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Many people look forward to shore excursions as the most exciting and rewarding part of their cruise holiday. After all, the joy of cruising is being able to get a taste of several different countries and cultures all on one luxurious cruise.
When it comes to enjoying excursions, preparation is key to make sure that any enjoyable and interesting day doesn’t become an endurance test in thirst, hunger, and sore feet. Having a well-stocked onshore bag is one of the best ways to make sure that everyone in your party has a fun day.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to all the essentials to take in your onshore bag when cruising.
Bottled water often costs a fortune in ports and areas with a lot of tourists, especially if visitors are advised against drinking the local tap water. To avoid having to use all your spending money to quench your thirst, simply slip a couple of bottles of water from the ship into your bag before you go onshore. As some cruise lines do not allow any liquids to be brought back onto the ship it is often a good idea to make sure that the bottles can be easily disposed of.
Excursion days can be long, especially for kids, so save yourself or your family getting hungry miles away from the nearest rest stop. Josh, of Travel with Bender, suggests taking some snacks in your bag, saying, “Kids tend to need a snack in the most inopportune times, so packing a zip-lock bag of snacks and bite-sized fruit picked up from the buffet is a free way to feed the youngsters.” Perfect for staving off hunger when you’re on a long coach journey or at the top of the local mountain!
You might think that one application before you leave the ship will be enough sun protection, but it isn’t. Unless you reapply as often as directed on the bottle, usually around every four hours, you might find yourself with a nasty sunburn to ruin the rest of your trip. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this doesn’t apply if you’re going onshore on a cloudy day, it is still possible to get sun damage through the clouds, especially if you are outside all day. Pop a bottle of sunscreen in your onshore bag and reapply regularly, you’ll be glad you did when you’re sunburn free.
If you’re travelling to a warmer destination you won’t want to pass up the chance to lay on a sandy beach and soak up a little sunshine. Most cruise ships will have beach towels in the pool area which you can borrow, perfect for lounging on the beach and getting dried off after a dip in the ocean. It can be tempting to forgo a bulky towel when you’re packing your onshore bag, but it’s worth sacrificing the space so that you can relax comfortably on the beach.
The Daily Program
You might glance over the daily program for your onshore excursion, but how many times do you actually remember to bring it with you? Gary, of Tips for Travellers, thinks that it’s an essential addition to your onshore bag, as it not only has the itinerary but also, “It will have the phone number of the local port agent and usually the ship. This is who you call if you get lost, running late or have any issue or emergency. Never the leave the ship without it! It will also confirm the all aboard time. Remember that will be the official ship time so check before leaving the ship that your phone and watch are set to that time!”
You might not think it, but a sarong is a really handy multi-purpose thing to have in your onshore bag. Heather, of Heather on her Travels, explains, “One thing that I often take in my bag when I go onshore from the cruise is a pretty lightweight sarong. If I happen to find a nice beach it gives me somewhere to sit, and if I’m feeling in danger of getting burned I can use it to cover my shoulders. The guided tours often take us into beautiful churches where it’s respectful to cover your shoulders and legs, so if I’ve dressed for the hot weather I can easily cover up before going inside.” Simply roll it up tight so it doesn’t take up too much room and pop it in the bottom of your bag just in case.
Many people leave their passports in their safe when they go onshore for an excursion, but most cruise lines actually advise you to bring this important document with you. If you’re late when it comes time to get back on the ship you may find that it has left without you and you’re expected to catch up with it at the next port. This will be very difficult if you don’t have your passport and the ship has sailed across the border to a new country.
Cruise Ship ID Card
Most cruise lines require you to take your cruise ship ID card with you when you leave the ship for an excursion. Make sure you don’t lose it, as it is usually required to re-enter the port area to when it comes time to return to the ship.
Lots of cruise ships accept US Dollars on board, but don’t assume that this will also be the case when you go onshore in a new country. Cash in the local currency will ensure that you can easily get a taxi, give tips, and buy any souvenirs that you might want from your excursion. Often, you will get the best exchange rate if you invest in currencies at home, before you embark on your cruise.
It can be easy to assume that you won’t need the local language if you are going on a guided excursion, but it’s always good to be prepared. From ordering a drink to haggling in the market, a few phrases in the local language can make it easier to be understood and even get you better service. It will also be very useful if you need to ask for directions or need help in some other way.
If you enjoyed this post, take a look at our round-up of tips and advice for a safe shore excursion.
Now that you know how to prepare properly for shore excursions, why not book a deal on one of Cruise1st Australia’s amazing cruises to an exciting destination? Browse the full collection online or call our friendly sales team on 1300 857 345.