One of our very first articles on Bruised Passports, Cruises for Young Adventure Seekers, dwelt on our love for Cruise holidays. Cruises often get a rap in the travel community for being the lazy option out, but we must admit we love them. We go on hectic holidays (Yes, those are a thing! Consider for instance, our jam-packed Road Trip in Spain) so often, that every once in a while we love the idea of escaping to a floating city where everything is catered for – entertainment, food, drinks, and accommodation. What’s more – you get to see so many countries and cities in a short span of time.
But we must admit the giddy excitement one feels on booking a cruise holiday that visits 10 different countries within a fortnight is often followed by confusion. Is it possible to do justice to each country within a day or two? Where does one start? Does one opt for excursions offered by the cruise company or not? How does one make the best of a cruise holiday? These are just a few of the questions that spring to mind.
Fear not, we are here to solve this Herculean cruise conundrum in five easy steps 🙂
1. Do Your Research
Unplanned adventures and cruises don’t go hand-in-hand. Make the best of your time at ports of call by researching beforehand. Read about prominent attractions and landmarks of the cities you will be visiting. More importantly, read a bit about the culture of the city. This will help you decide whether to dress conservatively or not and will make it easier to communicate with locals.
2. Try the Local Food
Local food is considered one of the best ways of familiarizing oneself with the pulse of a city. If you’re a cruise buff (we chanced on this quiz by Travel Associates which is quite an accurate measure of whether you are one or not!), you would know just how seductive the vast and endless buffets of your cruise ship can be. But don’t let those buffets lure you into skipping a meal when you’re out and about. Make sure you try flavourful gyros in Athens (Greece), fragrant pesto in Genoa (Italy), crumbly falafel in Haifa (Israel), and crisp arancini in Sicily (Italy).
3. Don’t Try To Do Everything
Treat your cruise holiday as a tasting platter—it gives you the opportunity to sample a number of countries during the course of a single holiday. You can always re-visit a country or city that tickles your fancy. Instead of cramming every possible landmark onto your itinerary, try to visit the local food markets, and only the choicest monuments. Of course, if your cruise ship stops in Cairo, a popular port for Red Sea cruises, don’t forget to visit the Pyramids 😉
4. Stick to the Centre
While sampling a new city, the key lies in savouring its newness and working your way through select landmarks, people and food. Don’t be in a hurry to see “everything” that a city has to offer—it will only ruin your day and leave you disappointed. Stick to the oft-pedestrianized city centres unless you want to spend half your day commuting between different landmarks. Read more about exploring a city in a day in our article on exploring the Spanish island of Mallorca in one day
5. Explore Independently
If all that research has left you feeling invincible (ooh yeah!!), venture out of the ship on your own. Skip the guided tours offered by cruise ships—instead use public transport, talk to locals, and visit street-food haunts to plunge headlong into discovering a new city. How else would you discover places like the Star & Bucks café in Israel? 😉
A word of caution—if you have mobility issues, it might be a good idea to opt for transport offered by your cruise ship.
Those are some of our favourite ways of exploring places whilst enjoying a Cruise Holiday. Do you enjoy Cruise Holidays too? Or would you never be seen in the vicinity of a Cruise ship? 🙂
Are you a foodie? Don’t forget to check out our drool-worthy (pun fully intended!) photo essay on fine-dining on a budget on cruise ships
10 thoughts on “5 Easy Ways To Explore Countries On Your Cruise Holiday”
I’ve never been on a cruise and would like to do the Alaska route. Vid will have a riot with those shots for sure! Don’t know how he will get you posing on those glaciers though! 😉
We would absolutely love to go on a cruise to Alaska- you’re giving us all sorts of ideas now 😉
and u did it as well.. this is called goal setting 😀
I’d previously always been so reluctant to try out a cruise but I think I’ve been swayed over the last year or so by reading blog posts from people who had had the same reservations and ended up enjoying it – I would definitely still want to try out authentic food and do some independent exploration though to avoid getting that kind of cabin fever feeling!
Shikha we love cruises. Most of our ‘vacations’ involve so much driving around, crazy adventure sports and exploration, so our annual cruise holidays give us a chance to truly relax and rejuvenate ourselves. You have to try out a cruise holiday at least once – would love to know what you make of it 🙂
We are planning for a cruise trip this year an looking for options to explore the cities on our own instead of taking the guided tours. Can you brief more about how to reach to shore from the ship? (sometimes ships are anchored in deep sea instead of shallow shores)…..Any cost associated?
Yes that’s right. In that case, ships offer passengers the facility of going to the shore via smaller boats. This is usually a free service for cruise guests. Sometimes there could be a small surcharge for it
Hi Savi and Vid ,
Excellent blog ! Love your travel tips and photographs 🙂 . I am looking for doing a cruise holiday mid-November this year with my husband . We are thinking about taking the Mediterranean route . One question that we have and which, we did not find much information on, while looking to book any cruise is – do you ever get sea sick on a cruise holiday of about 7-10 days ? Also , do you know if we can depart from any port that the cruise docks at ? Thanks in advance 🙂
Sea sickness varies from person to person. Both of us don’t feel sick, especially on a calm cruise like in the Mediterranean. These ships are so big that you don’t really feel the movement. Not sure if you can depart from any port that cruise docks at – some cruise companies allow that some don’t. Best to check with the cruise company you are looking at 🙂