The majority of cruise passengers will jet off on shore excursions during their cruise, and given the various remote and exciting destinations that cruises travel to, safety should always be a primary concern.

While generally shore excursions will be completely safe, there are still definite ways to take extra precautions to ensure your vacation is not just an amazing experience, but a safe one as well.

Tips for staying safe on your shore excursions

Booking your excursions through the cruise line

When you cruise, your cruise line will offer you a range of shore excursions. When you book one of these you can be rest assured that you’ll be out for the day with a reputable operator. Cruise lines run safety evaluations of their tour operators and consult with local authorities to ensure safety. As a bonus, you won’t run any risk of not making back to your cruise ship in time, as the ship won’t leave without its official tour groups returning. 

Research your operators

There are often reasons cruise passengers might have for wanting to book shore excursions through third-party operators. This could be to save money or to do excursions that aren’t offered by the cruise line. In this case, it’s important to thoroughly research the operators you use. Websites such as TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, Yelp and more can help you find a tour operator that has a good reputation, and can cater to your needs as well as keep you safe.

Read your cruise lines policy

Different cruise lines may have different policies as to whether they will be liable for you if you obtain an injury on your shore excursion. It can help to ask your travel agent or read the fine print of your cruise terms and conditions to know if you’ll be covered in the worst case scenario.

Make sure you have good travel insurance

While you should always do what you can to be safe on your shore excursions, you also need to make sure you’ll be taken care of if things goes wrong. It is especially important to plan out your shore excursions before your cruise, meaning that if you do any activities that aren’t always automatically covered by insurance, such as scuba diving, you can take out extra cover. It’s important to research and closely read the terms of your insurance and make sure it matches up with your vacation needs.

Keep an eye on the conditions

A tricky situation to deal with for cruise lines is that as they are only in destinations for short periods of time, they have to balance keeping customers happy and enjoying themselves, with having to deal with whatever weather or sea conditions are present that day. For example, activities like kayaking, snorkeling, hiking and more can be weather dependent. While cruise lines and other tour operators will generally not run tours in poor conditions, it’s best to also do your own research to make sure the conditions are safe. Sometimes even if the weather is okay for the activity to go ahead, you might find it best to pull out in certain conditions. Such as if you’re set to go hiking in extreme heat.

Opt against spur-of-the-moment decisions

If you’re walking into port without any excursions planned, it’s not uncommon to see a range of tour operators waving flyers around and asking you to come with them for the day. While the spontaneity may be attractive, and often the price may be cheaper, it’s much safer not to go off with a tour operator that you know nothing about. Either choosing to research and book an operator beforehand or simply enjoying your day at port are much better options.

Hold onto your valuable 

It’s a different type of safety, but you could end up in a very difficult situation if you misplace or lose your valuables on your shore excursion. Some cruise lines will require you to have a passport to embark and disembark from the boat. Furthermore, losing your credit card or identification will of course quickly turn your holiday into a headache. Travel money belts, high quality backpacks or a designated valuables holder from your group are strong strategies to make sure you return to your cruise with everything you left it with.

Have a medical check-up before your cruise

It’s no secret that cruising is an extremely popular form of travel for older travellers. Older travellers may be more likely to have ongoing health conditions or be at risk of a condition aggravating. Especially if an older traveller is taking an expedition cruise or travelling to more remote destinations, it can be extremely beneficial to have a health check-up with your GP before travelling. 

Know your limitations

This might be an obvious rule but it is an important one. Make sure you book shore excursions where you feel comfortable doing the activities. But even if you don’t, there is no harm in saying no at the time. Be honest with yourself and your travel companions.

Pay attention during the safety talk

Yes, it might be boring. But it can mean the difference between life and death. While the key agenda of these talks is to avoid accidents, it’s also to ensure that you avoid discomfort while you’re on your shore excursion.