One of the greatest pleasures of cruising is discovering mysterious locations all around the world. From expeditions into the deeper parts of Alaska to fun-filled wine-sipping sails through the Mediterranean, there are plenty of ways to go about and experience what different locations and ports have to offer.
The convenience cruises offer a great chance to explore the seas, voyages, and ports. But what about exploration beyond the ports? Especially when you are cruising to Europe, you would want to explore the destination further and have the best cheap European vacation you always wanted.
Well, you can have your cheap European vacation even if you are traveling on a cruise.
This article will guide you through some fantastic options to have the best cheap European vacation of your dreams so that you can enjoy activities ashore independently.
Now, before we start, this option only works if you spend your time on research. This option also works well if you are street-smart and tenacious. For those who love to travel in class, this might not work for you; however, if you are willing to have the best cheap European vacation on your terms, here are a few tips for doing everything in and around Europe.
Free walking tours are a popular concept in many European countries and cities. Thousands of local companies offer you similar tours, just like your cruise line will provide you with, but at a very competitive price and in smaller groups. These local tour operators also offer you special interest tours in a customized fashion. Most people traveling around the European cities can easily find these local tour operators either on the internet, word of mouth or simply by exploring the city.
Before booking a local tour operator for yourself, research about them, read their reviews and testimonials in advance. Look through the customer feedback online to ensure they offer customer satisfaction with on-time performance.
Once a tour operator is booked, confirm your pick-up time and location along with the drop-off time back to the port to them. Local tour operators can sometimes not access the secured ports and areas inside the piers, so you would have to determine a meeting point in advance.
PS: To beat the cruise lines in their game, these local tour operators also guarantee you a valid, on-time return to your cruise.
When cruising to any European port, you will find hundreds of taxis always lined up right at the pier, offering you the ease of transportation and private, independent ways of touring around the city. This way, you get the experience of having the best cheap European vacation just like you intended to.
These options are always affordable, and there will always be a chance of you engaging with residents in the city you are exploring, sharing the daily life, stories and introducing you to some hidden gems and locations in the city. You will also be recommended the best restaurants and other sightseeing locations which you would not have found otherwise.
Using a local taxi allows you to customize your cruise excursion experience and set the amount for your overall touring time as well. In most European cities and Mediterranean ports, taxi drivers who take the travelers around the city offer return service to your desired port as well, in time for you to get back to your cruise.
Take the help of the best travel guide, leisure guides, travel blogs, forums, and websites to research well in advance for your next vacation. Explore and learn how feasible the destination you are trying to explore is. Also, figure out how to move around, local transit, transportation, taxis, and other options. Find out the language of the city you are traveling to. Make a list of all the local tourist attractions and the best places to eat. Take into account the logistics and plan your budget accordingly after taking in all the contingencies.
Tip: Next time you find yourself at the New Port at Tourlos, Agios Stefanos Beach is the closest there. You can take a 15-minute walk from the port without having to take a taxi.
For travelers who are comfortable driving a car, this one is for you!
Car rentals are another great option to design and customize your cruise tour. Once you get off your ship, you will find hundreds of car rental companies located inside your port facility or within a short distance. These car rental companies will also offer you shuttle services to pick you up and drop you off at the port well within your time frame.
Try to find out the requirements for a rental car before your voyage. There are a few countries where car renters need to have an international driving license to drive in the city. Some countries offer travelers to purchase upon arrival, while others require the travelers to possess such a license before traveling.
Ensure you research well before you start your travel plans.
Keep in mind; you should pre-book your car rentals when you are visiting popular destinations.
Exploring the cities near the ports is another excellent option, especially if you find yourself near Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca in Europe.
If your destination port is in or near the heart of the city, just walk or take local transit to the town and wander around, experiencing and taking in the iconic sights like a local. This option works well for almost all European city ports, where shopping and attractions are nearby and along the public transportation routes.
When venturing out from the port to the heart of any European city, make sure you are carrying your government-issued photo ID card and the information for your local port agent. Also, carry a small amount of local European currency to the country you are headed to explore to pay for shopping, food, incidental expenses, transit fares, and whatnot.
Also, while traveling and exploring these cities, you need to be very careful and aware of your surroundings. Use common sense, do not be taken away in an instant by a bargain. Do not indulge in anything that sounds too good to be true.
Factor in some extra time on your own when figuring out your itinerary. Ships sometimes do not wait for guests who are not on the ship’s tour and are late. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the extra time traveling to and from the ship.
Keep 15-30 minutes extra on accounts of traffic, weather delays, unforeseen events, or even accidents. Who knows if your taxi gets a flat tire or your rental car could break down.
Small islands and cities might only have just one public transportation route, which leads you in and out of the city, and it is possible that it can be consumed with any unforeseen event stated above. Factor in the extra time in your itinerary.
Chances are, you would already know the visa requirements if you're traveling to a different country. However, just to be safe, still research visa requirements and restrictions for yourself, if any. Some countries offer a blanket visa to the travelers coming in via a cruise ship; however, this visa might only cover the guests booked on the touring and excursion lists of your cruise line.
And since you are looking forward to an independent excursion, make sure you have a secured visa to move around the city on your own. Make this an essential part of your research on the cruise and related traveling.
For travelers who do not like to be confined to just one group of tourists and are looking for their personal vision on the best cheap European vacations, these unexpected ways are truly gold. Not only do you get to save a lot of money while traveling, but you also get to set yourself free, with tons of flexibility.
You can easily plan your day, based on your interest, without compromising on your goals due to the limitations of group travels. It is not just cost-effective but a rewarding experience.