Save Money Going Ashore On A Cruise.

Money-Saving Tips For Going Ashore On A Cruise.

During my time working on Cruise Ships as a Port Shopping Guide.  The cue or the line (if you are from the US) for my service desk during the port mornings was so long.  I would be there for hours giving guests last-minute tips and advice about getting around in port. 

Here are a couple of things you can do to hit the ground running during your precious time in port:

  1. Planning – Spend some time researching the ports your ship will be visiting.  
  2. Public Transport – Depending on the port spend some time investigating the public transport.  See below for some tips on travelling around the port.
  3. Booking tours directly with the tour operator.  See below for some direct links.
  4. Get your walking shoes on.  Sometimes the best bits are within walking distance of the ship.  Pack some good walking shoes and get your steps in so you can eat more.  Below I have more tips.
  5. If you are cruising to a hot luscious location like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Mexico or Hawaii.  You might just want to chill on a beautiful beach.  


A lot of people don’t research the ports before they cruise.  Spend some time researching the ports your ship will be visiting.  Also, take note of how much time the ship is docked in port.  I kid you not some cruise lines are docked for 4 hours, only enough time for a short visit ashore. 
I remember once cruising on a Regent Cruises ship.  Regent is expensive all the tours are included.  Not always a great thing.  What if you don’t want to do these included tours?  Also because the tours are included they were once docked in Ketchikan, Alaska for 4 hours.  Just enough time for the guests to go on the organized tour.  Such a shame  Ketchikan Alaska is such an amazing port, this is a port you can just walk around. 
Here are some links to Caribbean, Mediterranean and Alaskan port information to help you plan your days in port.  If you want specific port information just drop me an email and I would be happy to help you plan your day and save you a ton of time, effort & money.

Public Transport

Depending on the port spend some time investigating the public transport.  From trams in Europe to jitney buses in Nassau that cost $1.00 each. Taking a bit of time to get familiar with public transport to beaches, major attractions and major shopping areas is well worth it.  

It is a little scary using public transport in a strange place.  I can assure you it can also be very exciting.  Give yourself plenty of time.  If you can get off the ship early then I recommend it.  If you get on the wrong bus, tram or train you can always get off the next stop and find the right transport back.  I would recommend planning to be back on the ship a couple of hours before it sets sail. 

Recently we cruised on I Cruised on Valiant Lady  The ship docked in Zeebrugge and we took the free shuttle to Blankenberge.  Then we took the train to Bruges.

There is local transportation in a lot of cruise ship ports.  We recently visited Bruges when we cruised on Valiant Lady.  We decided to travel there ourselves. I was apprehensive because my sister and brother-in-law came with us.  They had never cruised before, so I didn’t want to get them lost.  But I found it all relatively easy here are the steps we took, which saved us approx $50 each = $200 / £150.

Train Station in Blankenberge
Train Station in Blankenberge


  • We took the free shuttle bus that the cruise line provided from Zeebrugge to Blankenberge.
  • We walked around the corner to the train station, the signs the same in any language.
  • I got in the cue and paid for return tickets to Bruges – €6.73 / $7.39 / £5.65.  (For up-to-date exchange rates, check here)
  • Trains run on the hour, and the ticket lady explained in English our train from Blankenberge to Bruges and what time the trains were to return.  
  • Blankenberge is a small station, see this picture.  It is easy to figure out which platform. Most people we spoke to were friendly and conversed in English with us.
  • When we arrived, it was easy to walk into town. It was a beautiful walk.
  • Getting back was just as easy, and we saved $200 / £150 because the ship was providing a shuttle bus into Bruges from Zeebrugge, but it was $60 per person, which I thought was expensive.
For more information about saving money in port check out this Blog  Saving Money in Port on a Cruise. – Cruise, Shop, Save (

Booking tours directly.

Over the years tour operators have become very savvy at advertising their tours on social media and creating websites.  Cruise lines will add profit margins onto tours and they usually only offer the major tours.  If you have visited these locations before then you want something different.  Something bespoke and intimate spend some time researching online for small tour operators and book direct.

Here is a link to a Cruise Port with the six things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska and here are the links to each tour below, just click on this link and scroll down to the tour you are interested in  Visiting Ketchikan. – Cruise, Shop, Save (

Get your walking shoes on.

Sometimes the best bits can only be enjoyed on foot.  Pack some good walking shoes, trainers, or tennis shoes for my American friends.  Download a local map and get a plan to walk to the local attractions, shopping area, beach, lunch hot spot or spectacular viewpoints.  See below for some ports where you can simply walk down the gangway and have it all.

Have you ever gone ashore and just walked around?  We recently did that in Hamburg, Germany.  It was so cool we walked over 20,000 steps and were happy and exhausted when we got back to the ship.  Here is the blog explaining the best bits we walked to Hamburg Cruise Port in a Day.

Take the FREE or CHEAP Shuttle bus provided by the Ship.

There are some famous walking routes to follow in some ports so for example Rome the capital of Italy. Rome is the country’s largest and most populated comune. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula. On the Tiber river within Lazio (Latium). 

Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome.  The only existing example of a country within a city.  For this reason, Rome has been often defined as the capital of two states. 

Vatican City by @czermak_photography

Let me give you some information on getting to Rome from where the ship docks:

SHIP DOCKS:  Port of Civitavecchia which is a huge shipping port, the cruise line will provide a FREE Shuttle to get you to Civitavecchia, see below for further information on this.  Trust me you need the shuttle bus to see below the distance from the ship’s dock to Civitavecchia city centre.

DISTANCE TO TOWN: The Civitavecchia city centre is located approximately 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from the cruise pier. The Forum in the city centre of Rome is located approximately 70 kilometres (43 miles) from the cruise pier.  

SHUTTLE BUSES: You are not permitted to walk on the pier due to heavy industrial activity.  There is a  complimentary shuttle bus to the port gates. Alternatively, if you want to go to Rome for the day check with the onboard Guest Services Desk for a ‘Rome on Your Own shuttle’ or one of the many wonderful tours to Rome directly from the gangway.

TAXI AVAILABILITY: Taxis are available just outside the port gates. Taxis have A/C and meters and usually have English-speaking drivers. Negotiate the price before entering the taxi if you are planning to hire a taxi for the day.

LOCAL TRANSPORTATION: Buses – The closest bus station is located just outside the port gates.  Note that buses do not run to Rome with as much regularity or precision as trains. Trains – The train station is located within walking distance of the port gates. Trains run regularly to Rome, but timetables change frequently, so be sure to verify the day’s schedule.

CURRENCY: Take some local currency with you which is Euro (EUR).

SHOPPING:  Make your way to Via Condotti which is an exciting and fashionable street in Rome, it begins at the foot of the Spanish steps and is the street which contains the greatest number of Rome-based Italian fashion retailers, equivalent to Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, Paris’ Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Florence’s Via de’ Tornabuoni or London’s Bond Street.

Hit the Beach

Major’s Bay, St. Kitts.
  • If you are cruising to a hot luscious location like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Mexico or Hawaii. 
  • You might just want to chill on a beautiful beach.  So again do a bit of research before your cruise. 
  • You might want a busy beach, a snorkelling beach, or a quiet beach.  Spend a bit of time finding out what you want. 
  • Then pack a bag, grab some water from the ship, some fruit perhaps some pastries from the breakfast buffet. 
  • Walk off the gangway and just hop in a taxi. 
  • With the taxis always pre-negotiate the price before you get in.  Make sure you arrange with the taxi driver to pick you up to take you back.  Sometimes you don’t need to pay them until they bring you back to the ship.  
Taxi in Dominican Republica


Believe it or not, there are traffic rush hours in the busy cruise ship ports.  Leave plenty of time to get back to the ship, if it takes 45 mins to get back to the ship.  Give yourself 1 hour 30 mins then you don’t need to panic.


Arrange for your taxi to pick you up a couple of hours before the ship needs to set sail.  For example, in St. Maarten, if you go to Orient Beach the traffic is horrendous to get back to the ship so either choose to go to a beach close to the ship’s dock. 

Or make sure you start to come back to the ship 2 hours before the ship sets sail.  So if your ship is all aboard at 5 pm then aim to get back to the ship by 4 pm so your taxi driver needs to be picking you up around 3:30 – 4 pm.  This way you will be back onboard the ship in time for the afternoon tea or hit the pool onboard and grab a cold beer.

If you want more help with planning your cruise ports, drop me an email at I will help you plan your perfect day in port.