The price you pay to book a cruise is only part of the cost of your trip if you plan to take any shore excursions.
In the January issue of Condé Nast Traveler magazine, consumer news editor Wendy Perrin offers tips for getting the most out of your port calls and land tours:
CHOOSE YOUR ITINERARY
If you are set on visiting a particular sight or city, book your cruise to begin, end or overnight in that port. Otherwise, you risk missing out, as cruises can cancel port calls for reasons from weather to workers' strikes in the host country.
The ship concierge will try to sell you the cruise line's tours, and those are going to be expensive, so research your excursion options before you get on the boat. Check out tourism Web sites for any local events the day you'll be there, and visit Web sites specializing in day trips, like shoretrips.com and viator.com. Check museum Web sites for exhibitions and hours.
FACTOR TRANSIT TIME
Ships have limited time in port, so figure in travel time from the ship to your land destinations. Is it a 10-minute taxi ride or a two-hour bus ride? The cruise line should be able to tell you. Allow more time if the ship is dropping anchor (instead of docking) at the port, which requires passengers to reach land by tender boats.
CONSIDER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
Weigh public transit options, too - they may be faster and cheaper than alternatives, though renting a car or hiring a cab for a half-day can be a good option, too. If everybody on the ship is likely to be headed to the same famous landmark, look into hiring a private car and driver in advance, and compare the cost to what it would be if you took the ship's bus tour.
Details at concierge.com/cntraveler.