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From Ship to Shore: 5 Top Reasons to Go Private

For many, ocean and river cruising has become a favorite way to see much of the world, with the convenience of not having to move hotels every other night.  Seemingly, there are an infinite number of cruise lines and ships readily available to accommodate just about everyone’s specific tastes, preferences and budgets.  The unfortunate truth is that more ships means more travelers visiting the same sites, in the same ports, almost on a daily basis.

In years past, most cruisers enjoyed the convenience of a “one-stop-shop” by booking onto the cruise line’s shore excursions.  But for those looking for a more authentic, local or unique experience in port, a private shore excursion has always been the way forward.  We find most who go private, never go back!

We have seen consistent growth and demand for private shore excursions over the past few years.  Understandably, for couples looking to see and do it all during their time ashore, to families traveling with children, to special interest groups, a privately curated shore excursion is truly the best way to maximize one’s time in port.

Exeter International provide custom shore excursion options in every port in the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas.  On one of our private shore tours, you’ll never find yourself lost amongst the crowds.  We strive to design your itinerary avoiding crowds,  as much as possible.  Our expert guides are simply the best at avoiding long lines, allowing them to impart their extraordinary knowledge in comfort and at your preferred pace.

While some may be on the fence in deciding whether to book private or stick with the ship’s shore excursions, here are a few of our top reasons to book private:

1.Travel in Style, at Your Own Pace

Touring on a cruise line’s scheduled excursion could easily mean you’ll be sharing your time in port with 50 of your new best friends.  It also means your guide will be stretched thin keeping the group together while trying to convey some of the history of the sites, people and culture of the country you are visiting.

Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg
Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg

With one of our private excursions, you are not only met immediately by your expert guide as soon as you disembark, but you’ll move at your preferred speed and be able to ask all of the questions you want.

With a a private excursion, your tour becomes more of a conversation, rather than an overview lecture from a distance, allowing you to get a true ‘local’s perspective’ in your destination.

2. Enjoy the Best Guides

In our part of the world, guides come in quite a range of quality levels, despite being “licensed”.  We have worked long and hard to seek out the best guides in our destinations – many of which we have worked with for over 15 years.  A guide can really make or break your entire trip, and you should never have to gamble with the quality of your guide.  Naturally, the best of the best do cost more, but we are confident that our guides expert knowledge and charming personalities will make your trip, the trip of a lifetime.

Private Tour of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Private Tour of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

3. Maximize your Time in Port

As with any trip, whether it be by sea or by land, time is precious and can always feel like there is not enough.  Many of the cruise line’s excursions are only a few hours in length, despite being in port often for 8+ hours.  While fitting in two excursions might work from a timing perspective, many cruise lines do not allow it.  The end result is spending 3-4 hours touring on one of the ship’s shore excursions, during 8-10 hours in port. In our part of the world, not all cruise terminals are located within a short walking distance from the city center.  Some can be over an hour away, making it impossible to head back independently after the ship’s excursion concludes.

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden

While we don’t want you to miss your ship’s ‘all aboard’ time, we do feel that if you want to be in port and touring as long as possible, you should! On an Exeter private shore tour, we work meticulously with the ship’s schedule to customize your tour to fit your preferences and include as much as possible for you during your time in port.  We know the lay of the land, the traffic patterns, the hours of operation of all the sites, allowing us to schedule accordingly to truly allow you to maximize your time.  We don’t feel you should have to choose between the Vasa Museum and the Armory at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, nor have to choose between the Winter Palace and General Staff buildings at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.  If the time is there, why choose when you can have it all!

4. Unlimited Choices

While the cruise lines do a great job at offering a medley of tour options, perhaps you’ve been to that port before, or perhaps there is something very specific you’d like to see during your time ashore.  From cooking classes in a local family’s home to tracing ancestral roots, to early access to the world’s leading museums, our Extraordinary Experiences open doors that you might not even know existed.  While we can of course facilitate a highlights tour, let us curate yours specifically to your interests.  From couples on their honeymoon, to multi-generational families, let Exeter International take you from ordinary to extraordinary while ashore!

Amber Room workshops, St. Petersburg
Amber Room workshops, St. Petersburg

5. Russian Shore Visa

Let us handle all aspects of your Russian shore visa, taking the stress away from you!

Contact one of our experts: 800.633.1008 or 813.251.5355 or email



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