A to Z Challenge: E = Excursions

E = Excursions (and Egypt)

EOne of the choices you have when taking is cruise is about whether or not to take an excursion when in port. The ship offers a number of excursions for passengers to take – and mostly you will be crowded into buses with 40+ people from the ship, a tour guide / mother hen and a driver. If you plan ahead of time, you can also arrange for private excursions with other passengers.  These tend to be smaller – 8 to 16 people — and you have the ability to adjust the tour to your needs. One of the best ways to arrange a private excursion is to sign up on a ship’s roll call in the forums on www.cruisecritic.com! You can also “go it on your own” and see what happens when you get to a port. This includes following your own plan, or grabbing a private tour looking for people, or the “hop on, hop off bus” that tends to be close to where many cruise ships dock.  I have done all of the above – and there are reasons to experience each one. It just depends on what your needs are and how you like to travel. For this post, I am focusing on my best ship-organized excursion experiences.

Ship-organized excursions have a guarantee that you will make it to the ship on time. If you need this type of security, than this is a good option.  In most places, the tour guide is licensed. The guide also gives you a running commentary on all things about the country, culture and places visited (this can get a little annoying if you just want to watch the world go by). For my first cruise, I used most of the ship’s excursions because I was nervous about making it back to the ship on time and I was not sure about “doing things on my own.”

Taking the excursion from Alexandria to Cairo was very important because there was an accident on the only road between the two cities and the all the buses were late getting back to the ship. We also had an armed guard with us on the bus. He realized I was alone in the group, and took a few pictures of me – and helped me out when a scammer almost stole my camera at Giza!

Funny picture at the great Pyramid
While a fun picture, it was taken by a “fake” security guard who tried to steal my camera. Several people stepped in to help me.
Navigating the streets of Cairo
Navigating the streets of Cairo

In Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, I took a historic tour of the city that included visiting the Senor do Bonfim church that is important to the Candoble religion in Brazil. Our group was small – about 20 German and English speakers – so it was as close to a private tour as we could get on a ship’s excursion. He was extremely knowledgeable of all the different traditions and religions in Brazil, and even talked about the different meanings of the Candoble ribbons and blessings you can receive.

Senhor do Bonfim Ribbons
Senhor do Bonfim Ribbons
Ribbons at Senhor do Bonfim
Ribbons at Senhor do Bonfim
A Condoble Blessing

Read more about my tour of Salvador de Bahia.

One last experience is courtesy of a traveling companion.  On a tour to Olympus, she discovered her camera was missing as we were heading back to the bus after a long day.  We both panicked as we listed our options (forget the camera, look for the camera, miss the bus, take a taxi back to the ship …). We found the tour guide and told him our dilemma. He called one of the museums we had visited and the camera was there. We thought we would just take a taxi back, when the entire busload of people voted to wait for her as she ran back to the museum to get her camera – and they all applauded when she returned, camera in hand.

Returning with lost camera
Returning with lost camera

On our return to the ship, she went to the shore Excursion desk to fill out a comment card. They are so used to getting complaints that our comment card filled with thanks and compliments really touched them. The next day, they delivered a bottle of red wine to our cabin. Bonus!

Sharing wine with my travel buddy, Bryan the monkey.
Sharing wine with my travel buddy, Bryan the monkey.

Here is more information on the #atozchallenge.


Categories: 2014, A to Z Challenge, Africa, Cruises, Egypt, Europe, South America, Travel NotesTags: , , ,


  1. I’ve never been on a cruise and always wondered about these excursions. Sounds like a great option if you’re a first time visitor or unsure about wandering off on your own. Great post for the letter E!

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