All of the cruise lines will feature a selection of shore excursions that you can book for the ports you will visit. Many of them are great value for money and may include specialist activities or exclusive entry into famous landmarks, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can't opt to do your own thing if you prefer.
In many ports such as Barcelona, you will be able to walk off the ship and be right in the middle of the town or city you are visiting, so you can easily see the sights on foot or using local transport. It's important to research the destinations you are visiting so that you know what you want to see before you get there, meaning you can make the most of your time in port. You may also be able to purchase tickets in advance for certain attractions which will save you having to queue when you arrive.
Organised Shore Excursions
In other destinations it's not quite as simple so it is often best to take the organised excursion arranged by the ship. St. Petersburg in Russia is a good example of this as you can't get off of the ship without having a Russian visa and a tour already booked. The majority of cruise lines will include the visa cost in the price of their excursion so it works out much better value for money and gives you peace of mind that everything you need is included.
Top TipsIf you do decide to travel independently the one thing to make absolutely sure you do is to get back to the ship in plenty of time! If you get held up and are late getting back, the ship won't wait for you and it's then your own responsibility to get to the next port of call.