In the past I would rarely plan much for port days, aside from booking the odd one or two shore excursions I would never do too much in the way of planning for days where I had opted to just do my own thing. I would obviously have a quick scan online if I was totally unfamiliar with the place but other than that I enjoyed just seeing where I ended up once I got there.
I had always done this up until my last cruise which was the 35-night Caribbean voyage. For this my friend and I really did our homework and we planned out every single port of call apart from Ponta Delgada. It was nice because we had so many different things to look forward too rather than having one or two and then the rest being a mystery.
We trailed the usual travel websites and found ideas, recommendations and tips from others then we looked for things slightly more off the beaten track. We really had a mixture of everything and for me personally two things helped a great deal. Google Earth and live webcams.
I lived on Google Earth, the street views for some ports were not available as “real life” but others were and it meant I could literally plan my route from the ship to where I wanted to be walking it via the laptop. The best one was Cozumel, it had everything I needed on the street view to plan my various routes and that’s exactly what I did.
Google Earth is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about your shore days but I really would suggest you
give it a try. For some people even though they are excited to be cruising, the arrival into a foreign port can sometimes create a little apprehension, which is only natural when experiencing something new. I think having the option to see things at ground level, just as you would when walking down the street could give that added sense of security because they arrive now to buildings and streets they maybe recognise.
This is where the webcams come in useful too. You can use them in the same way the only difference being these are obviously live, moving images so you really can see what’s going on. Some ports and cities offer cameras in various locations or with different angle options so again you can really have a good look at the area and get a feel for where you are going. It’s not a tool you can rely on entirely as obviously it is not updated as frequently as a travel guide or website but it can offer some good ideas.
It’s not going to be everyone’s idea of fun but it’s something a little non-conventional. Give it a try, download Google Earth, type in where you want to go and enjoy!
2 Comments Add yours
I agree – the cruise companies benefit a great deal from the control of information on shore excursions. As an independent travel agent, I have started offering third party shore excursions. They usually have better products and a lot more variety for less cost. I have seen many of the most popular excursions sell out before the ship arrives at the port. Plus, the cruise companies get a cut of the fee passengers pay, so excursions are a big profit center and add to the expense.
I will do the research, like the CruiseMiss, and incorporate it into my recommendations. They can even pre-book their choices before they go on the cruise, saving time. money and being able to relax knowing they won’t blow their budget on an excursion choice that was not really what they wanted. I think if more people knew about this, they would enjoy their cruise even more.
Interesting approach to shore excursions, but I wouldn’t expect less from you, Cruise Miss! I think this is also good for ports you might have already visited instead of doing the same thing again. Thanks!