Every cruise itinerary you ever take should always capture your imagination in some way, but we all know that you need to be careful about what you do when you get onshore.
You could have a blissful day of relaxation and exploration… or a manic, boring or seriously disappointing day if you’ve chosen the wrong shore excursion.
You’re not even always safe if you book a shore excursion through a cruise line rather than through an independent company either, so with that in mind, we compiled a list of the top eleven worst shore excursions and found out just why they were so bad…
1- Eco-Initiative Tours, Various Locations
As shore excursions go, picking up rubbish can’t be up the top of many people’s lists! That being said, many cruises do now offer “eco-tours” in which guests can help give something back to the environment.
Star Clippers’ guests recently cleaned up a whopping 770kg of rubbish from beaches in St Kitts. This kind of shore excursion has become so popular that there is now a whole new cruise line devoted to this kind of work!
(You can read more about “fathom” cruises here…) Whilst great for the environment, did the guests have a wonderful time? It’s debatable!
2- Statue of The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tour sellers promise that you’ll get to see this 100 year old statue straight out of the fairy tale. At first glance you would think it is magical, but there’s actually an industrial estate right behind it! Not quite the Disney dream you expected…
Whilst you can travel here and get a good photograph, be careful to miss out the power plant in the background behind it. The mermaid also bears signs of wear and tear as she has been the victim of vandalism which has included having her head sawn off and paint being thrown over her.
3- Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, Auckland, New Zealand
Whilst it’s a visually inspiring trip, you’ll have very limited time here due to the long distances from port. Once inside, the tour itself is also very short considering the hefty price tag.
Those of you wanting beautiful pictures as a souvenir won’t be allowed to take photos (which in fairness is to protect the glow worms), but you will be pushed towards souvenir shops to buy a photo-shopped image of you and the worms…
Experienced cruisers recommend you head to some of New Zealand’s free, beautiful national parks instead of spending a few, very expensive minutes with some shy worms to get a fake souvenir!
Its common practice when touring in China to take large groups of people to factories for lunch and then give them a tour of the factory and encourage them to buy some of the produce- several different tour operators stop at the Shanghai Carpet Museum.
Whilst the food is good, walking around a factory of carpets isn’t the most interesting way to spend an afternoon in Shanghai. We’d recommend you head to the bund, old Shanghai or the Yu Gardens instead! You wouldn’t tour a carpet factory in the UK so why travel halfway around the world to do it!
Whilst the Acropolis is a beautiful site with breath taking monuments that we’d recommend to anyone, we really wouldn’t recommend whizzing around them on a Segway.
The uneven ground won’t be that easy for you to navigate, you won’t get very far with all the steps and you’re sure to annoy all the other site-seers around you. Don’t be that person!
6- Magen Bay Beach, Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Magen Bay Beach is consistently mentioned in cruise forums online as the worst shore excursion out there because despite being labelled as one of the ten best beaches in the world – it’s also one of the busiest.
The tranquil paradise isn’t well equipped to cope when there’s lots of cruise ships in port (which there frequently are) and it is a very bumpy bus ride to the shore line!
Cruisers also complain that the cruise lines shore excursions here are very overpriced compared to simply getting a taxi there yourself. Be warned cruisers!
7- Learn to be a Russian Cosmonaut, Moscow, Russia
A tour to Star City (which is Russia’s equivalent of NASA) allows you to have a go at the real training that cosmonauts go through. This overnight tour is several hours from anywhere but does allow you to train to use the space equipment.
Whilst it may sound cool – it comes with a whopping price tag. At $23,000 per person, this overnight trip is more than the price of many people’s cruise!
If you’re going to travel to Russia and take part in a zero gravity weightless adventure, you might want to spend more than a day there as part of your cruise holiday!
8- Tour Stockholm On A Zip Wire, Stockholm, Sweden
This gimmicky excursion is supposedly great for thrill seekers and yes, you may well get to feel like an urban Tarzan but it won’t let you get to see the “real” Stockholm!
In fact, you’ll find that the “zip wire” experience is actually a “roof walk” as you strap on a harness to the edge of a building and walk around the top to see the surrounding sights. No 20mph zips for the speed freaks amongst you!
Alaska is known for its stunning glaciers, rugged landscape and interesting wildlife – but not for its snorkelling! Despite this several cruise excursions give you the chance to go snorkelling in Ketchikan and Sitka.
You’ll have to wear a wetsuit of course (because of the chilly temperatures) and you’ll be taken to look at the plant and animal life underwater.
However, water visibility isn’t great and you’d probably be better off heading to a sunnier destination to see starfish and sea anemone! After all, wouldn’t you rather see bears, eagles or whales in Alaska instead?
10- Dracula Tour, Transylvania, Romania
There are many different “Dracula” tours on offer when taking a shore excursion in Romania. Several claim to be taking to you “the home of the real Dracula” in Transylvania.
You may well traipse around some very pretty castles but we can’t promise you’ll actually see anywhere the famous count lived! In fact, if you go to Poenari Fortress you’ll also have to climb over 1,400 steps through the forest to enjoy the view of the ruined building. And here’s a hint… its unlikely Vlad was ever a real vampire!
Have you ever had a terrible shore excursion? Have you ever been on one of the shore excursions above? Do you agree or disagree that it was a terrible shore excursion? You can read what some of our forum members thought about their worst cruise excursions here.
The Definitive Guide To Cruise Ship Shore Excursions Many would argue shore excursions are almost the whole point of cruising: unpacking once and seeing multiple destinations all in one holiday…