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How to Get More Shore Excursion Business from the Cruise Lines

For entrepreneurs living in locations where cruise lines stop, the potential for creating a thriving shore excursion business that will be patronized by the visiting ship's passengers is an attractive opportunity. But before you run out and start purchasing all the equipment you'll need to operate such an enterprise, be sure you're aware of what cruise line Shore Excursion Teams are looking for when it comes to promoting these independent businesses to their customers.

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Do I Have to Purchase My Cruise Excursion through the Cruise Line?

Purchasing a cruise excursion through the cruise line is the best way to see the sights at any port of call. The cruise line personnel know the guides and the services offered. They have checked vehicles and other conveyances for safety and security. An adventure cruise excursion such as ziplining or parasailing has also passed inspection.

Booking a cruise excursion in advance has the following advantages:

  1. If the activity requires certifications such as SCUBA diving, you will know in advance that you must qualify.

  2. The activity may require previous experience. This is common with mountain biking and mountain climbing excursions.

  3. The pre-booked activity will explain how much walking is required. This is important for passengers with limited mobility.

  4. The cruise line knows that the tour operators they contract with will deliver what they promise with the cruise excursion or activity.

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5 Shore Excursions to Remember

Cruise lines offer many interesting shore excursions conducted by reputable licensed and insured operators. Passengers are encouraged to check the available tours in each port and decide in advance which tours appeal to them.

There are many options and the ship usually spends only a day or two in each port. Seeing ancient ruins is part of the travel experience. Shopping is also a popular port activity along with activities such as ziplining or golf.

Here are a few of the top shore excursions preferred by cruisers:

  1. Snorkeling anywhere in the Caribbean, especially Grand Cayman, the Virgin Islands or Cozumel.

  2. Helicopter or float plane sightseeing excursions over Alaska's glaciers along with the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway.

  3. Day tours to the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

  4. Whale and dolphin watching excursions in different ports.

  5. Tours of ancient ruins on Greek Island and other Mediterranean cruise ports.

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What to do when your Excursion is removed from the Tour Operator Gateway

If you are an excursion tour operator and the cruise line is not selling your tours, you should check the Tour Operator Gateway

The cruise lines will inspect your tour and your insurance. If there are any gaps in your coverage or repeated complaints about your tour services, you will be dropped from the Tour Operator Gateway list. 

North American cruisers are eager to spend money on excursions when the ship is in port. The tour operator must live up to their expectations and be able to cover any emergencies.


All cruise lines will only accept tour operators demonstrating insurance coverage in the following areas:

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How Having Excursion Insurance Increases Revenue for Tour Operators

When they say that in business you need to spend money to make money, they're not just talking about getting together the capital to get started. In many cases, in order to increase your revenue, you need to make a small investment. For example, as a tour operator, you're going to want to purchase excursion insurance-- that way, you can promote your outfit to cruise lines and resorts and see more profit.

If you're in an area where cruises frequently stop, without excursion insurance, you're likely missing out on a large chunk of your potential market. In order to attract these passengers, you need to meet the cruise lines requirements, a major part of which is assuring the cruise lines that you can protect their guests while they are no longer on the ship.

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What is a Shore Excursion?

A cruise gives its passengers all the luxury of a top hotel with the added bonus of an ever changing horizon. For many, a cruise is the very pinnacle of holiday experiences, and it's not difficult to see why. Passengers aboard cruises are surrounded by entertainment, high quality restaurants, swimming pools, spas, and relaxation. This experience is completed by the chance to undertake shore excursions. As an owner or operator of shore excursions, you need to understand why passengers choose excursions and how to become the company that every cruise line or resort recommends.

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Why Booking Your Shore Excursion Through a Cruise Line Makes Sense

Passengers making reservations for shore excursions offered by the cruise line know that the ground operators have been inspected for safety and security. The cruise line assures passengers that the tour companies they recommend are the best and most professional ones at each port of call.

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I Have Local Insurance, Why Do I Need Excursion Insurance as Well?

As a tour or excursion operator the first step in making sure that you have the minimum insurance for operating your business is complying with local insurance requirements. This local insurance coverage can indemnify you if your tour boat hits a dock or another boat or an employee crashes the company car.

If your business is only focused on local inhabitants for the participants of your tours you might be able to get away with a simple insurance policy from a local insurance provider.  However, if you want to contract your business with cruise lines you will need to have excursion insurance with complete, comprehensive liability, vehicle and/or watercraft coverage from a known carrier with a high credit rating to be acceptable to a cruise line.

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What Does Excursion Insurance Cover?

There are several excursion insurance requirements for tour operators who contract with cruise lines and resort hotels, or sub-contract to other major tour companies. These requirements are a necessity for any tour or excursion operator to compete in a business that places heavy emphasis on the quality and amount of the liability insurance policy of a service provider that they refer their guest to.

Without the proper liability protection, tour and excursion operators will inevitably miss opportunities to provide services to these customers, and will miss out on profit opportunities for their company.

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Why Do I Need Excursion Insurance?

If you’re a tour operator near a port of call, excursion insurance is a must to work with cruise lines. Failing to have the right coverage will result in fewer people participating, not to mention the fact that it could leave you liable for damages in the event a cruise line passenger is injured.

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15 Ways to Make Your Excursion Safer and More Memorable

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