What's next in shore excursions?

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Poll: Which destination-defining excursion would you like to see? (Check all that apply.)
Poll Results
Which destination-defining excursion would you like to see? (Check all that apply.)

A "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction in Freeport, where the sequel was filmed
105
52.50%

Key Lime pie eating contests in Key West
21
10.50%

U2-themed pub crawl in Dublin
34
17.00%

"CSI: Miami" set tour for pre- or post-cruise city visits
53
26.50%

Anime cartoon drawing lessons in any Japanese port
9
4.50%

Obama heritage tour in Honolulu
14
7.00%

I will never book a ship-sponsored tour
31
15.50%

I have a better idea, and will post it below
14
7.00%

Multiple Choice Poll.

Voters: 200.  You may not vote on this poll.

#1
583 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
At a panel discussion at Cruise Shipping Miami, representatives from cruise lines and travel agencies discussed what's next in shore excursions. Carnival's idea? "Destination-defining excursions" that link the iconic attraction at a port with activities appealing to cruise travelers.

Carnival has already created a "Bobsled Jamaica" excursion that combines a bobsled-cum-rollercoaster thrill ride with interactive displays on Jamaica's Olympic bobsled team. We want to know what you think should be the next destination-defining shore tour. Please vote in our poll and share your comments below.
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Erica Silverstein
Senior Editor, Features
Cruise Critic
#2
Kansas
130 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
The ship excursions would have to be the ones that are hard to book on your own. Pirates, did that @ Disneyworld. Key lime eating, do that when we visit on our land vacation (Kermits, Blond Giraffe).

Give me the backstage CSI and U2 pub crawl anyday!!
#3
5,062 Posts
Joined May 2007
I couldn't even vote on this travesty. At best shore excursions (those offered by cruiselines AND independent ones) offer a tiny, packaged, sanitized glimpse into the real culture and history of a port. But someone in the industry actually thought those poll choices would be "destination defining?!" Are you kidding me?
  • An "Obama" tour in Hawaii would be "destination defining" -- more than say.... Waikiki, Kauai, Maui, Pearl Harbor, Volcanoes National Park, or Kealakekua Bay (where the bones of ancient Hawaiian royalty were buried in the cliff caves, after which the person given the definite honor of placing the bones was killed)? Gee, so much for the reasons millions of people visited Hawaii before Obama became President!!
  • A pub crawl in Dublin (and yes, I'm Irish!) becomes "destination defining" when it acquires a U2 theme??? I personally think U2 is mediocre at best -- but that authentic Irish pubs are wonderful. Why mix them?
  • Japanese ports are "defined" by offering anime drawing lessons? So......a culture which is thousands of years old is now "defined" by a 20 year old cartoon phenomenon?
  • Key West, with its literary, cultural, and historical traditions ("Conch Republic" comes to mind) is "defined" by a key lime pie eating contest??
  • Freeport is "defined" by a tour themed after the second movie based on a completely fictional theme park attraction located in another nation?
  • Miami is "defined" by a CSI tour? Why not Miami Vice? or Body Heat?
I sincerely hope this panel was just a "brainstorming" session. I didn't see a choice for my vote -- I wouldn't take ANY of those excursions, and don't consider any of them to reflect anything "defining" about the ports in question. In fact -- how arrogant is it of a cruiseline to think IT gets to "define" the cities and towns of independent nations?

Good lord -- welcome to "managed reality."
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#4
the Star City
7,864 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by MichellP
I couldn't even vote on this travesty. At best shore excursions (those offered by cruiselines AND independent ones) offer a tiny, packaged, sanitized glimpse into the real culture and history of a port. But someone in the industry actually thought those poll choices would be "destination defining?!" Are you kidding me?
  • An "Obama" tour in Hawaii would be "destination defining" -- more than say.... Waikiki, Kauai, Maui, Pearl Harbor, Volcanoes National Park, or Kealakekua Bay (where the bones of ancient Hawaiian royalty were buried in the cliff caves, after which the person given the definite honor of placing the bones was killed)? Gee, so much for the reasons millions of people visited Hawaii before Obama became President!!
  • A pub crawl in Dublin (and yes, I'm Irish!) becomes "destination defining" when it acquires a U2 theme??? I personally think U2 is mediocre at best -- but that authentic Irish pubs are wonderful. Why mix them?
  • Japanese ports are "defined" by offering anime drawing lessons? So......a culture which is thousands of years old is now "defined" by a 20 year old cartoon phenomenon?
  • Key West, with its literary, cultural, and historical traditions ("Conch Republic" comes to mind) is "defined" by a key lime pie eating contest??
  • Freeport is "defined" by a tour themed after the second movie based on a completely fictional theme park attraction located in another nation?
  • Miami is "defined" by a CSI tour? Why not Miami Vice? or Body Heat?
I sincerely hope this panel was just a "brainstorming" session. I didn't see a choice for my vote -- I wouldn't take ANY of those excursions, and don't consider any of them to reflect anything "defining" about the ports in question. In fact -- how arrogant is it of a cruiseline to think IT gets to "define" the cities and towns of independent nations?

Good lord -- welcome to "managed reality."
I was getting ready to post something very similar and you beat me to it. None of these interest me. I really don't want the "sanitized" tourist version of a port. Or the Hollywood version. Where's the local culture here? And a chance to see spectacular scenery and nature at it's finest? I guess I just don't get it.

The article on the new excursion ideas from the convention just left me scratching my head - I will book another "boring" snorkel tour any time because that's something I don't get to see every day, you can snorkel the same spot over and over and see different things, and I get to experience a spectacular part of the natural world. But I guess I'm odd - I really prefer excursions based on local culture, nature, or history and not the typical cruise port shops/bars either. Wish more ports were like Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize where they are relatively undeveloped and you can still experience some local flavor.
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#5
Toronto, ON. Canada
1,492 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Your poll is skewed by the fact that there is no category for "none of the above". I am amazed at how often these polls do not have a category which encompasses my views.
Fran
#6
Georgia
529 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I'd like to see more honest cooking classes (versus touristy "Americanized" food) in reputable restaurants in some of the ports. I'd love to learn how to make real jerk chicken or Jamaican meat patties for example.
#7
110 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Those choices are soooo lame, that's not the real thing! Now if it were a U2-themed pub brawl, or a CSI cruise passenger autopsy... an interrogation KGB style in St. Petersburg is what I want! Let me watch a mafia killing in Sicily! Let's spice up the days at sea by feeding the cruise director to sharks! Sheesh, don't those cruise line people watch reality TV?

Seriously, I agree with the majority of the posters above. Those tours sound absolutely horrible. I'd also like to see something that pertains to *real* life at the destinations, as opposed to something staged. The cooking classes are an excellent idea! How does Sicilian history translate into today's life on the island? How do you get fresh water on a remote island? I really enjoy learning something new on my vacations (not studying - learning as in "didn't know that before, glad I took that trip and saw xyz"). To me, travelling is about developing an appreciation for different cultures and places, and none of the above excursions deliver that.

G.
#8
Red Lion, PA
18 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Let's face it...it's tough to fully immerse yourself in an island's culture on a 6-hour port stop. I think the cruise lines have their work cut out for them trying to find new and innovative excursions that balance time, quality and even price. I agree w/one of the comments above that some of the ideas seem a bit rediculous, but remember that's just one opinion. The cruise lines are moving hundreds of thousands of people through these destinations yearly and they certainly cannot expect to please everyone. There was another comment about cooking classes. In some ports of call, that would be interesting.

In my opionion, stick to the basics. You still need the beach and snorkel excursions for the beach and snorkel people. You still need those "bus" tours for those w/limited mbility or island "first timers." Just do less of them in total. The "jeep" tours are tired, I agree but somehow, they're still popular. Adventure-themed excursions like Zip-lines and Canopy Tours are realatively new though I'm not certain how long they'll last until they get boring. And finally, for me in particluar, you still need toss in @ least 1 GOLF excursion per port call. Seriously.
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#9
Gainesville, FL
850 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
The Pirates of the Carribean attraction (OK, it is fictional, but so what) would probably be fun. I'm interested in fun when I vacation. I really don't cruise often enough to exhaust all the current offerings, so I'll just be working my way through the current offerings and if something else interesting crops up and it looks fun I'm all for it.

Cheers,

Ed
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#10
Bristol, UK
1,296 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Surley, when you cruise and land at various ports, you want to see whats real NOT what some overpaid tour operator would want you to see. A d U2 themed Dublin pub crawl River Dancing Lessons would be better and probably a lot healthier after all, one Guiness is enough........ok maybe 2
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#11
12,423 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I would love tours based on the foods of the region.

For a couple of years, Celebrity did a tie-in series with Bon Appetit magazine called "Savor the Caribbean". It was great and I would love to see other lines try something like it, as well as I hope that Celebrity does it again, with or without Bon Appetit.

There were chefs on board who did demonstrations. But the shore excursion part, to answer your question, was that you went to a fine restaurant for a demonstration ( or perhaps some hands-on cooking if the facility was set up that way) and then had a lovely lunch ashore eating what you saw made.
#12
Carmel, Indiana
1,240 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
These ideas reflect our society. As a society, we are passive participants. TV, Video games, computer games, internet games, cell phone games! We don't have to do anything, but sit back and let the entertainment 'happen' to us. When I go on vacation, I want to participate and enjoy the scenery, do activities that are different than the activities I do at home, and learn something from the places I visit. I enjoy the learning more than anything else. I never tire of snorkeling. meeting locals, and enjoying their culture. I would not participate in this type of manufactured activity. I would continue doing what gives me the greatest satisfaction when I travel.
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#13
3,485 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
None of these interest me, either.

I would still prefer to spend time on shore exploring the culture and nature - this is why I travel. These offerings just seem cheesy without any real immersion in the port, just superficial diversions. I suppose they could be entertaining for some, which could make them successful, but it's definitely not where my vacation $ are going.
#14
NJ
862 Posts
Joined May 2004
I love a poll that sparks a good debate! A good point was made that the poll choices are not "destination defining" in the way that, say, a Pyramid trek is in Cairo -- that's absolutely true. Our aim here was to get a conversation going by throwing out some possibilities that don't already exist but could be considered characteristic of a specific port of call.

What Carnival's done with the Jamaican Bobsled is take a concept from pop culture and turn it into one of the main attractions in that part of the cruise world, and that was our inspiration for the poll (and these choices were all brainstormed by us, not Carnival -- that could have been made clearer!).

That said, I agree with vacruizer about the merit of excursions based on local culture, nature, or history -- I prefer them in many ports. But folks who've been to a place several times may appreciate having other fun and innovative options to choose from. MoYerclan, excellent idea about the cooking classes!
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Director, Product Development
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#15
47 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Hiking and fishing at Alaskan ports fit the bill here. Not only are they "defining" as they are activities popular with Alaskans, some excursions like this are already available.
#16
129 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
I agree with this trend because I usually like to find out something about the place I'm visiting. I like the eco-tours, the history tours, etc. but have also enjoyed photography tours and learning about making rum!

Pokyd
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#17
Harriman, New York
7,833 Posts
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Originally posted by vacruizer
I was getting ready to post something very similar and you beat me to it. None of these interest me. I really don't want the "sanitized" tourist version of a port. Or the Hollywood version. Where's the local culture here? And a chance to see spectacular scenery and nature at it's finest? I guess I just don't get it.
I couldn't have said it better. Ditto for the option of "none of the above".
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#18
Minnesota
36 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
As much as I am a fan of almost anything Pirates of the Caribbean, even though I haven't been on my first cruise yet (it's booked, October needs to hurry up and get here...) I wish that there was horseback riding options in all ports. I say this because I haven't seen any horseback riding offered in Grand Cayman.

Whenever I'm on vacation, I want to see the landscape, and I honestly believe that you get the best view (not in the air) when on horseback.

I think surf'n'turf shouldn't just be a reference to a beef and fish dinner combo.
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#19
Michigan
7,870 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
I don't have any better ideas, but I would never do any of the options posted. I think they all sound boring and would probably be ridiculously overpriced.

Give me a sailboat, an uninhabited island, a great snorkeling spot, and rum punch on the way back to the ship and I am happy.
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#20
VA
541 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
I didn't like any of the ship excursions suggested in the poll. DH and I prefer to go on an adventure on our own and tend to not go on organized ship excursions. I do a lot of research on my own prior to arriving to the ports and determine places of interest. Below are my recommendations:

1. Playa Rincon Beach, Dominican Republic- Ranked one of the best beaches in the world but it is only accessible by boat or 4WD vehicles. I had to purchase this excursion through an outside organization since the ship didn't offer it and it was BY FAR my favorite excursion. It was like we had our own private beach, drank pina coladas from a coconut, and even dined on freshly caught fish, crab, and a local coconut desert. I would really like this included as a ship excursion for Dominican Republic in the future and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for anyone visiting the port.

2. My favorite television show is "The Amazing Race" where teams race all around the world completing tasks related to the countries they are visiting. I would love to do an active task like Bobsledding in Jamaica or anything where you can learn while doing something active.

3. Offer Day Passes at local resorts. Many of the destination boards are filled with questions on which hotel resorts offer day passes. This would be a great idea to have day passes available for an excursion.
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