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Booking your shore excursions through a third-party provider, such as Viator, can help you discover more intimate and exclusive experiences than you will find through a typical cruise line’s offerings (and likely save you a lot of money in the process). Read on to discover how third-party shore excursion providers can save your wallet and help you experience more.

screenshot of Viator, a third-party provider of shore excursions and other experiences
Screenshot from Viator.com, a popular third-party shore excursion provider

Planning a cruise vacation is exciting, especially when you start thinking about all the incredible places you’ll visit. Shore excursions are your chance to explore these destinations, but how do you decide the best way to book them? Many people book directly through their cruise line, but there’s a better option out there: booking through independent providers. Here’s why choosing an independent provider for your shore excursions can make your cruise experience even better, especially if it’s your first time cruising.

10 Reasons To Book Your Shore Excursions Through Viator

1. Save Money On Shore Excursions

Let’s be honest, cruises can get expensive. One of the easiest ways to save some money is by booking your shore excursions through an independent provider instead of your cruise line. Cruise lines often markup their prices, taking advantage of the convenience they offer. Independent providers, however, connect you directly with local tour operators, often at a much lower cost. More money saved means more money to spend on souvenirs or extra adventures!

2. More Choices

Independent providers offer a huge variety of excursions, far more than what most cruise lines provide. Whether you’re into history, adventure, food, or nature, they have something for everyone. Plus, with different times and durations available, you can pick excursions that fit perfectly into your schedule. This flexibility means you can create the perfect itinerary for your interests and pace.

3. Shore Excursions That Offer Authentic Experiences

When you book through a third-party provider, you’re getting a local touch. They partner with local operators who are experts in their regions. They offer unique insights and experiences that you might miss out on with cruise line excursions. This means you’ll get a genuine feel for the destination, making your adventure even more memorable.

4. Trustworthy Reviews and Ratings

One of the best things about booking through independent providers is the access to detailed reviews and ratings from other travelers. These reviews help you see what the excursion is really like, so you can make informed decisions. Cruise line excursions often lack this level of transparency, leaving you in the dark about what to expect.

5. Easy and Secure Booking

Alternative providers have super user-friendly platforms, with a secure booking process that’s a breeze to navigate. Their websites and apps are designed to make finding and booking excursions simple, with lots of photos, descriptions, and reviews to guide you. Plus, if you ever have any questions or issues, their customer service is top-notch and ready to help.

6. Smaller Groups and Private Tours

If you prefer a more intimate experience, these providers have you covered with plenty of small group and private tour options. These tours mean you can avoid the big crowds and enjoy a more personalized experience. It’s a great way to make your excursion feel special and unique.

7. Independence and Flexibility

Booking through an alternative provider gives you the freedom to explore independently from your cruise ship’s schedule. This is perfect if you want to venture off the beaten path or customize your itinerary. You’re not tied to the cruise line’s timeline, giving you the flexibility to make the most of your time ashore.

8. Peace of Mind with Insurance and Guarantees

Independent providers offer comprehensive insurance options and guarantees that give you peace of mind. If your cruise ship is delayed or there’s an issue with your excursion, they have policies in place to cover and support you. This level of protection is often better than what cruise lines offer, so you can relax knowing you’re covered.

9. Support Local Businesses

By booking with independent operators, you’re supporting local businesses and communities. They work directly with local tour operators, ensuring more of your money stays within the destination’s economy. This helps sustain local businesses and promotes responsible tourism, making your travel choices more impactful.

10. Personalized Shore Excursions

These providers are great at accommodating special requests and customizing your experience. Whether you have dietary restrictions, mobility issues, or specific interests, their local operators are often more flexible and willing to tailor the tour to your needs. This ensures you have the best possible experience.


Booking shore excursions through an independent provider, such as Viator, rather than directly through your cruise line offers numerous benefits, especially for first-time cruisers. From saving money to enjoying a more personalized and authentic experience, these alternatives make it easy to enhance your cruise vacation. If you’re planning a cruise, take a look at the wide range of shore excursions offered and see how they can help you make the most of your adventure.

Happy cruising!

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