Waking-up in a new location almost everyday is certainly an interesting way to discover multiple locations in one trip without having to unpack more than once. Although the amount of time spent in port is limited and dictated by the ship’s schedule. Unless the ship stays in port overnight it’s not possible to get a feel for the place once the sun goes down and enjoy some of the nightlife. All the same, cruising is an excellent way to sample different places and perhaps decide whether or not to return at a future date for a longer visit. For example, this is what we did after a much too brief visit in Florence, Italy during one of our Mediterranean cruises.
Being limited by the arrival and departure times, deciding how to spend our time in port isn’t always easy. It’s impossible to see it all or to do it all in one day even in small ports. We have been to some ports more than once but still didn’t get the chance to visit the area; we chose to go explore the underwater world instead. No regrets!
Taking an excursion with the cruise ship isn’t always necessary. It all depends on what you want to do and how easy it is to go on your own. Some ports are within walking distance of activities and places to visit while others are further away and in those cases taking an excursion with the cruise ship might be a smarter idea than venturing out on your own. If you’re late, the ship will sail away like planned unless you are on a shore excursion with the ship in which case the departure is delayed.
That said, in many of the Caribbean cruise ports we visited locals were waiting to take us around their islands with taxis, minivans, shuttles or boats for half the price or less than the shore excursion with ship.
If this is your plan make sure to disembark early as these are limited and you could end-up with no option because shore excursions must be reserved at least one day before on most ships. For excursions like scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, submarine, helicopter and other special excursions reserving ahead is highly recommended.