A Quick Guide to Cruise Excursions

Cruise excursions are the perfect way to get to know all the destinations you’ll visit on your cruise – they’re pretty much the equivalent to a ‘day trip’ that you’d go on on a beach holiday! Sure, the ship itself is full of fabulous surprises – but there’s plenty of discoveries to be had ashore too!

What is a cruise excursion?

A cruise excursion is a trip that’s organised on land, away from the cruise ship, at one of the destinations your itinerary visits. Sometimes you might see them called ‘shore excursions’ too – but they’re the same thing. Cruise excursions are there to help you make the absolute most of your time in each destination – you might be doing a range of exciting activities, from cycling through city centres to regional wine tasting or going on guided tours!

When should I book my cruise excursions?

Similar to booking your actual cruise, it’s always best to book your cruise excursions in advance, before you set sail. This is because numbers on specific excursions can be limited, and you risk not getting a place if you leave it ’til last minute. Marella Cruises allow you to book your excursions four months before sailing, giving you plenty of time to plan the things you’d like to see and do in each destination. You can browse all the excursions available for each destination here.

You can of course book them when you’re actually onboard your ship, at the Destination Services desk – the place to go for all things to do with your upcoming destinations. A member of staff will be able to advise you on which shore excursions would be most suited to you based on your preferences, as well as give you handy guides and leaflets that you might find useful when you’re out and about. But to guarantee your place it’s always best to book early and save any potential disappointment!

How much do cruise excursions cost?

The price of cruise excursions can vary massively from trip to trip, depending on what you’ll be doing and how long for.  Half day excursions are the cheapest option, and usually come priced in the region of £20 to £60 per person. Full day excursions are a bit pricier and can be anything from £50 to £150 per person, but believe us when we say you’ll have so many new experiences packed into those hours that it soon becomes clear they’re brilliant value for money.

Can I book independent excursions?

Of course, you can always choose to do things on your own or book excursions independently to the cruise line you’re travelling with. However there are some pretty good reasons to stick to booking your trips through the cruise line!

Taking matters into your own hands means important responsibilities – mainly getting back to the ship on time – fall on you. What if you’re delayed on your trip and don’t make it back to the ship in time? Talk about a nightmare situation! The ship won’t wait for you – UNLESS you’re part of a cruise excursion booked with them. If you’re delayed for any reason and you’re part of the cruise line’s excursion, the ship won’t budge anywhere until you’re back on the ship safe and sound. You might save a couple of pounds going with an independent provider but we think it’s worth staying with the cruise line for that reason alone!

If you’d prefer to do your own thing, that’s always an option too. Maybe you don’t want anything too organised and want to just venture out at your own pace – and that’s absolutely fine. Head to Destination Services the day before to pick up any top tips from a member of staff, who can also provide you with maps, guides and leaflets to help you get the most out of your day. Just make sure you’re back onboard the ship with plenty of time to spare!

Different types of shore excursion


This is probably the most well-known type of excursion – the classic sightseeing kind. Marella Cruises are experts in providing itineraries with destinations that’ll make your getaway one to remember. Take on a sightseeing tours of ancient cities like Dubrovnik, Rome and Petra, where you’ll be guided around the cities’ most iconic sights and given the opportunity to get up close and personal to the true history and culture of each place.

How many other vacations can you go on where you can tick off so many iconic destinations in one holiday? Sightseeing excursions on a Mediterranean cruise will have you ticking off the captivating Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia all in one sailing!


The other main type of excursion are the ones which you’ll find yourself taking part in a unique activity or experience! This could be anything from kayaking up a river to cycling through the countryside, or even more extreme ones like river rafting and ziplining! There are more relaxed activities on offer too of course, with things like language lessons, snorkeling and cooking sessions available. These kind of excursions are much more hands on and really get you stuck into your new destination. You’ll come away with memories to last a lifetime!

What should I pack for my cruise excursions?

This will greatly depend on what kind of excursion you intend on doing, but as a rule it’s a good idea to make sure you’re wearing sensible, comfortable shoes, as there’s usually always walking involved. Then it’s a case of preparing for the weather conditions you’re likely to be in – will you want a jacket? A rain mac? Packing sunscreen and a refillable water bottle are usually always good additions too. Make sure you take the things you’ll definitely need so you’re not caught out! Taking any medication or painkillers just in case is always a good idea, too.

Hopefully you feel a little more clued up when it comes to cruise excursions – but have you booked your cruise yet? If not, take a look at our latest offers here! Or you can always give us a quick call on 0204 578 0977 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to answer any queries you have.