANT: If you’re on the ship’s tour and the bus is late, the ship will wait.  If on your own and the driver brings you back late, the ship may have sailed.  If you’re going a great distance, be cautious about the risk.  Also factor into your timing, “little rush hours”; (on some islands when several ships are leaving at the same time), or the regular rush hour in larger towns/cities. Wear footwear and clothing appropriate for your activities.  Also, weigh what you would like to have—camera, umbrella, water, etc.—against what you will be happy carrying for hours, especially if you’re likely to add souvenir purchases.  A lightweight, fold-up tote bag is invaluable.  If you plan to visit churches, bring appropriate clothing with you. Some shore excursions leave a lot to be desired.  Whenever possible, get input from others: travel agent, shipmates, ship’s crew (the Shore Excursion Desk is knowledgeable but may not give unbiased opinions.  Ask, but be selective). Doing some research on your ports of call, before you leave home, either at the library or on the internet, can help you decide what you do and do not want to see.  Remember, this is just an overview of a city/country. Don’t try to do too much.  If you like a port, that may be a place to take a longer vacation in the future. Attend the port lectures offered on board, where you can ask specific questions. (They are re-shown on cabin TV and repeated through the next day or sometimes longer.)  The excursion desk staff can provide advice, but sometimes the line is very long, so if you see excursion staff around the ship, try to ask then. Some ships offer a shuttle service, for little or no charge, to the city center.  This is a good option when you just want to explore on your own. In many ports, getting a taxi with a few new friends or on your own may cost the same or less than the large group excursion set up by the ship and will allow you to set your own pace.  Be sure to figure in the cost of admissions to parks, museums, beaches, food, etc. along with the taxi price when comparing the two options.  For some of us the cost saving is less important than the comfort and freedom of being on our own.  What may be sacrificed is the commentary offered by a professional guide.  Often times the taxi driver is proficient at guiding, sometimes they are not. When negotiating a private tour, pay attention to communication skills as well as price and move on to another driver if you’re not satisfied.  Always verify cost with the driver before you get into the taxi.   Then agree upon return transportation availability and cost, if you want to be dropped at a museum or beach for a long duration.   It is usually best to give the driver payment at the end of the trip, or partial payment only at the beginning, to be sure that the driver will return.  Many times, the driver will be interested in a deal for all-day service. Shore excursions can quickly balloon your ship’s charge account, so you want to be smart and selective, but be careful not to deprive yourself of what may be a once in a lifetime experience. Your goal is to have a wonderful shore experience, something to share with your tablemates at dinner that evening and with friends and family when you get home.  Happy adventuring!