Sidewalk in Venice with the old Venice cruise port in the background

DIY Shore Excursions: How Easy Are They? My Rating Reveals It

When I first started cruising, I spent way too much time finding answers to those burning questions about my ports of call:

  • WHERE: Okay, how far is the cruise port really from the good stuff?
  • WHAT: If I only have a day, what are the absolute must-see sights?
  • HOW: Which must-sees can I handle independently, and how in the world do I get there?

It turns out lots of cruise ports love playing hide-and-seek with the cities we think we’re visiting. Think Rome hiding behind Civitavecchia, or Athens behind Piraeus (those sneaky ports!).

Skeptics will say a DIY shore excursion isn’t as good as a tour. And to that, I say…challenge accepted! You’d be surprised what you can see and do with a DIY plan. Think hidden gems, eating where the locals eat, and adventures big group tours just can’t provide.

With super limited time in each place, is going it alone even worth the trouble? That’s where my DIY Shore Excursion Rating comes to the rescue!

So what exactly does the DIY Shore Excursion Rating mean?

Every DIY Port Guide I write has a DIY Shore Excursion Rating to show you how easy (or, let’s be real, sometimes tricky) it is to ditch the pricey tours and have a fabulous DIY adventure.

Here’s my “super-scientific” ranking system:

  • ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž Easy peasy: The port is basically within spitting distance of the city center, or they spoil you with free shuttles. Sydney and Marseille, I’m lookin’ at you!
  • ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž Pretty smooth sailing: Some ports require a bit of figuring out with their buses and trains, but nothing a little pre-trip research can’t handle (looking at you, Copenhagen).
  • ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž Doable, but needs hustle: Things get interesting when you need to walk further, book cruise line shuttles ahead of time, or plan a bit more (Belfast, you’re a fun challenge).
  • ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Žย Okay, now it’s tricky:ย Longer transport rides to reach those famous sights, with less obvious options (Olden,ย we need to talk).
  • ๐Ÿ˜Žย Honestly, a tour might be better:ย Remote ports,ย few public transport choices,ย and sights scattered all over…maybe consider that organized excursion this time (Le Havre and รsafjรถrรฐur).

But wait…what about the DIY Sweat Index?

The DIY Shore Excursion Rating is all about getting off that ship and having a great day without a tour guide. The DIY Sweat Index is where I break down specific sights in my Port Guides. Not every cool place is DIY-friendly!

Wait, does this rating help if I’m starting my cruise at this port?

Sadly, no. This is strictly for those of us with one precious day to explore (and no suitcases in tow). Embarking passengers care about airport-to-port transfers, which is a whole different adventure.

Whew! There you have it. I hope the DIY Shore Excursion Rating puts your mind at ease and helps you make the most of every port! Got questions or feedback? Spill them in the comments below!

Featured Image by Edmund Hochmuth from Pixabay

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