Whether a seasoned or a first-time cruiser, as you crisscross the globe with dozens of port destinations – I want to share some tips with you on how you can take full advantage of your port days and dive deeper into your interests.
Plan for Success
While Virtuoso advisors connect travelers with guides who have deep knowledge of port destinations around the world, cruise lines also do a good job to familiarize passengers with destinations well before arrival into port. Make time to listen to the seminars on board regarding the ports – their history, environment, wildlife, and more – they’re very enriching. For example, on Antarctica expeditions cruises, the team is comprised of seasoned veterans with rich backgrounds in marine biology, history, glaciology, geology and more. This gives guests a real insight into the area of visit.
Cover Your Bases
Be practical, there will be areas where wifi may be spotty or non-reachable, so balance tech-savviness with on-the-ground practicality. For example, download offline maps and walking tours on your phone or tablet, so it’s easy to find your way around. Take a copy of your ship’s daily newsletter with the port’s name and address – in local language/script – and check all-aboard times, so you don’t miss the departure. And remember, in some countries, cash is king. Not all ATMs will accept international cards, so get money at major banks or onboard ATMs before you set off.
Mix It Up
Popular port destinations draw large tourist crowds with highlights and attractions but don’t be afraid to go your own way. Try something different, especially if you’ve been there before, try riding a bike or taking a hike, visit local art galleries and try out little restaurants, these are always a good idea.
Take Advantage of Virtuoso Voyages
I always advise my clients to select the exclusive shore excursions or the private car and driver experience offered through Virtuoso Voyages sailings, be sure to check with your Virtuoso Travel advisor. Every year, more than 500 Virtuoso Voyages sailings take place, offering custom perks from private cocktail receptions to shipboard credits for travelers who book through a Virtuoso advisor. Most sailing will also have an assigned Virtuoso Host, who will be waiting for you at the dock to guide you to your car or tour – no waiting with a large group for the shore excursion to begin.
Eat & Shop Local
Visit a community market, souvenirs, snacks, spices, and other interesting goods make great gifts that won’t break your bank either. For foodies, several cruise lines offer food market tours with the opportunity to bring ingredients back to the ship for an onboard cooking class. Great opportunity to try your hands at cooking authentic cuisines.
Make the most of your Day
If you’re traveling with a group whose interests vary, I would suggest private, custom excursions. For example, in Lyon, France, we can arrange an English-speaking driver and guide to take clients to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, then on to the renowned Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse food hall, and the Confluence Museum. This short itinerary allows guests to experience the history, gastronomy, and vibrancy of this French city, all in a day with an experienced guide.
Spend a Night Out
Late-night departures are one of my favorites, not only does it get f=guests more time port but also a great opportunity to experience both the daily life and night life of the city. So, get off the ship and have sundowners and dinner in town for a change, maybe hitting a local pub – it’s an inexpensive and nice way to wrap up your evening in the port.